LET IT BE SAID OF ME By Lori A Alicea

In just two short years there will be sixty candles decorating my birthday cake. Sixty lit candles, an assortment of blue, pink, yellow, green and white ones dug deep beneath the frosting, each representing a year of my life.  Sixty years of candles burning and flickering its flame waiting for me to make a wish.  Sixty lit candles whose wax slowly drips down its sides as the birthday song is sung in family unison before all sixty candles are blown out.  Sixty candles for sixty years, celebrated with cake, ice cream, gifts and coffee.

Sixty candles reflecting sixty 365-calendar days of opportunity to touch lives, give love, receive love, notice someone, matter to someone, make a difference, through God be the difference, make the day count, show up when you’re counted on, a birthday wish this sixty “365-calendar days” reads like an adventure novel.

Let it be said of me one day when there are no more lit candles to blow out on my birthday cake I at least attempted a fraction of this kind of life.
Lori little Birthday cakeEven though I’m still believing for decades to hug and embarrass my children, holding on for years of sweet good-morning kisses with my husband, and anticipating a lifetime of love to give to my grandchildren, sometimes we need to take a serious pause and ask God if our lives embody the dreams and plans he set aside specifically for us.

With jam packed calendars that have no lane to slow down in. When ignoring the clock rarely enjoying the 24 hours we’ve been blessed with because frankly, our lives are over booked.  Sometimes we need to fasten our seatbelts and slam on the brakes of our busyness because we need to have a conversation with God and ask him, “Are we measuring up to that “good and faithful servant?”

God reminds us to number our days.
God holds out that yardstick of our life to remind us it measures a mere breath.
We are a mist, we are a vapor.

The calendar years pass by so quickly.

Let it be said of me I numbered my days.
Let it be said of me I measured my time here on earth.
Let it be said of me I recognized that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed but treasured the moments I could hold onto in the now.
Let it be said of me at least most of the time, I didn’t waste the seconds, minutes and hours God had given me.

Looking back over my sixty years, I wish there was a “do over” card I could throw down on the hands I played unwisely in the past. I wish life allowed me to “white out” those mistakes and rewrite the pages of that legacy I will one day leave as an inheritance.

I wish I could go back in time and have a few conversations with my younger self. I’d love to share with her the discoveries of my heart, those realizations I’ve found to be true.  I wish I could leave for her “crumbs in the forest” so she wouldn’t lose her way in the midst when life flips upside down.   Even though I can’t turn back the clock for that little girl of my younger self, I can drop for my children and grandchildren my “crumbs in the forest” that one day it would be said of me my life mattered at least for them.
Lori little 1I’d tell my younger self that your walk with God will be worth it. That while the road shared with Him will take you down hidden paths of despair and doubt all for His glory for which you can trust Him, the hops and skips through the wild flower fields of bliss and happiness will be many, and God will hold tight to your hand through them all.

Yes younger self, your walk with God will be worth it.
Church directory picture(Church directory with the family)

 I’d tell my younger self that God fashioned you beautifully and the mirror doesn’t lie as you were designed in the image of the Creator.  Down the road during  those heart-wrenching seasons of abandonment when you want to believe something must be terribly wrong with the mirror you sadly look into, God will turn all this for His good.  Hold tight your reflection into the mirror of God, as He will use those emotions of “shattered glass” to help other girls and women value their worth during a time of brokenness.
Lori little 3I’d tell my younger self there’s always a reason to smile, even when you hate that patriotic dress your grandmother gave you to wear or when you’ve lost so many of your baby teeth at the same time. Smiling doesn’t mean your life is perfect, without worry or free from pain.  But smiling displays a strong confidence that your God’s got “this”, whatever “this is”, a deep belief you’re God’s got you.  Don’t ever lose your confidence when your report card has a few A- and not straight A+.  We all have room to improve.  Keep smiling when you’ve lost your confidence to try out for cheerleading.  Keep smiling when your best friend (and only friend) is your sister who lets you pal around at school.  Keep smiling when lunch time in the library gets lonely.  Keep smiling because throughout life you’ll never be alone with God clinging to your side.
Lori little 2I’d tell my younger self to keep from comparing yourself to others, especially to your four other sisters. So you’re the middle girl and feel like an imaginary child.  So your baby sister gets all the attention as well as the oldest.  God will always see you and pick you out in the crowd.  He will notice you and smile with every look of your face.  Don’t compare, but celebrate the individual you.
Lori little 4Lastly younger self, I’d tell you that God has great need of thee. God has wonderful gifts he wants to use through you for reasons beyond your imagination.  Don’t begrudge or belittle your gifts.  Take hold your gifts.  Hone your gifts.  Be generous with these gifts God wants to use to touch the lonely, the broken, the lost and the weary.  Your life will matter to more than you know.  Your influence will reach generations beyond your life.  Live today with passion, with purity, with purpose.  Live like you matter because you matter to God, you matter to others, you matter to the life you have been given.
Lori little 5Because sixty years and beyond will pass you by faster than the time it takes to blink your eyes.

