Only three weeks and counting, yet my husband and I have been longing and aching this day for months.
From the calendar of our hearts a save the date has been sent to reserve a couple’s corner of heaven every year for the past twenty-nine.
Twenty-nine years ago this weekend was celebrated as Sweetest Day.
Twenty-nine years ago this weekend was also celebrated as our Wedding Day. Every year following, our anniversary has been cherished and honored as the sweetest day the Lord has blessed two people head over heels in love with.
Love is a gift we never want to take for granted.
Hence, we return to the place where our love began and plan this homecoming year after to year, watching the delicate bud of our lives together become a rose of splendor in our watering with time, patience, intentional acts of kindness and prayer.
A few minutes ago, my husband sent me these roses of words regarding our anniversary, not knowing I was also gathering a basket full of roses for him in my words. There’s just something special about this quaint little town whose hospitality wraps their arms around us as old friends.
It’s the gift we give to ourselves.
It’s what we do for us. An old fashion cottage overlooking the lake and the center of attention throughout our anniversary weekend, whose waves and playlist of music will lull to sleep or serenade us honeymooners for life.
Hand in hand wherever we go, though barefoot along the shore in wait for the tide to rush our feet, or side by side we sit in quiet as the sun nods off for sleep.
Time has been good to us.
Though time has aged and refined itself thru our mirrored reflections, our love has stood the test of time and anchored us during the most turbulent of times, remaining strong as the three-stranded cord not easily broken.
Every year our anniversary hearts leave behind a sand message written for those passing by after us, inspiring hope to those who may have given up on true love for themselves. Such is the power of the written word.
Much like the arrows which pierced my heart through the words from a Valentine card my husband gave me early on in our relationship.
When I think about our future, I just have to smile because I know We still have so much more to look forward to In our real life dream come true.
With David’s handwritten sentiment…
To love you is to live. I love you forever.
Wedding anniversaries are a couple’s homecoming to remember when God set aflame His love in two hearts intertwined as one.
Every anniversary we unwrap the gift of marriage we were blessed to have been given by our Almighty God and thank Him for another year together.
Anniversaries take us back to our wedding day at the altar, remembering the words a bride and groom vowed to each other as a lifelong covenant between these two.
Enclosed is an excerpt of my wedding vows to my husband David from twenty-nine years ago to remind myself…
You fit the mold He made for me, He found the perfect choice. How my heart does skip a beat, Just hearing your sweet voice.
So tender are the words you speak, The meaning they impart. Your eyes illuminate my soul, And ravish through my heart.
Because of this I want to give, To you my everything. I want to live my life with you, From summer though the spring.
I count it all but blessed joy, A privilege for me. To know and serve your every need, Though times you may not see.
For you I’ll burn a lasting flame, It’s warmth will be my love. If you would ever feel a chill, These words remind me of.
We’ve been celebrating all summer long in great anticipation for our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary getaway to Our Place.
In the Bible it is written in Romans 13:7 ESV… Give honor to whom honor is due.
I find such a man in my brother Andy, whom honor is greatly due him.
This was an unexpected honor for me when my sister Debbie asked if I’d be willing to celebrate her husband’s life in words, because as far as I could remember, our brother Mark has always been the official family spokesperson at times like these.
Even as Mark and Andy are heavenly neighbors now, I somehow feel Mark’s presence still, prepared to take his rightful place at this podium.
But yet I’m here instead, privileged to deliver the words God wants to comfort us with while Celebrating Andy.
They say that the hearing is the last to go and if Andy could hear my name being called to the stage today, he’d be jolted and startled for a second with these words, “Copy that???”
Today is a bittersweet day to be together, locking arms and hearts together as we navigate this maiden voyage of uncharted waters without our Andy.
This small setting has all the “feels” of our family holiday dinners; the holiday being the celebration of our Handy Andy, our Hunny Bunny, our Papa, our Dad, our Brother ‘n law.
But as beautiful as this table set before us is, it’s hard not to notice the empty chair once occupied by Andy.
Rumor has it that Andy chose instead to attend a heavenly grand reunion in his honor…Greek translation…rude.
I wish I had a front row seat to the Houle section in the banquet room of heaven.
Surely, there is a senior table for our family pillars, Mom and Roger, Bill and Gloria and Bon Bon, with Dad and Joyce waving from their table nearby.
Surely, there’s a table where Andy has taken his rightful place seated next to Belinda, Mark and Mary. I can almost see Mark high fiving Andy – “Bro – you made it.” I have no doubt Belinda has a left a goody bag of jelly beans on Andy’s plate, and Mary, she sits and laughs as she takes it all in.
Mom is beaming with great joy to see her sidekick back at the card table and the entire family cheers for this grand reunion they’ve been waiting for.
Yes, it is an honor to Celebrate Andy’s life.
The book-ends of anyone’s life are their birth certificate and their obituary.
Held together by these book-ends are the volumes of details, the memories, the moments, the trials and victories of our beloved’s life.
Let’s begin by reading the final book-end of Andy’s life.
Andrew Hritz, age 66 of Valparaiso, IN passed away July 12, 2023.
He was born on Sept 15, 1956 to the late Michael and Pauline Hritz in Gary, IN.
On March 5, 1977, Andrew married the love of his life Deborah Houle in Valparaiso, IN. Andrew enjoyed reading, making homemade ice cream and eggnog, but most of all he loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Andrew was talented with his hands; his nickname was Handy Andy and if he did the job well his wife called him Honey Bunny.
Andrew will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend and he will be deeply missed.
Andrew is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Deborah Hritz of Valparaiso, son, Phillip (Mandie Fusner) Hritz, Amanda (Jordan) Mayfield of Argos, IN,
Four grandchildren, Kollin and Zachary Hritz, Gracie and Luke Mayfield;
Four brothers Michael, Bill, John and Paul Hritz and many other loving family members. Andrew was proceed in death by his father, Michael Hritz and his mother Pauline.
When you open up the book between the book-ends of Andy’s life, the first page begins with a shortened stanza from an old song we used to sing sitting on the pews of our Southern Baptist church as kids…
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS…
All I have needed thy hand hath provided… Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
From beginning to end, Andy’s life reflected God’s faithfulness as he learned to trust and never let go of God’s hand for every need and provision for his wife, children, grandchildren, employment and extended family.
Andy had a life verse whether he realized it or not, and this verse was once prophesied over him proving to be a true word from our Creator…
God will bless the work of your hands… Deuteronomy 28:12
I looked up the meaning of this verse and it reads as follows: God has destined that our hands be empowered to accomplish great things and will be sufficient for you.
There’s a quote from the website of once evangelist Billy Grahamwhich speaks to and exemplifies the life of our dear Andy:
The Greatest legacy one can pass onto one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulating in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
Yes, character and faith through Andy’s hands would become his legacy…
HERE IS A SMALL TRIBUTE TO THAT LEGACY.
From his hand and heart, Andy waved the white flag of surrender in salvation to God.
Andy gave his hand in marriage to one woman for 46 glorious years, as he loved her, cherished her, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health all the days of his life. Handy Andy hung galleries of Debbie’s Board and Brush pictures with his hands, defying physics and logic and preventing a house implosion from the sum of its weight. Andy was always game for a hand of cards – albeit Rummy, UNO, Yahtzee, or Pinnacle against Denise, Brad, Jill and mom, showing no mercy to either of them.
Uncle Drew held out his hand and scooped up the small nieces and nephews whenever they reached for his lap.
Game shark Andy showed no hand of mercy either while playing Chutes and Ladder, Candy Land, and Mother Love with his daughter Amanda and niece Candace when they were just learning to play.
Uncle Drew’s hands walked my young daughter to elementary school when she was afraid of the neighborhood dogs.
Daddy Andy held his daughter’s hand while learning to walk on tippy toes as a toddler. He held her hand as they walked together to the altar during her Honor Star service, and most proudly, Amanda’s father held tight to his daughter’s hand as she walked her wedding isle as a beautiful bride.
