SMALL BEGINNINGS  By Lori A Alicea

Dreams have to start somewhere.

You enter the race at the starting line like every other runner,
with no fast track to the finish.

Books are written and read one page at a time.

The corporate ladder is climbed one step at a time.

We see ourselves at the mountain peak, yet a “dream come true” takes their first steps at the base.

All leaders share a common story of small beginnings.

Don’t despise your small beginning at the lemonade stand level,
because dreams have to start somewhere,
so why not start with excitement at the beginning.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”Zechariah 4:10

ayvas lemonade stand

Your dream’s beginning is a perfect place to write and establish your vision as a road sign of encouragement for those to see who are running this race with you.

Small beginnings remind us that dreams are slow in “coming true.”

Runners grow weary when the finish line is further than they prepared for, a mile marker where some contemplate giving up on their dream.

But your vision’s road sign of encouragement will be that needed drink to quench their thirst of weariness along the way.

ayva lemonade party 14

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end – it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV

Small beginnings require confidence.

Small beginnings require a belief that we are qualified in the first place, a belief that God picked the right person for this dream job when the resumes of others scream more qualified.

When God hand selected Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt’s bondage into the Promised Land, Moses drowning in all of his self-doubt responded,

I have never been eloquent….I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
Exodus 4:13 NIV

Our God, who knows us more intimately than anyone else when He fashioned us in the womb, should raise a confidence from within that we are perfectly called.

A Heavenly Father wants a childlike trust that in our weaknesses,
He will be our strength.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT

Dreams are a series of small beginnings.

One small beginning crosses paths with another small beginning, with God at times asking you to reach for more, to swim out into the deep, going beyond what feels comfortable.

Author and Motivational Speaker John Maxwell quotes:
To succeed in life, we must stay within our strength zone, but continually move outside our comfort zone.

When you least expect it, your lemonade stand adds a beautifully decorated table for the thirsty,

And additional yummies to the menu.

Small beginnings require faith and obedience for every step of the way that God has called us to take.

God speaks.
We listen.
We obey.
God speaks the next step.

Sometimes in the dream journey though, it seems as if
God has stopped speaking and gone silent, causing us to question the next step.

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church
Asks the same question in his “Frequency Series” on hearing God:

Have you ever been in a place where you felt you weren’t hearing God?
Then go back to the last place God spoke to you, and ask yourself, did you obey?”

This happened to Jonah as recorded in Jonah 1-3.

The Lord instructed Jonah to go to Nineva and preach to the people regarding their wicked ways, yet disobeyed and went to Tarshish instead.

A huge storm arose in the boat he traveled and Jonah found himself thrown overboard, swallowed into the belly of a huge fish and deafened by the silence of God.

When Jonah repented, the Lord caused the fish to release him then spoke again the same request that Jonah disobeyed the first time silencing the voice of God, “Go to Nineva.” This time Jonah obeyed.

Dreams can come true but we must remember:
Small beginnings
can’t go any faster than “one step at a time”.

Welcome small beginnings, and not despise them.

Write and establish the dream’s vision as a road sign of encouragement for those that have chosen to run this race with us.

Be confident in our belief that God has called us to this dream fully and perfectly qualified.

Be expecting our small beginnings to cross paths with other small beginnings.

Be faithful and obedient to God’s voice and direction in every step.

Be in great anticipation beyond what you could have ever imagined.

ayva lemonade party 30

Rejoice, because wild dreams from God do come true,
when we faint “not” in our steps of
small beginnings.

A LESSON IN LOVE By Lori A Alicea

In any given day;

We are teachers.
We are students.

With our lives, we are teaching a class, most likely never realizing the students who are observing, listening and taking notes.

People are watching us.
We are watching them.

There are classrooms assembled everywhere we go.
Sometimes we’re the student.
Sometimes we’re the teacher.

Our lives take center stage and people are wondering, studying and silently asking questions.

