HE SEES THE ONE! By Lori A Alicea

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”

I pray these simple words every time I enter the grocery store, craft store, gym, or wherever I’m at during my day.

People masquerade their pain with fake smiles and one might never know which person is hurting, in need of an encouraging word, a timely prayer, a simple hug or smile; but God does.

Shoulder to shoulder” among the crowds
He sees the one.

The sparrows fill the skies and yet
He sees the one which falls…
(Matthew 10)

While never losing sight over us, the one.

The conference I attended recently hosted over five thousand women who traveled from all corners of the world, gathering around a central theme that

Heaven Rules
In every situation of our lives;

A ministry I began listening to for encouragement during my lunch hour as a young, single mother raising two small children.USE nancy

In the midst of a vast multitude, I believed for divine appointments with the one.USE CROWD 1

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”USE linda

An hour before each session that weekend, I volunteered to be a greeter among the crowds.USE greeter

Believing my job description was smiling, welcoming and taking group pictures of others by the photo walls…USE TEAM 1

I was caught off guard when women began asking questions of all kinds, for which I had no answers…

Directions to sessions taking place all over the convention center…

Directions to restaurants and coffee houses located in the surrounding city…

Questions spoken in languages I didn’t understand…

It would have been more accurate if my GREETER button actually said,
DON’T ASK”…

After I sent a woman looking for a Spanish speaking prayer room to the nursing mother’s room instead…

When all I could do was smile and aimlessly point a group of hungry women to the food courts outside the front doors…

When I walked an elderly woman already out of breath down the long corridors to her next session, only to find us both in front of a dead-end section of the convention center…

You laugh over the blunders.

While being encouraged and reminded by a friend over coffee,

Sometimes our wrong ways lead us the right way to a divine appointment.”

I think she’s on to something.

I continued to pray for the one that weekend.

It was a scavenger hunt for a needle in a haystack among five thousand women; but God knew the one.

He was about to introduce the three of us and reveal how intimately He knows us as the one.

Seated beside two sisters during a breakout session, I introduced myself and inquired of their “highlight moment” thus far.IMG_7002

One sister turned to the other sister smiling and rejoicing over their time spent together after a year’s lapse since they last saw each other.

During the course of our short conversation, we realized the younger sister and I lived thirty minutes apart; with the churches we attended down the road from the other.

Only to discover the younger sister was a bus driver at the same school my husband’s brother Joe and sister ‘n law worked.

I asked if she knew them.

A moment of silence as the older sister looked into the eyes of her sibling;

A gesture I believed had deeper meaning than they conveyed.

The face of the younger sister turned my way as she quietly spoke,

I sat in awe during Joe’s three hour funeral, one year ago last summer.”

How timely our meeting; on Joe’s birthday, now celebrating in heaven.

Only God knew why three women were destined to meet from the five thousand among us.USE CROWD 1

I shared my prayer with two siblings sitting next to me three hours from home, so they could sense the divine appointment God orchestrated for us, the one,

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”

Yes, God does hear our prayers; written, spoken or hidden inside our hearts.USE prayer requests

I left a convention with question marks in my journal regarding this divine appointment with two sisters.

While being satisfied with the “need to know basis” we have with God.

I left a convention re-playing over and over my highlight reel…

Among the crowds and multitudes,
God keeps an intimate watch over me,
The one.

MEMORIES OF SUMMER  By Lori A Alicea

Graduations from pre-school thru high school all set off confetti cannons to celebrate the end of another academic year.

Antsy students fidgeting at their desks on the last day of school will burst through the classroom doors as a mass exodus of summer excitement with the final ring of the bell.

From the beginning of June through the middle of August, parents have penciled in their children’s summer break on the pages of their calendars, signing them up and planning in advance for what will become in years down the road, their memories of summer.

