INSPIRED FOR MORE By Lori A Alicea

“Anything worthwhile is uphill.”
Author and Motivational Speaker
John C. Maxwell

Nothing is ever handed to you.
You have to work for it.
You have to wait for it.

You have to sweat for it.
Believe for it.
Fight for it.

There are mountains to climb.
There are valleys to survive.
There are elements to endure.

You have to earn your stripes.
You have to wear your medals proud because,

“Anything worthwhile is uphill.”
Author and Motivational Speaker
John C. Maxwell

After joining a gym membership six months ago, I thought my decision was only about getting in shape.

That mental neon sign vying for my attention with the big 60 was not a speed limit sign, but an upcoming age warning that if I wanted to squeeze every ounce from my life to enjoy with our ten grandchildren, I needed to embrace the motto:

Stronger for Longer
Pastor Dick Bashta

Interestingly, our setbacks are sometimes our setups for a bigger message.

In my quest to healthier living, my early morning ritual begins with lacing those trainers, pouring into those yoga pants I swore I’d never wear, and sweating for 90 minutes at the gym with sermons and music playing in my ears.

Morning after morning and under my breath when the early alarm goes off, I repeatedly coach myself with a motivational pep talk to lace up for the gym and imagine being fit and Stronger for Longer, though I’d rather roll over and sleep for another hour.

Unaware and to my surprise of an undercover setup, were strangers whom I’d eventually observe while walking the treadmill, while suffering the elliptical miles or crunching my abs.

Those whose setbacks didn’t limit them.

Those members of this gym who left their valid excuses at home, because these motivational heroes were,
Inspired for More.

I had to do a double take when I first saw him enter the 30 minute circuit room. This young adult was a new face from the regulars I had grown accustomed to seeing so early in the morning.  Trying not to stare, this new face caught my attention, admiring his confidence while walking through unfamiliar surroundings, beginning his workout with the assistance of a walking cane and a woman quite possibly his mother, as this gym member was blind.

Being new to the workout world myself and a novice of health and getting fit, I wasn’t naïve to believe that special needs kept others from living their life. I just never had a front row seat to witness someone breaking thru their limitations, someone who forged forward exuding the spirit of an overcomer.

He was an overcomer too, an older gentlemen who kept to himself. One who grimaced in pain while dragging one foot as he slowly walked from machine to machine, stopping every now and then to catch his breath when the pain appeared to overwhelm.  Regardless, this gentleman put in a strenuous workout as we all did, though he did so with a prosthetic leg, without complaining, and without excuse.

Just two regular guys I observe from the treadmill, both desiring fitness like everyone else in the gym, yet Inspired for More, had to kick their excuses to the curb first before lacing up their trainers each morning.

We all have excuses in areas of our life, though maybe not as noticeable as being blind or wearing a prosthetic leg.

Reasons we believe are valid and excuse us, yet limit us, hold us back, and prevent us from living our authentic life.

We all have the capacity to Inspire Others for More.

I’ve been Inspired for More by those who don’t let the excuse of work keep them from a workout before their professional day begins.  Losing sleep to gain a healthier life speaks the message of discipline and NO EXCUSES.  Before dawn, all walks of professional life give their time in sweat, then shower and leave the gym dressed in suits, medical scrubs, hard hats, etc., for which I tip my hat off to each of them.

I’ve been Inspired for More to “not give up” by those older or with more weight to lose than me, yet they are “killing it” in their endurance on the tread mill or elliptical.

I’ve been Inspired for More by the compassion of those expanding the fences of their “workout group” to include others, that fitness challenges be faced together and not alone.

I’ve been Inspired for More to value others like those at the front desk who intentionally strive to remember our names, to greet us by name as a personal way to honor us as gym guests, not as paying members.

I’ve been Inspired for More imagining that dream of running a race beside my son, a marathoner and ironman.  Though it’s just an experienced athlete running a fast pace on the treadmill, with me walking quickly next to him with miles behind him on mine.  Moms can still dream.

Might an overcomer Inspire Us for More.

Might someone pushing beyond their limits encourage us to embrace their motto of No Excuses.

Might we pursue “the abundant”,
“the fruitful”,
“the cup that overflows”.

Might we be Inspired for More,
to Want More,
to Believe for More.

Remembering though:

Nothing is ever handed to us.
You have to work for it.
You have to earn your stripes.

But be not discouraged by the mountain you face, as:

“Anything worthwhile is uphill.”
Author and Motivational Speaker
John C. Maxwell

TAKE THE CALL By Lori A Alicea

“Phones are ringing off the wall.”

An expression someone my age with an old fashioned landline would say when the telephone was constantly ringing.
Old Fashioned Jake and Crystal
Regardless of how the telephone has evolved technically…

Regardless of how we communicate with one another…

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Telephones are still “ringing off the wall”.

 Moms are calling.
Dads are calling.
Loved ones are calling.
Friends are calling.
Work is calling.
Wrong numbers are calling.
Advertisement is calling.

Just try and have a quiet evening out for two.
You can bet a cell phone will ring somewhere in the restaurant during dinner.

Telephones are “ringing off the wall”.

Telephones are ringing because people have something to say.
From idle “chit chat” to deep heart gushes.

You won’t discover the caller’s reason though until you stop and “take the call”.

But as much as telephones are ringing,
Many of our calls are sent to voicemail,
Because someone wouldn’t “take the call”.

Maybe the call came at an inconvenient time.
Maybe the person on the other end of the phone was busy.
A myriad of reasons or maybes,

Bottom line though is someone wouldn’t “take the call”.

We’ve all been unavailable, or didn’t want to be inconvenienced, including myself.

I think of the calls I have missed that went to voicemail.
I think of those missed calls when the caller just hung up without leaving a message.
Did I miss something important?
Was the caller in need?
Might the caller want to share their heart with me?
Would they still share their heart if I returned the call?
Was there an emergency?

What did I miss?

Missed opportunities happen all the time.

I remember an opportunity “almost missed” when our graduate-school bound son was going camping in the wilderness and trying to get an urgent message to him before he left regarding the recent dental school waiting list he was placed on, yet miffed at me (imagine that), he wasn’t “taking the call”.

Reluctant to take an attitude, I did leave a voicemail message strongly encouraging him to contact the dental school and tell them of his weeklong camping plans and possible unavailable phone service, asking them with committed intentions to the school, to hold his place on the waiting list in case a dental seat became available during his absence.

