TRAVELING THRU A JOURNAL OF CONTENTMENT  By Lori A Alicea

He never changes.

He is just, faithful, loving and we can count on him to be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
(Hebrews 13:6-8)

Yes, God never changes.

God is always faithful.

He is our security blanket to curl up in when the winds of change are unrelenting.

God’s unchanging promises is a place of contentment I have drawn peace from my entire life.

I discovered this contentment in my own words, a dusty old journal unearthed from a box of books taken from the storage unit we have begun to purge.david storage

Over the course of my life, I regret not keeping a journal from the joy and sadness of my sixty years. You think you’ll remember but how quickly you forget the details, the emotions, the everyday thankfulness that begs to be remembered in our written words.

So you could imagine what a joyful discovery, an old dusty journal from fifteen years ago; a thirty day time capsule I barely recall writing. Yet, in opening to the first page of my journal, I began travelling down the road of my contentment, my life’s movie replaying while I sat with a cup of coffee to re-live.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to discover these memories I took the time to remember.

Just thirty days of writing and then I stopped, but a month of memories highlighting the faithfulness and contentment of God in my heart.

A few days from April, 2009…

Thursday, April 9, 2009
I woke up at 2:30 am to catch a 4:30 am train into the city to care for my future daughter ‘n law who was having surgery.

Being away for three days was a sacrifice in itself as being away from my husband causes me great sadness. Our love for each other swells our hearts so that to be apart is like breathing without air.

The sweet blessing came later that evening after arriving to the apartment following a long day at the hospital.

My son decided I needed some Christian music to listen to while I cooked in the kitchen. This was such a reminder how God touches hearts.

Later that night, my son bought me a fancy coffee and took me out to see the sights and lights of the city.

Saturday, April 11, 2009
My favorite moment of the day came when the train rolled back into the station at 3:00 pm sharp, only to see my handsome husband waiting to pick me up.

After fifteen years of marriage, I’ve never grown tired of seeing David’s face. He gets more handsome with time.

Our reunion hug was worth the time apart.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Today is tax day and though our taxes were filed early February, this is a day to reflect on God’s faithfulness. May 30, 2008 David lost his job of thirty-one faithful years. Starting over as an older man would prove to be a mountain David faced to climb, but nothing impossible for God.

Emotionally, having David home this last year has been the honeymoon we were unable to have as a newly blended family. While immensely thankful for a full house, returning home from a three day honeymoon to four kids after getting married didn’t afford us the time alone to be newlyweds.

This year together has been an unexpected gift to our marriage. Early morning walks and sipping coffee under the tree. Afternoon bicycle rides through our country neighborhood and savoring David’s famous BBQ’s.

Financially, I am amazed at what God has done to provide. The world views provision through a man’s job. Yet, it’s God’s provision thru a man’s hardworking hands that gives us hope to rest in when your earthly provision is gone. God’s comforting reminder a good father doesn’t allow his children to beg bread.

God has used so many circumstances to show his faithfulness.

Shortly after David lost his job of 31 years, he received a small inheritance. What to do with this inheritance? While unemployed, spending this money on needs sounded logical, though investing in the Kingdom which pays the best dividends was wisdom.

This outpouring came at just the right time and David’s inheritance was sown for God’s purposes.

God is so good.

Though unemployed, our bills have been paid and on time, with enough food to eat.

We do need a new vehicle though. Our van has 390,000 miles and looks like it. The kids want us to pull the plug and get the poor thing out of hospice. But God has a beautiful truck with a big red bow waiting for my most deserving husband when the time is perfect.

We thank you God for reminding others thru our finances that you are in complete control.

Friday, April 17, 2009
Today God, the weather is breathtaking and all consuming. Who could deny your existence?

I love when I can open the windows and hear the birds singing. This is music I can listen to all day long.

Pulling the curtains back to reveal the breathtaking view of country living, we take in the quiet and crisp fresh air thru open windows; although not so fresh when the pigs are out.