Summer fun for me as a child rewinds a simpler life of baseball, camping, strawberry jelly and the county fair; a scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

Watching our grandchildren take their turn at the baseball plate,

Reminds me of those summers back fifty plus years ago with the smell of concession stand hot dogs and popcorn, boys trading baseball cards with a wad of bubble gum in their mouths and my brother riding his bicycle to the Little League field for baseball practice and games.

baseball marks baseball

(my brother sits in front of the baseball bats)

Spring training for Little League announces a brand new season of baseball memories, while a little girl still reminiscences when her brother, a star pitcher back then, leads his team to a first place win two years in a row.

Summer memories are also made roughing it in the squelching heat of a tent or camper, sharing the experience with mosquitoes and raccoons in the back woods or back yard of a camping trip.

In exchange for hotel air conditioning and fine dining, the smell of sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs waft among the trees at breakfast.camping cooking

Camping trips fill up a childhood album of time spent fishing with dad, swimming with siblings, and making s’mores around a crackling campfire before bed.

Making the highlight reel from my memories of summer take me back to an old fashioned tradition of strawberry picking and watching mother at her Magic Chef stove, preserving summer in a jar for those winter biscuits only months away.

Now, mother watches me from her kitchen stove in heaven, still wearing her apron, still sharing a summer memory as her recipe and an old fashioned tradition is being passed to the next generation.

Summer wouldn’t be complete without those memories of elephant ears, cotton candy, butter drenched ears of corn, cooling down with a bowl of Dippin’ Dots, being squished on the Scrambler while enjoying it all as a fun filled evening at the county fair with your dad.

fair jake little girls The county fair reminds you to thank your Aunt for the years she filled up the pages of childhood memories for two generations of nieces and nephews at the fair, giving no thought of the money she spent on tickets, food and game prizes, all because she wanted to make a summer memory with you.

Lastly, after growing up, the sweetest memories of summer is the intentional pursuit of the little things

Quality time spent with lifelong friends over coffee and breakfast.

Remembering to celebrate the generations and gifts of family around the dinner table.

Letting kids be kids at the beach, kids racing and acting crazy down the Slip ‘n Slide of your own backyard, or kids even spending a spontaneous moment in Papa’s sprinkler while only wearing their underwear.

swimming kids little

Or, for those quiet moments spent alone with God in prayer during those early morning walks around the neighborhood track.

From the beginning of June thru the middle of August, the memories of summer are filling up scrapbooks of our children and grandchildren’s childhood.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to these albums during Little League season, when strawberries are ready, or when the county fair has made its way back into town.

Maybe becoming a grandmother, I remember the good ol’ days through the lives of my grandchildren.

Maybe I miss mom more when I see a batch of homemade jelly line the shelves of my kitchen pantry.

Maybe summer reminds me that the little things really are the big things, and to be more intentional about my pursuit of them.

Maybe I’m so thankful to God for my memories of summer, my scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

 

OUT FROM NOWHERE  By Lori A Alicea

God is always speaking.

God’s voice leaps off the pages from His written Word.
God’s words are echoed through the beauty of nature.
God’s thoughts are heard as an impression placed on our heart.
Our loving Father even speaks in an audible voice.

But we must be willing to listen…
In a posture of stillness…
In a state of patience…
In a intimate time to receive.

Yes, our God is always speaking.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 (KJV)

While travelling down a country road one summer morning with my husband, this cornfield caught our attention, though a familiar sight in the state we reside.

We pulled off to the side of the road and realized God was delivering a small sermon from the fields of this outdoor church.

Facing the first few rows from where God spoke, we sat in
Stillness from the church pews of nature’s sanctuary, to catch a message from the canvas’ He taught from.

Listen in on God’s sermon already in progress…

Out from nowhere there it is.

Attitudes we believed we had buried…
Fears we thought we could hide…
Disappointments kept to our self…
Worries we wrestle with in the dark…

And yet…

The fields of our lives are an open field
To those seeds we have yet to surrender to God.

Seeds which germinate and reproduce each planting season until our Father is granted permission to plow up the ground of our heart and cultivate a new thing.

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?
….
Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)FIELDS OF ATTITUDE

Out from nowhere there it is.

