ANOTHER MILITARY MOVE By Lori A Alicea

It’s only been three years this time.

Three years to meet the neighbors and become a block of friends and family.
Three years for the kids to find their group of friends in

Soccer

Gymnastics
rosalee 12
Church
2018 england xmas 78
Dance
2017 england summer 18 cova ballet
Girl Scouts
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Three years to become part of the children’s school as room mother.

Three years to find all the hideaway running and bicycle trails to adventure on.
2019 england fathers day adventure 7Three years to add another baby to the family portrait.

Three years to remodel a fixer-upper to make a house a home.
IMG_8538It’s been only three short years and it is time to pull the tent-spikes from their temporary home as the Army orders for our son and family have been served and it’s now time for another military move.

Home is your safe place, your place of refuge.
IMG_8537Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you can be yourself.
Home is that door post where you keep a record of your children’s growth chart.
Home is that table of family dinners and conversation.
Home is that bed of sweet dreams where only your pillow and blanket will do.
Home is your address where memories are made.

Home is that backyard created for children in mind.

To swing.

To sit by the campfire.

Home is a set of front steps that welcome you with open arms after being gone all day, or a seat where children eat their morning breakfast of donuts.
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But duty calls and now it’s time to say goodbye.
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It’s time to pack up the house and forward the mail. It’s a time to say goodbye to the friends, the familiar, your favorite coffee shop, the usual route to work.  It’s a time to hug that faithful babysitter you entrusted with your children.  It’s time to find a new home for the outside cat that welcomed you in the neighborhood three years ago and never left.
USE THIS CATBeing a member of the military you accept their core values, and one of them is honor.

Regarding honor, the Army states that:

Honor is the one that embodies all the others. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.”

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It’s that selfless service putting America first that makes serving in the military so hard. But you embrace the call and grace to serve your country well with pride and great courage.

Serving your country requires great sacrifice, especially family ties that must endure the heart’s tug of war of those frequent goodbyes. As grandparents we must be willing to let our grandchildren go with love and joy as the call to serve is a family affair.

This past weekend my husband and I spent many hours driving to bring our four babies home so we could reunite the cousins who haven’t been together for over three years. We wanted this special time together as a family before our military babies leave again for another three year journey, much farther than ever before.  They won’t be within driving reach anymore and we will rely on technology to watch them grow.

How the faces of our little loves have changed since the last sleepover three years ago. A few of our grandchildren weren’t even born yet.

We had to get one last bike ride in for the memory books. And so much more.
IMG_0181These four faces will be unrecognizable in three years from the smiles we see today. Letting go is bittersweet.  We can’t be selfish to hold them back, but a grandparent’s heart tells us to scoop them in our arms and never let go.
IMG_0184In times of sadness we lean on our faith in God, as he has mapped out our lives, he’s ordered our steps. God has a great big wonderful plan if we’d trust him and embrace it.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.   Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
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If our steps are ordered; and God loves us more than we could imagine, then who are we to argue with God in this military move.
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LETTING GO By Lori A Alicea

As long as the hour and minute hand of your life’s clock keeps ticking in perfect time advancing those seconds, minutes and hours into days, weeks and years, change is ongoing requiring without permission slips,
our “letting go.”

Change can be hard.
New beginnings are framed in change.
Why must “today” require change when “yesterday” was so wonderful?

Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we want them to remain.
“Letting go” is opening our hand to receive the unknown.

God is the author of change when He reminds us:
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
…now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?…Isaiah 43:19 ESV

 The school bell has finally rung this steamy month of August, some mothers painfully deafened by its ring as it signals the heart wrenching debut of a lifetime of “letting go” events of their children.

Though that “first day of school” for my son and daughter took place twenty-five and thirty years ago, a mother can still recall in tears when her heart was left at the classroom door as teaching began without her.

 

“Letting Go” during that orientation of change called Kindergarten requires you to face the mirror’s reflection that your children are growing up.

With twelve years of school and college possibly down the road, a mother will be in shock the speed of her life’s clock until she relives another “first day of school” through her children’ eyes, as this grandmother’s seventh and eighth of ten grandchildren have filled their backpacks for Preschool.

 

“Letting Go” when you’re two remaining grandchildren have appointments with Preschool in two short years, is a sad reminder that the crib and high chair will soon be packed away for good, no longer needed when visiting their grandparents.

Growing up is supposed to happen, but you always want them to stay small and fit into your lap just a little bit longer.

Looking into your newborn’s face for the very first time, you can’t imagine “Letting them Go”.

You concede they won’t always need your hand to cross the street.
You concede they won’t always call for you in the middle of a night’s storm.
You concede they won’t always be daddy’s little girl or mommies best bud.
You just concede it will happen sometime tomorrow, in another life.

Tomorrow comes though and you find yourself “Letting Go” again when your children walk their isles of matrimony.

Growing up and getting married is supposed to happen.

We’ve prayed for their spouses since birth and couldn’t be more exuberant with what God “has joined together”, but “Letting Go” this time means “Letting Go” for good.

But mom and dad rejoice in the new beginnings of their children’s lives.

 

While our daughter Audra still waits for God’s perfect plan relating to her future spouse, Daddy continues to be that special man in her life until then.