But today God, it was all about you. You stopped me with this beautiful day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009
I’ve never boasted a green thumb in my life and with two acres of land; one might imagine a flower or two blooming around the trees or fence line. So last fall I decided to plant pink tulips in honor of my two sisters living in heaven and much to my amazement, beautiful tulips opened up in full bloom today.

What a miracle to me. You plant a seed from which new life comes. How dare we ever think our efforts go in vain?

My sisters would be proud of their tulips.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009
Today, I stayed home from church with a bad cold. Something I don’t do often.

Having a personal worship service at home with God, I was taken back to the pews of my Southern Baptist roots when gospel greats were sung from the old fashioned hymnals.

The days of my youth when mom and her six kids sat together worshiping God. Though I wonder how much worship took place in the passing of notes back and forth.

But surely God moved on our pew row of kids as mother raised us six to serve Him. A few of mother’s kids have deeper testimonies than others as they took the road more traveled than less. But a road we all met again down the journeys of our lives.use Church directory picture

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Been home all day alone and while this isn’t my favorite plan for a Saturday, I’ve been left behind with my coffee and thoughts and a time of reflection of how blessed I am for the “noises of the house” and for those that make them.

I’m reminded when the house is quiet, how life could change in an instant, leaving the house forever in silence. This gives me pause to appreciate those who make my life complete.house wheeler

Monday, April 27, 2009
There are a few jars to fill; a few bags of frozen strawberries from the summer before. Together they will be a jelly gift from my hands to the table of those who have blessed me.

I’m giving a jar of my childhood memories when mother and her five daughters gathered in the kitchen to put away fruit for a cold winter’s day.

While kitchen art might be a thing of the past, it’s the best part of my summer and couldn’t imagine skipping this mid-year tradition I’ve enjoyed my whole life.

Great is Thy Faithfulness
By Thomas Obadiah Chisolm

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Closing the journal I am reminded from its cover,

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George EliotIMG_7832

Thank you Mr. Eliot for your encouragement, your words of inspiration for me to begin keeping a journal, even in this autumn season of my life;

To keep in pursuit of my writer’s dream while keeping in perspective of time,

Day one or one day.
Michelle Parlos

 

MOMENTS THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH  By Lori A Alicea

Sometimes we just need to laugh.laugh

Sometimes taking a coffee break from our circumstances and laugh until the tears come does the body good.

Laughter makes a merry heart.LAUGHTER

Laughter is a good medicine.

Always find a reason to laugh.
It may not add years to your life,
But will surely add life to your years.
Author Anonymous

Laughter washes over us as a gentle wave and downstream our worries take, even if for a moment while we pause to catch our breath.england journey kizzie in water 1

Yes, sometimes we just need to laugh,

Even moments that make you laugh at yourself and wonder,
What in the world?

These last few weeks I found myself laughing when…

I panicked thinking we were robbed after an hour’s search of our two bedroom home for a missing vacuum, only to discover the vacuum in plain view and misplaced behind the bathroom closet door.IMG_7473

Twice, I discovered my clothes inside out after attending the gym.

My husband couldn’t contain his laughter at my mismatched shoes while sitting in church.IMG_9749

I chuckled to find a gallon of milk incognito among the dishes of the kitchen cupboard.

My eye glasses went missing only to realize I’d been wearing them all along during my frustrating search.

Yes, all these moments that made me laugh,

Though I’ve been told my funny bone’s been hiding in some “lost and found” box my entire life.

My daughter races to telephone her Davy (my husband) and vice versa every time they believe I’ve misplaced my mind.

Oh the moments that make them laugh.

Laughter is an impromptu party of balloon bouquets, catching you off guard to celebrate life.

pastel colored balloons
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

A few days ago, a handful of confetti was shot thru a small cannon one ordinary morning that erupted into a surprise of laughter.

heart shaped confetti on wooden floor
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Seated at the kitchen island with all the gadgets handy to “pretty myself” for that thirty-five minute ritual I’d rather skip most days; hair dryer, curling iron, comb, brush, makeup, make-up mirror, cell phone, a cup of coffee, and my day begins.IMG_7469

This beauty regimen occurs with the same boring fanfare as days before.