Interestingly, a week later our son showed up at our house to celebrate the dental school voicemail message announcing the seat they were holding for him upon his return.

“A huge career missed-opportunity” diverted.

Our son forever glad that he “took the call” from me and acted upon it, even if through voicemail.
Jake as a baby on phoneYears ago before cellphones and caller id, and while taking an early call one morning with a friend, someone kept repeatedly trying to get through, yet not wanting to be rude, I wouldn’t put the current caller on hold to take it.

Beep, beep, beep…incoming call…

For over an hour, somebody persistently kept trying to reach me, yet I allowed my current conversation to continue…sending the second caller to voicemail.

Beep, beep, beep…incoming call

Terribly sad to realize my heartbroken mother was desperately trying to reach me that morning with the incomprehensible news that my sister had passed away.

My mother needed me but I failed to “take the call”.
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So many calls are trying to reach us.

You wonder the missed and important news we were meant to hear,
Yet, we fail to “take the call”.

I’m so glad I “take the call” from the many phone calls of my daughter, who brightens my day when she just wants to “catch up” from yesterday’s conversation with her mother.
candace as baby on phone

Sure love when the grandkids call their Gaga, even though they’ll ask for their Papa the minute they hear my voice.

We’ll talk forever about nothing, and I never hang up until they’re ready.

When the caller-id lets me know my mother, who resides at the nursing home, is trying to get through, I faithfully answer her calls no matter what I’m in the middle of, as her conversations with me are a sweet-dose of encouragement. Almost eighty years old, I want to speak with mom whenever I can, for as long as I can.
2018 mothers day brunch 11I would sure give anything to “take the call” from my sister ringing me long distance from her pre-paid phone card, even though she always had just two minutes left to chat.  There aren’t enough pre-paid minutes for all that I wish I could say to my crazy sister who passed away long ago, yet painfully seems like yesterday.
belindaEven though it was always me dialing dad’s number, I truly appreciated that he never failed to “take the call” and share a moment with me over the phone, usually when I was passing the time while driving.

Dad passed away a few Christmas’ ago, and what a gift it’d be to hear his voice again, because every now and then a girl just needs to talk to her father.
dad and cookiesI wonder how many times I didn’t “take the call” when God was dialing my number.

He is patient.  He is relentless.
He will hit re-dial until the telephone “rings off the wall”.
He will call until I answer.
He can wait.
He has all of eternity to wait.

I know when He calls.
You know when He is calling you too.

My sheep hear my voice;
and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 KJV

Our Heavenly Dad longs to speak with his children.
Our Heavenly Dad has so much to say.
He knows our deepest secrets.
He feels our pain.
He wants to talk about our dreams,
Encourage us in our hopes;
Encourage us in our callings.

God wants to share His heart.
God wants to know our heart.

God desires to talk to me.
He desires to talk to you.

God wants us to “take the call” and be ready to listen as young Samuel did,

The Lord came and stood there,
calling as at the other times,
“Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10 NIV

As a child, I remember singing the old church hymn about Jesus calling us,

Softly and Tenderly
By Will Lamartine Thompson

Softly and Tenderly,
Jesus is calling,
calling for you
and for me….

Jesus is calling.
Loved ones are calling.
Important opportunities are calling.

“Take the call”….because…

Grandchildren grow up way too fast… “take the call”.
You can’t get back today… “take the call”.
Opportunities won’t always be there… “take the call”.
Your spouse wants to hear your voice… “take the call”.
Your grown child wants to hear about your day… “take the call”.
Somebody needs your help and won’t call back if you don’t “take the call”.  

Someone might grow weary and stop calling because you consistently fail to “take the call”.

Parents won’t live forever… “take the call”.
We won’t live forever… “take the call”.

Somebody wants to share their heart…
Don’t miss what they have to say…
“Take the call”.

Love is…..By Lori A Alicea

…God is love.
1 John 4:8 NIV

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 NIV      

We were created from love, as God is love.
God wills that we give back, love back.
Love Him. Love others.

Love is intangible, yet love is desired within us.
Many times over though, we look for and find love in all the wrong places.

…In a pursuit for God, we would find love,
As God is love.
In knowing Him,
Might we know true love…

God is our template when looking for love.
He is our template when giving love.
He is our template when receiving love.

To understand love, God declares in great detail about Himself regarding this thing called “love” in the following inspired passages titled,
The Love Chapter.

If God is,
then love is,
as he is.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 –   The Love Chapter

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

(…my last 25th Anniversary blog)

 Nine months ago when preparations for our 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal began, it was our heart’s desire that God be the Centerpiece of the day, his name be glorified in every detail, including our theme,

Love is…

With marriages failing at an alarming rate, (the first marriages for both David and I are part of that statistic), we wanted to give hope to those attending our renewal, especially our children and grandchildren, that marriage can last and thrive for a lifetime.

If God is love, we wanted what that meant (taken from the Love Chapter) displayed in the details, including the signs that bordered our wedding isle.

I also wanted God’s amazing love written about in a small book of poems doubling as the seating place card for every guest to take home with them.

As a wedding decorator, especially when decorating for my own event, it’s always a wonderful opportunity to seize the moment and deposit into the hearts of those that call you friend or family.

Aligned with the theme Love is…

I gifted our guests a small book written by myself,
To remind our guests of:
Who God is…
What Love is…

Only to discover they are one and the same..
25th anniversary - all place cards

 Love is…..
By Lori A Alicea

Dedicated and written
for the one…

Who knows us best…
Who sees the best in us…
Who believes the best in us..
Who wants the best for us…
Who gives His best to us…

To the one who loves us most..

To You Our God…
That we might know you more..

Your Devoted Daughter,
Lori A Alicea

Dear God,
Before the stars had filled the sky,
Before the land and sea.
Before the days were one of them,
Your thoughts, they knew of me.

A dream, a detailed plan my life,
Revealed, my heart would burst.
I long to give away this love,
Because you loved me first.

Your only son you gave to us,
Your sacrifice and his.
To trace your heart, I’d find my name,
Since you are love, Love is.

In knowing you,
Might we know true love…

1 John 4:8 NIV …God is love.

Psalm 139:16 NIV
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before one of
them came to be.

Love is patient….
Love is kind….

So patient are you Lord of me,
Your love displayed is kind.
On days I fail and don’t deserve,
And wish my words, rewind.

