DESTINATION ADVENTURE By Lori A Alicea

There it was…

Catching me off guard…
Stopping me in my tracks…
So strangely out of place…

Getting my complete attention the minute
I opened the doors to this church I was visiting.

An old Volkswagen towing a surfboard parked inside the foyer for reasons I was intrigued to know why.

A mystery God wouldn’t reveal until months later, but revolved around the reason I was speaking at a ladies conference that Saturday morning in the first place.

USE VW Surfboard leigh

The story began months prior and finding me minding my own business and perfectly content, serving God behind the scenes as a writer and blogger.

But then over coffee with a longtime friend, God was about rustle my comfortable nest and thrust me into the winds of the unknowing, testing my wings of faith when my trusted sister inquired if I’d be willing to speak at a conference she was hosting.

My answer is found in an excerpt of a former blog of mine…

When Opportunity Comes
By Lori A Alicea

Among the lively conversations shared around each table that morning at this local eatery, privately I was having a Moses moment with God, reluctantly responding as Moses did when God presented an opportunity long ago,

Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent (of speech)…”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

It’s easy to hide behind these written words of mine, a wall of personal security.

Though, while I’m not afraid of testifying God’s Word before others, I tried to justify “my lack of eloquence” to my friend.

In my scarcity of confidence, I questioned if I had anything worthwhile to offer, yet I am encouraged by Author and speaker Lisa Bevere’s words…

Offer God whatever He has placed in your hand – whatever is in your care or control. Offer it up for heavenly purposes and see what God will do. As we release what is in our hands, He releases what is in His.

Then I am reminded in the quiet time of my prayers…

God hath need of thee, to multiply my life’s message and feed a room full of hungry people; if only I’d be willing to offer my ordinary lunch to Him in my “yes”.

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I SAID YES.

One Saturday morning the alabaster jar of my testimony was broke open and poured out over a room full of ladies and men; a hillside of wild flowers and fragrance wafted to the heavens as an offering of praise to our Lord.

The healing waters gently flowed through those hearts and tears of ones hurting during a conference titled, “Beloved.”

All glory to an almighty God.

Then I returned back home to my comfortable nest…

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t shake that old Volkswagen and surfboard waiting for me when I arrived at the Beloved conference.

I continuously inquired of God its meaning.

This scene was personal and gripped my emotions upon first glance.

As a child, our driveway was a parking lot full of Volkswagen’s awaiting my father’s mechanic hands to fix them.

Our military son and family living in Hawaii, all love to surf.

This personal scene is an illustration to the story God is about to unveil and read from the next chapter written for my life…

Destination Adventure.

From one who always played it safe…

Pastor and Author Richard Foth reminds…

We were meant for more than a safe ride when God placed us here. Any part of this life that offers more, requires more, or asks more of us than we are used to is an opportunity to grow more, dream more, and be more than we are now.USE VW Surfboard leigh

This personal scene was a setup from God, who knows me intimately and sees those hidden heart strings tied to His daughters emotions.

God was asking more of me.

To dream more, to risk more, to stop playing it safe.

But what would I offer Him this time?”

Pastor Erwin Lutzer said, “A faithful God does not expect you to do what you cannot. He supplies the needed strength.” As we faithfully serve God, He gives us the strength we need for the tasks He has placed in front of us.

So go in the strength you have…
Judges 6:14 NIV

God wasn’t asking me to barrel the big waves.8FE32792-4914-4AFE-BEE5-BF1FFE563235

No, He was only asking a child to take those first few steps in the shallow, finding herself in the deep waters one day in the future.

Looking close inside this Volkswagen is a silent greeting of aloha, a lei welcoming me to this adventure.

Looking even closer, you notice the Jesus license plate, our faithful Lord who goes before us, leading the way.

Life is a wilderness, but when we invite Jesus to be our Guide, all bets are off.

Any way you slice it, those things spell adventure.
Pastor and Author Richard FothJESUS license plate

It’s time to stop playing it safe and jump into the unknowing; whatever the unknowing looks like.

Destination Adventure is God’s personal book for me I recently opened, where Chapter One only instructs me to take the first step, to jump and take a risk.