Blow drying, curling and applying makeup is usually interrupted with a much anticipated telephone call from my husband who’s already been at work for hours.

Seeing his name displayed on the cellphone screen brightens my day more than he knows.IMG_7380

Nothing unusual about this morning ritual and conversation for two, accept to realize I’d forgotten the hairspray.

With cellphone in hand to continue our conversation, I walked down the hall to retrieve the missing item from the bathroom drawer.

Noticing my husband’s voice fade into the background as it sometimes does depending on the area he is driving through, I spoke into the phone for my handsome truck driver to repeat himself.

Frustrated after multiple attempts to converse with one another, I leaned over my hand held device to end the aggravating call, only to burst into laughter after discovering I’d been walking and talking into my make-up mirror all this time instead of my phone.IMG_7472

Unable to breathe from this hilarious scene for which I played the leading role, David couldn’t wait to share this comedy act with our daughter and laugh until the tears fell, rewinding and adding to this latest story about her mother.Davids picture

God created us each to laugh as our encouragement to enjoy the journey.3CA8EC1F-06BC-4061-9E19-181EA16BCC10

Some laugh more than others, and it’s quite the party to celebrate life around those whose hearts are full of balloons and confetti.

Laughter is a gift.

Celebrate the moments that make you laugh.747E61A7-ACC3-4B0E-B687-BEAD8B84D082

Laughter is a miracle
Where eyes and ears
Can see and hear the joy of God,
Our handfuls of confetti for a merry heart.

heart shaped baking tin with small confetti on surface for valentine day
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

OUR ANGEL TREE Angel  By Lori A Alicea

Thanksgiving is still a week away yet Christmas made its debut appearance weeks ago unveiling its new holiday line on store shelves of businesses everywhere.

Strands of Christmas lights, wreathes and decorations of all kinds usher an early season’s greeting to the small town we live near, where many in the community have given themselves permission to break rank with the holiday calendar order and take part in these “tree trimming” festivities inside their own homes.

xmas tree

For this “kid at heart” who secretly embraces a Christmas spirit year ‘round and can be caught red-handed playing holiday music in July, the kickoff of December albeit before Thanksgiving, delights the little Christmas girl in me who refuses to ever grow up.

As magical and undeniable that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year to many, there are others facing great challenges, hardships, and pain where Christmas can’t leave soon enough; many of their stories depicted as angels on Angel Trees everywhere, presenting an opportunity to bless mere strangers disguised as a chosen angel.

Christmas decoration wooden angel on a Christmas tree. Close-up.
Christmas decoration wooden angel on a Christmas tree. Close-up.

In the hustle and bustle of shopping on strapped wallets for most, it’s easy to walk by and pretend we didn’t notice the Christmas needs of strangers hanging as angel ornaments on an Angel Tree strategically placed in store entrances to inspire a heart-felt connection of generosity. I confess to be that passerby of numerous Angel Trees over the years.

But this particular December, an Angel Tree stands in the corner of our family living room decorated with only one angel to select from. Our Angel Tree angel keeps us up at night in our thoughts and prayers. I dare not be a passerby this year.

Our angel’s Christmas list is short, one item to be precise; a list requiring a miracle from the hand of God; a Christmas miracle we can still believe in as all things are possible with Him.

Our Angel Tree angel isn’t asking for much.

Our brother just wants

To Live.

mark connie hospital

Like a bad dream we wished we could wake up from this terrible nightmare; no doubt our brother wishes the same.

Every next breath for my brother is a dear gift yet an agonizing struggle for him as well.