And yet the river of your love,
Its banks they overflow.
To flood my heart with more of you,
In waves of kindness show.

Psalm 103:8 TPT
Lord, you’re so kind and
Tenderhearted to those
who don’t deserve it
and so patient with people
who fail you!
Your Love is like a flooding river
overflowing its banks
with kindness.

 Love does not envy….
Love does not boast….

Possessions others have refrain,
An envy stir in me.
May never boast about my gain,
That watching eyes might see.

You long the first place of my heart,
The one to treasure most.
I praise your name forever more,
Each day in You I boast.

Exodus 34:14 NIV
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord,
whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Psalms 44:8NIV
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

Acts 20:33 NIV
I have not coveted anyone’s
silver or gold or clothing.
sign 3 love does not dishonor
Love is not proud….
Love does not dishonor….

Your son He washed disciple’s feet,
Not proud, He humbled low.
And beckoned them to serve you God,
By serving those they know.

…We honor God by going low,
Example set did He.
“Should do as I have done for you,”
Who bowed a servant’s knee.

John 13:14-15 NIV
Now that I, your Lord and
Teacher have washed your feet,
you also should wash one another’s feet.
I have set you an example that you
should do as I have done for you.

James 4:10 NIV
Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up.

Love is not self-seeking….

So many times we want our way,
And firm we stand our ground.
In name of “self” forget with God,
His perfect way is found.

The cross, the bitter cup He’d drink,
Christ bowed, “Thy will be done.”
Surrendered to His Father’s Will,
Eternity was won.

Luke 11:2 KJV
When ye pray, say, our Father which art
In heaven, Hallowed by thy name,
Thy kingdom. Thy will be done….

 Matthew 26:42 KJV
He (Jesus) went away again
the second time, And prayed, saying,
O my Father, if this Cup
may not pass away from me,
except I drink It,
thy will be done.
sign 4 love keeps no record of wrongs
Love is not easily angered….
Love keeps no record of wrongs…

Compassionate and full of grace,
Reacts in anger; slow.
Our Father’s heart abounds in love,
Adores His children so.

Confession of our wrongs to Him,
God finds no record for.
Stamped “Paid in Full, Account is Closed”,
Remembers them no more.

Psalms 103:8; 12 NIV
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger, abounding in love…
As far as the east is from the west, so far
Has he removed our transgressions
from us.

Hebrews 8:12 NIV
For I will forgive their wickedness,
And will remember their sins no more.
sign 9 love rejoices in truth
Love does not delight in evil….
Love rejoices with the truth….

Whenever I have lost my way,
And wonder what is true.
Your compass re-directs my steps,
The hour I call on you.

Your love and faithfulness is mine,
When choosing what is good.
You are My Way, My Truth, My Life,
For living as I should.

 Proverbs 14:22 NIV
Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good
Find love and faithfulness.

John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered,
“I am the way, And the truth and the life.
No one comes to The Father
except through me.”

Love always protects….
Love always trusts….

You are my hiding place O Lord,
Your strength when I’m afraid.
Your arms surround me as a shield,
My fears they slowly fade.

I trust and give to you my heart,
You love through all my fails.
You spilled your blood and love for me,
The cross, the crown, the nails.

Psalm 32:7 NIV
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 28:7 NIV
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him….

Matthew 27:30 TPT
…driving the
crown of thorns deep into his brow.

Love always hopes….
Love always perseveres….

No matter what my eyes may see,
Or situations face.
I can’t give up, I persevere,
The journey of my race.

I fix my gaze upon you Lord,
Each mile that I run.
Find hope in the impossible,
In You, the race is won.

Psalm 71:14 NIV …
As for me, I will always have hope; I will
praise you more and more.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
…. And let us run with
perseverance the race
marked out for us,
Fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of faith …
sign 10 love never fails
Love never fails….

Your love will never let me go,
My hope and trust in You.
However long, you’ll rescue me,
Together, see it through.

You are this love my heart longs for,
The breath I take, inhale.
A Father’s hand I place my all,
Your love will never fail.

 Psalm 55:23 TPT
…My life’s hope and trust is in you,
And you’ll never fail to rescue me.

Psalm 62:5 TPT
I am standing in absolute stillness,
silent before the one I love, waiting
as long as it takes for him to rescue me.
Only God is my Savior, and he will not
Fail me.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13 NIV
And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these
is
love.
25th anniversary - church david and lori sitting down 5 (2)
 Lord, we give you praise, and honor and all the glory due you,
For blessing David and I with
25 years of marriage….

 …and it continues….

RENEWAL VOWS AND HONOR TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND By Lori A Alicea

On a beautiful crisp October afternoon and surrounded by our close friends and family, my husband David and I recently celebrated 25 years together in a Wedding Vow Renewal. While we could have taken a lavish vacation instead, or bought a diamond ring or anything else spent on just the two of us, we chose to celebrate our 25 years together honoring all that God has blessed us with.

In my wedding vows to David, I opened up our album of life together and played a montage of 25 years of love and happiness with him portrayed through my words. Words are containers for encouragement, inspiration, edification, and life.  For anyone who was listening, especially our children and grandchildren, it was a deep desire that my vows and words honor David, to also be a testament to God for the marriage he has so richly blessed us with, and also be a takeaway for anyone secretly needing a special word of encouragement for themselves.

RENEWAL VOWS AND HONOR TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND
(Complete version from the condensed version spoken at our
Wedding Vow Renewal)
By Lori A Alicea

Twenty five years ago, I married the man of my dreams. Little did I know how my dreams would unfold, spending every minute, hour, day and year of these twenty five years with you.
wedding married DAVID AND LORIIf I could say anything, at least for us, marriage is wrapped up in the little things. We aren’t rich, live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car.  In fact, the two biggest rust buckets are parked outside as we speak.

But our rust buckets, or Johnny Junks as our kids called them back in the day, embarrassed them when we picked them up for school, or loaded them full of bikes and camping equipment for vacation.

The reason our twenty five years together have been so magical, is because we have embraced and mined the love and gold in the little things. Here are just a few of the highlights.

When our girls were little, you’d blow dry their hair after baths on Saturday before church on Sunday. I can still see them in your long white tea shirts.  Written on the backs of both shirts with a marker was a big “A” standing for Audra, one with a “C” standing for Candace.  I guess the girls were worried we’d mix up their jammies.