With books in their hands, a father and his son Phillip treasured the words written about God, exchanging their discoveries and truth about prophecy, and End – Times. They also bonded as guys do in the garage around tools, cars and grease. Uncle Drew’s hands wrestled through the ages of my young to my grown-up son Jake on his lap, once conning his nephew to pull out a pair of skid marked whitey-tightys from his Christmas gift as a joke for the giver– a legendary memory of laughter for us all.
Son ’n law Andy with his hands helped our mother by fixing her car, hanging pictures on her walls, sharing coffee and a seat around the table, and whatever he possibly could do to harass her.
Andy’s hands were the official carver of the holiday turkey and ham; whose place at the stove rang the silent dinner bell for everyone to take their seats at the kid’s table, senior table, adult table or any place you could find on the floor as dinner was almost served.
You wouldn’t know about them unless Andy felt led to show you, but Andy kept a library of hand written notes and diagrams pertaining to his job description throughout those 30+ years on the clock, a trophy recognizing his pursuit of excellence unto his Almighty God at work.
His hands as an employee carried a cooler/lunch pail so big and jammed pack of food, someone taking a picture might think he was toting the refrigerator to his job.
Andy’s hands clapped the loudest from the heart of the most proud Papa for his sweet Gracie during her dance and piano recitals.
Andy’s hands held and shared a fleet of trucks and cars with his little Lukie who loved and treasured this one-on-one Papa time with him.
Papa’s hands shared the hearts of his grandchildren Gracie and Lukie with Carla, Deb and well, ok…Dave, their other grandparents equally in love with them.
Don’t get me started on the hilarious sight of Andy with giant Old Maid cards in his hand and a game against granddaughter Gracie, nieces Ayva and Aubrey and their giggles to give him the Old Maid for the win.
Chef Andy’s hands concocted and shared the most delicious homemade eggnog with his daughter Mandie Renee at Christmas. But truth be told, Andy shared a cup of her stash with David and I this past Christmas.
A father ‘n law’s hands stood and saluted on the inside with the utmost respect and pride for his military son, a man of honor who lives for God, Family, Country and Flag; and in that order.
Papa Andy’s hands shared a bucket of popcorn for years with his son Phillip, his grandsons Kollin and Zachary and nephew Ethan tagging along to watch those action-packed movies at the theater. A wrestling match against old and young took place most nights during their time together.
It was a given for Andy’s hands to serve and share a cup of coffee with David and me whenever we visited, ensuring a carton of our favorite cream was bought in advance.
Andy might have been a man few of words, even though this Queen of Questions standing here tried to pry a few sentence over the years, but his servant’s hands spoke volumes for themselves. Andy and Debbie weren’t travelers and the farthest they’d ever drive was to the nearest Walmart. But when the car doors opened from our military family, and from our southern drawl families from Tennessee and Texas, rest assured Uncle Drew welcomed you with those Andy-hugs he was famous for. Rest assured Andy made the draft cut into the Special Forces which thrived to bother, aggravate and stir up trouble as guys love to do. Rest assured his nieces and nephews found a seat at the table near their Uncle Drew, making up for lost time of love and laughter with him. Andy had a hand in being present for those long distant relationship reunions.
Andy also had a hand in being present in his quiet relationships at church, and through our special events when extended families join together in celebration.
Our sister Denise’s best friend Jill had two small children in need of a babysitter so Debbie and Andy opened their home for babysitting, while also watching my two. They became Aunt and Uncle to Julie and JT who loved them as their own. Our family adopted these two as well into their hearts. Julie and JT’s pictures filled up Aunt Debbie’s library of scrapbooks, they each had a seat along with their extended family at our gatherings, their names found themselves on every guest list of ours, became part of the cousin generation, their branches grew and became off-shoots from our family tree, and we can’t imagine life without them, all because Debbie and Andy opened their hearts and home to them.
Brother ‘n law Andy extended a hand of hope to me as a single woman, receiving my small children during the middle of the night and putting them to bed as I went off to work. Rules were meant to be broken when Debbie wasn’t around, and Uncle Drew became Mr. Fun, pulling out all the stops of entertainment while I worked the other shifts. Loving my kids to life during this most difficult season for them, Debbie and Andy bonded with my little boy and girl as second parents. Andy’s hands touched others beyond his knowledge.
We each have a ripple effect, touching others beyond our reach, beyond our life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.
Through his wife’s pictures on social media, Andy was known at the city gates as a family man, a papa on adventure with his grand-kids, a father whose hands held the hearts of his children close, a husband who understood covenant in marriage; a rare find of gold mined from a man’s life these days.
Though a man of few words, Andy had a message and it was preached through the ripple effect of his life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.
Andy’s hands were never idle… earning his infamous title of Handy Andy.
His hands drew from the well of “acts of service”, the language of love he spoke to his family.
From his hands he gave back to God what was due him in tithes and offerings, in prayer, in time and talent and Sunday mornings with Him.
Hand and in hand along the Riverwalk of their life together, Andy enjoyed the most wonderful year of retirement with his bride. A year of bike rides, pancake breakfasts, Dairy Queen trips and Walmart shopping sprees to name a few.
Their final night together, husband Andy held the hand from the wife of his youth while sharing his devotion and love to her; they both fell asleep this way. A framed moment his wife of 46 years will forever hang from her heart.
Yes, God truly blessed the love and life of Andy’s hands.
Andy and Debbie’s faithfulness to God, their children and grandchildren will be a legacy passed on through the generations. The fruit of their faithfulness is evident and measured in the bushel basket-fulls of their family.
Amanda, the God-fearing woman she’s been throughout her life of forty years without waver is now mirrored in the worshiper we see in her daughter Gracie. Her son Lukie stands on a stage all his own, enjoying life and passionate around a race track of cars and trucks, making room one day for his calling in life.
Phillip, though man of few words as his father, has a hunger in his pursuit for Jesus which has been evident in him wanting his grandmother’s books centered around Christian living from her library as his inheritance. Phillip’s son Kollin is equally as quiet and has a presence about him in his respect and kindness for others. Phillip’s other son Zachary has this zest for life and humor like his Papa, causing hilarious trouble while drawing others unto himself.
Debbie and Andy have lived out the scriptures charged to them as parents…
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. Psalm 78:4 NIV
To pass the baton of faith, you must first possess it in your hand. For a smooth hand-off in the relay of life, you need a firm grip on the baton of faith and an intentional effort to place it in the hand of the next generation; as Andy and Debbie have.
Surely Andy has already heard these words of affirmation from the Heavenly Father,
Well done, good and faithful servant… Matthew 25:21
Andy’s address has changed.
He now lives and breathes in a perfect place with God while we attempt to process his absence here on earth; a momentary separation until our name is called and we are reunited with him once again.
BUT HERE WE ARE; WE GRIEVE. Everybody grieves.
Yes, everybody grieves.
But everybody grieves differently, and in their own way. Some grieve outwardly, visible through the rainfall of their tears.
Some grieve inwardly, as if a dam holds back the streams of their pain, yet breaks through in the flow of their written words or song.
There is no measuring stick to gauge one’s grief,
But you grieve nevertheless.
Grief is a painting of a thousand words. We find ourselves consoled in the brushstrokes from those who understand.
We take comfort in the sunsets that calm our weariness.
Just as the morning dew weeps over the spring flowers, we also are given permission to weep.
Jesus himself wept in grief over a dear friend who died.
Jesus wept. John 11:35 NIV
This portrait of grief is an open book of our heart where its pages are stained from runaway tears, yet caught by the hands of a loving God who notices and stores them in a bottle, recording these raindrops of pain in His Book of Remembrance.
…You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle – not one will be lost. For they are all recorded In your book of remembrance. Psalms 56:8 (TPT)
This portrait of a thousand words hangs in our personal gallery titled, “A Family says Good-bye.” This season of showers of our tears,
Whether flowing from the windows of our heart or soul,
Our tears water a great hope of a family reunion one day, in heaven.