If you don’t take the risk, you forfeit the miracle.
Pastor and Author Mark Batterson

USE Jump off

And to get excited for the unknowns of Chapter Two and beyond…

Another excerpt from…

When Opportunity Comes
By Lori A Alicea

My friend stirred up the excitement in me through a song written by Pastor Mike Jr; excitement I stir up in your opportunities as well; that God’s getting ready to move…and it’s going to be BIG…

Song BIG
By Pastor Mike Jr.
.

You ought to declare that over your own life

That it’s my time
And I can feel it.
Breakthrough is in the room.

God’s getting ready to move.

Listen, you ought to declare this over your own life, say it
For I know my God is working miracles just for me

And it’s going to be BIG…

WHEN GOD STEPS IN!  By Lori A Alicea

If it matters to us, it matters to God.

Whether it’s a child’s sick goldfish, a health challenge, financial crisis, business deal in jeopardy, a wayward child or a heart’s desire in waiting;

If it matters to us, it matters to God.

The surround sound of Heaven amplifies the cries of its people.

Our Daddy hears and answers before his children finish their sentences.

Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24 NIV

This God who never sleeps nor naps can be reached at any time, day or night.

Our calls to Him are never dropped, screened, or sent to voice-mail.

God’s children have speed dial access to a good Father who steps in when we least expect and in ways never imagined.2018 ayva on phone

God loves to hear his children ask of Him; and so we did.

My husband David and I found ourselves in a quandary, when after committing financially to hosting, decorating and catering a benefit event months earlier for our dear Pastor, David without notice found himself unemployed.

Overwhelmed… anxious… deeply concerned.

What to do?

Taking on such a leadership role in itself was an act of faith on our part as we are followers by nature; giving and serving behind the scenes.

Yet, when our Pastor running for office inquired of those willing to host a benefit in his honor; God quietly nudged a husband and wife to trust Him with our “yes”.

Invitations were ordered.

The venue was secured.USE banquet hall

Our guest list determined.

Table decorations envisioned.USE table decorations

Speakers selected.IMG_1300

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Entertainment secured.IMG_1273

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Excitement is building.USE cake

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The word had already gone out to save the date.

Now here we are…unemployed.

Our Guest of Honor would have easily understood our financial plight with compassion.USE PASTOR RON PIC

We could have walked away from this commitment without any questions asked.

But the nagging tug of our hearts reminded we had heard from God to trust Him with our “yes”… and so we did.

Only God knew the words written in our diary of uncertainty; those pages hidden under lock and key to our Guest of Honor.

Yet our Daddy hears and answers before his children finish their sentences.

Trust me with your yes.”

We continued to trust Our Faithful God with the impossible.USE DAVID SIGN'

God loves to hear his children ask of Him; and so we did.

Then, the amazing happens when God steps in while we least expect, and in ways we never imagined.

Keeping a close eye on our checking account balance which was dwindling by the day during this unforeseen unemployment, I realized an error had occurred after noticing a large deposit not our own was posted.

Immediately calling the bank regarding these misappropriated funds, my heart skipped a few beats to learn that monies owed to me years ago had been intercepted and deposited into our account.

More exciting, monies in the same amount would be deposited every other week for the next six months; enough in total to fully fund our benefit with enough left over to deliver our candidate / Pastor and family to his event in honor.

God had made a way when there seemed to be no way in our finances.

God steps in at just the right time with the exact monies needed; restitution I had long given up hope to receive.

Interestingly, these deposits ceased once the event had taken place.

David also started a new job that following Monday.

Sure sounds like God stepped in for us.

Yes, if it matters to us, it matters to God.

Give Him a call.2018 ayva on phone

TRAVEL LIGHT  By Lori A Alicea

The final pages of December, 2020 are being written as we speak, concluding the chapter and volume of another year of my life, as well as yours.

In two short days, accounting will close out the books of these last twelve months we’ve lived, tallying the debits and credits, the giving and taking we have experienced from January thru December of 2020.

Regardless if your annual report shows you in the negative financially, emotionally, relationally or spiritually, you’ll always find a faithful word of encouragement from our Lord in the questions,

You can trust Me.”