Two months after marriage, you began bailing me out of my craft jams and learned to use a glue gun, sew, or help me engineer any craft problem I was having. You were even helping me fix these centerpieces just yesterday.

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You would secretly take the boys to the movies when you were supposed to be going to men’s class.

Fun could always be found in your back pocket.

You were never too tired to take the girls to the park when they were little.

Now we live at the park with the grandchildren.

Once, I turned my back only to find Audra and Candace in a water fountain splashing around. Hello people, do you want to get arrested?  I was always the Debbie downer.  But you kept the fun alive and hence, all our memories.

Though my kids have a dad and we will always honor that, you have been the best version of a dad that any mother could have ever wanted for her kids.

When I used to clean houses, you never batted an eye to go with me and help on your days off. All my lady clients wanted to hire you and fire me as you noticed and fixed all their broken “whatever’s”, though you were never asked.

When we first got married, you told the kids we would all eat whatever I served at the table, even if the rice in my earlier days looked like oatmeal.

Combining ethnic backgrounds, you learned to like biscuits and gravy. I learned to like rice that wasn’t Uncle Ben’s style.  You’d even eat bologna if I served it.

You learned to speak my love language of quality time by sitting for long periods of time over coffee.

You opened a small store at work when Jake was going to college so you could take your spare change and fill up his tank with gas and ashtray full of quarters before he left each time for school. Your spare change helped pay a small portion of his college.

You and Candace thought you were funny when you dropped me off for one of Jake’s track meets only to go to the movies instead. Not realizing the race would get over before your movie, leaving me stranded in the dead of winter in a corn field.  That was some ride home.

When the kids got older, you’d fix their cars, help paint their houses; whatever they needed. Only payment required was that they fed you lunch so you wouldn’t throw up as you have such a sensitive stomach.
nate and david fixing carYou have been the Best dad to your son. You call him every day while you both are driving among many other things.

You are a wonderful and loving dad to our “son ‘n love” Kyle and “daughters ‘n love” Kristy and Crystal.

Though we are a blended marriage, there have never been any “steps” in our family. The only “steps” in our house are those that lead to the heart.
wedding married DAVID AND LORI AND FAMILYIt was so hard when our kids began to grow up feeling the nest wrestle as they left one after the other, and it became just you and me. We drowned in the silence and loneliness as we missed them so much; funny though, in time we learned to love just being the two of us.

But then the grandkids started coming. And there we were again, going crazy over these babies that God entrusted us to love and tell them about him.

Now life started having real meaning.

Nothing was ever a “no” with you when it came to our children.

When the military moved Jake and his family to Washington State and he needed his car driven to him requiring a three day journey through the crazy mountains that freaked me out, you said, “Let’s go.”

When our broken hearted daughter Candace living in Georgia needed her father to scoop her and her baby in his arms and tuck her back into her childhood bed so that God could restore and heal her heart, you and your brother said, “Let’s go.”

candace ethan bigger

When the military moved Jake and the family again to Washington DC and many times over the next three years, when Crystal was beyond stressed with Jake working day and night at the hospital, with the grass out of control, when the boxes of Jake’s to-do-list aren’t getting checked off, and Crystal needs a break from the household chores, you always said, “Let’s go.”

When your lonely DC grandbabies say that the only thing they want for Christmas is their grandparents, and though we couldn’t make it for Christmas, you did say “Let’s go” for an early Thanksgiving.

In the eyes of our grandkids, you are famous – the grandkids favorite drink is named after you called Papa’s juice, also known as Crystal light. The Grandkid’s favorite store that you take them to is called Papa’s store, also known as Dollar General.

Years ago, we bought two bikes for ourselves, one with a car seat in the back. Our journey of a million miles with our grandkids began.  Living in the country, we rode our bikes everywhere.  We’d find bikes set out for trash and brought them home for each of them.  All the grandkids have a bike and pass them down to their cousins when they outgrow them.

We host Cousin Camp every Friday while our grown kids have an overnight date night without their children. I am in charge of cooking and taking care of the little ones.  You are in charge of the fun.  There is no minimum age requirement for Cousin Camp, usually getting them at six weeks.  The hardest part will be when these babies won’t want to come to cousin camp anymore, closing our infamous cousin camp doors for good.

During the midnight hour of Cousin Camp, I always find myself making rounds, counting the faces of our sleeping beauties, making sure they are safe in their dreams, only to silently laugh at what looks like the aftermath of a JR Frat party. Every now and then I find that the three little ones have raided the closet¸ nestled and swallowed up in their papa’s winter coats.  Maybe it’s the soothing, lingering smell of papa’s cologne on the collar.  Maybe it’s the comfort of sleeping in papa’s arms, even if it’s in the sleeves of your winter coat.
papas coatSaturday mornings, you could always hear the giggles and little feet of babies scurrying to get to papa’s side of the bed to wake you up. Sure made you sad when they stopped.  Now Ayva and Aubrey look for you under the covers.

Whenever we facetime the grandkids, they always want to talk to their papa. Hello, what about Gaga.  Where’s my papa?  Papa, Papa, Papa.

After twenty five years, now the grandchildren tell us, Papa and Gaga, “Your feet are old.” I guess I at least have earned that title after wearing flip flops year round.

It’s funny how we can sense the slight wrestling of the nest again. Grandkids are growing up.  Brooke is in high school.  Aubrey will be losing her “papal” (pacifier) soon and I don’t know when Kizzy will lose her thumb sucking.

Even though it is still a few years away, we sense the wrestling of the nest nevertheless.  Then it will be back to you and me again.  But God has great plans for the gray hairs of our world.  He never wants us to get comfortable, because he will be unfolding dreams for our lives to the very end.

You Love so well. You forgive so well.

You are the best son. Your mother taught her sons how to love their wives.  She taught her boys how to cook, clean and iron.  You five get A’s in all these areas.

You are a wonderful son to my mother. When mother lived a street over, you would stop by her house after work to raid her refrigerator and spend a few minutes with her.  You even learned to enjoy her game shows.
mom kitchenThe senior ladies at mom’s nursing home are crazy about you. They are always blowing you kisses.  This is after you have held their hand and told them how beautiful they look.

Every night you put toothpaste on my toothbrush and pull back my side of the covers before bed.