From each shower,
A “rainbow in full view” of the open sky reminds us of the nearness of God. These April showers bring forth May flowers of joy, because in God:
Weeping may endure for a night, But joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5 (KJV)
The season of grief most difficult,
The season which wrestles and fights to hold onto your heartstrings,
Yet a season you must find His perfect peace,
The season of letting go.
In our letting go,
We are letting God…
Sit with us beside the empty chair.
Be that telephone call when we long for theirs.
Be a song when we miss their voice.
Be an arm of comfort in the middle of the night.
Give us eyes to see our family portrait still complete.
Be a father to the fatherless.
Be a husband to the widow.
Be a friend to the friendless.
Lead us beside still waters.
Whatever everything needs to be.
Going forward, that first birthday, first holiday, first wedding anniversary and first Father’s Day without Andy will be honored and grieved differently by each who loved him, though grieved nevertheless.
God wipes our tears when they fall outwardly.
God will be those words or song when we weep from the inside.
God will be a faithful post to lean on when the weight of our heartache is far too great a burden to shoulder and stand alone.
In our letting go,
We are letting God.
We’ll get there when we get there.
In time…in time
AND NOW WE SAY GOOD-BYE
Saying good-by to Andy is most difficult; the pain unbearable at times.
The “changing of the guard” is simultaneously taking place in multiple homes of our family, causing hearts to short-circuit from the emotional overload of sadness, yet rejoicing as our Andy has just seen Jesus.
As the season of summer is about to place the baton in the hand of its neighbor called fall, closing up swimming pools and beaches in exchange for cozy sweaters and campfires, our family is in their lane and in position for the hand-off and good-bye to a husband, father, papa and friend in Andy.
Good-bye is our book-end to hello.
A shelf of memories stacked between each book-end, keeping each scrapbook firmly placed between so many years of good-byes and hello.
While our good-byes can stir up a whirlwind of joy as does its partner of hello, it’s just embracing the vision of the hello when “letting go” in our good-bye causes so much emotion.
While the shades of good-bye vary as the colors in the rainbow, good-bye nevertheless requires an exchange of the baton in our heart.
Before an unexpected good-by, Andy looked at the “love of his life” for the very last time; yet didn’t realize it.
You never saw one without the other.
Still high school sweethearts into their golden years, the glow of their faces while looking into each other’s eyes alone could fill up the pages of a romance novel. For the first day in their marriage lifetime just a few days ago, Andy’s wife woke up to the sunrise of sadness, sensing the vacancy on his side of the bed, sitting at the breakfast table with his empty coffee cup and empty seat in front of her, void of his bright smile that didn’t greet her good-morning.
Yet, in the pain of their good-bye on this earth, Debbie’s Honey Bunny said hello to the other love of his life, the one he gave his heart to and waited a lifetime to spend eternity with, his Lord and Savior.
Debbie’s Hunny Bunny still retains his bright smile he was known for, yet he brightens up our hearts now, while leaving the world a bit dimmer. Good-bye is our book-end to hello.
One sad good-bye is a glorious hello to someone else.
We were never meant to hold on to anything; the moments, life as we know it, each other.
Life is a daily letting go so that in our letting go, we can “Let God” have His way in us.
Good-bye might not be the hello we want to embrace,
But be willing to stay in your lane,
Get in position for the handoff of the baton,
And continue to run the race set before you.
As Good-bye is always our hello to the next step, the new beginning,
Of something wonderful God wants to do thru us.
We love you Andy. We love you Uncle Drew. We love you dad.
We love you Papa. She loves you Hunny Bunny. Until that grand reunion in heaven, we will all miss you like crazy.
We are born with gifts uniquely matched for our God-assignment.
We each have a ripple effect, touching others beyond our reach, beyond our life’s stone cast across the water into ripples on a pond.
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. Mother Teresa
You don’t have to do something great or be someone great to have a ripple effect on others… Just a desire to change the world for one.
The ripple effect of his life’s stone cast across the pond went as far as eyes could see into the sunset.
The years will continue to tell his story thru the ripple effect of those he touched down stream when one-changed-life affects change for another, and then another.
Stopped in my tracks when I caught a sound-bite of him through the open Dutch-door one Sunday morning attending this church for the first time thirty-three years ago, as I looked to find the age appropriate class for my young daughter that day.
Peeking in, I jumped as he startled me with those military commands to put his nursery age class in formation, preparing them to march, as they were now drafted into the Army of God; or should I say, Marines.
My daughter was late finding her class as we stayed and watched in awe this Marine guy and his Second-in-Command (wife) get this platoon in diapers ready for war.
A few soldiers walked, with Mr. Marine army-crawling on the floor with the other recruits.
As usual in the nursery, the children begin missing their parents and Mr. Marine comforts them as good Marine’s do.
“There’s no crying in the military”, Then diverts their attention by detonating bombs of Cheerios.
“INCOMING…INCOMING…soldiers take cover”.
There were a few causalities when the urgent call sounded,
“Medic, I need a Medic…”
As Mr. Marine handed those soldiers with explosions of their own to his Second-in-Command and sending them to the infirmary.
This Marine guy went into the trenches with his platoon, loving these small soldiers and casting his life’s stone across the pond of their lives, creating rippling effects for years to come as they grew.
I left that military zone with a smile on this single woman’s face, wondering if Mr. Marine had any brothers for me.
Imagine thinking such things in church.
Mr. Marine did have a name; it was Gunnery Sgt. Joe to the United States of America. Sgt. Joe cast his life’s stone into many ponds, thus widening the rippling effects of the lives he touched with a soldier’s love, kindness, and even military toughness when necessary.
Sgt. Joe was a husband of forty-plus years to his wife, a father to two daughters, a grandfather to six, a teacher and mentor to men and marriages, and an elder at church.
Sgt. Joe was one brother among five.
Sgt. Joe was Uncle Joe to two generations of nieces and nephews who were crazy about him.
Sgt. Joe was Mr. Joe to a decade of school bus children; a world-changer to them one life at a time.
Sgt. Joe was also a matchmaker, as he did have a brother when I wondered that first day in church. David and I met and married five years later, with Sgt. Joe officiating our 25th Wedding Anniversary Renewal.
Twenty-seven years go by and we’re witnessing once again the rippling effects of Sgt. Joe’s life while standing to receive the guests of his memorial service, those waiting in line for an hour at minimum, a line which wrapped around our church foyer and never emptied until the service began, a tribute to the ripples in his life’s pond that stretched as far as eyes could see into the sunset.
Yes, it’s true, you don’t have to do something great or be someone great to have a ripple effect on others…
Just have a desire to change the world one life at a time; and Sgt. Joe did just that.
Mother didn’t drive for many years when we were young and with dad working around the clock, mom walked us to a country church we attended one block away from home.
Behind our mother we ducklings followed single file behind her to our neighborhood lighthouse for Christ.
There was a season years later when mother stopped going to church, yet our love for God kept us walking.
Mother’s six kids all walked an isle of salvation following in water baptisms, and passing on a passion for Jesus to their families.
SEEING THINGS MORE CLEARLY (excerpt) By Lori A Alicea
As an adult looking back on my life, I wish I had “seen things more clearly” while growing up with my four sisters and brother.
Surrounded in a house with five other siblings, there were many opportunities to be selfish. Children tend to see their cup half full, but now as an adult I know my cup had always overflowed, realizing I had more of everything money couldn’t buy, and that was having each other.
If only our eyes could naturally magnify the treasures of life. If only our naked eye could see the “little things that matter”. Too bad life doesn’t issue a pair of glasses that allows us to “see things more clearly”.
I think back then and smile remembering those late night talks with the two sisters I shared a room with, while trying to get the attention of the other two down the hall. Or the times our brother conned us into doing his chores, promising his allowance, though never paying like he said. I guess we girls just loved to make our only brother happy.