Returning to the table of contents from this particular volume of my family library, I recall and remember, revisit and remind myself, rekindle and reminiscence the goodness of God in the pages of joy, the pages of laughter; still trusting His goodness in the chapters of trial and yes, the chapters of tears.

But you can trust Me”, says the Lord.

Regardless of the findings from the most recent three hundred and sixty-five days of your life, God entreats you to follow and trace a father’s heart with His sight, as eyes in the natural might miss those holy hand-prints left behind as evidence of Him

Never leaving us nor forsaking us

In the sentences of good and not-so good;

Whatever is true,
Whatever is noble,
Whatever is right,
Whatever is pure,
Whatever is lovely,
Whatever is admirable—
If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
Think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

God has been a faithful God to David and I and our family this year.

God has celebrated with us at the summit of our magnificent mountaintop experiences.

That same God was found as a tender father comforting and resting with us in the valley.

From whatever posture we found ourselves reaching for God this past year, whether looking down from the glorious view of the mountain or eyes gazing up from the valley below, God has been a faithful God wherever our circumstances plotted our foot’s position.

In leaving this year of 2020, I inquired the Lord for anything learned of our journey these past twelve months; a word of wisdom for 2021.

God’s word and lesson was rooted from our address change four months ago:

Travel Light.

After three long years of praying and seeking God’s perfect will for our next address, dreams and expectations were caught off guard with God’s reveal, a 960 sq. ft. single wide manufactured home.

IMG_5896 IMG_5900We sought Him and found Him.
We trusted God with His eyes until we could see with our own.
Finally, David and I were home.

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Interestingly, this home checked off every box on our wish list:

A brand new place to accommodate David’s allergies; ability to pay off quickly as retirement is approaching; close to David’s work; close to the kids; and closer to church.

Prayer that God’s perfect will in a house for us would stay hidden in the hot housing market until we stumbled upon it.  That He did, as this address we now call home, was up for sale four longs months before we ever purchased it.

Moving in though, you realize quickly with only two small closets for storage, and neither being the walk-in version,

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That everything we own will remain in our two storage units, except the bare essentials.

david storage

Travel light”, God says.

It’s amazing to realize the peace in living this truth,

Travel light

As

Less is so much more.

Less to maintain.
Less to store.
Less to look at.

Getting rid of all these boxes is a completely different story; another blog and episode to share.

Beyond boxes, I believe God wants us to

Travel light financially, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

Travel light financially.

Keep finances from the entanglements of debt.
Embrace generosity; be a giver.
Find the poor and feed them, clothe them, and love them as Jesus did.

Travel light emotionally.

Love yourself.
See yourself as God created you; fearfully and wonderfully.
Hand out mirrors for those who see their reflection “less than” wonderful.

Travel light relationally.

Forgive others quickly.
Fight for restoration.
Be a peacemaker.
Love to the moon and back.

Travel light spiritually.

You’re never lost; the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-and-nine to find the one who strayed.
There is room at the cross for you.
God’s heart weeps for the broken.
Look for the light in the window; the Father waits for your return.

Travel light in 2021.

Give your burdens to the Lord
And He will take care of you.
Psalm 55:22 NIV

Cast all your anxiety on Him
Because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Let God do all of the heavy lifting.

“Travel light”, thus saith the Lord.
As less is so much more.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS By Lori A Alicea

I’m listening Lord.

You said for your children to ask so I’ve been asking.

I know you haven’t forgotten me.

I’m confident you’re working on my behalf.

I’ve been walking this familiar stretch of road for miles heading in the same direction from the last time you spoke.

I’ve lost track of time along this silent path of my unanswered questions, bending my ear for course correction or direction with one word from you.

I’m waiting.
I’m watching while walking.

As rustling leaves from the breeze of my heart it echoes,
“I’m listening Lord.”
england journey walking on pathMany of us have lost the ability to wait, myself included on occasion.

We find ourselves stuck in the quagmire of trust what we don’t understand or see, caught up in the entanglements of our feelings instead of the safety net of God’s faithfulness.

God would have us leave the path of our unanswered questions and wade into the cool waters beside for refreshment and unearth the treasures of Him we have yet to discover.