David and Audra 60th birthday

“Letting Go” when Audra’s wedding day arrives might require daddy’s grown sons to walk along side him as he escorts his little girl down her isle, just in case an overcome father falls apart.

When a daughter leaves her father for another man in marriage, sometimes she takes with her a little boy who brought life to the home of two grandparents who helped raise him the last 3 1/2 years.

Ethan on wedding day

A little boy who learned to walk in your kitchen.
A little boy who helped you make coffee every night before bed.
A little boy who sat in your lap while eating dinner.
A little boy who called your name in the baby monitor.
A little boy who followed you everywhere in the house.

How do you smile at your daughter’s wedding and say good-by to a little boy who stole your heart on the very same day?

 

“Letting Go” the night before our grandson moved his blanket and pillow to another bed would be like no other.  Over a few scoops of ice-cream shared between a grandfather and a little boy, the weight of the moment fell when “Letting Go” meant”Letting Go” for good, and papa’s tears fell like rain that evening, flooding their bowls.

“Letting Go” is happening all around us.  Sometimes we need to take our eyes off our own lives and help someone else “Let Go” when they want so bad to “hold on”.

A year and a half ago we found our mother in a near death health crisis, forcing an address change to a nursing home while packing up her life.

You never think that day will come, and realize how unprepared emotionally you are when it does.  Mother raised six children, served us and gave us the best life she was capable of.  Now her seventy-eight years of life is reduced to sixty boxes of memories, memories we finally have the heart to go through to divide.

 

“Letting Go” a year and a half ago didn’t involve us letting go of mother, although did involve “Letting Go” of mother as we once enjoyed.

mom nursing home

Mother is many things to all of us.  Her tributes could fill a library of books.

In the “Letting Go”, God is so faithful to give us something to “hold on” to.  While unpacking the remains of our mother’s house, I found this Time Capsule of mother memorialized as seen through the eyes of her family, possibly written fifteen years ago.  Inside this simple jar are words to honor one woman who tirelessly gave and loved her family first, in an assortment of messages both funny and heartfelt titled:

“I Remember When”.

A few of the many messages, written from her grandchildren 15 years ago:

grandmas grandkids

I remember when you came pretty close to getting evicted from your apartment, thanks to your rowdy grand-kids.  Granddaughter Julie

 I remember when me and Candace spent the night one time, we were cooking with the Easy Bake oven and used your Tupperware stuff and melted it.  Sorry!  Granddaughter Amanda

 I remember how I always sat by you in church.  Grandson Phillip

 I remember when we would always play SKIPPO.  (Of course I would always win.)  Well, of course a couple of times I would let grandma win.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have learned how to play all those card games.  Granddaughter Candace

 I don’t remember when I started calling you Grandma, but I do remember you always making me feel like your grandson.  Grandson JT

A few of the messages written by her children 15 years ago:

I remember when we went to pick out my wedding dress and you cried.  Daughter Debbie

I remember going through my “hard times”, how you took me under your wing, loved me like your own daughter, and made me feel like a part of the family.  Daughter Jill

I remember the past eight years of our Tuesday night rituals.  You made me dinner and I washed and set your hair.  A time for us to share, laugh and become close as mom and daughter; as friends as well.  Daughter Denise

 I remember all the times when I would call you in the middle of the night just to hear your voice.  Of all the hard times I went through, you were always there to listen.  Never once did you make mention of what time it was.  Daughter Belinda

 “Letting Go” is different for every situation.  Give yourself grace if “Letting Go” is more painful than you thought and coming to terms is even harder.

We all want to hold on when God wants us to “Let Go”.
We want to understand when God doesn’t make sense.

But God’s ways and thoughts are not ours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

But in our “Letting Go” God promises:

…I will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace
;..
Isaiah 55:11-12

After closing up the Time Capsule of my mother’s life and savoring the honor greatly due her, I am reminded of a tribute, a gift to “hold on to” also while aching through the “Letting Go” when my first born left me for college.

A free spirit as depicted in his body art,

jakes tatoo

our son continues to run the race of his life through the many races beyond high school and never looked back, going from one finish line to the next.

jake finish line

The race of college.
The race of dental school.
The race of the military.

 

The finish line is somehow the starting line up for another race, with the miles between us getting further from the race before.

jake motorcycle

But after the gun went off to signal the race of college, God allowed me to find a letter buried in a bag of discarded stuff.  In this bag located in the garage filled from the bedroom our son vacated for good, I discovered a letter that would hug me from time to time in the moments I terribly missed him.

Dear Mom,

Now that I am graduating and getting ready to leave for college, I’ve been thinking about all the fun things I’ve done and the great things I’ve achieved.  When I think about them, you always are apart of them somehow.

We have had so many great memories together.  A few that come to mind are camping trips, baseball games and track meets.  Even though I never show it, I always loved you being there.  You have had such a huge impact on my life.  You have helped me to become the runner and man that I am today.

I just wanted to say thank you for always being there for me, and guiding me down the right path.  You have been a great mother and have done your job well.  I know being a single mother all those years weren’t easy, but you kept the family together and I’ll always love you for that. 

Love forever, Your Son

Embracing this honor allowed an exchange of the baton of my sorrow that year, for faith in the hands I entrusted my son to.

Letting Go” means letting God, and I think I can handle that.