The question is though:
What lessons are we teaching?

On October 15, 2019 David and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage. So hard to believe that this wonderful man comes home every night and parks his car next to mine in the driveway where we live.  He chooses to sit beside me at the dinner table.  He chooses to hold my hand whenever we are close enough to do so.  He chooses to call me periodically throughout the day.  He chooses to love me and call me his wife.  After twenty five years, I choose him and all of this and more.

I am a blessed woman.
My husband tells me every day what a blessed man he is.

Our marriage is a gift from God.

To celebrate this milestone, we have decided to live out this amazing legacy before our grandchildren, displaying the faithfulness of God through our twenty five years together in a Wedding Vow Renewal Event. Sparing no sparkle, we have gathered our children, grandchildren, family and dear friends around the dinner table for an evening to remember.

With both of us being once divorced, we desperately wanted the generations going forward to inherit a glorious picture of marriage, framed in Godly love.

Though our twenty five years together have encountered its share of misgivings, David and I celebrate a deep affection and unbreakable bond for one another, and desire that our marriage live beyond us as:

a testimony,
a vision of hope rooted in God,
a lesson in love.

…a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Interestingly, when David and I were just newlyweds all those years ago, still learning about each other, still learning how to blend our families. I remember a man I met on the job who had no idea when he punched in the time clock that morning, he’d be teaching me an impressionable  Lesson in Love,

teaching a student watching, observing, listening and taking notes.

Ironically, I punched the time clock that morning to be the teacher, to instruct him and the crew how to use a newly installed system.

Yes, the classroom doors are always open.
Some days we’re the teacher.
Some days we’re the student.

This particular day twenty five years ago I was the student, getting a valuable

LESSON IN LOVE
By Lori A. Alicea    

After celebrating Valentine’s Day just a few weeks ago and June fast approaching with summer weddings, surely love is in the air for many.  Though a romantic that I believed myself to be, it was after being hired to teach a class where a lesson in true love was unsuspectingly being prepared for me.

I was working the grueling midnight shift in the steel mill one year, teaching workers how to use a newly installed system, when I was introduced to “Frank”.

Initially after meeting “Frank”, I questioned whether our personalities would click.  “Frank” was often cranky when things went wrong, yet lightened up later with an offering from his candy dish.  “Frank” was tall and full of energy, though humorously odd when answering the phone.

It was quiet that night, as work had halted earlier, leaving “Frank” and I alone to keep watch.  To pass the hour, “Frank” had brewed some coffee, inviting me to join.

“Frank” looked comfortable around this makeshift kitchen, finding comforts of home behind a locked cabinet of his.  “Frank” must have been a waiter in an earlier day, as he displayed this natural ability to serve.

It’s sad thinking you know a person by believing what you see, instead of what you’ve learned.  You wonder how many friendships never bloom, when opposites sometimes fail to give it a chance, even over something simple as a cup of coffee.

As “Frank” began to unwind that evening, I slowly noticed him different.  Maybe he made a good impression with the table he set.  Or maybe I just realized how easy “Frank” was to talk to.

In the beginning, conversation between “Frank” and I was small talk.  Before long though, “Frank” was sharing about the love of his life.

“14 years ago everything changed”, “Frank” said, when the woman he married got sick; she’s been sick every since.  Over coffee “Frank” took me down the streets of memory lane, visiting sites of pain and sorrow, yet stopping by to smell their roses of happiness.   That night “Frank” exposed the scars of their travels, yet vowed he’d marry her all over again.

Yes “Frank” believed everything changed 14 years ago, but I believe “Frank” forgot what didn’t change, his wedding vows, “in sickness and in health”.

That night I met a man who didn’t change, when everything around him did.  “Frank” didn’t leave when his wife needed him most.  “Frank” continued to serve, when eyes often didn’t see.  That night I met a man who honored “I Take Thee, in spite of sickness.”  That night over coffee I met a new found friend; that night I met man.