Then there were our countless meals around the table, always sitting in the same exact seat. It was this sacred time spent together where the memories we now tell our own children were made.
SEEING THINGS MORE CLEARLY (excerpt end)
For years, mother sent her children to church camp to experience Jesus and outdoor cabin living.
One summer in 1973, and even though I always loved God, I finally surrendered my life to Him at camp with the scripture:
“That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 AMP
Summer Camp – 1973 (I am standing on the top row, last on the right)
Looking at this younger version of myself back at summer camp, I wish I could talk to her and warn her with flashing lights of things to come. With eyes visibly shut, I want so bad to sound the alarm and awaken her spirit, because in four short years, a teenager’s journey is about to take a dangerous turn.
Her parents will divorce and six months after that, an innocent sixteen year old is startled from a deep sleep and jolted to a horrific nightmare of attempted rape by her mother’s second husband.
A horror flick in black and white without sound and not a soul able to hear my screams; I was too terrified and frozen in fear to cry out.
Why Lord? Why?
The scriptures remind…
In the world ye shall have tribulation; But be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world. John 16:33 KJV
In days, weeks and years to come, I was comforted in a Father’s promise…
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted… Psalm 34:18 ESV
The Lord indeed was near and intervened in my rescue before the nightmare played out its final scene of terror.
A few days later my sister and I found refuge at our newly married sister’s house with our younger sister living now with dad, closing the door of home behind three young girls forever as our mother asked us to leave.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?
THE SIGHTS OF MARRIAGE…
After eleven years of marriage, I found myself a devastated single mother raising a baby girl and little boy in a two bedroom apartment located in a government housing community. I never wanted to be divorced.
I was on my own for the very first time in my young life of twenty-eight years.
My family helped me unpack and put everything away on moving day; albeit I didn’t have much.
After the last family member left for home following the move, the sound of prison doors shut in my heart.
A few hours prior, I left behind the peace and tranquility of life in the country; and now my new residence in the city was deafening to my ears with the fire station nearby.
A glimmer kept me hopeful though as my initial lease allowed the contract to be broken without reason before the first thirty days expired.
Surely my husband would return for his wife, baby girl and little boy when the silence echoed in every room of the house from our absence.
Yet, the showers of a broken heart flooded my soul after our thirtieth day in the apartment lapsed. He never came back for us.
This government apartment would become our new address for the next five years.
It’s time to get off the bus now for a moment and stretch our legs.
This part of the tour is complete and you might be wondering why we stopped here in this town recently devastated by a Kentucky tornado; in particular, this house whose roof was relocated somewhere else in the neighborhood.
Feeling like I lost everything; my home, my marriage, my self-worth; I needed to be reminded when Jesus is all you have left, you come to realize Jesus is all you need.
Seated at his piano following this Kentucky tornado, a man named Jordan Baize comforts himself after losing his earthly possessions by playing the song,
There’s Just Something About That Name.
Let’s gather around the piano with him and sing…
THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME
By Bill and Gloria Gaither
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; There’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, But there’s something about that name.
God has taken his seat on the bus and the VICTORY LAP begins with our new Tour Guide ready to reveal the bigger picture of my life with every site we re-visit.
The old hymn we six siblings sang in harmony together while seated side by side on the wooden pew of the old country church our mother walked us to begged to burst forth from my soul, “OH VICTORY IN JESUS!”
There is about to be an exchange of…
BEAUTY FOR MY ASHES.
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The oil of joy instead of mourning, And a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…. Isaiah 61:3 NIV
With shovels and pick axes in hand, we are entering the mine of my rejection, about to discover those beautiful and precious diamonds of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
As we think on those things which are…
Of a good report…
And are praiseworthy.
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Scripture Philippians 4:8 KJV
Mining for answers of all my questions, our Senior Pastor counsels his flock to turn around and look back a generation or more to understand the “whys” in our life, because the…
Iniquities of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 20:5)
Without God, history repeats itself as fathers bequeath to their children and children’s children the tainted wells of their life as an inheritance for the generations beyond them to drink from. Pastor also encourages us to “stop up and close off” for good those old wells of bitter water and dig anew that we might leave a (spiritual) inheritance to his children’s children to draw from instead. (Proverbs 13:22)
Sadly, I found the answers to my “whys” while digging three generations back.
Not wanting to face this part of the tour alone, I found it comforting to share my seat of VICTORY with the (memory) of two other innocent girls whose pages of their childhood story were drenched and stained from those tears of sorrow similar to mine; my sisters Belinda and Mary.
Together, we will hold each other’s hands from across the seat and look through the “windows of our past” without being afraid anymore, because God is about to reveal the scenes and details He was fully present in, though we were unaware.
I take this VICTORY LAP for my daughters and granddaughters and also for my two sisters who suffered this part of their life in silence, that their legacy gain their wings for their daughters and granddaughter who continue the journey beyond their mother’s and grandmother’s life.
Reading our story, one might ask themselves, “Why does a loving God allow such heartache on innocent girls?” Our good daddy replies to His daughters,
“It rains on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
While God never promised a life without us “getting wet” from the tragedy’s of the world, He did promise to hold the umbrella and weather the storm with us.
THE SIGHTS OF GROWING UP Revisited…
Re-visiting our childhood home, I soon discover God’s hand of protection on our life when mother asked us girls to find another place to live following the assault from my step-dad, as our family home caught fire some time later and the flames began and ignited from my childhood room.
I was also heartbroken to discover my mother’s parents drank from the well of abandonment when as a baby, my grandmother left my mother in the crib to cry for hours without comfort as my grandmother left her alone during the evenings of dating.
My mother’s unrelenting cries of hunger and desperation for her mother’s arms could be heard and felt from the open windows of the neighbors, who offered no assistance to a child left alone.
Wanting also to hold and protect my mother close when I realize there were relatives in her life who drank from the well of sexual abuse.
The iniquities of the parents visit the third and fourth generations. (Exodus 20:5)
After forty-plus-years I was finally brave enough to dig for answers regarding the man who assaulted an innocent girl while she slept.
A faithful Father protected and spared His daughter that night from the evils of my step-father when I discovered he left a party a few years later and raped two women at knife point; although the charges were never upheld in court.
My Pastor always reminded us,
“Without God, we are all capable of the unthinkable.”
Though divorced by this time from my mother and decades since we last saw our step-father, he now lay in the hospital bed and within days of his death, my mother worried of his salvation.
As it is not God’s will that any should perish, but have everlasting life, my mother made a difficult request of us adult children to visit and say our final good-byes to him at his hospital bedside.
Believing love never fails,we trusted our kindness might stir man’s heart for eternity.
Not forgetting our roots and heritage to a child’s promise of blessing in honoring their parents, even the office of mother and father when the emotions are too painful; we adult children visited our step-father with a pure heart to honor him in our final farewell.
Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV
Taking in the final days of this man I once knew as step-dad, who now struggled and gasped to breathe for a single sip of coffee, the difficult memories I carried for decades in my heart’s pocket became a mere blur to this unknown person bloated at the abdomen, dying from emphysema.
Noticing the well wishes on the night stand for my step-father caught me off guard and took my breath to realize they were greeting cards the grandchildren gave him years ago when they were little.
We were the only family this broken man had ever known.
Born as an innocent boy with a story being written from the same God and pen in His hand who was also writing mine, yet still a boy on the inside who was never loved to life; as his own father drew from the well of alcoholism and child abuse.
We children honored this man and our mother by attending his funeral.
The blessings were ours for the taking in our honoring.
Regarding my mother, I grew up without ought or an unforgiving heart towards her; how could I? She was a woman who introduced me to Jesus by taking me to church, sending me to camp, joining us at Vacation Bible School and so much more.
The same Jesus who forgives me of my trespasses when we forgive those who trespass against us. (Matthew 6:12)
Yet sadly, I don’t believe my Mother ever forgave herself or moved beyond the ash heap of ground zero from the spiritual fires her choices cost her family.