Those dreams you sowed in seasons of yesterday…
Dreams you dared to have dreamed…
Dreams between you and God that seemed to bear no fruit…
Dreams still waiting their turn for a harvest…

And yet…

God says, “Look out at the fields for which you’ve planted.”

The roots of your faith have watered those dreams and kept them alive even when the seeds of your dreams appear to lay dormant.”

Yet are springing forth…

Be confident in me…

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37 (KJV)FIELDS OF DREAMS

Out from nowhere there it is.

In the distance you barely recognize the crops your garden grows…

From far away, unknown hands have been cultivating and preparing fertile soil for you to receive, to be fruitful in the things of God, planting this heritage from generation to generation on their knees and watering in tears those…

Fervent prayers from your parents…
Prayers of God’s promises from your grandparents…

Don’t you see the answered petitions of the generations springing forth?

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

One generation commends your works to another;
They tell of your mighty acts.
Psalms 145:4 (NIV)FIELDS OF THE GENERATION

Out from nowhere there it is.

Don’t you see it?

A picture of fruitfulness…

When we die to ourselves daily…
Death to our attitudes…
Death to our fears…
Death to disappointments and worries.
Dying to self that Christ can live and be fruitful in us…

Through our dreams He has dreamed for us…

Through the seeds of promise we plant and water for the next generation…

unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
But if it dies, it bears much fruit…
John 12:24 (ESV)

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

FIELDS WHO YOU ARE TO BECOME

LOT 232  By Lori A Alicea

Hard to believe six months have already passed us by.

During this short season the landscape of our life has been painfully pruned back by the gardener, fertilized and re-seeded for new and beautiful growth; but yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Time does not discriminate and show favor to the weary, the broken, and those resisting the shears of the gardener’s pruning.

But life goes on as it should.

There’s wonder and beauty to be unwrapped and unveiled to those willing to continue their passage through the steep hills and rough terrain of change.

Remembering there are no shortcuts or detours, just one-way signs of “going thru” that difficult process of mining the heartache to discover those diamonds of new beginnings.

Lot 232 remains just as I remember.

LOT 232 SIGN

The furniture hasn’t moved nor any picture or book out of place since I cleaned it last.

coffee table

Contagious laughter of small children still echoes from the walls that captured their innocence seated around the table, each eating the spoils from the scavenger hunts of their grandmother’s cupboards.

moms table

The smells of the kitchen still retain their aromatic flavor and the recipes and memories remain that once framed the holiday dinner portraits at moms; the legacy gift I cherish most from her.

salt and pepper shakers

 Evident from the unwrinkled comforter, mother’s bed hasn’t been slept in; although the soft music she used to play continuously from the small radio on her nightstand can be slightly heard if I lean in ever so closely.

moms room

Lot 232 hasn’t changed a bit in my heart, but of all the details I wish I could change, it would be that my key to Lot 232 still opened the front door to my mother’s life.

So much has changed these last six months and yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Daughters are little girls who never outgrow the need to share those heart gushes with her mother.

Grandchildren need those rocking chair moments with their grandmother too.

grandma in chair

The merry-go-round of living keeps spinning and changing, and how I desperately want off this ride.

But life must go on as it should;
Walking in the peace,
The calm and
Serenity of God’s love;

A journey that allows the Father to carry our troubles while carrying us when we need Him to.

Going on” mandates the “letting go” of what our heart strings desperately cling to. It’s giving to God what has been His from the beginning.

There’s no looking back in the rear view mirror when your life is moving forward.

We must allow God to pack our suitcase of memories; a loving tour guide who encourages traveling light, not weighted down from the cares of what “used to be”.

I sure love you mom.

I love mom

I keep your beautiful smile in my heart of remembrances.

face of our holidays

Your prayers for the three generations you petitioned God for were not in vain.

moms prayers

Your prayers have taught us to place our hope in God.

hope

And accept the things we cannot change.

Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I drove by Lot 232 just the other day; an address one street over from when we used to be neighbors.  Seems like yesterday we were sharing an early morning cup of coffee together on your porch.