Our brother’s health crisis is beyond our understanding as growing up, we’ve only known and loved our “big brother” as one watching over us five sisters with eagle eyes, protecting us with strong arms and yes, even scamming us from time to time over chores and allowances as brothers do.

siblings church directory

Nothing ever changed in our relationship with our brother moving into adulthood.

siblings family photo

Whenever the family faced a challenge, albeit financial, health or an emotional kind with our parents or one of us, Our Angel Tree angel could always be seen walking through the door with answers.

mark coming home from work

Regardless that a thousand miles and months between his visits stood in the way of a mother embracing her son, a mother never took for granted an Angel Tree angel’s love whenever he came into town.

mark with mom

Our Angel Tree angel was honored in the final act of his military father, who bequeathed a son back the gift a father’s country bestowed upon him for his military service.

mark receiving flag at dads funeral

Our Angel Tree angel has been more than an angel to two little girls who grew up in the arms of their uncle; a man who loved them more as the children he never fathered, and gave them everything a daddy’s heart could pour out into their lives.

siblings mark christina brittany

This Angel Tree angel was more than a bright light in our sister’s eyes during their final year this side of heaven, as they struggled with their own Angel Tree angel request

To Live.

siblings belinda mary

A “big brother” driving a thousand miles to pick up our sister for one last homecoming with us, then taking her fishing before dropping her off on the journey back, remained a sister’s dearest memory of her Angel Tree angel.

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Our baby sister never felt more loved and safe when she was rescued and brought into the home of her Angel Tree angel where her daughters and siblings never left her side until heaven came for its newest angel that day.

siblings mary picture

Our Angel Tree angel has loved only one woman since their holy day of matrimony decades ago.

mark connie wedding

Still to this day, you never see one without the other.

mark connie by tree

When the minister declared on their wedding day that “these two have become one”, Our Angel Tree angel’s wife remains in this battle with him, fighting and helping her angel

To Live.

mark connie hospital

Our Angel Tree angel’s wife fights in hope, fights with God’s Word, fights to help him breath with all the love she has for her Angel Tree angel; to help him Live as he has requested.

Christmas decoration wooden angel on a Christmas tree. Close-up.
Christmas decoration wooden angel on a Christmas tree. Close-up.

These thousand miles between us are bridged by a sibling’s love for their Angel Tree angel only a close knit family can understand.

We pray that Jesus will be the best gift, the only gift you’ll need this Christmas morning.

We pray that one shake of a holiday snow globe brings back irreplaceable memories of Christmas mornings we shared together as children, never forgetting you’ll always be
Our Angel Tree angel,

with us now wanting to be the same for you.

Lori sibling xmas

A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART By Lori A Alicea

  We all have a story to tell.
Your story, my story, they need to be told.

Buried deep in yesterday is our history, our milestones, our wisdom gained and learned from our wins, our losses.  These truths of our lives must be unearthed, brought to the surface and passed on down into the hands of our children, our grandchildren and generations beyond.

What’s your story?
Might you be willing to open up the pages and tell your story?

blur book candle close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oh that we would dip our quills into the inkwell of our heart and form onto paper those sentences and chapters that define our past, so our stories can give understanding, fill in the blanks and answer the questions our family in the present are asking, and questions of future family in generations to come.

We must find courage to remember, to fill our passports with stamps that take us places we swore we’d never return to. We must go back and reclaim what was left behind; because it’s your story, it’s a second chance to redeem your memories and realize there are gold nuggets to be mined, but you must be willing to dig and sift and pan out the beauty you never thought was there.             

A loyal traveling companion down the streets of our past, our present and has already walked into our future, God has been a lamppost along our way, lighting our path and writing our story through those peaks, those valleys and every high and low in the journey.

God has been faithful. He alone is a story worth retelling.  Might we be willing to unfold the map of yesterday, re-trace the steps of an almighty Father and give him glory in our story?

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you… Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

“Your Story Matters”, a book poured out from the heart of Leslie Leyland Fields, words I have devoured, or possibly devoured me, from the very first page.

Leslie Leyland Fields tells her story that we would tell our story.

You don’t have to be a writer to tell your story, because your “words are your story”.

Your story matters.
My story matters.

