A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART By Lori A Alicea

  We all have a story to tell.
Your story, my story, they need to be told.

Buried deep in yesterday is our history, our milestones, our wisdom gained and learned from our wins, our losses.  These truths of our lives must be unearthed, brought to the surface and passed on down into the hands of our children, our grandchildren and generations beyond.

What’s your story?
Might you be willing to open up the pages and tell your story?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oh that we would dip our quills into the inkwell of our heart and form onto paper those sentences and chapters that define our past, so our stories can give understanding, fill in the blanks and answer the questions our family in the present are asking, and questions of future family in generations to come.

We must find courage to remember, to fill our passports with stamps that take us places we swore we’d never return to. We must go back and reclaim what was left behind; because it’s your story, it’s a second chance to redeem your memories and realize there are gold nuggets to be mined, but you must be willing to dig and sift and pan out the beauty you never thought was there.             

A loyal traveling companion down the streets of our past, our present and has already walked into our future, God has been a lamppost along our way, lighting our path and writing our story through those peaks, those valleys and every high and low in the journey.

God has been faithful. He alone is a story worth retelling.  Might we be willing to unfold the map of yesterday, re-trace the steps of an almighty Father and give him glory in our story?

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you… Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

“Your Story Matters”, a book poured out from the heart of Leslie Leyland Fields, words I have devoured, or possibly devoured me, from the very first page.

Leslie Leyland Fields tells her story that we would tell our story.

You don’t have to be a writer to tell your story, because your “words are your story”.

Your story matters.
My story matters.

Take my hand and follow me back into my beginning, the introduction and first few pages of my writing story.

I tell my story that you might be encouraged to tell yours.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

 A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART
By Lori A Alicea

In my “thirties” living in a generation where women found great fulfilment in the workplace, many leaned though into the belief “you can have it all at the same time”; where one could “fry up the bacon inside the home while earning it from outside your white picket fence.”  I was one of those women.

As a computer programmer analyst consultant for fifteen years, there’s no denying that gleaned from plowing into projects and sowing opportunity after opportunity into my professional fields, I yielded bushels full of a bountiful increase.

But in my arduous climb up that Mt. Everest of success, I found it difficult to breathe from the demands of higher elevations. Closer to the summit its view didn’t render the majestic glamour I imagined.

Prior to one step up that mountain I should have considered the price; I should have counted the cost of my earthly pursuits.

I wish the wisdom of our Women’s Ministry Pastor would have whispered in my ear years earlier, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

Worldly gains came at a great price, it cost me big:

Cost me time and memories at home.

Cost those treasured “firsts” with my young children; first steps, first words, first day of school, that first day of baseball, and sadly, the scrapbooks are empty from so many more.

Cost my strength in exchange for weariness.

Costs my family and I paid dearly for.

These missed moments are now fallen leaves caught up in the updrafts of those autumn winds, forever lost and unable to be reclaimed or retrieved.

Eventually a tug-of-war ensued, a duel from both sides of my heart challenging each other to the death, career vs. my love for home.

The voice of my career screamed, “Keep climbing.”
The voice of my love for family begged louder, “Come home.”

In search for answers, a Heavenly Father reminded me:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

…A time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:2

I could have it all, just not all at the same time.

Encouraged and blessed by my husband, I uprooted myself from the acres of career and plowed up and re-planted my life into a brand new field called home.

Home felt so right.
Home fit like my favorite slippers on a cold day.
Home was the warmth of an angora sweater in a cool breeze.
Home was an afternoon smell of cookies baking in the oven.
Home was sharing pancakes over breakfast with my children before school.
Home was kneading bread dough on my kitchen counter.
Home was those walls that kept my family safe at night.

I was home and living the dream.

It didn’t take long before a gentle pursuit of me occurred in the still and quiet mornings; “words of home” began silently whispering.

The pitter, patter feet of (the simple thoughts, the little phrases, the innocent images of children and love…), began sneaking up on me from around the corner hallway, at the breakfast table as I sipped on my morning coffee, while gazing at the outside beauty from my kitchen window, all pulling on my apron strings and vying for my attention to be written.

There was no denying the stirring. I couldn’t push them away if I tried; words, those beautiful words.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.  Psalms 45:1 NLT

Born from this sacred place of my heart called home,

A birth announcement,

A debut column from years ago, the birthplace and baby’s first steps of a writing career,

Written to draw attention to the roses, our garden of the simple, the seemingly insignificant, yet the wonderment to discover if you allow its beauty to entice your curiosity to stop and smell them.

A Column is born,
Little Things.”
Column pictures

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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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.

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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.