OUR CUP RUNNETH OVER By Lori A Alicea

Can you hear it?

Close your eyes and quietly listen for the pitter-patter of tiny rain drops dancing in the puddles with one another.

rain puddle

Imagine a small child abandoned in the kisses of a delicate spring shower against her face.

rain girl running in field

Can you hear it?

Bask in the soothing song of a gentle waterfall which flows into a peaceful stream below.

waterfall

Rain drops dancing in puddles.
A small child kissed from the spring shower against her face.
The music of a waterfall cascading over the river banks into the stream below.

With eyes still closed, imagine your cup full of God’s blessings, cascading over the rim into the puddles and quiet stream of your cup’s saucer.

It is written…

…my cup overflows with blessings.
Psalms 23:5 (NLT)

Our life is a cup.
Oh, that our eyes see the overflow of our cups as God’s abundance, His “more than enough” for us, heaven’s wealth in our life.

Looking back in the rear-view mirror of the past 365 days, it’d be easy to believe we’ve been drinking from the bitter cup throughout this year of 2021.

Navigating the “firsts” of our maiden year without mother would have been a cup full for our family these last twelve months.

goodby mom

But then the calm cascade over the rim of our cup caught us gasping for breath when the peaceful stream became a rip-current of ten more good-byes.

A Final Call for our military brother Joe.

One final lap for our Indy 500 enthusiast brother Mark.

Another brother Ruben.

goodby ruben

Two Papa’s.

Three cousins.

Two friends.

Yes, so many good-byes;
So many home-going celebrations;
So many tears;

Yet, a cup of rejoicing as all our loved ones took their seat around the Father’s Banqueting Table in heaven.

Sometimes we need to trace God’s hand to understand his heart.

God is a good Father, even when our eyes are blinded to his ways.

Regardless of so many good-byes, God was ever present in the joys of all our hellos in each new day.

Life presses forward with or without our consent. The sun continues to shine amid a cloudy day. You must be intentional to witness God’s hand upon our days, the mini miracles of a cup overflowing.

2021 has been a cup of mini miracles in the Alicea family.

Papa and I have enjoyed our ten grandchildren embrace their gifting and special places in our lives.

We’ve smiled and thanked God for sons who watered their daughter’s hearts at a Daddy Daughter Dance.

We’ve rejoiced over our oldest granddaughter’s Sweet Sixteen, taking her first steps into womanhood.

A husband and wife thanked God for another glorious year of marriage celebrated at their honeymoon cottage.

We are forever grateful for our furry family.

We give God all the glory for the wonderful parents our children have become.

This father is overwhelmed by his daughter who has blossomed into her own.

papa david audra xmas 2021

We’ve cherished the quality time spent with our grandchildren; especially when it meant travelling to Hawaii to hug them.

With eyes still closed, our cup is full of God’s blessings, cascading over the rim into the puddles and quiet stream of our cup’s saucer.

Yes it is written…

…my cup overflows with blessings.
Psalms 23:5 (NLT)

We see our cup running over even though a husband and wife spent the 2021 Christmas and New Year’s holidays alone, from each other and from family.  Although, we were never truly alone.
As another name for Jesus is Immanuel,
God with us.

Christmas was never about us, but about a baby born in a manger, a Savior who would one day grow up and bear the cross for our salvation; a Christmas gift of eternity if we’d receive Him.
manger scene

For this alone,
Our Cup Runneth Over!

SEPARATIONS OF LOVE By Lori A Alicea

Have you stopped and smelled the roses today?

Have you opened the gate to the “little things of your life”, to gaze around and take in the bounty of beauty before you?

Have you stood on that secret hillside moments after sunrise to soak in a vast view that fades into the horizon beyond what eyes can see, a scene bursting with roses of every color in the rainbow, whose perfumed fragrance will overwhelm with just one breath?

Your “rose garden of thankfulness” remains open for visitors all hours of the day and night.

A garden hidden in your heart, whose passage only requires a moment of reflection, a moment of silence to stop and smell your roses of blessing.
Roses 1The world was caught off guard weeks ago when she was unexpectedly “put on notice” to take shelter at home, temporarily closing the doors of life as she knew it.

