TRAVELING THRU A JOURNAL OF CONTENTMENT  By Lori A Alicea

He never changes.

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

Yes, God never changes.

God is always faithful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few days from April, 2009…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our reunion hug was worth the time apart.

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

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

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

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

God has used so many circumstances to show his faithfulness.

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

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

God is so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My sisters would be proud of their tulips.
IMG_7836
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Today, I stayed home from church with a bad cold. Something I don’t do often.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great is Thy Faithfulness
By Thomas Obadiah Chisolm

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

Closing the journal I am reminded from its cover,

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

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

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

Day one or one day.
Michelle Parlos

 

A PLACE OF REMEMBRANCE  By Lori A Alicea

What is your place of remembrance?

Is it a wall of remembrance…Of framed prayers soaked in your tears
With the Father’s love woven into their answers giving cause to remember a faithful God as you stand in hope for future framed prayers at your wall of remembrance.

Is it a book of remembrance…
Of pages written from life on your knees from those painful heartaches that only a God up at midnight could understand; a loving Father who exchanges your mourning for dancing in songs of encouragement throughout your book of remembrance.

Is it a heart of remembrance…
Recorded in the secret places hidden and known only to the one who knitted you in your mother’s womb, those endless petitions poured out onto the lap of a merciful God, who sees it all from beginning to glorious end, a triumph One who answers before a single word ever leaves the lips of those who have a heart of remembrance.

Is it an altar of remembrance…
An altar of stones gathered and piled to remember a God of deliverance, the one whom saved you from despair and destruction, an almighty deliverer who made a way when there seemed to be no way. Those altars left behind along the pathway for your children and grandchildren to discover and question you to remember, all the while leaving a road map of great hope and direction for future deliverance’s of their own while gathering around your altar of remembrance.

What is your place of remembrance?

What is that place you run towards to remember a faithful God?

What is that place you dare not forget a generous Father in the midst of your own prosperity, remembering the great warning God gave the Israelite’s before entering their inheritance of the Promised Land.

11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flows grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(Deuteronomy 9:11-13 NIV)

Interestingly, as God entreats his children to remember,

He himself remembers.

God remembers his promises and covenant with Abraham for a thousand generations.
(Psalms 105:8-10 NIV)

God remembers that never again will he destroy and flood the earth, giving us rainbows after every rain to remember his promise.
(Genesis 9:11, 13 NIV)

IMG_3686

God keeps his promises, God stays in covenant, God remembers.

Twenty-six years ago David and I entered into a covenant relationship of marriage when we promised to love each other for life, to love each other in the good as well as the desperate throes forever this side of eternity.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For twenty-six years of wedded bliss, from our first anniversary and every milestone anniversary thereafter, two people return to their heart of remembrance, recalling a loving Father who gave two broken people a second chance at love.

Hand in hand we have chosen to remember the gift of the other, to dare not forget when God didn’t forget us either, to open our book of remembrances and celebrate the valleys as well as the mountains and name our blessings “one by one” in our remembering.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Along the pathways of our life together, a husband and wife have intentionally built an altar of remembrance for every difficult season that God delivered us from, as part of the inheritance and legacy of hope and encouragement David and I desire to leave behind for our children and grandchildren and generations beyond our lives.

More than anything else, our wall of remembrance, those framed faces that God began with us, are pictures of a million words and thoughts unable to articulate our “love story” of twenty-six years because we dared not forget, we chose to remember God’s faithfulness through the valleys as well as the mountaintops, never entertaining the thought of “letting go” because we knew too much in the

remembering.

wedding david and lori

wedding cumbee alicea kids
wedding englands

I will love him forever, because in the remembering, I dare not forget God loved me first.

 

FRONT PORCH NEIGHBORS  By Lori A Alicea

Call me an old fashioned girl.
USE - picture of flowers
Call me a keeper of memories,
Fondly looking back to remember my blessings.

USE - picture blessed

Call me someone cherishing life back in the day, my day;
holding tight to the treasures and things of old.
USE - old car
Call me a morning person, retreating to the porch of my dreams to savor that first cup of hot coffee.
USE - porch
Call me out for my love of the simple,
The wild heart of God displayed through his creations.

USE - flowersCall me a Front Porch Neighbor,
Watching from the lawn chair outside my house,
Longing for you to leave your yard and enjoy a cup of coffee beside me.

USE - Dog

Call me back from my memories of neighborhoods gone by.

I recalled such a neighborhood in a former piece of mine titled
WHERE’S THE WELCOME WAGON.
PORCH - welcome

WHERE‘S THE WELCOME WAGON
By Lori A Alicea

As the curtains of summer begin to draw to a close, it’s been a lifelong comfort when the scattering of summer draws the neighbors back home by fall.

Maybe the piling up of newspapers next door or overgrown grass at the house down the road reminds me that someone in my life is missing, even if it’s a neighbor I’ve probably never met.

Neighbors are a part of your everyday routine, whether you choose them to be or not.  You begin to notice their “comings and goings” by the coincidence of sharing a street.

Once upon a town in places just like Mayberry, neighbors knew their neighbors well.  So well that wives borrowed sugar and milk and watched each other’s kids, while men lent their tools and a hand.

Neighbors introduced themselves to new comers before the U-Haul ever got unloaded, with welcome mats rolled out and homemade soup delivered before nightfall.

Houses back then were never locked and neighbors spontaneously gathered at the loudest porch.

Driving to grandmas in the hills of Kentucky, you’d bet money to catch her shelling peas in her everyday apron, singing hymns on her favorite porch.

Passerby’s” would honk at grandma as she gestured back with a wave, some stopping for conversation and a piece of pie to go with.

House’s today though have pristine landscaping in front with lawns meticulously manicured, no friend would dare walk on his neighbor’s grass, much less invite himself to the deck secluded in back.

Long gone is morning coffee on the porch joined by “cup-toting-neighbors” needing a refill; now it’s coffee served for a few behind the lonely walls of a privacy fence.

Thinking back to a block party a few summers ago, I’m embarrassed to admit meeting some of my neighbors after living there twenty years.  Oh, I’d wave when driving by, but to know the ticking of my neighbor’s clock, I’d need to leave my own yard to hear their alarms; but I didn’t.

That summer afternoon the breeze of winter day chilled my bones for the opportunities I missed to be a good neighbor.

Meals I could have made, lawns we could have cut and snow we should have shoveled when I learned one neighbor became a widow.

Then another family I met that would have benefited from long distance encouragement, while they risked their lives on the mission field overseas.

Stories told.  Details revealed.  Information I should have known and acted on, had I been neighborly.

Addresses are not an accident.  Neither are our neighbors.  As big as the earth is, it’s really a small world of neighborhoods, people needing to get mixed up in each other’s lives, as the mail does in their mailboxes.