You are the best neighbor, especially when he is our landlord and brother n law. Always serving and doing though never asked, just mowing and plowing for him when he is working or especially this past year suffering with cancer.
IMG_3099You have loved me by loving our kids.
You have loved me by loving our parents.
You have loved me by being the hero of our grandchildren.
You have loved me by loving God.

And to think that 25 years ago I almost missed all of this when I had the arrogance and audacity to contemplating on saying no to God’s best in you, believing his best didn’t fit or conform to what I had envisioned for myself. Thankfully, our Pastor at the time, the man who had shepherded and fathered my heart for the last five years imparted wisdom in my confusion, “Just believe with your heart, and God will allow you to see with your eyes.”
Pastor preaching at weddingWhen you knocked on my door that very first time to pick me up for a Valentine’s Dance, still nervous about surrendering my will to God, how Pastor’s words still whispered to me, “Just believe and God will allow you to see.” When I opened the door, darkness became day and finally saw God’s best in you with my own eyes.  God just wanted first my surrendered heart, my trust, my yes.

I haven’t taken my eyes off of you ever since.
valentines dayI thank God every day that I headed Pastor’s counsel and said yes to God and said yes to you.

From the bedroom window, I always seem to wake up at two in the morning, when you are leaving the driveway for work. You faithfully get up every day and work 12-14 hours.  I always pray for you when you leave.  I thank God for you and ask him to bring you home safely as I can’t fathom life being me without you.

A man sets the temperature of the house. It is always toasty warm by the fire of our love.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

You hit a homerun every time you step up to the plate in our marriage and everyday life.
Baseball familyYou say you wish you could have given me the fancy house, the fancy car and diamond ring. I say it’s been like Christmas every day for the last 25 years.  You have given me gifts wrapped in glittered paper topped with sparkled bows.  You have given me gifts that money could never afford to buy.  Gifts that have made me feel loved from the moon and back, gifts that are wrapped in the little things.
xmas tree presentsI will love you forever.
wedding, video kissingI will dream with you forever.

I will be by your side forever.
wedding, david and loriThank you for the most amazing 25 years.

I can only imagine and can’t wait for the next 25.  I love you.
Your wife, Lori
wedding funny faces

SHE DANCED UNTIL MIDNIGHT By Lori A Alicea

She danced until midnight.

In the arms of her prince, she danced and she danced.

In the crowded ballroom, no one seemed to notice two young loves swaying in slow circles, as seen from the inside of a little girl’s music box.

When midnight came and interrupted though the story of this fairytale,
She still married her prince and
They lived happily ever after.

Once upon a time and twenty-five years ago, two lonely people found each other and fell in love.
gifts treeAfter eight short months of dating, and thanking God for remembering their empty arms after a five year wait for her and three year wait for him, they married and lived happily ever after
as a blended family of six.

Twenty-five years later and like written on the pages of a fairytale, this married couple decided to celebrate their milestone anniversary in grand fashion, surrounded by their closest friends and family in a 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal.

Dreaming began immediately.

Coming to life were their visions written on paper.

The humming of busy bees circled around the preparations.

Colors decided. Linens, silk wildflowers, lace and ribbon ordered.  Centerpieces designed.   Caterers and venue reserved.  Detailed lists of all kinds documented.

Save the Dates” are mailed six months in advance of this gala event, to give their special guests enough time to reserve this anniversary date on their calendar.

The music box has been wound and now opened.

Though many months stand between today and their anniversary celebration, in their hearts this sweet couple steps onto the dance floor and “cheek to cheek” they sway together in slow circles as the music box quietly plays.

They dance and they dance. Two people in love and overwhelmed in estatic anticipation for their anniversary dream to unfold.

The stroke of midnight is months and hours away.

Excitement is beyond euphoric.
The preparations continue.
The months quickly pass by.

The stroke of midnight is ever closer, yet still are many songs on this couple’s dance card to enjoy.

The calender reminds that six weeks remain before the church doors open for this Wedding Vow Renewal, a reminder for the beautiful invitations both color and theme coordinated with the save-the-dates are to be mailed.

This anxious couple will wait with bated breath for the return of the RSVP’s found in the invitation, confirming each guest who will be in attendance of their anniversary event.

Soon after the invitations were mailed, RSVP’s began secretly waiting in the mailbox for this couple’s discovery. Joy is filling the air as the unfolding of this Wedding Vow Renewal is finally a dream coming true.

Twenty-five years ago, this couples four young children walked down the wedding isle together with them, sharing this life-changing day as a family on stage.

Now their four young children are grown and three of them are married with children of their own.

Walking the Wedding Vow Renewal isle with this couple will now be their ten adorable grandchildren, though their four military youngin’s will walk the isle being carried as a picture by their cousin, as they recently moved to their next duty station located in Hawaii.
IMG_3115It is this couple’s prayer during this milestone anniversary event, that their love for each other, their pursuit to live and have a God centered marriage, be depositied in the hearts of their children and grandchildren as part of their inheritance.

That they will leave behind a legacy,
their breadcrumbs in the forest to follow
when seeking the way to go.

The prayer of this two is that their children and grandchildren always see the signs to follow Jesus,
as He is the only way,
He is the way.

This music box continues to play for this anniversary couple still deeply in love.  The ballroom floor remains open, though no one seems to notice these two still swaying to the songs playing from the inside of a little girl’s music box.

A wedding vow renewal picture is framed perfectly on every guest table, painted with its color choice linens, tableware, and wildflowers appearing freshly picked and arranged on lattice work and wisteria vines, mid-air atop two Eiffel tower vases. The isle lined on both sides with wildflowers winding up the height of the standing lattice work affixed on shepherd hooks, completing the portrait of stepping into a secret garden.

Canvasing the details of her vision displayed throughout the room, this bride making a renewal walk down the isle with her groom of 25 years is pleased to the moon and back.
rehearsal lori overlooking roomAll that waits in this ceremony and dinner reception room are its guests and wedding couple.

This music box still plays ever so faintly in the background.

In each other’s arms these young loves continue to dance while the music plays in their joyous hearts.

While this glowing woman is having her flowing red hair curled and arranged to cascade to one side of her neck.

Patiently waiting to complete the look of this bride is an exquisite dress to match her handsome groom she is so in love with. Sparkled jewelry and heels with its glittered rhinestone strap, with a bunch of wildflowers appearing recently picked to hold await also.

Unseen is a fountain overflowing from a heart spilling and splashing her happiness, this bride is marrying her man all over again in a Wedding Vow Renewal twenty-five years from their original wedding day.

