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

 

 

 

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.