Take my hand and follow me back into my beginning, the introduction and first few pages of my writing story.

I tell my story that you might be encouraged to tell yours.

rewrite edit text on a typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

 A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART
By Lori A Alicea

In my “thirties” living in a generation where women found great fulfilment in the workplace, many leaned though into the belief “you can have it all at the same time”; where one could “fry up the bacon inside the home while earning it from outside your white picket fence.”  I was one of those women.

As a computer programmer analyst consultant for fifteen years, there’s no denying that gleaned from plowing into projects and sowing opportunity after opportunity into my professional fields, I yielded bushels full of a bountiful increase.

But in my arduous climb up that Mt. Everest of success, I found it difficult to breathe from the demands of higher elevations. Closer to the summit its view didn’t render the majestic glamour I imagined.

Prior to one step up that mountain I should have considered the price; I should have counted the cost of my earthly pursuits.

I wish the wisdom of our Women’s Ministry Pastor would have whispered in my ear years earlier, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

Worldly gains came at a great price, it cost me big:

Cost me time and memories at home.

Cost those treasured “firsts” with my young children; first steps, first words, first day of school, that first day of baseball, and sadly, the scrapbooks are empty from so many more.

Cost my strength in exchange for weariness.

Costs my family and I paid dearly for.

These missed moments are now fallen leaves caught up in the updrafts of those autumn winds, forever lost and unable to be reclaimed or retrieved.

Eventually a tug-of-war ensued, a duel from both sides of my heart challenging each other to the death, career vs. my love for home.

The voice of my career screamed, “Keep climbing.”
The voice of my love for family begged louder, “Come home.”

In search for answers, a Heavenly Father reminded me:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

…A time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:2

I could have it all, just not all at the same time.

Encouraged and blessed by my husband, I uprooted myself from the acres of career and plowed up and re-planted my life into a brand new field called home.

Home felt so right.
Home fit like my favorite slippers on a cold day.
Home was the warmth of an angora sweater in a cool breeze.
Home was an afternoon smell of cookies baking in the oven.
Home was sharing pancakes over breakfast with my children before school.
Home was kneading bread dough on my kitchen counter.
Home was those walls that kept my family safe at night.

I was home and living the dream.

It didn’t take long before a gentle pursuit of me occurred in the still and quiet mornings; “words of home” began silently whispering.

The pitter, patter feet of (the simple thoughts, the little phrases, the innocent images of children and love…), began sneaking up on me from around the corner hallway, at the breakfast table as I sipped on my morning coffee, while gazing at the outside beauty from my kitchen window, all pulling on my apron strings and vying for my attention to be written.

There was no denying the stirring. I couldn’t push them away if I tried; words, those beautiful words.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.  Psalms 45:1 NLT

Born from this sacred place of my heart called home,

A birth announcement,

A debut column from years ago, the birthplace and baby’s first steps of a writing career,

Written to draw attention to the roses, our garden of the simple, the seemingly insignificant, yet the wonderment to discover if you allow its beauty to entice your curiosity to stop and smell them.

A Column is born,
Little Things.”
Column pictures

PICTURE IT By Lori A Alicea

Christmas thirty years ago, I never pictured it.

Christmas thirty years ago, if you could picture it, was just the three of us, a newly single mother watching her two young children sit in front of the camera for their annual holiday portrait, an insert to the family Christmas card.
XMAS Jake and Candy 2Back in the day, portrait studios were located in the “big box stores”. Closer to the holiday when I usually scheduled our photo session, multiple procrastinated families like mine crowded the couches waiting impatiently for their name to be called, as photographers were unfortunately behind schedule during the final weeks of Christmas.
XMAS Jake and CandyI doubt any young mother pictures it, and I was no exception.
I didn’t think of it, I didn’t imagine it.
I wasn’t in denial, I just didn’t picture it.

I doubt most of us picture it although it’s happening to us all.

The only picture that mattered to me thirty years ago were those of my little boy and girl dressed in their holiday best.