When my days here on earth are done, may it have been counted for my family, counted for others, counted for Christ.  When heaven welcomes me at the gate,

Let all this be said of me.

LEAVING A LEGACY By Lori A Alicea

Legacy is never understood until a true legacy has lived before you and passes on their godly heritage for the generations that continue.

True legacy is what lives on beyond your life.
Legacy is those seeds you’ve sown into others that reproduce a harvest of life.

Legacy is your life’s open book that:

We will not hide from our descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psalm 78:4 NIV

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…..
Proverbs 13:22 NKJV

Our family received a great inheritance like none other, bequeathed from the legacy of our matriarch, our beloved mother, our grandmother, great grandmother, wife, aunt, sister, friend and child of God.

It was this woman who bestowed to a generation of heirs a rich treasure from her life’s
Will and Testament:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

 HER LEGACY
As seen through the eyes of her family.

Barbara’s legacy story began long before she left us on May 16, 2012.  Our mother lived a simple life with her husband Flor and five handsome sons.  Barbara loved God more than life itself and His reflection mirrored in her humming, music and “toil on her knees in prayer” that her sons grew up to serve Jesus.

Barbara’s mission field was her humble home and kitchen.  Her tireless message of service was preached from the pulpit of her stove.  Barbara’s affection for God and family was baked in the walls of every room she called home.  You never left empty handed after a meal at Barbara’s table, as every guest went home carrying a take-out container full of peace, love and joy.

Barbara always shined a bright light on the faithfulness of God in His pursuit of those five boys that called her mom.  Barbara introduced five boys to a loving God, but five boys had to make their own decision to serve Him individually with a surrendered heart.

Attributed most to Barbara’s legacy were her calloused knees caused from those long suffering hours spent in fervent prayer for her sons.

Today, Barbara’s five sons faithfully serve Jesus and are now married to wives with the same passion for God.

TODAY

Her children rise up and call her blessed…Proverbs 31:28

While every mother smiles at the mere mention of her children’s name, nothing brings out the delight of a woman than being in the presence of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Barbara broke every rule when it came to those little feet running around her house, and she loved it.

She brought out her hidden cookies when parents weren’t looking.
She kept a bottle handy just in case your toddler still wanted to be a baby.
Overfeeding began at your child’s birth.
A mystery Kool-Aid concoction was a favorite among the grandchildren.  A red ring around their mouths was evidence that grandma brought out her sugary drink again.

Going to grandma Barbara’s meant going home with a tummy ache, but every Sunday after church the families were back for more.

Barbara’s Grandchildren and their families

Barbara’s Great-Grandchildren

Though not catching us off guard due to our mother’s illness, May 16, 2012 buckled a family to their knees in heartache when Jesus called his daughter home to Himself.

While rejoicing as our mother takes residence in her new heavenly home, we grieve that the door of our mother’s earthly casa goes unanswered when we knock on Sunday afternoons for lunch.

funeral service barbara bulletin

Love from many who called her mom like Aaron Washington, “God’s grace be with our family at this trying hour…we will miss our beloved ….and we look to the Lord and his ever abiding presence to comfort our hearts as we celebrate your home going.”  I will always love you…”mom”.

graveside aaron

Barbara’s Home Going Celebration was attended by Pastor’s from multitudes of neighboring churches and the pews for the service were occupied to full capacity.  Barbara’s life impacted a community beyond her knowledge or understanding.

gavin christian jeweliz steven

Barbara’s legacy continues from those that she touched in her simple service to God.

Barbara would have been thrilled and in charge of the kitchen to cook her own celebration dinner.

Being a woman whose “fountain of worship” quenched those parched and thirsty for Jesus, Barbara would have loved to assume her seat at the drums during the music service of her celebration.

funeral service musicians

In Barbara’s honor, a drum roll played to commemorate the life that simply loved Jesus, whose love for a Savior spilled onto the laps of so many seated at her kitchen table.

cousins drummer

Nothing stirred the hearts of those in celebration attendance than during the song your son and granddaughter sang imagining your intimate time postured before Jesus, laying your crown at his lovely feet as written about:

….They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things…..”
Revelation 4:10-11 NIV

 

 Video Courtesy of Brad Ebert
Song:  The King of Who I Am by Lulu Roman and Russ Taff

Taking a silent seat in the service and listening to her children and grandchildren speak, Barbara would have been so proud.

Her son Michael preached about his mother’s trust in Jesus, as she always thanked Him for the mountains and the valleys, for the problems only God could solve as revealed in her favorite song:

Through it All
Sang by Andrae Crouch

I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I’d never had a problem
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

funeral service michael speaking

 Granddaughter Angie celebrated the last conversation Barbara ever shared on this earth, putting her grandmother’s legacy on display through her last moments this side of heaven.

As I stand here before you, grandpa, sons, daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and friends.  All I see is the legacy and inheritance my grandmother left behind.  For without her obedience to serve the Lord, none of us would be here today.  Look to your right.  Look to your left.  Know that right now, there is a glimpse of grandma in each one of us.

