LIFE’S UNEXPECTED CURVEBALLS By Lori A Alicea

What just happened?

You never saw it coming.
The job loss.
The diagnosis.
The court papers.
The unsuspecting knock on the door.

Life’s unexpected curveballs are thrown to take you by surprise.
Thrown to catch you unaware, off-guard and off balance.

Life’s unexpected curveballs aim to mow you over with worry.
2013 ethan with lawn mower in snowTo target you in a barrage of unexpected hits you never saw coming.

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But be not dismayed.

In this snowball fight of circumstances you find yourself defenseless in, remember God has your back, your best interest at heart when
He turns it all around for good, your good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

As a little girl many years ago, I entertained myself as most kids do by jumping up and down on my bed, never considering the consequence. This makeshift trampoline brought me moments of childlike glee as my other sisters watched or joined in the fun on their bed; while that detail is sketchy. What I don’t remember, although I am told, is my older sister screaming for our mother after finding me bleeding profusely from the gaping wound on my forehead after falling and slamming the footboard on the way down from a jump in the air.

What just happened?

Life threw an unexpected curveball when no one that night was in position for the catch.
Dad was at work.
Mother couldn’t get me to the emergency room as she hadn’t learned to drive.
Hysteria filled the air.

Thankfully though, our next door neighbor was home and able to take mother and me to the hospital.

The unexpected curveball caught us off-guard.

But the throw against me didn’t catch God unaware,
or my guardian angel charged in my care.
2014 cova winter 4 snow angelGod is faithful to His post.
God keeps watchful eyes on our every move.

2You 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 139:2-3

God is in tuned and familiar with all our ways and He was about to turn this situation that “meant my harm” around for my good.

This accident became a blessing in disguise.

The doctors discovered a hidden infection in a major organ of mine escaping from the wound of my forehead.

Surgery would follow leaving a scar to permanently remind me all these years later the wonderful news that God works for the good of those who love him.

Now, those “snowballs of circumstances”, those unexpected curve balls find me

taunting back at my adversary,
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smiling back in revenge,

because what was “meant for my harm”,
God used it and turned it around for my good.

 

 

MEASURED IN SMILES By Lori A Alicea

Sticks and stones
May break my bones.

But words ????
 Will never cause me pain???
Will never break my heart???
Will never break me????
Will never hurt me???

One afternoon my husband and I were out riding our bicycles together when we stopped to look at this rock garden school children had personally grown. Hand painted stones with word-messages from a child’s imagination and decorated in their own colorful flair, a spring concert of sorts, where the music and song is played to your own interpretation.

Observing this garden of rocks, I was sadly reminded of the stones we all have thrown on occasion in a heated moment of hurt, hurling our words of opinions, words in defense against accusation or words to protect ourselves from pain. Our “volley of words” resembles a bully’s way of taking control by casting stones.

Sassy kids have all said it. Myself as a child included.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How far from the truth this is.

At our child’s middle school graduation, I remember the commencement message like it was yesterday as it left an indelible mark. The speaker spoke on the power of words and the handprint they leave on a child’s heart.  Reminding us that words are “containers for life or death” and their lifetime impact over our children could be
“measured in smiles.”

The Commencement Speaker rewinds the movie of this graduation class to their first day of kindergarten when smiles were bright and endless. A simple world of cartoons and playgrounds, their joy was written all over their face in smiles.  Happiness abounds in their land of balloons and fireflies.  But sadly, it doesn’t take long when a child’s garden clutters from the sticks and stones of another’s negative words, crowding out their innocence and smiles.  Over the years of neglect and not weeding out the clutter, sticks and stones can overtake the garden of a middle school graduate and possibly an adult.
IMG_3159But hope is not lost.
hopeGardens grow and blossom with seeds sown in joy and kindness.
hope joy love be kindLove can thrive and brighten smiles in any garden, especially a garden of hurt and overgrown in sticks and stones.
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We are reminded that our words be gracious and sweet as honeycomb and pleasing in our Lord’s sight.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:24

Just the other day I received a text message, words sweetened in a child’s love causing a bright smile on this grandmother’s face. My seven year old granddaughter spelled out her itinerary for our weeks visit together, a list of ways she wanted to spend time with me.

This is my itinerary when you are here. I want us to make pancakes, biscuits and gravy, roast, chicken noodle soup.  I want to go to the park and on walks.  I want to cuddle with you.  Make books and read books.  I want to sleep with you and do make up together.  I love you.  Also, there’s one more thing.  I want to stay up with you and make cookies.
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 Next time you see a child whose smile is dimmed; his smile might be measured from the sticks and stones of his garden.

Come along side this child and speak words of peace, joy and kindness to him.
bee kindGenerously water his garden in love.

This child’s smile will shine bright again.
His garden will surely grow.

The season of spring has come upon us.
It’s time to weed out our garden’s clutter.

It’s time to clear our land of sticks and stones, those words that have kept our gardens from blooming.

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heaven…

    a time to scatter stones… Ecclesiastes 3

It’s time to prepare our heart’s soil to receive good seeds, those words full of love, peace, joy and kindness to help our garden grow.
hope joy love be kindOh, that our joy be evident from the overflow of our heart.

Oh, that our peace, love and joy be
measured in smiles.
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