No one saw this coming.

A “perfect storm” which vacated streets, shuttered businesses and took people everywhere “off the clock”, clearing their “to-do-lists” until further instruction.

Our busy lives turned into ghost towns.

Chaos of calendars is quieted.

The unknown of tomorrow is on everyone’s mind.

The world in their homes wakes up to a posture of stillness, a forgotten atmosphere of silence, yet a gift for those who wake up smelling their roses.

You don’t realize what you have until you can’t have it for now, confronting a new emotion from our

“Isolations of love.”

A month ago our house was a flurry of activity. A month ago our house was a revolving door of grandkids, friends, neighbors, and loved ones.  A month ago I could visit my mother at her nursing home facility anytime I wanted.
A month ago we found ourselves stopping and smelling our “roses of blessings” quite frequently, never giving a thought though how unreachable our garden would be a month and a day later.

Now, we grieve from the “social distance” we must keep from these ten grandchildren we are so crazy about, unable to explain to them why overnight visits to Papa and Gaga’s house have been postponed.  We grandparents want to break all rules that bar us from reaching into these windows and cyberspace for hugs and kisses that have left our arms and hearts terribly empty.

Harder yet, how does a grown child bring comfort and peace to their lonely mother separated and isolated from the other side of her screened view, whose arms they embraced and hands frequently held in conversation only a month ago.

During these Isolations of love the world is experiencing together, what an appropriate time for all of us to stop and smell the roses that never go out of season.
Roses 1Though as grandparents we long the noise of running feet of our grandchildren racing up and down the halls, we are immensely grateful as they enjoy this much needed family time with their parents through homeschooling, play and meals together.

Though as adult children we long to freely walk into the nursing home facility where our mother calls home, and while my mother and her resident friends are now socially distancing taking meals in their rooms and playing hallway bingo.
IMG_7174We haven’t forgotten how spoiled and well-loved our mother is at this facility. The staff here takes every opportunity to create special events during the holidays for their residents.

Don’t get me started on the great honor bestowed to these residents during Mother’s day one year.

Just ask the community and family members invited to come Trick-or-treating at their grandparent’s residence and hear their boasts about the detailed thoughtfulness of food, games and candy waiting for them during Halloween.

How included and special our mother and residents are made to feel during Valentine’s Day and Christmas, especially from the local police officers handing out gifts and wheelchair speeding tickets to our loved ones.

When you stop,
when you take a moment to smell the roses,
the blessings of God emerge,
come forth,
become magnified and overwhelm one’s heart
when you take inventory of what God has done
and means in your life.

All this uncertainty shall pass.

Normalcy will return with hopes that we have been changed to a simpler life, a more appreciative view of our blessings.

Papa and I can’t wait for the doors of cousin camp to reopen.

I can’t wait for the day when the doors of my mother’s nursing home are open again for visitors.

May we as a family view our time with her differently by not putting off visiting her tomorrow when we might only have today.

Might we as a family celebrate her even more, as she has been a wonderful blessing especially to those who call her great-grandma.

A true blessing to those who call her grandma.

And an eternal blessing to those who call her mom.

I treasure and am forever grateful in my heart for our 25th Wedding Anniversary that was shared with family and our mother, an evening scrapbooked of memories and highlights that would not have taken place a few months later.

Mother even was caught on camera doing the limbo.
25th anniversary - limbo momWhile mother doesn’t understand Facetime or the fancy trends of technology, mother is still a phone call away during these isolations of love.
Screen 2
Mother has missed us as much as we do her, and the wonderful people of her nursing home have allowed her to tell us so through their pictures posted on social media, a gift that we as a family and all the resident families are truly appreciative of.
Screen 6During our day when we find ourselves especially lonely and void during these
Isolations of love.

 Might we be drawn to the hillside of our blessings, to that secret place whose gate is open whenever we need a lifting of our countenance,

When we need to be reminded of our bountiful blessings,

As we stop and smell the beautiful roses that God has planted in the garden of our hearts.
Roses 1