I grieve for mom and my sisters Mary and Belinda who left this earth suffering in the silences of their past when God longed to touch their brokenness with the healing salve of a Fathers’s love.
We each hold keys to the gates which unlock those secret places we dare not allow any to trespass; but we must be willing to relinquish and surrender these entrances of our lives for freedom’s sake.
Mother looked at me for the remainder of my life without her glasses, never noticing how God turned my mourning into dancing, gave me beauty for my ashes, how God made something beautiful out of my life.
I QUESTIONED MY MOTHER’S LOVE FOR ME revisited.
Four years before my mother died, her address changed to a nursing home and I offered to pack up her house. Before the details of my mother’s life was photographed and chronicled on a spreadsheet for future gifting to her heirs, I asked the Lord a question while sitting in my mother’s chair.
ME AND MOTHER’S BOXES (excerpt) By Lori A Alicea
Lord, is there anything among my mother’s things that you want to give me?
We didn’t grow up with riches, but we were rich in ways money could never afford. Any lose ends from the fray of my memory have been tied in a bow, leaving only good thoughts under the cloak of my childhood.
I needed God to complete the sentence relationship of mother and me with not a “period”, but possibly a heart emoji, a kiss of the heart, or a gift of affection.
Sixty-five boxes in total. I held in my hands the last remaining treasure among mother’s sixty-five boxes. An old jewelry box filled with mother’s mismatched pieces of costume necklaces, earrings, rings and broaches, jewelry I remember mother wearing vividly when I was growing up. A jewelry box displayed on her bedroom dresser, a familiar piece I cleaned for decades as mother’s housekeeper. I knew it well.
The hidden finds inside this jewelry box rewinds the 8mm collections of me as a child playing dress up with mother’s baubles and beads.
I sigh…I take a breath…There it was.
Like an old photograph buried in the dust of time prompting a double-take and closer view, I stopped in the moment to remember.
Held in my hands a gift from God, bewildered I hadn’t noticed it during my years as mother’s housekeeper, even more bewildered this gift was in plain sight during the packing.
A sweet sixteen present from her mother and father, A birthday celebration for my mother, A beautiful watch with the inscription and sentiment I had never read before, “To Our Loving Daughter”.
Beholding this gift up close I knew without question, God didn’t want to give me treasures, God wanted to give me words, God longed to breathe these words of affirmation upon my life, “To Our Loving Daughter.” Most endearing of all was the phrase, “To Our”, received as two people, my mother and father, my heavenly Father.
God redeemed our relationship symbolically with a watch (gift of time, my love language) that was given on my mother’s sweet 16 (about age I was when the incident with my step-father happened. The watch face was broken, but God redeemed my sweet 16 with the inscription on the other side. ME AND MOTHER’S BOXES (excerpt ends)
I QUESTIONED MY FATHER’S LOVE FOR ME… (revisited)
Mining my life of rejection through the relationship with my father, God revealed to me how dad drew from a dry well and couldn’t quench my thirst for love and affirmation.
As an adult, I found enough grace for dad and his “lack to see me”. I soon questioned in secret, “What affirmations failed to be poured into that little boy’s life who one day became my dad?”
COMING TO TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (excerpt) By Lori A Alicea
Aware through a cancer scare years prior to his actual graduation to heaven, I feared the uncertainty of his days and losing dad without him hearing how I felt. So, after Thanksgiving one year, I decided to surrender in an advent calendar, titling it “Twenty Five Things My Dad Did Right”.
As a parent myself I strive to give my kids the best of me, though acknowledging I’ve made my share of mistakes. Having grace for his, I decided for every day leading up to December 25, I’d give dad a gift of my appreciation.
Opening up a daughters treasure chest, I wondered if there were 25 memories tucked away. But in turning the key to my heart, I marveled at what I had saved.
Like running into the kitchen each Sunday afternoon from church, faithfully finding that one piece of toast dad hadn’t eaten for breakfast. I always believed he left it for me.
Or realizing after graduating from high school and college just how smart dad really was, though never receiving either diploma. Dad could fix anything, and I truly admired that.
How could I forget dad adoring me in my wedding dress, setting aside his pain as we had buried grandma earlier that morning.
Christmas, when it came, dad declared he’d received the best gift of his life, presenting the advent calendar to us all. “Tis the season” as dad seemed to stand a little taller, dad seemed to come to life.
The bells of Christmas rang a new message for me that year. Maybe dad was never daddies little boy and couldn’t give me a love he hadn’t known. When dad came to life that holiday season, I believe this little girl did the same.
COMING TO TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (excerpt end)
Weeks leading up to my father’s passing, I kept thinking of Jacob’s story from the Bible who gathered his sons around the death bed where he blessed them individually.
I also longed a father’s blessing. A FATHER’S BLESSING (excerpt) By Lori A Alicea
“Bless me father.”
“Oh, that you would bless me.”
Visiting dad for what would be my last day to see him alive and heartbroken over dad’s visible frailty and sagging T-shirt hanging over his protruding bones, I began to lose hope of a Father’s Blessing. But unbeknownst to me, a blessing awaits its reveal.
There’s one fact I’m certain about God my heavenly father, he loves his little girls. No matter her age, weight, social status, marital status, degrees or lack thereof, etc., God is smitten with his girls.
God smitten with “this little girl” heard my prayer that summer and answered me days before my father’s death in a small but impactful way; not at my father’s bedside, but kitchen table instead.
God’s choice of the kitchen table for a Father’s Blessing tied years of my fondest memories, as at this table dad handed out our Christmas gifts each December. I loved that my heavenly father chose this memory backdrop and used the same chair dad sat in for years during our Christmas exchanges to bless me. Seated around the table were me and my dad, my step-sister and dad’s caregiver. Just having small talk, dad asked his caregiver to help him up and assist dad to his room. Back in his seat, dad handed me a framed letter and asked, “Would you please read this to me?”
Not a crier by nature, I fought to compose myself when dad asked me to read a Father’s Day gift I gave him a year ago. Always drawing a blank when buying dad’s gifts, that Father’s Day I felt led from God to honor my dad’s military service; a conversation we never had; but I never asked either.
Accompanied with a flag that Father’s Day, I never seen dad so emotional.
We are told by God to give Honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:7)
Honor was due my father; an accumulation of years due.
These same framed words dad gave back to me and asked me to read at his funeral. Dear Dad,
For 54 years I have celebrated you as my dad and all that you have sacrificed and contributed to my life. You have been a great provider. You have protected me when I have needed you to. You are always a phone call away. And you have been a friend throughout the years.
But the one attribute of my father that I have not celebrated until today is your service in the military. Until I became a mom with a son serving in the military, did I fully appreciate the sacrifices of a member in the military.
I am sad to say I know nothing about your time in the navy, but that’s because I never asked. But I do know you actively served, and for that, I salute you today and thank you for
SERVING YOUR COUNTRY FOR OUR FREEDOM.
I am giving you this gift as my way of saying thank you for your service.
Happy Father’s Day
Love, Lori and David
You may be wondering, “Is that it! Is that your Father’s Blessing?”
The true Father’s Blessing revealed itself during the packing up of dad’s house.
Sadly dad “said a lot again” when we kids realized there wasn’t a single picture, card or memento saved and left behind of dad’s six kids, or crowd of grand-kids and great-grand-kids. Not one.
Except the letter of mine that dad framed and hung in the entrance of his room.
I won’t add to dad’s heart as his heart was a locked door for most of our relationship. But a Father’s Day present became a Father’s Day Blessing that summer of 2016.
An added bonus discovered deep in my father’s attic was his old fashioned lunch pail, a true treasure I kept to remind myself what a “standard of excellence” looks like. Dad was buried with Military Honors. In death our father received the military honor due him in life.
During the years that an earthly father “didn’t see” her, a little girl;
A heavenly father couldn’t take His eyes off of her.
A Father’s Blessing I am truly aware of when I sleep and when I slumber.