They say you can take the neighbor out of the neighborhood, but never the neighborhood from the neighbor.

We’ll always be neighbor’s mom.

Addresses may change.
But keys to the front door of our memories will never need a locksmith.

Thank you God for Lot 232.

I have no doubt my mother didn’t need a change of address in heaven.

I’ll know exactly where to find her.
LOT 232 SIGN

IN THE NOTICING By Lori A. Alicea

When you least expect it, God reveals himself
in the noticing.

In the obvious, in the subtle, when we’re not looking, and sadly,
When we fail to notice at all,
God is always faithful to
reveal Himself
in the noticing.

In these trying times the world is experiencing together, God is still a personal God and intimately aware of us individually in the smallest of our details, those too minute for even the strongest magnification; yet God sees it all and wants to reveal Himself
in the noticing.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Psalms 139:1-3 NIV

Which is why I shouldn’t have been taken off guard by the surprise of God, as I am fully aware that he knows me, perceives my thoughts and is familiar with all my ways, continuing to find me in the back roads, the hidden intersections of my life, and even down the aisles of the grocery store,

revealing Himself in the noticing.

Recently I found myself walking a bit slower than usual down the aisles of the grocery store, a gaper in a fog I suppose, stunned and close to tears at the barrenness of the shelves.

Shelves usually full of food unless a holiday is approaching.
A scarcity I’ve never seen in my lifetime.

Panic didn’t set in, yet I could see the unsettledness written on so many faces of the other shoppers.

As a mother I wanted to reach out and hug each passerby, especially the young parents with children in their cart, parents I imagined were fretting about “tomorrow”.

As a grandmother who has rocked ten grandchildren through their endless sleepless nights, I longed to comfort these moms and dads and remind them that everything is going to be alright.

Yet quite honestly, the barren shelves that afternoon were bothering me too.

In the noticing though,

God scattered “words of encouragement” throughout the store by someone thoughtful, words painted on rocks and left behind on shelves for shoppers to find, a word God knew
I needed in the noticing.

While rock hunting is not a new idea, as I have personally stumbled upon these decorated stones in the town park and rocks our grandchildren have found hidden by next door neighbors.

But this particular day God gave me a “now word”, a “word in due season” on a shelf at the grocery store, just waiting beside the few boxes of mac-n-cheese left behind for me to discover.

A word God gave me in the noticing was BELIEVE.
IMG_7231Lord, in the noticing

You know me….
You perceive my thoughts….
You are familiar with all my ways….
Psalms 139:1-3 NIV

Lord, in the noticing you saw a weak moment of doubt in me, and now you were encouraging me to remember what I BELIEVE.

In this new pandemic storm unlike no other, boats all over the world seem tossed against the rage of the ocean, taking in and overwhelmed by the “waters of the unexpected”, whose compasses seem to have lost direction, leaving some to feel abandoned, stranded and lost at sea.

But in my boat and in the noticing,
God, you are encouraging me to remember what
I BELIEVE.

When boats are calm, it’s easy to say what we BELIEVE when
sailing waters that are sound asleep.

But when the tides wake up with a fierce headache and vessels everywhere are tossed in the sea of its anger, we have to firmly know what we BELIEVE, as our lives depend on it.

What I BELIEVE is God controls the storm.

The disciples experienced this first hand as Jesus calmed the fierce storm that held their boat captive and stirred their fears of drowning.
Witnessing this miracle the disciples in their amazement replied,

“Who is this?
He commands even the winds and the waters,
and they obey him.”
Luke 8:25 NIV

What I BELIEVE during these unexpected times when so many have lost their jobs or successes, the world will come to realize when provisions miraculously continue, that God has been their provider all this time.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 37:25 NIV

What I BELIEVE in this great time of sickness, God still heals. God longs for our faith to arise, to reach out for the “hem of Jesus’ garment” as the woman with the issue of blood did for her healing.

“Who touched me? Jesus asked….
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me;
I know that power has gone out from me.”
…..
Then he (Jesus) said to her,
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Luke 8:45-48 NIV

What I BELIEVE in this great time of lack,
People have revealed themselves full of generosity.