In your sadness, we are truly blessed.  For God blessed us with a “woman of God” that knew how to be a servant.  Don’t get me wrong, grandma was from Brooklyn, NY, so if she really wanted to, she could take you out!!  But thank God he gave her wisdom in knowing how to keep the servant’s heart front and center.

“Grandma, are you thirsty?  Can I get you a drink of water?”  She replied, “Yes”, as she nodded her head.  As she began to drink, something began to take place in her spirit that brought her a breath and a sigh of peace.

That night, I went to the Word of God for comfort and found, Revelation 21:6-7 AMP..And He [further] said to me, “It is finished!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To the thirsty, I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the Water of Life.  He who is victorious, shall inherit all of these things, and I will be God to her and she shall be My daughter.”

 My heart was so grieved when I came to realize this was my last conversation with my grandma.

funeral service angie speaking

 Barbara’s earthly body was honored with reverence and carried to her final resting place by sons and grandsons that were once carried by her.

Saying one final good-by until we all meet again in the presence of Jesus, hearts still gush from the overflow of loss from such a beautiful woman we all knew as mother in our own way.

Many tributes were left on Facebook to re-tell the life of one who left this life for one better in heaven.  These are just a few:

…My 4 year old Christian saw me and said, “Mommy why are you so sad? (with a concern look in his eyes)”  I replied, ” I miss my grandma.”   He shook his head, “Yes” and said, “But we will see her again.”  Smiled, gave me a kiss and said, “You’re the best mommy in the world!” Thank you Jesus for comforting me through this time even through my little boy.  Raquel Alicea

 Truly she left a legacy in her walk with God. She truly mirrored what it means to look like a Child of God. A true servant’s heart, wonderful mother, grandmother, and friend. We lost someone great today but Heaven gained a wonderful person today. How do we honor her?  We honor her by knowing that this will not be the last time that we see her and if we do not have a relationship with God and don’t walk in that assurance of having God as our personal Lord and Savior then Family, Friends, WAKE UP make that choice to follow in her footsteps and carry on her legacy and know that you will see her one day in Heaven. Buela thank you for adopting me into your family and looking past all of my mistakes and showing me unconditional love.  Raquel Alicea

The legacy that you have left behind was AMAZING. Now it is our job to keep that continuing. We are at peace because we know you are in a much better place but most importantly you’re with our Father – The Lord. I hope that you are proud of us as you look down. We have some big shoes to fill. The drum-line will continue in your Honor. We love you so much! Until we meet again….Nathan/Kristie Alicea

ALICEA CELEBRATION…Nothing brings God more delight than receiving His Honor thru the honor of those that call Him Lord.  Mother n Law, we honor you today for the being that WITNESS of Christ in our family. Your knees were hardened for the hours you spent prostrate before God, lifting your praise and needs of your children before Him…We honor you this day and consider it great pain to say good-by, yet pure joy knowing you have already seen Jesus.  Lori A. Alicea

The Mother’s Rose
By Lori A. Alicea

When God created all the earth,
And all the flowers he chose.
I wonder if a mother’s love,
Inspired a perfect rose.

The beauty of its royal red,
It’s color, meaning love.
The thought expressing God’s intent,
What mother’s are made of.

The friendship of the yellow rose,
When shared between just two.
The bond created when her love,
Is recognized by you.

Though beauty comes with thistle thorns,
A price of mother’s call.
The times that hurt a mother’s heart,
She says it’s worth it all.

When crushed a rose it will not die,
Forget what eyes might see.
A mother’s fragrance still remains,
A rose of potpourri.

But sad the day when mother leaves,
Without, your garden grows.
Yet God delights to welcome in,
His newest, sweetest rose.

A message Barbara preached with her life:

funeral service live happily ever after sign

Barbara, if you could see us now.

Life goes on, and we think of you daily.
We rejoice where you are, but just in case you were wondering about us:

Hold onto your halo mom.  Your Cubbies finally won the World Series.
We all cheered in the stands to honor your lifetime commitment and belief in your favorite baseball team the Cubs.

world series pennant cropped

There have been two weddings since May 16, 2012, one being your beloved son who waited a lifetime for his beautiful bride.

And just look at all your new heirs, your great-grandchildren that have been born and share in your legacy.

Wishing even more,
IF WE COULD SEE YOU NOW

WALKING THE STREETS OF GOLD WITH JESUS!

SEE ME KNOW feet gold glitter

Barbara, your legacy lives on in your family.

You left your hand-print behind,
And we sense your impact in the lives who
CALL YOU MOM

In whatever manner that is.
We love and miss you dearly.

WORD HANDPRINT THAT YOU LEAVE PICTURE

THE HAND-PRINT THAT YOU LEAVE
by Lori A. Alicea

We live our lives from year to year,
The moments that we share.
Yet give no thought to what we leave,
We most, are unaware.

We touch each other with our love,
And time, though can’t conceive.
There is a lasting memory,
That hand-print that you leave.

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)