An annual gift wrapped up as a Christmas portrait that only a mother could truly appreciate; a parent’s attempt in preserving the Christmas faces of her children as a keepsake to reflect on when the passage of time caught them growing up.
XMAS Jake and Candy 1I never pictured it until thirty years later when I opened up a packed box of my mother’s belongings, finding a stack of clippings from my old column she saved, stumbling upon a specific column that took me back to the portrait studio where I picked up my children’s Christmas pictures for the holiday season that year.
XMAS Jake and Candy 3EVERYONE’S LIFE IS A STORY WAITING TO BE TOLD
By Lori A. Alicea

No telling how many people cross our path and we never know their name or story.  Faces are everywhere.  Crowded streets; busy stores.  We rub shoulders, but barely make eye contact.  We all have a story, but who takes the time to wonder?

Waiting for my purchase at a local Photography store, I got my first glimpse of him, an old man with downy white hair, possibly in his eighties, sporting an old flannel shirt and yellowed jeans, wearing shoes that had seen better days.

This man didn’t see me as he entered the store, but I followed him around with wondering eyes.

Sitting close by, the exchange between the old man and clerk was audible.  He inquired about the special.  By his casual appearance I assumed a future appointment was in the making.  Assuming wrong, he reached for a coupon from his pocket for a portrait taken that morning.

Directed to the sofa by me, we both sat in silence.  I could hear grandpa’s labored breathing.  I watched grandpa’s wrinkled hands folded, as if in quiet prayer.

In that moment the words to an old song began to play in my head, “If a picture paints a thousand words”.  In that song I began to wonder about the words that painted this old man’s portrait.

Father? Husband? Friend? Lonely? Happy? Rich? Poor?  Who was this person?  Surely he belonged to somebody.  Was grandma alive?  Did grandpa have kids?  If so, do they call?  What about his dreams?  Fulfilled?

Encouraged by a mutual smile, grandpa and I engaged in conversation.

Grandpa told me he was having his picture taken to send in cards to his family.  Grandpa said he didn’t know how long he’d be around, and wanted everyone to have a picture to remember him by.

What a beautiful man, what a lovely idea.  An old man with a story, a book destined to be a best seller, a picture of a thousand words.

I wish I had an extra hour to hear the “rest of his story”, but the clerk was calling my name.

I purchased my pictures and turned around to leave, but stopped long enough to smile at the old man and bid him good-by.  Grandpa smiled back and wished me the same.

Weeks later I wondered about grandpa.  Was grandpa’s picture a delight to whom ever received it?  Was grandpa’s picture a reminder to spend more time with him?  Did grandpa’s card get lost on the stack of other mail?

My questions will remain unanswered.  But that day an old man reminded me no life should ever go unnoticed.  That each life is a picture of a thousand words, a story worthy to be read.

…………………………………………..

Thirty years ago I was in my late twenties and the eighty year old man in the story could have been great-grandfather.
great grandpa in ava illinois

Thirty years later and I now thirty years older, the eighty year old man in the story could have been my father.
dad and cookiesYou never picture it when the “second hand” of your life’s clock is ticking down the minutes.

You never picture it when you’re blowing out another candle on your birthday cake.

You picture it through the lens of the old photographs taken of you in your twenties, thirties, forties and those fifties, soon to open a new chapter in my sixties, when you wonder:

How can it be that so much time has passed since my young children sat in front of the Christmas camera, kids who have grown up themselves and are now taking pictures of their own family at Christmas.

We must picture it that age can’t be controlled any more than the weather.

But you can number your days; to keep watch and value the life you have been given; to not waste our minutes and hours on matters that don’t matter.

“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

 …What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14 NIV

In twenty years I will have attained the age of the man in the story.

Twenty short years and beyond;

I need to picture the impact I want to make with my days and live it in front of the lens and those I am sharing my life with.

Might the story of my life and the story of your life boast a best seller.