What I BELIEVE during these times mandated to our homes is a gift,
As families preoccupied and disconnected from the distractions of work, school, sports and play, needed to find their way back home and reconnect with those that they love.

What I BELIEVE is prayer is powerful, that prayer is bringing neighborhoods to their balcony’s, prayer is filling hospital parking lots of cars filled with people, all humbling themselves and calling on God to have mercy on them, seeking his face to heal their lands.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV      

What I BELIEVE that however painful during this great time of grief and sad goodbyes, we still have great HOPE of eternal life with the Lord for those who know Him as Lord, for those who:

…declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV

 In the noticing

God knows us….
He perceives our thoughts….
God is familiar with all our ways….
Psalms 139:1-3 NIV

If you feel abandoned,
If you are feeling alone,
If you are worried about tomorrow,

God is noticing.

You are not abandoned,
You are not alone,
God has tomorrow already prepared.

Find calm in the storm,
As the winds and waters obey Him.
(Luke 8:25 NIV)

Determine to BELIEVE.

Find calm
In a loving God
Who Notices.

WHEN LITTLE EYES MUST PEEK By Lori A Alicea

It’s hard to wait for God’s reveal,
His answers when we pray.
God seems to take His precious time,
In years, in weeks or day.

We feel the urge to check on Him,
For answers that we seek.
Unable to withstand the wait,
Our little eyes must peek.
ethan looking in screenThe corner’s bend we dare to see,
The Lord at work this week.
Instead of resting in His time,
Our little eyes must peek.

We bat our eyes, we blow a kiss,
To tug the heart of God.
He gently gives a sweet reply,
My child “I’ve got this” nod.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

God loves when children ask of Him,
He listens when they pray.
Requests, he answers every one,
Keeps secret though the day.

His faithfulness should fuel our faith,
Our doubts they make us weak.
Believe in Him and calm the need,
For little eyes to peek.
brodie and brystol peeking inRemind me Lord, your precious child,
With answers that I seek.
To trust in you when silence screams,
When little eyes must peek.

The answers to our prayers will come,
Take heart He’s never late.
Be confident we’re not alone,
He’s with us while we wait.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I call on you, my God,
for you will answer me,
turn your ear to me
and hear my prayer.
Psalm 17:6

WHILE ON MY KNEES IN PRAYER By Lori A Alicea

        By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me…a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:8 NIV

Dear God, I kneel before you now,
My heart is prostrate too.
I yield my thoughts, I cast my cares,
That I may hear from you.

A moment just the two of us,
A conversation share.
Reveal a Father’s love for me,
While on my knees in prayer.

lito and theia praying

In silence I will wait for you,
But yet, you beat me here.
A Daddy longs his children close,
Delights to have them near.

It’s not my eloquence of words,
Or list my tears prepare.
But heaven stops to hear a child,
Who comes to him in prayer.

Praying at altar 2

A child’s faith can tug his heart,
A father hears their need.
See mountains move with faith the size,
As small a mustard seed.

You know my words before I speak,
My needs you’re so aware.
But yet you beckon me to ask,
While on my knees in prayer.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I thank you for my daily bread,
Each meal you’ve given me.
No lack, but full my cupboards are,
Though empty I might see.

Oh stir my appetite for you,
Dear Lord, I tarry there.
That place to hunger for your love,
Please satisfy my prayer.
2019 cumbee ayva praying
Where two are gathered in your name,
You’re here for us, for me.
Oh Lord we listen for your voice,
In patience wait for Thee.

My simple words this child speaks,
For more of you I dare.
A Father runs to hear his child,
Who folds their hands in prayer.

ethan kollin praying prayer

No matter what the age we are,
A child to God are we.
Such gifts a Father wants to give,
If wait for Him to see.

Present to You a child’s heart,
Sweet hands I cast my care.
So loved I feel in your embrace,
While on my knees in prayer.

Praying at altar 2

…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Psalm 66:19 NIV