If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? Luke 12:28 Message
A FATHER’S BLESSING (excerpt end)
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?
I’ve been asking this question most of my life to myself, but sadly, I never inquired of the Lord.
The Father answers a daughter’s question, though not with rebuke, but with love and gentleness as a good daddy does.
“Daughter, you been asking the wrong question all these years. Instead, I long you to ask of your Father, WHO AM I IN CHRIST? And then He answers…
THE GOD WHO SEES (excerpt) By Lori A Alicea
You knit me in my mother’s womb, And wonderfully I’m made. Created me so fearfully, The days you watched, you stayed.
Not hidden in this secret place, Your works, I praise for these. Your eyes they saw my unformed self, You are the God who sees.
How precious are your thoughts of me, More than the grains of sand. My days are written in your book, One mind can’t understand.
You see me when I sleep at night, You see when I’m awake. You are the God who sees it all, You see each breath I take.
Yes, I am yours and you are mine, My heart, you have the keys. You’ve drawn me Oh Beloved One, You are the God who sees.
Psalms 139; Genesis 16:13; Solomon 6:3
I have grown into a woman fully aware of the love God has for me.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
So, what about that red hair, green eyes and face full of freckles? I asked the question years later in my life, and it’s amazing when you ask the simple questions God longs to hear, the answers He generously gives.
Our good Father whispered and pointed to the mirror of my reflection:
Oh daughter, your red hair is a gift from me; only 2% of little girls are strawberry blonde; red hair with green eyes are even more uncommon.
And those freckles…God leans in close to tell me a secret…
Your mother told you those freckles were kisses from the S U N.
Well actually, your freckles are sweet kisses from my S O N.
All grown up when I could have changed my hair to any color in the rainbow, I kept the gift God gave me… Yes, God is so good to me. As a child I sang in Sunday School those exact words:
GOD IS SO GOOD
By Paul Makai God is so good.
God is so good.
God is so good.
He’s so good to me.
God is a good Father to all His children. He longs for His sons and daughters to climb on His lap and lean into His love.
He even blessed me with a Cinderella love story in marriage nearly twenty-nine years ago.
At our 25th Anniversary Wedding Vow Renewal we sang the words of a good and faithful God:
The faithfulness and goodness of God has followed me my whole life. The faithfulness and goodness of God has followed you too.
I want my daughters and granddaughters and girls and women alike to rejoice in the God who made them fearfully and wonderfully…
Missing teeth and all…
THE GOD WHO SEES (excerpt ends)
Thank you to everyone who found a seat on this tour and “lifted me up” with your presence as my honored guest.
It was in the turning and sharing of these tear stained pages of my story that I might give hope to someone else who suffers in silence.
What was intended for my harm, God turned it around and used it for my good. (Genesis 50:20)
I remember being that inquisitive young girl with my grandmother, asking her question after question about love and courting back in her day.
What an heirloom to pass on through the generations; a love story continuing in the chapters of your children’s lives, your grand-children and the greats beyond them.
Matters of the heart are timeless through the centuries of calendars, as we’re all looking for love to share our lives with; it’s just the specifics which date the romance.
Recalling one indelible detail I held onto from those conversations with my grandmother regarding her courtship with Papa, she recounted how he flirted for her attention by riding pass the window on horseback, while shooting his rifle in the afternoon air.
What a keepsake in my hope chest of memories, if only I had taken the time to record my grandmother’s accounts in its entirety on paper.
I didn’t want to make the same mistake with our love story, as stories are those sacred pages written in the family Bible, the history of our lineage documenting the faithfulness of God for the generations beyond our life to take comfort in, to hold onto, to mine the wisdom and believe for themselves when their hearts begin their travels of looking for love.
I was twenty-eight years old and looking for love.
Newly single and a mother of two young children, I was looking for love, but didn’t want to find love in all the wrong places, as my two year old daughter and seven year old son’s future depended on me while I depended on God with the matters of my heart for their sake, as well as mine.
I wish I could have held the hand of the twenty-eight year old version of me during those lonely evenings when the children slept, and uplift her continence to remember, this too shall pass.
I would reassure her that Valentine’s Day won’t always be celebrated seated at a table for one.
I would remind her in this painful separation from love…
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart… Psalms 34:18 NKJV
I would shower her with hope for the new beginnings God has already planned for the three of them.
Although not to overwhelm, I would save the part of the five year wait ahead of her,
Instead, I’d bring a mother’s comfort in the wait she currently endures,
But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings of eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
It was in the waiting where I struggled most.
With my love language being quality time, I longed to share my life with someone wanting the same.
In looking for love, a tug of war with God over the reins of my heart was a constant struggle, yet peace waited for me in my surrender to His control.
In looking for love, somehow I believed I knew what was God’s best according to me,
and wrote about it during the fourth year of my wait, on March 7, 1993.
GOD’S BEST ACCORDING TO ME By Lori A Alicea
As I sit and ponder, And search to see. What truly is God’s best, According to me.
It all comes to mind, In my quiet place. I begin to know him, And sense his face.
He’d have a beard, Kept up each week. To be ever soft, Against my cheek.
He’d stand so straight, But not too tall. And have arms of strength, To protect us all.
He’d enjoy the laughter, And enjoy the peace. And enjoy it with measure, That never would cease.
He’d be so excited, About the children I’ve known. And would treasure their being, And make them his own.
He’d be the likeness of Christ, And bear his name. And be the priest of our home, Just the same.
He’d cover me with prayer, At the start of each day. And I’d feel his compassion, By the words he’d say.
And more important than ever, More important to me. Would be his race towards Jesus, And the heavenly.
And all this is beautiful, What a dream he’d be But this is only God’s best, According to me.
My thoughts are so limited, And ideas so few. And all this together, Would not be dreams come true.
For just as the heavens, Are higher than the earth. So are His ways far greater, In value and in worth.
For it is he that knows my desires, For only he can see. What truly is His best, For me.
And even though on paper, My special needs I state. I must allow the matchmaker, To select my mate.
Another year of waitingon God and with God still remained.
In looking for love, God longed to reveal His heart of love to me before I shared my heart with another.
…God is love. 1 John 4:8 NJKV
“Why did this journey take five years?
I will have to ask God someday when we meet face to face, as the answers haven’t yet been revealed.
But I must confess this five year quest in looking for love developed in me “a strength and confidence” in God I had never known before.
This was so worth the wait.
A wait and our complete love story written in this former blog titled…
SO WORTH THE WAIT
By Lori A Alicea
TRUE LOVE WAITS.
True love “waits on God” for His perfect best, for however long it takes.
True love “trusts in God” the steps he’s planned for your journey, resisting the lead when guided thru the “wrong way appearances” of the back roads.
True love “believes in God” that He hasn’t forgotten you during the lonely hours spent by yourself.
True love “rests in God” no matter our tears as He notices and collects them all in a bottle where not one is lost, recording this in His book of remembrance. (Psalm 56:8 TPT)
True love waits.
Waiting though is easier said than done.
As a single mom of two I never imagined a five year wait for “God’s best in marriage.”
Twenty-eight years old and starting over again was never my plan, nor was it God’s plan. Nevertheless, I am a “lady in waiting” for the second time.
I must confess the countless lies I believed regarding who would want me and my ready-made family. God reminded me over and over though the double blessing His “hand-picked man” would receive bringing all three of us into his life.
For most of the time I didn’t sense the loneliness of my life surrounded by sisters, a great family, church, a few dear friends and all my time filled with the responsibilities of raising two small children.
During the summer months most days on my calendar were filled with Little League. It helped having somewhere to go at night and on weekends, at least for the summer.
School and shift work kept me exhausted but I always saved a reserve of my time, energy and love for that little girl and boy who needed me to be present in their day. We had to go on and God would want us to enjoy life and be thankful in all things.