Might the story of the old man in the Photo store cause us to be more vigilant and read between the lines of those we rub shoulders with; even strangers we share a couch with for a few brief minutes while waiting, because:

… an old man reminded me no life should ever go unnoticed.
That each life is a picture of a thousand words, a story worthy to be read.

A FATHER’S DAY GIFT of Family By Lori A Alicea

Have you ever had one of those nostalgic days, reminiscing thru a box of old photographs, reliving and getting lost in the “good-old days”?

We’ve all taken those unexpected trips down memory lane. Those private family reunions that trigger pieces and fragments of memories you thought were forgotten though discovered while sifting through the stacks of 4” x 6” snapshots cluttered in your lap.

Handfuls after handfuls of years shuffled through your fingers like a deck of cards, laughing at the old hair and clothes styles worn “back in the day”, and drooling over those vintage cars parked in the driveway.

Where did the time go?

You don’t want to live in the past, but sometimes revisiting former addresses of your life will turn back the clock of wonderful reminders, especially when you stumble on that one picture which catches you off guard and stirs an unexpected pause and thought, “Take me back.”

“Now this was a perfect day”, you mumble under your breath while holding a moment “frozen in time” thru an old photograph.   With a sigh you stare into the details, the people, the faces, the surroundings, savoring and longing to return to what you remember so clearly as a perfect day.

Pictures can do this. They are time capsules that help you remember what we so easily forget, our treasures in relationships, traditions and celebrations unearthed thru the pixels of a family photograph.

I have one of those pictures. A family gathering of a summer BBQ, an unassuming day I didn’t truly appreciate until I stumbled upon it years later, yet in my opinion could be remembered as one of those perfect days.

Gosh, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one. Though our portrait doesn’t paint a complete family gathering as some members couldn’t attend or live out of state, a few marriages hadn’t made their trip to the altar and a few children still waited their turn to be born or adopted.  Yet a day enjoyed on the lush green acreage of our home where every smile has a story written in the book of our family history, smiles that warm our hearts as eyes peruse each face posing for the camera.

Our snapshot of mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, grandchildren and canine friends; though not all blood related, family nevertheless, doing life and sharing life together on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Family is a priceless gift to open and be thankful for this Father’s Day.

Gazing this sunny day picture, I am thankful that our parent’s didn’t stop having children until there were six of us, even though the expenses and responsibilities piled up quickly with each child taking their place in the family.

I cherish those four sisters I grew up with, sisters I fought with, shared clothes, bedrooms and secrets with. As adults we shared our hopes and dreams and passed our children around to be spoiled.

Not pictured but I can’t forget about our big brother who cried every time mother brought home another baby sister, but learned to love us, scam us out of our allowance and protect all five of us when a big brother needed to.

Seated in this picture I celebrate the extended borders of our family that include our nanny and papa, their children and grandchildren we adopted as our own, to share holidays, birthdays and everyday moments with, even seeing a “family resemblance” as that’s what love can do when you open your hearts to others not rooted in your family tree. My heart swells hearing both families honoring each other as aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandma, nanny, papa, or cousin though not a drop of blood connects us.

Standing in the back row holding our sweet granddaughter I find my handsome husband whom I love beyond words. A man I have chosen to do “life with” as long as I have breath.  A man who has loved me in ways I never imagined possible, someone who holds the key to my heart forever and someone I am growing old together with.

Seated are three of our adorable grandchildren. I delight the thought of those grandchildren not pictured just yet as their births are still a well-kept secret with God.  I love that pictures keep your grandchildren small, yet a sad reminder of how fast they grow right out of your arms and lap.

My beautiful daughter holding her first born son sits right up front where she loves to be center of attention; a young woman and Toys R Us Kid whose little girl inside refuses to grow up, a gift for which I love her most for.

Don’t think you can hide from me son. Your gorgeous smile stands out like your “big guns”.  You’re as handsome as your father and have become like him in the sweetest of ways.  Thank you for marrying and adding your wife to the family portrait.  She is a gift wrapped as a daughter, our daughter.