It’s a windy fall day in October at noon, and the church doors have finally opened to receive the guests of two people about to say “I Do” again.
churchThe ceremony sanctuary doubling as a reception hall, a remodeled version of the same reception hall that held their wedding reception twenty-fives years ago, is bustling with conversation between arriving guests greeting those they haven’t seen for awhile. Guests are finding their tables and seats specifically assigned and chosen with those sitting next to them in mind.

Secluded in another room, the bride and groom and bridal party of grandchildren with their parents present for the family portraits are photographed for their wedding album to come, a lovely gift given by the generosity of their children.

Taking mental pictures of her own, this bride is soaking in the moments that are passing by so quickly. Her groom.  Her children.  Her grandchildren.  All dressed to match the secret garden theme of the reception hall.  All beautiful and taking the breath of a woman so thankful to God, her husband, her children and others for giving her this spectacular day.

Thirty minutes away and while the pre-arranged music plays for the guests leading up to the ceremony and is in earshot of this bride a room away, this bride is whisked to Hawaii in a sentimental text message from her daughter ‘n love who recently moved there with our son and grandchildren.

Happy 25th Anniversary.

Today is the big day.

Everyone is gathering together to celebrate the love of two amazing people.

 You both have accomplished in 25 years of marriage what most hope to accomplish in a lifetime – raised 4 amazing children, always put those around you first, serve others with unconditional love and are creating a lifetime of memories for your grandchildren.

Because of you both, everyone around you knows true love and happiness does exist. You have set high standards for how a marriage should be and held yourselves accountable.

I love that you both are still so in love with each other after 25 years. We appreciate you and everything you have done for our family.  We know no matter what is going on, we could call on you both day or night and you would drop anything to help us – having that security is one of the most amazing things.

 We are so thankful for God’s perfect planning and timing in bringing you two together. When you look around today take a moment to soak it in and enjoy the fact that everyone is there because two people fell in love 25 years ago.

 Happy Anniversary.

Wish we could be there to celebrate with you and honor your marriage.

All my love, Crystal.

Like a kiss from God in heaven, Crystal’s words played a mother / daughter song quietly for the two of them, stirring a few tears and emotions of a mother’s heart.  Crystal’s thoughtful timing was perfect and overwhelming, all because a daughter chose to hug and share a moment with her mother, even though the ocean and its million miles stood in the way between them.

The music box still plays ever so quietly.
The clock will still strike at the midnight hour.

Until then, a princess and her prince will soak every memory on their dance floor ‘till the very end.

The clock though signals the start of the three o’clock ceremony.

An instrumental rendition of Endless Love plays in the background, and a wedding album is opened from twenty-five years ago in a video montage displayed on a full screen in front of the room, for guests to enjoy a glimpse of when the love of two people began.

Click on the arrow button
to revisit when two people fell in love, when two people said “I Do” for the first time on their wedding day twenty-five years ago.

 Walking once again to the version of Endless Love featuring Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross, who serenaded a bride and groom twenty-five years ago, ten grandchildren catching the smiles of so many guests in their cuteness, walk the wedding isle and take their place on the church pew, with four from Hawaii who walked the isle carried in a picture by their cousin, is placed on an easel so others can see them on stage.

Guests stand to their feet in their cheers for the bride and groom making their second walk down the isle in great celebration of this 25th wedding anniversary milestone, a moment unexpected and taking a bride and groom emotionally off guard.

Side by side again at the altar, holding hands as they’ve done all these years.
Love so evident in their smiles could write a romance novel with many sequels.
david and lori at altarGiving God first the praise that is due Him, this couple and guests are led in worship with the song, “The Goodness of God”. A song that tells the true story of why and how two people have stay married for twenty-five years, through the good and the not-so-good, all because of the faithfulness and goodness of God.
worship-song.jpgNext, their oldest granddaughter Brooke reads from 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. The Love Chapter scriptures depict the theme of all marriages, the theme of this wedding day, depicting the character of God in love as He is all love.
IMG_3104 The Love Chapter

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails…..

13 And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.

 But the greatest of these is love.

Interestingly, the “man of God” officiating the ceremony, is their brother, an elder of their church, the one who introduced this man and woman twenty-five years ago. He knew their story and revisited in great and hilarious detail the journey of how their love came to be.

Twenty-five years ago these two were married by their beloved Pastor, who had shephered them and their church flock those five years prior to that day, and leading up to one year ago when God called him to his Heavenly home.

Missing their Pastor terribly and would have wanted him to officiate the renewing of their vows, was still present in the suit coat that our brother had worn standing on this wedding altar, a coat of many given to him when our Pastor continued his journey in heaven.
Pastor preaching at weddingGod cares so deeply about the details.

As a writer, the vows of this bride embodied great honor of the man who has shared life with her through the last quarter of a century. Before God and her guests, she wanted everyone to hear and visually see through her words, a true picture of what a husband, father, grandfather and man looks like in marriage.

HER VOWS

(An excerpt from the original five pages,
condensed to three,
when a bride spoke her Vows to her groom)

Twenty five years ago, I married the man of my dreams.

Little did I know how my dreams would unfold,
spending every minute,
every hour,
every day
and every year
of these twenty five years with you.

 If I could say anything, at least for us, marriage is wrapped up in the little things.

We aren’t rich, live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car.

 The reason our twenty five years together have been so magical, is because
we have embraced and mined
the love and gold
in the little things…
……….

 It’s been like Christmas every day for the last 25 years.

You have given me gifts wrapped in glittered paper topped with sparkled bows.
You have given me gifts that money could never afford to buy.
You have given me gifts that have made me feel loved from the moon and back.

 You have given me gifts that are
wrapped in the little things.

 I will love you forever.
I will dream with you forever.
I will be by your side forever.
Thank you for the most amazing 25 years.
I can only imagine and can’t wait for the next 25.

I love you.
lori reading vows
As the groom takes his turn to share his vows in word and in song, the crowd leans in to hear the greatly anticipated voice of an angel singing to his bride, “Truly” by Lionel Richie of Warner Chappel Music.

A few lyrics of the song “Truly”, echoing from a husband’s heart in love:

Girl, tell me only this,
That I’ll have your heart for always
And you want me by your side
Whispering the words, “I’ll always love you.”
……..

Because I’m truly,
Truly in love with you girl.
I’m truly, head over heels with your love,
I need you, and with your love I’m free,
And truly, you know you’re all right
With me.

