THE REST OF THE STORY By Lori A Alicea

God has written your story.

Wall to wall in Heaven’s library are love letters Our Almighty Father has authored, gushed over in intimate thought and detail in a personally bound book for each of us titled,
“My Story for You”.

From the beginning of time, God knew you.
Not of you.
God knew you by name.

With great excitement;
Before you were formed in the womb,
Before you were ever born,
He ordered your steps;
He planned for your life.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Before you were born I set you apart…”
Jeremiah 1:5       

In His own handwriting, God has captured the mysteries, the surprises, the ups, the downs, the great beginnings and sad chapters of your life, redeeming every tear that pours from your eyes into the great hope He will be glorified in the pages and Kingdom history making bestseller of,
“My Story for You”.

As with us all though, we’re in a hurry.
Living life in the drive-through lane.
Microwaving moments.
Speeding through memories.

Missing the sweet breadcrumbs in the seconds God has dropped for us along the back roads of the scenic route.

With clocks always ticking, we leave reading for the bookworm, the nerd wearing the pocket protector and one who doesn’t go anywhere without his library card.

Back in the day you learned to “speed-read” the meat of a book forgoing the surprises and delights of the sides, the buttered bread, and delectable dessert.

Having the ability to carry a library in our back pocket with the technologies of today, volumes can be consumed in an afternoon. Preferring to let our fingers swipe and fast forward through an electronic book, we sadly miss the writer’s heartbeat, his love and sweat poured onto the pages, thoughts of us written in the words and in the sentences.

God has written our story.
2019 cumbee aubrey reading books

Page after page and chapter after chapter, written between the lines of our birthdays, graduations, weddings, jobs and relationships, we can trust the author in the question marks, the cliffhangers, the unanswered questions, the whys and why-nots.

Because remember,
He’s ordered our steps,
He’s planned out our life,
He knows us from cover to The End.

God has written our story.
2012 cova little reading bookSometimes though if we find ourselves stuck in a failing marriage, the stress of a job, the mountain of bills, the financial drought, the pain of a wayward child, the dead-end relationships, we might give up and give in or escape to something better, losing faith in the author altogether because we couldn’t handle life in this Chapter of Despair.

When the book of our life reads nothing but difficulty,
God begs us to keep turning the pages.
God urges us to find strength in the sentences.

God reminds us to remember his faithfulness in the former chapters for hope in our future chapters yet to come.

God reminds us our best days and his most amazing plans remain ahead of us
If we keep reading,
The Rest of the Story.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God
has prepared for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

2019 england rosalee reading a book

As a parent myself, I can’t imagine God’s heartbreak when the one whose love story he authored stops reading the pages he wrote especially for them.

As a parent, I can’t even touch the grief of our Heavenly Father who weeps for the one who becomes lost and astray in their pain, paralyzed to turn the page and find relief in God’s love in
The Rest of the Story.

The pain is still fresh.
The “Whys” will overwhelm.
The questions will remain unanswered.

If only she had kept reading,
She would have found her hope in
The Rest of the Story.

God weeps behind the closed doors of heaven for the one who needed someone to turn the pages of hopelessness for them, to read to them when they were unable to read for themselves the blurred lines of
The Rest of the Story.

There is a great hope in
The Rest of the Story.

We don’t have to give up.
We don’t have to give in.
There is no need to escape.

The hope of our tomorrow is trusting in the author of our today,
No matter how painful today is.

Sadly, just a few years ago,
Our great niece Ashley stopped reading her story.
Ashley gave up hope for tomorrow because of her deep pain of today.

There was a great hope for our niece in
The Rest of her Story.

Yet sadly and tragically, our twelve year-old Ashley ended her life, unable to escape the pages and chapters of her despair.
ashleighs picture 1If only Ashley kept turning the pages.
If only Ashley could have trusted her pain into the hands of the one who authored her life.

If only Ashley could have believed in the pages written for her tomorrows.  That her tomorrows had joy waiting for her.

…weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 KJV

The wedding dress she was meant to wear will remain on the rack.
The children she was meant to carry will never cry or call her mama.
Ashley’s grandchildren will never find sweet dreams, asleep in her arms.

All the years in between of Ashley’s life will remain a mystery,

Because her book was closed way too soon.
The Rest of Her Story will never be known, will never be read.

The last page of her story was never read by her,
But heartbreakingly and painstakingly though, was read by us,

The End.

ARROWS OF WORDS By Lori A Alicea

How do you escape their arrows of words?  Where can you hide from the fiery darts launched specifically at you?  Those arrows whose flight mission is ordered by everything else but love.  Arrows whose flight pattern is aimed for the heart and rarely miss.  How do you escape?

You never think it will happen to you.  Growing up sheltered among the love of five other siblings, you can’t imagine a world any different; that is, until the class bell rings for school.

Cruelty is packed in many lunch boxes where everything is fair game.  My long red hair didn’t fit in with the blond haired girls.  Seat kicking and hair pulling was common.  Jokes about my overbite and non-fashionista clothes didn’t relent.  Freckles never came in style.  I couldn’t escape humiliation of “wolves singing” during attendance when my last name was frequently mispronounced as “Howl”.  Walking the halls incited others to grab my books and litter the floors.  Although with nobody to share lunch there was one hour of escape to the library; my sanctuary of friends among the isle of books, with hitchhikers allowed to come for the ride of reading.

You never think it will happen to you but it did.  Their arrows of words targeted me for years.  I was able to fight back and knock them down with my grades, yet their fiery darts left an indelible sting in my confidence and self-worth for years.

Being alone in school didn’t keep me from having a true friend though; an author of one of those books in my secret place at lunch; one whose love for me is in the details of its pages:

Psalm 139

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…
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

17 How precious to me are your thoughts!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

 When I began to understand and receive the love of my Creator, I soon felt sorry for the archers of the arrows when I realized hurting people hurt people.  Matthew 12:34 NKJV says it best, …for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Compassion for those launching their arrows grieved me as I imagined the missions of arrows that still may be painfully lodged in them.

In this lonely world we live in, hug your kids tighter today.  Then hug them again.  Give somebody else’s kid a hug.  Give yourself a hug.

Tell them that Jesus DIED that they might LIVE.

Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you never know who might be dying a slow death from the arrows of words.

ashleighs picture 1

Ashleigh’s Arrows
By Great Aunt Lori Alicea

I wish I could have seen your eyes,
The emptiness display.
I wish I could have heard that cry,
For help to come your way.

I wish I could have touched your heart,
Remove the arrows there.
Remind you that you weren’t alone,
Your Father God did care.

I grieve the clock I can’t turn back,
The past I can’t undo.
In honor I keep vigil watch,
For Ashleigh’s just like you.