God is enough for our lives.
He longs for us to…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

The answers to our unanswered questions are deeply rooted in Knowing God.
england journey tree rootsHe is faithful.
He keeps his Word.
He honors his promises.

When roots go deep in God, we can trust Him beyond our understanding, anchoring a wavering faith against the gusts of unanswered questions.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

But one does grow weary on the path of unanswered questions at times.

Prolonged delays can tempt us to follow the dead-end road signs of our impatience, re-calculating the GPS coordinates of God’s best for us.
england journey walking on path 1Always remember that God hasn’t forgotten us with His silence.

Prior to the birth of Jesus, God didn’t speak for four-hundred years.

His back wasn’t turned to them.
Quite the contrary.

In this dark night of eerie silence spanning four centuries, God was preparing the perfect time and place for the arrival of His beloved son.

In his silence, God was in great preparation.
I suppose though a Save the Date would have been appropriate for this grand entrance.

For our encouragement,
Brian Simmons wrote about God’s delays in his devotional…

I Hear His Whisper; Encounter God’s Heart for You
Brian Simmons

What you call delay, I call preparation. Many times I am at work behind the scenes, yet you cannot discern it. I am preparing others so that your destiny may be fulfilled, and I am preparing you even as I prepared Joseph for his season of promotion. Never judge My works by what your eyes see but by the promises I have made to you.

 Hold tightly to those promises.

Instead of lamenting our unanswered questions, may we rest in His promise that the wait will be worth it.
May the overflow of our heart sustain us while we rejoice in the goodness of God.

Goodness of God
Written by Ed Cash, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram,
Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music

All my life You have been faithful,
All my life you have been so so good.
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God.

 

TRUST THROUGH THEIR EYES By Lori A Alicea

Ever wish you could be a child again and see the world through their eyes?

Ever wonder if you put on a pair of childlike glasses if their “land of make believe” really does come to life?

While we all know their “land of make believe” is just that, “make believe”.

But if I were a critic writing reviews of our grandchildren’s acting performances while playing, I’d give them all “five out of five” stars for their convincing character portrayals.

Children so easily trust.

You give them a pair of superhero glasses and they make-believe they can take out the bad guy.

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Give a child a full superhero costume, a shield and their super power glasses, they make-believe they can dodge bullets and jump out the window to save the world.

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Putting on their special childlike glasses,

Kids make-believe they are our furry friend.
Cute in my glasses

Kids make-believe they are a movie star.
daddies glasses

With the right make-believe glasses, kids can fix your problems.

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A child’s far away world is clearer and within reach of their fingertips wearing make-believe 3D glasses.
3D glasses

Sporting make-believe shades, details are crystal clear to a child and they take attitude, snap their neck and fingers above their heads when we adults can’t “see it” through their lenses.
see through it glasses

Seriously!

Even if a child’s world appears “upside down”, all seems to make perfect sense to them wearing their make-believe glasses.

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Children so easily trust.

But in wearing their glasses, trust through their eyes says “seeing is believing.”

Yet God reminds us all, big kids especially, to take off your childlike glasses and see through His eyes, because “believing first is seeing.”

Why is it harder to have faith and trust through God’s eyes than our own?

 Why can’t we remember God’s past faithfulness to trust for his future faithfulness?

Why do we need to wear a special pair of glasses to see what God could do for us, when if we believe first, we will see His Promises in all that he will do.

Why did Thomas doubt seeing the Risen Lord until Thomas
…..put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into the Lord’s side.
John 20:24-29 NIV

 Why did Martha doubt that Jesus would raise her brother from the dead when Jesus had told her earlier,
“Your brother will rise again.”
John 11:23 NIV

 In both situations, Jesus wanted Thomas and Martha to believe first to see when he had said,

29  ……blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29 NIV

Why do we ask for or need a sign from God to believe, even though his loving heart does send a sign in our unbelief at times.

Children so easily trust.
Why can’t we?

God would have us all be like little children with childlike faith, remembering though it’s not wearing a special pair of glasses that
We see to believe.

No, it’s ours hearts that believe first through God’s eyes to see His promises.

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Oh, to have a childlike faith.
Oh, to be as a child and see Through His Eyes.

aubrey in glasses