Having a thankful heart for God giving us Jesus, they celebrated communion together.
communionLooking on, grandchildren blush in their innocent smiles and giggles,
as a man kisses his bride, for the second time in their Wedding Vow Renewal.
kiss the bride Mr. and Mrs. again, they take their remaining photographs as re-newly married husband and wife.

The details that were planned so many months ago, are now displayed in every corner of the reception hall.

So much to celebrate.
So much to give God honor and glory for.

A guest sign-in-book and memory picture of those who left this couple too soon. Pictures of those not forgotten, a reminder of those who sat and watched this day from their view in heaven.
memory sign in

A vintage legacy window displayed the story of two people who fell in love. Their wedding picture from twenty-five years ago, their grown children and their weddings and all of their ten adorable grandchildren wearing their wedding clothes for their Papa and Gaga.
legacy wall 1The guest table seating cards individually affixed a small book of poems written from the love of a bride she has known with her Lord, wanting to share them with those who decided to share this most magical day with her.
guest 1

(a small excerpt)

Love is…..

Dedicated and written
for the one…

Who knows us best…
Who sees the best in us…
Who believes the best in us..
Who wants the best for us…
Who gives His best to us…
To the one who loves us most..

To You Our God…

That we might know you more..

Your Devoted Daughter,
Lori A Alicea

Dear God,

Before the stars had filled the sky,
Before the land and sea.
Before the days were one of them,
Your thoughts, they knew of me.

A dream, a detailed plan my life,
Revealed, my heart would burst.
I long to give away this love,
Because you loved me first.

Your only son you gave to us,
Your sacrifice and his.
To trace your heart, I’d find my name,
Since you are love, Love is.

In knowing you,
Might we know true love…

 1 John 4:8 NIV …God is love.

 Psalm 139:16 NIV
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before one of
them came to be.

 For the next eight pages, this bride inspired by God penned small poems depicting the love of God,

Written and based from the
Love Chapter
1 Corinthians 13

Since He is Love, Our Model for Love,
That we might know and give love.
Following His lead,

 Because,
He is patient, He is kind.
He does not envy, He does not boast.
He is not proud, He does not dishonor.
He is not self-seeking.
He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs.
He does not delight in evil, He rejoices in truth.
He protects, He trusts.
He hopes, He perseveres.
He never fails.

The reception room boasted a hidden secret garden, a place to retreat where God’s handiwork is on full display.
flowers centerpieceThe desert tables beckoned the attention and sweet tooth’s of their guests.

Off limits though was a specially made wedding cake top for the bride and groom to share on their getaway.
honeymoon cabinGod still showing off in the details, provided a heart cake topper when the bride was unable to find one. This gift came in the mail unexpectedly from two guests unable to attend, who had no idea of this bride’s desire, a gift significant of two hearts with God in the center of their lives.
cakeThe desert menu included professionally decorated filled cupcakes with wildflowers and butterflies, homemade heart-shaped sugar cookies, homemade chocolate chip cookies for the kids at heart, and homemade candy coated pretzels. All of this served with hot coffee and love from a bride thinking of her guests from the oven of her kitchen, assisted by her daughter who helped decorate these confections and all the other craft items needed by her mother.  Lasting memories created when a mother and daughter shared a few moments over sprinkles and glitter.

Though it was a brisk wedding fall day in October, a bride and groom were showered by the generosity of their guests represented in gifts and in cards.
card boxThough a bride and groom, yet still parents and grandparents, both had requested speeches from the hearts of their children and grandchildren, especially their Hawaiian family unable to attend.

Believing no videos were sent, a pre-dinner surprise of speeches from their grown children, including the Hawaiians desperately missed yet wanted to be included on this special anniversary day.

Here’s a small glimpse and view of those amazing guests who paused their day to celebrate the marriage twenty-five years in the making.

 The sacrifice of those family members who spent their money and miles on the road or in the air to share a few moments together with family.

All that delicious food, more than enough for seconds.

 The tables that gathered together as friends and family, over dinner and conversation. The best part of the day were those faces who know you by name, that are part of your story, those faces that have shared years of life with you.

The bride looks up at the clock and midnight is closer than it has ever been.

She wants to dance until midnight.

She wants to soak up the moments which will become memories after a few short hours that remain.

She wants to stay enveloped in the arms of her groom for as long as the night continues, and to live happily ever after with him again when the last song is played.
kids Cova 1This bride is so thankful for the DJ, her brother ‘n law, her next door neighbor and landlord, who gave so much of his time, gifting and patience, to sit with her over the hours putting the reception playlist and entertainment together; even managing to save their relationship in the process.
IMG_3099And then this happened.

A couple’s first dance as a re-married couple, dancing cheek-to-cheek to the song, “Look at Us” by Vince Gill, when a little girl named Ayva Presley, their sweet granddaughter innocently took hold of their hands and decided to join them. They both held back a few tears when a little angel wanted to share this moment with them.  This princess of ours followed us throughout the night.
dance David and Lori and AyvaSelecting a song with their Hawaiian son in mind who loves Vince Gill for their first dance, and wanted a piece of him to be in their service, they thought of him when the country music played in an excerpt of the lyrics:

Look at us,
After all these years together.
Look at us,
After all that we’ve been through.

Look at us,
Still leaning on each other.
If you want to see,
How true loved should be,

Then just look at us.

The children and grandchildren joined the bride and groom on the dance floor to dance as a family to the song, “Forever Mine”. Part of the legacy this couple wanted to leave for them is a promise that marriage can be forever, that the seeds of these words be planted in their lives as a reminder that marriage can be for a lifetime.
family dance A bit of fun for the children under fourteen, dancing to the song “Twist” while using their Skip-its, or Footsies, as they were called when this couple were their ages. Such a highlight.
kids skipitsEven had a gift card raffle for one child and one adult.
IMG_3102 Couples and line dances for those willing to take a step onto the dance floor.

Elvis even made an appearance to everyone’s delight and request. Moved with curosity, the kitchen help stopped what they were doing to enjoy a few songs from this icon before he left the building.

This long-distance guest made these most thoughtful woodworking gifts for the family. He will never know the impact of these treasures.
IMG_3103The clock is about to strike midnight.

A bride and groom’s day is about to become a memory.

The months of dreaming, planning and preparing have been fulfilled and it is time to close this chapter in their story.