Holidays were the hardest though, especially at Christmas. I found joy in the decorated trees trimmed with bright lights and sparkle. I loved the Christmas music played on every station. I found warmth beside the fireplaces lit for the ambiance of the season. I too shopped and baked and hid those gifts under the tree. But I wasn’t sending out Christmas cards from the “two of us”. I didn’t share a kiss with anyone under the mistletoe. When you’re not a couple at Christmas you feel like that burnt out strand of lights that went dim on the tree. People aren’t watching, but in your loneliness you just imagine that they are.
Year after year when the New Year’s Eve clock counted down to midnight, I held on to the promises of God that this year might be different.
GOD’S WORD KEPT ME HOPEFUL AS HE IS FAITHFUL
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; Psalms 130:5
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desiresofyourheart. Psalm 37:4
One day I decided to write God the “desires of my heart”. These desires surely pale in comparison to His Best, but these words longed to give a voice to my heart.
GOD’S BEST ACCORDING TO ME Written March 7, 1993, One year before God’s Big Reveal
By Lori A Alicea
As I sit and ponder,
And search to see.
What truly is God’s best,
According to me.
It all comes to mind,
In my quiet place.
I begin to know him,
And sense his face.
He’d have a beard,
Kept up each week.
To be ever soft,
Against my cheek.
He’d stand so straight,
But not too tall.
And have arms of strength,
To protect us all.
He’d enjoy the laughter,
And enjoy the peace.
And enjoy it with measure,
That never would cease.
He’d be so excited,
About the children I’ve known.
And would treasure their being,
And make them his own.
He’d be the likeness of Christ,
And bear his name.
And be the priest of our home,
Just the same.
He’d cover me with prayer,
At the start of each day.
And I’d feel his compassion,
By the words he’d say.
And more important than ever,
More important than me.
Would be his race towards Jesus,
And the heavenly.
And all this is beautiful,
What a dream he’d be.
But this is only God’s best,
According to me.
My thoughts are so limited,
And ideas so few.
And all this together,
Would not be dreams come true.
For just as the heavens,
Are higher than the earth.
So are His ways far greater,
In value and in worth.
For it is he that knows my desires,
For only he can see.
What truly is his best,
And even though on paper,
My special needs I state.
I must allow the matchmaker,
To select my mate.
God is a personal God.
He cares about our thoughts and desires.
One year later
When you least expect, God shows up on the scene of our life.
In our waiting, may we wait with EXPECTANCY.
Be ever confident that God hears and answers our prayers.
And SUDDENLY God shows Himself faithful
By SHOWING up with His Best for my life.
IN A SUDDENLY MOMENT – LIFE HAS NEW MEANING
Song “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean
Video Courtesy of Brad Ebert
As wonderful as this “dream come true” appears, I’m mortified to say I almost MISSED and PASSED UP the best blessing of my life in David when I questioned God and his choice. How dare me but I did. Everyone in my life, especially my pastor, was aghast at my indecision.
God reveals His best after five years of waiting on Him yet I fought an inner battle waged on myself whether I could receive this amazing man into my life as well as my children’s.
Faith required me to believe what eyes couldn’t see.
My trust in God required blind eyes walking.
Another song of my heart is written.
The War of My Own Will
By Lori A. Alicea
I toss and turn and try to sleep,
The night it seems so long.
I try and figure out myself,
To see what might be wrong.
But harder that I make it seem,
This mountain or this hill.
I know I’m fighting deep inside,
A war of my own will.
I see things as I know I should,
I hear His guiding voice.
But oh the path I’d rather take,
The trails of my own choice.
It all just seems so right to me,
The pieces I make fit.
But why can’t I rest peaceably,
And sleep a little bit.
The answers that He has for me,
No doubt will be all right.
But war of my own will goes on,
I can’t give up the fight.
My fight with Him will have to stop,
But who will have to die.
Though all along this fight is with,
One, Me, Myself and I.
He never makes me eat His will,
The restaurant is free.
This gentleman just holds the door,
And only waits for me.
I feel this way as others have,
I know I’m not alone.
For His own Son did feel the same,
His will He did make known.
For in Gethsemane He prayed,
In sorrow He did spake.
If it is possible for me,
This cup I plea you take.
The troubled Son was overwhelmed,
His face fell to the ground.
But in the midst of darkest times,
No chains would make Him bound.
For He did yield His life to Him,
To save the life of mine.
When with His lips He spoke these words,
“Yet not My will but Thine”.
To be like Him, the war would end,
The peace that would be still.
The only words my Father wants,
From me is, “Yes I will”.
After much prayer and repentance, I’m at peace to embrace a new chapter in our life.
Two months after our first date on Valentine’s Day, David and I became engaged and married eight months later on October 15, 1994.
Becoming a family of six, blending lives and hearts meant years of God touching and healing our brokenness in discovery of a new beginning for all of us.
God is so good and faithful.
You can trust Him.
During the lonely five years of my wait and wonder,
God was writing our love story.
I couldn’t see it.
I couldn’t imagine it.
But in the silence God was singing a song on our behalf.
He was preparing our new beginning.
We just had to wait for it with great expectancy.
9 “What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
David my love,
YOU WERE SO WORTH THE WAIT
28 YEARS LATER
We are still Living Happily Ever After
SOME WEDDING FUN
Twenty-eight years ago bride and grooms couldn’t afford the high cost of videographers; our wedding included. David and I just wanted to get married. All the extras came as love gifts from the hearts of family and friends.
Our sweet nephew Adam, all of twelve at the time, blessed us greatly when on his own initiative visited guest after guest at the reception to record wedding wishes from them to us with a hand-held recording device called a Talkboy.
Listening to these well wishes the “old fashioned” way, I captured a few of them for our delight as parents cherish hearing their children’s voices from twenty-four years ago. Included are a few family members as well.
Have grace for the misgivings of old technology.
Our nephew Adam / Well Wishing Recorder
Daughter Candace’s Well Wishes
Son Jake’s Well Wishes
Daughter Audra’s Well Wishes
(I guess I’m an aunt now…lol)
Son Nathan (No Well Wish Recorded)
Nephew Adam / Well Wish Recorder
Nephew Adam / Recorder stopped any Well Wish that wasn’t PG rating with this:
Nephew Adam / Recorder even got comments from the little ones
In two short days we’ll celebrate twenty-eight years of wedded love between us.
We married on Sweetest Day one crisp afternoon in October when our lives and the seasons were changing harmoniously together with the brushstrokes of fall color as our portrait background.
Ever since our wedding day on October 15, 1994, each day as husband and wife has tasted sweeter than the day before.
HAND IN HAND thru the years, we’ve faced whatever came our way while holding onto each other; as two are better than one.
Locking arms with God, we’ve completed our three stranded cord not easily broken against the fiercest winds life can hurl across your bare face.
Two are better than one… Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
HAND IN HAND as we cross the threshold of marriage milestones, we look to our left and once again to our right and give thanks for the cloud of witnesses who’ve walked alongside, cheering and encouraging us in the Lord thru the years, while the third strand of our three-stranded cord has been faithfully holding us close to Himself.
HAND IN HAND thru the years at the altar, we’ve stood in agreement for the power of God in our lives; clinging to desperate prayers that the curious eyes of our grandchildren are watching and grabbing hold of the marriage example their Papa and Gaga are setting before them, however imperfect we are.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:30 NIV
HAND IN HAND in marriage we laugh and enjoy the lightheartedness of those unexpected moments one didn’t see coming.
God gave us the ability to smile, to grin, to find humor in the “nothings” and enjoy an abundance of laughter which takes your breath away ‘till it hurts.
HAND IN HAND thru the years you’ll find yourself dancing to the silent music played from the phonograph of your love story, swaying back and forth to the heartbeat of two people crazy about the other.
The teacup of what we share together spills over and splashes into the cups and saucers of others close enough and wanting what you have.
HAND IN HAND with family, we pray our children and grandchildren hold onto each other and continue the traditions we’ve built with them beyond the presence of our lives.
