Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Funny Valentine...

A pic from the first time we met in 2011

One year ago today I saw my future husband's face for the first time. Even though we had only talked a few times on the phone, he asked me to be his Valentine. So forward! I loved it.

When his face appeared on my computer screen I knew I was in trouble. Oh....that smile.

It's been a whirl wind since then. Skype, emails, phone calls, flying to and from for only a few days in the same location, moving to FL, getting engaged, getting married 3 months later, moving into our own place. It's been fast and it's been AMAZING.

We've been married for 4 short months now and I feel like it was years ago that our romance began.

I love lists, so I thought I would write a list of the things that I've learned and loved over this short amount of time that I've been with my man:

1. I love that Tony does the dishes, picks up around our place and gets it all tidy, and makes the bed every day. I don't even have to ask him to do it. It's just done. When I was single I didn't know I would love something like this so much, but now that I have someone else sharing a living space with me and I don't have to do it all by myself, I notice it and I love it!

2. Tony thinks I'm cute and funny. He laughs at me when I pretend to be a small animal and burrow into his chest. He looks at me like I'm crazy when I start doing my Liz Lemon/Elaine dance to the music in my head. He thinks it's adorable that all of my impersonations sound like Ray Ramono or Kermit the Frog. Sometimes we just sit and make faces at each other. Something we started doing over Skype when we got to hour 4 and were too tired to talk anymore. If there is something funny to be found in something. We will find it. We're goofy. We play. We laugh. I love this about us. My prayer is that we laugh forever. God is Joy!

3. This man has the listening power of a voice recorder. Not a peep, ya'll. He listens. Even when I wish he didn't. He does. He remembers everything that is important to me. He remembers all of the things that hurt or upset me. He listens to me talk and talk for hours and doesn't get annoyed. I don't know how he does it. I tell him everything. Every. Thing. Maybe it's not supposed to be that way. Maybe there are convos best left to my girlfiriends or strangers in line at Target, but I can't help but tell him my thoughts. It's a combination of knowing that he cares and also wanting him to know me better. One day when we have a house full of little people we may not have all the time to talk like we do now; so I'm taking advantage.

4. I love listening to him. I know, it's hard to believe that with all my talking that I would find time to listen, but I do. I LOVE his thoughts, ideas, dreams, feelings, jokes, and puns...I even love it when he makes fart noises with his mouth. It's in our talking with each other that we see more and more what God is doing in our lives or wants to do in our lives. Tony and I may come from different angles and in different ways, but..we have the same goal...God's glory. The more I hear him talk about what he's learned or what excites and fires him up, the more I love him.

5. He is so warm all the time. Jacob Black ain't got nothin' on Tony Alicea. Every time I hug him, I say, "You're waaaarm!" It's just awesome.

6. He is an amazing cook! When we first got married, both of us were like, um, we don't know how to cook. And then there was Pinterest and Food Network.com. We have been cooking up a storm for each other over these last couple of months. We have two different cooking styles. Tony follows the cooking directions to a tee; including using fresh ingredients. I can't follow a recipe exactly to save my life. I have to change it in some way. Interesting, huh!? :)

7. He loves me. When I hurt, he hurts. When I'm happy, he's happy. He longs to please me and make me smile. He listens to my needs and is careful with my heart. When I mess up or act like a 5 year old, he forgives me. He loves my attention and affection. He misses me when I'm not around. He says awesome things about me all the time. His love makes me want to be a better person. Isn't that exactly what it should do? He is patient, he is kind, he doesn't brag when he's right and I'm wrong, he doesn't get jealous, he doesn't act arrogantly, he nevers dishonors me, he isn't quick to anger, he doesn't keep a record of all the wrongs I've done, he always protects me, always trusts me, always has hope in me, and always perseveres through the rough places. He is my husband and I am so proud to be his wife.