She danced until midnight.

In the arms of her prince, she danced and she danced.

In the crowded ballroom, no one seemed to notice two young loves swaying in slow circles, as seen from the inside of a little girl’s music box.

When midnight came and interrupted though the story of this fairytale,
She still married her prince and
They lived happily ever after.
dance David and Lori
To Her Beloved Husband,
as spoken in her wedding renewal vows:

 I will love you forever.
I will dream with you forever.
I will be by your side forever.
Thank you for the most amazing 25 years.
I can only imagine and can’t wait for the next 25.

I love you.

13 And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13: 13        

DARE TO DREAM, DARE TO BELIEVE By Lori A Alicea

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived,
the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

“Your dreams are free, it doesn’t cost,
So dream the brightest star.
Believe for it¸ you reach for it,
Forget the distance far.
brook and brystol blowing glitter no logoYour dream is not defined by age,
So dare to dream, believe.
ayva no logoThe young, the old, you’re capable,
Don’t run from it or leave.
The Princess Within Rosalee with shoesThere is a dream for every girl,
A dream for every boy.
Group pictureYour dream does not discriminate,
You’re made for this, enjoy.
cova hollis rosalee THIS ONEFor every twinkle in the night,
You name and find your star.
cova hand under chin no logoAnd if your dream you cannot see,
Your dream knows who you are.
brook and brystol no logoWhile though it seems impossible,
This dream that stirs your heart.
Oh dare believe, begin to walk,
Your steps await, just start.
The Princess Within Rosalee with shoes 1The world awaits your star to shine,
To waken up the night.
Be not surprised your dream displayed,
Your shooting stars so bright.
cova standing tall no logoOh dare to dream, oh dare believe,
The world’s your stage they say.
It is your time, stand up for it,
Reach out your dream bouquet.
ayva 5Don’t let your star extinguish out,
Forever shine your light.
If dare to dream your starry sky,
For others, burns at night.
rosalee-2.jpgThere is no dream too big or small,
Believe, I dare you to.
Bring forth the dream that burns inside,
The one God breathed in you.
brook and brystol blowing glitter no logo

A LESSON IN LOVE By Lori A Alicea

In any given day;

We are teachers.
We are students.

With our lives, we are teaching a class, most likely never realizing the students who are observing, listening and taking notes.

People are watching us.
We are watching them.

There are classrooms assembled everywhere we go.
Sometimes we’re the student.
Sometimes we’re the teacher.

Our lives take center stage and people are wondering, studying and silently asking questions.

The question is though:
What lessons are we teaching?

On October 15, 2019 David and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage. So hard to believe that this wonderful man comes home every night and parks his car next to mine in the driveway where we live.  He chooses to sit beside me at the dinner table.  He chooses to hold my hand whenever we are close enough to do so.  He chooses to call me periodically throughout the day.  He chooses to love me and call me his wife.  After twenty five years, I choose him and all of this and more.

I am a blessed woman.
My husband tells me every day what a blessed man he is.

Our marriage is a gift from God.

To celebrate this milestone, we have decided to live out this amazing legacy before our grandchildren, displaying the faithfulness of God through our twenty five years together in a Wedding Vow Renewal Event. Sparing no sparkle, we have gathered our children, grandchildren, family and dear friends around the dinner table for an evening to remember.

With both of us being once divorced, we desperately wanted the generations going forward to inherit a glorious picture of marriage, framed in Godly love.

Though our twenty five years together have encountered its share of misgivings, David and I celebrate a deep affection and unbreakable bond for one another, and desire that our marriage live beyond us as:

a testimony,
a vision of hope rooted in God,
a lesson in love.

…a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Interestingly, when David and I were just newlyweds all those years ago, still learning about each other, still learning how to blend our families. I remember a man I met on the job who had no idea when he punched in the time clock that morning, he’d be teaching me an impressionable  Lesson in Love,

teaching a student watching, observing, listening and taking notes.

Ironically, I punched the time clock that morning to be the teacher, to instruct him and the crew how to use a newly installed system.

Yes, the classroom doors are always open.
Some days we’re the teacher.
Some days we’re the student.

This particular day twenty five years ago I was the student, getting a valuable

LESSON IN LOVE
By Lori A. Alicea    

After celebrating Valentine’s Day just a few weeks ago and June fast approaching with summer weddings, surely love is in the air for many.  Though a romantic that I believed myself to be, it was after being hired to teach a class where a lesson in true love was unsuspectingly being prepared for me.

I was working the grueling midnight shift in the steel mill one year, teaching workers how to use a newly installed system, when I was introduced to “Frank”.

Initially after meeting “Frank”, I questioned whether our personalities would click.  “Frank” was often cranky when things went wrong, yet lightened up later with an offering from his candy dish.  “Frank” was tall and full of energy, though humorously odd when answering the phone.

It was quiet that night, as work had halted earlier, leaving “Frank” and I alone to keep watch.  To pass the hour, “Frank” had brewed some coffee, inviting me to join.

“Frank” looked comfortable around this makeshift kitchen, finding comforts of home behind a locked cabinet of his.  “Frank” must have been a waiter in an earlier day, as he displayed this natural ability to serve.

It’s sad thinking you know a person by believing what you see, instead of what you’ve learned.  You wonder how many friendships never bloom, when opposites sometimes fail to give it a chance, even over something simple as a cup of coffee.

As “Frank” began to unwind that evening, I slowly noticed him different.  Maybe he made a good impression with the table he set.  Or maybe I just realized how easy “Frank” was to talk to.

In the beginning, conversation between “Frank” and I was small talk.  Before long though, “Frank” was sharing about the love of his life.

“14 years ago everything changed”, “Frank” said, when the woman he married got sick; she’s been sick every since.  Over coffee “Frank” took me down the streets of memory lane, visiting sites of pain and sorrow, yet stopping by to smell their roses of happiness.   That night “Frank” exposed the scars of their travels, yet vowed he’d marry her all over again.

Yes “Frank” believed everything changed 14 years ago, but I believe “Frank” forgot what didn’t change, his wedding vows, “in sickness and in health”.

That night I met a man who didn’t change, when everything around him did.  “Frank” didn’t leave when his wife needed him most.  “Frank” continued to serve, when eyes often didn’t see.  That night I met a man who honored “I Take Thee, in spite of sickness.”  That night over coffee I met a new found friend; that night I met man.