May each and every one of our grandchildren hold tight to the love we’ve poured into them…
May they be the biggest cheerleaders for each other as we have sitting in the grandstands of their lives…
May they walk HAND IN HAND along the pathways to their God-given purpose, because…
Two are better than one… Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV
Thru the years, may the bridge between those miles which separate addresses always be a two-way street, leaving the light on in the window as a welcome mat for every unsuspecting knock on the door.Twenty-eight years ago we walked down a wedding isle into a dream come true.
A fairy-tale we didn’t expect to be ours, yet still thanking God for the sleeping one we smile and gaze upon in the middle of the night after all these years.
Marriage will always be for keeps when you refuse to let go of the hand you promised to hold for a lifetime.
In looking behind us, I thank you David for twenty-eight glorious wedding anniversaries we’ve shared together.
With the world before us, there’s still much to be discovered as husband and wife.
I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather share my life with,
The wedding DJ has called for all the married couples to the dance floor for the next selection of the night.
Husbands and wives of every age began leaving their seats as the music to “their song” welcomed and gestured them to center stage.
Crowded on the dance floor were couples swaying back and forth in the arms with the one they said “I Do” to, however many years ago their altar moment was.
Minutes into their wedding waltz, the DJ announced that anyone married twenty-four hours or less must leave the dance floor.
The bride and groom both smiled and laughed as they took their position on the side lines.
The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.
The second stanza of the song began when the DJ stopped the music and ushered couples married five years or less to join the bride and groom along the outer circle of the stage.
The crowd on the dance floor began thinning out and it remained to be seen which twosome still dancing has been married the longest.
Couples married ten years or less were asked to join the others on the side lines.
Fifteen years or less… Twenty-five years or less… Thirty-five years or less…
By this time in the lyrics only a handful of marriages remain on the dance floor.
The children of parents and grandparents still dancing celebrate the rare treasure before them…
A gift and covenant of…
For richer or poorer… In sickness and in health… Until death…
Will we part…
The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…
Forty-five years or less…
The waltz still plays as those couples on the sidelines began circling as a wedding ring around the final marriage of fifty golden years.
This wedding ring of marriages circling the rare commitment of fifty golden years; a symbol of infinity which has neither beginning nor end; a display of love eternal and endless, and worn on the wedding finger closest to their heart.
This ring made of precious metal; an image depicting the sacredness of marriage, given to their betrothed with deep emotion and sentiment during the most sacred event of their life.
Fifty golden years is a testimony to the eyes who witness this miracle of dedication, two people trusting God during the valleys and mountain tops before them, persevering the journey together with Him in marriage.
Those words of affirmation throughout the years seal and swell their abiding hearts of true love.A novel of words detailing the pursuit of rare pearls and treasure hunt of each other, passing on down thru the generations living beyond them a marriage’s lasting legacy. Their kisses of thankfulness for another day thru the decades together.
Oh, the laughter which feeds their souls as a good medicine; stoking the fire of great joy which warms as a blanket around their arms on a cold winter day.
Holding close their gift of friendship…
Celebrating their nearest and dearest confidant…
Feeling safe with the one who holds the secret keys to their heart.
The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they
Dance into forever.
Embraced in each other’s arms they’ll waltz from anniversary to anniversary, keeping in time with their covenant of forever until the music ceases to play.
Fifty golden years marks the marathon of miles two people in love have traveled together in marriage.
They are a covenant gift and testimony to their children and grandchildren and eyes of those who have witnessed their rare love for each other…
For richer or poorer… In sickness and in health… Until death…
My next door-neighbor of many years and twenty years my senior, and yet our relationship celebrated differing views and perspectives; not competing generations.
Across the street where whistle blowing trains rattled our windows all hours of the day, was an old country street of five houses nestled under the acreage of trees they were built on, where barns, horses, gardens and chickens running loose added to the old fashion charm of a picturesque postcard.
Betty and I began borrowing cups of sugar from each other when she was a young grandmother and I a young mother myself.
As neighbors, we smiled and witnessed from our porches and swing sets the passing of time in the growing faces of Betty’s grandchildren and my children between the two houses.
Betty’s twin granddaughters and two grandsons always seemed to sport a glove and bat for a family baseball game of endless innings in their backyard where parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, each took their position on the field.
My two year old son watched these games from the dugout of his sandbox, waiting his turn to be big enough for the team; my baby girl and I rooted Betty’s grand-kids from the window or lawn chair nearby.
Betty and I loved being home with our children and grandchildren, both sharing the arts of sewing, canning and crafts.
More than anything, we neighbors shared the same pew at heart when our love for God overflowed those morning cups of conversation.
As time passed by, my young children and I would leave the neighborhood in tears and brokenhearted due to an unwanted divorce, but would return years later as Betty’s next-door neighbor, newly married to the man of my dreams.
Sadly, moving back to this old country neighborhood of five houses where whistle blowing trains from across the street would fascinate my future grandchildren, Betty has said good-by in sickness to the love of her life; a marriage of thirty-five glorious years.
In her husband’s honor, Betty planted a backyard tree to celebrate his life and life going on thru nature in its magnificence towards the skies and God; a widow’s place of remembrance for someone she deeply loved.
Albeit divorce, sickness or death, Betty and I continued to share sugar and heartache over tears, conversations, hugs and sometimes sitting in silence as true friends and neighbors feel comfortable to do.
For years I felt guilty for all the celebrations of open houses, baby showers and parties that took place on the front acreage of our property, where life and laughter…
Could be heard and seen from Betty’s house and open windows a few steps away.
Through our intentional friendship though, Betty continued to be encouraged and lifted up, reminding her through scriptures that God promised to be a husband to the widow, a father to the orphan, a redeemer for another day.
Fifteen years later God redeems Betty’s vacant heart at a high school reunion with the re-introduction of an old friend. Betty’s eyes illuminated with joy and happiness unspeakable once again as a little girl, and the two were married in the fall of that year; eventually moving out of the neighborhood to begin their newly married life in another state.
Distance didn’t change our friendship as the miles were bridged with Betty’s cards sent in the mail and my telephone calls to her.
Betty and her new husband would come into town every so often to visit family or attend their favorite quartet concerts, for which they stopped into the old neighborhood for a visit with us.
Not making excuses, but life started happening in those one by one good-byes to parents, grandparents and loved ones and moving two more times for us, somehow losing touch with Betty.
Interestingly, Betty’s cards stopped coming although I didn’t question it, assuming life was happening for her.
Sadly and heartbreaking enough, it was.
I decided to look Betty up on social media after three and a half years from our last conversation, when an arrow plunged my heart in despair after realizing Betty’s account had been moved to legacy status.
Not wanting to assume the worse, I searched the internet for an obituary, yet never finding one in my quest.
Remembering in former conversations of Betty’s wishes to be buried by her husband of thirty-five years, David and I drove to the old country cemetery a short distance from where Betty and I used to be neighbors, only to find that indeed, Betty had passed away mere months after our last conversation.
With only one dirt road winding through this final resting place of a few hundred loved ones, it didn’t take us long to find the headstone of Betty’s last name she once shared with the love of her life.
To my surprise, Betty left behind a love story of a different kind, choosing to be remembered beside both men who stole this woman’s heart in life.
Not knowing for sure, I imagine Betty’s thoughts…
God didn’t forget Betty and she wanted to thank Him by telling the world her beautiful story beyond her absence.
I’m so sorry for the conversations we didn’t have those final months of Betty’s life. I regret not bidding good-by to my intentional friend.
I didn’t attend Betty’s celebration of life and convey to her family how much their mother and grandmother meant to a next door neighbor; only because I didn’t know.
But may these words be the flowers I send to Betty on her life’s Graduation day to heaven, albeit three and a half years after she received her diploma.
Thank you Betty for decades of friendship, for cards, for sharing cups of sugar as next door neighbors do.
I will never forget you.
One day we will once again share a front row pew with God who will tip His heart’s tea-pot and overflow our morning cups of conversation.