There are so many more reasons I love my husband, but some of those would be inappropriate to list, so we'll leave it at that. :)

Happy Valentine's Day to my amazingly awesome husband, Tony! May the rest of our days be filled with love, light, joy, and unicorn farts*!

*He knows what that means. And he thinks it's adorable.


Katie Alicea

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jesus at the DMV...

There are three places on Earth that I do my best to avoid at all costs:

1. Black Friday shopping.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  Never.  Just never, ever.
1a. Wal*Mart. Where every day is Black Friday.

2. The dentist.  I know...unlike black Friday shopping, the dentist really isn't something you should avoid.  Teeth are super important.  They are used for smiling, and chewing, and biting people while they sleep.  I get it.  And before you start in with the jokes about WV people not having teeth and I have to attack you with lightening fast ninja moves (while wearing cowboy boots), let me just say that I still force myself to go to the dentist; albeit not as often as I should.  But seriously, can I get an Amen! about how super horrible it is to sit through minutes upon minutes of that drill sound whilst having  a deep heart-to-heart with your hygienist even though your mouth is wide open and you're drooling on yourself?  

3. The DMV.  I don't need to elaborate here.  

It's not against the law to skip out on black Friday shopping, and thankfully, even the dentist.  However, it's required by law that you get a new driver's license when you move and/or change your name.  Seeing as how I recently did both of those things, I had to make a date with destiny and get thyself down to the DMV.  Did I wait waaaay longer than I should have?  Yes. Yes I did.  But just like taxes and death, you can't avoid the DMV.

Every single time I've gone to the DMV it's been the same cliche experience.  The people that work there are rude and the people waiting are rude.  Everyone is angry, in a hurry, has some sort of oozing bodily injury, contagious skin disease, or uncontrollable cough, and is most likely talking loudly on their cell phone about how rude and gross everyone is.  I'm pretty sure you've probably encountered some version of the same thing. 

So as I was getting all 21 of my documents prepared that prove who I am and where I live, I was not-so-much looking forward to yet another DMV experience.  Even though I "made an appointment", I planned to be there for hours.  I figured the whole "appointment" thing was really just another device the DMV utilizes in order to torture you slowly by giving you hope of faster service and then making you wait even longer for thinking you were worthy of such special treatment.

Basically, I was preparing for the worst.  (I should really learn to take my own advice.  Bad Katie.)

When I got to the DMV, carting my portfolio of documents, there was already a long line.  I made a quick scan of the area and found that the environment appeared worse than I had expected.  Grey, cracked walls.  Crusty white floors. People sitting in metal folding chairs. The faint smell of stale air, old french fries, and disappointment.  I looked for the sign that said, "Come over here if you have an appointment! :D  We have peanut butter fudge, bear hugs, and unicorn rides!", but I didn't see it.   There were children running around with only a diaper on.  Customers yelling through the tiny hole in the plexyglass window at the exasperated young lady in charge of parking tickets.   It wasn't pretty, ya'll.

It was so DMV.

As I stood in line awaiting my turn with the disinterested front desk person, something happened.

God showed up.

He tapped me on my shoulder and asked if I would mind if He joined me this morning at the DMV.

Of course I said yes, but I couldn't help but ask Him why in the world He would want to hang out in such a yucky place.

His reply to me changed the entire atmosphere in the blink of an eye.

He wondered aloud to me exactly what I thought He meant when He told me recently that He wants me to "leave the sidelines and get in the game".   Did I not understand that everywhere I go, especially to places like the DMV, there are people He wants to touch, heal, and love?  Did I think my commission had hours like an office job, where I clock in and out?

Oh man, did I feel convicted.

As we talked, I began to see people differently.  I looked past my precepts and saw PEOPLE.  People just like me.  For just a moment, He showed me each person through His eyes.  The people I first saw as rude, sick, and weird,  looked beautiful to me all-of-a-sudden.  

I didn't expect it, or even ask for it, but I felt God's Holy Spirit fill the room...  