Two sisters and their families have a special place in this picture and we can’t imagine life and family events without them.

Marley, our daughter’s annoying yappy dog stands in the photograph’s center. I promise you Marley I had nothing to do with your lost whereabouts.  Papa swears he doesn’t know how you wound up missing and we hope you found a loving new family since we last seen you barking in the busy road of cars.

Yes, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one on Father’s Day.

Marley would still be barking in the road and driving Papa crazy.

Bon Bon would still be here humming and working her word puzzles (our sister’s mother ‘n law Bonnie).

Papa would still have his beloved wife nanny.
Mother would still have her hilarious husband Roger.
We kids would still have you dad.

But life doesn’t stand still; it was never meant to stand still.

An Australian Proverb is quoted:
We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through.
Our purpose here is
to observe,
to learn,
to grow,
to love…
And then we return home.

But while we are here living on this earth, in the moment, for the only moment we have in the now. May cameras be always flashing, recording pictures for a permanent remembrance of those faces called family, those loved ones seated next to us around the dinner table breaking bread.

Keep your family ties knotted tight.
Capture your family doing life together; in the planned and spontaneous.
As:
Pictures can capture celebrations.
Pictures can capture a day in great detail.
Pictures can capture our moments in time.
But pictures can’t hold back time from passing through.

This Father’s Day and every day, I honor and open the gift of family God has blessed me with.  I pray you share the same sentiment.

I reminisce and will always be grateful for life depicted in pictures taken of my family past.
I will enjoy today and not take for granted life depicted in pictures taken of my family present.
And will always be willing to extend my borders to include my family future.

Count your blessings and notice them all in your todays,
as tomorrow your “todays” will take its place in a time capsule buried as an old photograph.

A NEW BEGINNING By Lori A Alicea

As a faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, morning greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

 New beginnings that promise a “blank page” if you dare to write the next chapter.
New beginnings that promise another “chance” if you dare to try.
New beginnings that promise “hope” if you dare to dream.
New beginnings that promise “life” if you dare to breathe.
New beginnings that promise “friendship” if you dare to be a friend.
New beginnings that promise another “race” if you dare to lace up your shoes.
New beginnings that promise a “song” if you dare to sing.
New beginnings that promise “relationship” if you dare to forgive.
New beginnings that promise “love” if you dare to open your heart.
New beginnings that promise “the moon” if you dare to shoot for the stars.

New beginnings that promise a “kiss”
If you dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises, all yours for the taking.
Do you see them?
Do you look for them?
Do you want them?
girls looking out windowThe author of our yesterday, today and forever;
our beginning, and our end (Revelation 22:13 NIV)
is the author of our new beginnings,
the author of another day.

Might we be encouraged to take the dare of a new beginning?
Might we take our blank page and write the words we wanted our life to say yesterday?
What do you have to lose?

Our faithful God is a “God of Second Chances; everyday”.
His mercies and compassion’s are new every morning;
a clean slate for us to try again.

22  …for his compassion’s never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Might we dare to walk the “high wire” of a new beginning risking the fall for the promise, relying on the “safety net of your father’s arms to fall into” if something does go wrong.
Aubrey touching papa's face

For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:3 NIV       

Be confident in taking the next step of your new beginning without the security of yesterday’s training wheels.
Your Father’s got you.
Kyle teaching Ethan to ride a bike

You’re not alone in this world of new beginnings, your Father sees you.
Ayva in car seat
Allow your Father to sing over you,
To remind you:
“You’re everything he hoped for.”
“You’re everything he dreamed.”
Joe Cocker

 

 

 

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Song YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL
by Joe Cocker

“Today” is that faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, like morning who greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

But new beginnings come with a dare.

YOU MUST

Dare to try.
Dare to dream.
Dare to breathe.
Dare to be a friend.
Dare to run your race.
Dare to sing your song.
Dare to forgive.
Dare to love.

Dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises.
You must see them.
You must look for them.
You must want them.
You must reach for them to take them.

You must Dare to kiss back.