And that's when the miracle happened.

I looked around me and I saw smiles and laughter. The gray walls were more of a light blue.  The lines weren't quite as long as they seemed before.  I don't know if the people changed or the way I saw them changed...or both....but everything looked different.

Because I saw things differently, I behaved differently.

I was friendlier.  I was more engaging with those around me.  I acknowledged the people that worked there and thanked them helping me.  I made eye contact, said hello, and smiled at people...yes....even at the DMV.

The DMV became beautiful.

I looked out into the sea of people from all walks of life and I thanked God for the opportunity to hang out with Him there.  He was a proud Father showing off His children.  Every. single.  person. in that place was His special creation. He longed to touch them.  Hold them.  Comfort them.  Heal them.  LOVE them.  He showed me that as bad as I think it is at the DMV, some people leave the gray walls of this place to return to something much worse.  Everywhere they turn they encounter nothing but ugliness and pain.  No one looks at them.  No one sees them.  No one says hello.  They are passed over by the world.  Cast aside as worthless or trash.  That little girl running around in her diaper might get the only attention she is going to get all day from the people at the DMV.  

While I was waiting for my new drivers license to print, I started chatting with the lady sitting next to me. She said to me, "Has this not been a wonderful experience? I mean, it's incredible!  I've never had such an amazing experience at the DMV and I've made sure to tell everyone here just how much I appreciate what a great job they're doing."  Then the guy in front of me turned around and said the same thing.  A guy in the row beside us heard what we were saying and he agreed as well.  The people that worked there were smiling and dancing to the piped-in music from the radio.  "Thank yous" were heard every where I went.  People were happy and so was I!

Listen ya'll, when Jesus shows up, things change.

Could He have shown up with someone else yesterday? Sure! But He asked ME.

What if I would have ignored Him as I sometimes do?

It's easier to keep to ourselves as we go from place to place throughout our day.  It's easier to say that the DMV is just destined to be a miserable, dark place.  When God taps on our shoulder and asks if we mind if He joins us everywhere we go, we can say no-thank-you so that we don't have to see what He sees, or  risk opening our hearts and minds to the hurting world around us.   He doesn't make us touch people and love them.  He doesn't force us.

We need to understand that the job isn't for someone else.  If we don't do it, it won't get done.  Whether it's at work, school, the grocery store, church, walking down the street, at Wal*Mart, the dentist's office, the DMV, with our family, in our marriages, or in our friendships...if we don't bring Jesus there...who will?  Why count on other people to do the job you were given?

My experience yesterday at the DMV changed me.  It has inspired me to not only look for Jesus everywhere I go, but to ask Him to come along if He's not already there.

He's FUN!


DMV lover

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Put Me In Coach: Part 2...

Me being adorable.
My Grammy loves to tell stories about when I was a little girl and I love listening to them.   She tells about how I used to go straight into her closet when I would come to her house, and come out wearing her high heeled shoes.  I would stumble out into the living room to show them off, even though I was barely old enough to walk.  I would request (okay...insist) that she let me wear her silk nightgown as a dress while I sang and danced to her Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra records.  I loved dressing up in her clothes, putting on her Lee Press-On nails (remember those!?), and pretend I was an actress in a movie.  But there is one story she tells that always makes my heart swell because it is such a wonderful example of how children see themselves before life has the chance to tarnish it.

Here's the story.

When I was around two years old, my Grammy's brother-in-law died of a heart attack.  The memorial service was held at a venue that had a small stage at the back of the room.  As people milled around, my Grammy suddenly noticed out of the corner of her eye something moving up the stairs of the stage.  She turned to find that it was me in a cute little white dress, climbing onto the stage.  My white dress shoes made clicking noises as I walked to the front of the stage.  A smile she hadn't made for days slowly spread across her face as she saw me begin to dance and spin.  She tells me that she could look at me and see that I was dancing to a song from somewhere inside me.  As I danced people started to turn and notice.  The more eyes that fell on me, the bigger my smile got and the more I would kick and twirl.

I knew people were watching me and I loved it!  Even though I was a tiny little thing, I knew that my dance was changing the atmosphere.  My parents smiled at me as people gathered around the stage and started clapping and laughing.  I may not have understood death or even life; but even at that age I knew all I needed to know.  My presence, my freedom, my beauty, my dance, my LIFE....changes things.

The cuteness.  It just won't stop.

As we grow older we start caring what other people think of our dance.  We worry about messing something up or being an inconvenience.  So we stop.  We lock up that free little soul somewhere deep in us where we can't hear the song anymore and we tell ourselves it better this way.  It's better to blend in. It's better to just let things be as they are and not rock the boat. 

I can't help but ROCK!

It's the shift from thinking like a child to thinking like an adult that makes it hard for us to know Jesus.  Little kids don't struggle so much with the idea of God and His being present in our lives.  They believe in things they can't see or feel.  I remember really and truly believing that the fort my brother and I built out of blankets and couch cushions really was a prison for little brothers that don't let their sister play with their GI Joes.  I remember not being able to understand why my mom was so horrible at playing Barbies with me.  Piles of pillows were mountains, not piles of pillows.  Barbie and Skipper had an obvious jealousy issue involving Ken's attention and his affinity for my G.E.M. doll.  Explaining everything that was happening to my mom was so exhausting.  Why couldn't she just see what I saw?

At some point in life we are all told in some way or another that miracles aren't real, stop playing, no more make-believe, no one is coming to our rescue, we are average or worse...we are junk, our imagination and visions are crap, dreaming is a waste of time,  we aren't beautiful, captiving, compelling, strong, desirable, fun, exciting, worthy, there are rules we have to follow to fit in, and so on and so on.  At first, when we're little,  we don't believe these lies, but as time goes on and we keep hearing them, we swallow them like a pill and allow the poison to infect us. 

In my own life, I've circled back. I've purposely and happily regressed back to that little Katie who knew she was necessary and beautiful.  I've got my dancing shoes back on, ya'll! It took me awhile to get here, but the journey has been well worth it.  It's not so hard to believe in Jesus now that He's taken all that poison and junk out of my life.  It's not so hard to see Him in all the places and people I couldn't see Him before.  The scales have been removed from my eyes.  The hardness is gone.  I know with all that I am that I am an irreplaceable part in what God is doing in the Earth.  Today and forever.  Did you catch that? FOREVER.  The things I do now, effect generations to come.  I am like, really, really important.  And so are you. 

Future preacher right here!!

That day while I danced on the stage and people clapped, smiled, and forgot about the sadness for a moment; they weren't doing it because of me. Sure I was cute and all, but even though they didn't realize it, they were actually captivated by God.  He is Beauty. He is Joy. He is Life.  He is Freedom.  There is no death in Him.  There is no pain and sadness in Him.  It was His presence that took their focus off of death and onto Joy! Whether I am 5 years old or 105 years old, anything and everything good and attractive about me is ALL because God's Holy Spirit lives inside of me.  He wants to use us to show Him to a hurting world.  When we pull back and stand on the sidelines we are robbing the world of our God-given gifts.

Until we stop caring what people think and starting caring about what God desires, we will not be satisfied.  We might eek by.  We might claw through each day and fall into an exhausted heap at the end of the day.  We might be able to convince ourselves life is too hard because it's Monday, or because our tire went flat, or because we don't have money to pay the bills, or whatever.  We might be kinda okay as long as we keep a constant stream of distractions coming at us so we don't hear His voice telling us to get to center stage and dance.  But we won't be living to our full potential.  We won't get to experience the true and irrevocable freedom, joy, grace, and love that comes from being in an intimate relationship with our Creator. 

Your dance changes things. 

So dance!

Go be...YOU!



I think you get the picture. (Pun most definitely intended.)