OH, I’VE BEEN GOOD…PINKY, PROMISE GOOD By Lori A Alicea

They’re all good, aren’t they?

In a grandparent’s eyes, their grandchildren, each and every one of them, make the “Good List” come December. Just send your grandparent a greeting card wearing Christmas jammies and find yourself on the “Very Good List”.

Yes, grandparents know their babies have those “bad days” from time to time.
hollis pjBut don’t you worry kids; your name stays on our “Good List” throughout the month of December and beyond.
rosalee pjGrandkids are something else.

You ask them if they’ve been good, and there’s always that one whose suspicious look and reply has you both wondering and laughing under your breath;

Oh, I’ve been good… pinky, promise good.
cova hollis face babyGood or bad, a grandparent’s heart is to give good gifts to their grandchildren. Grandchildren don’t earn our love by accumulating enough good stickers.  Nor can they lose our love by those checkmarks of bad behavior next to their name.

“We love” is reason enough to give.
We give because we love.

There are no strings attached to a grandparent’s love in giving.

Well, unless you consider the strings that tug your heart when a grandchild’s bare feet on a wood floor are heard racing the halls searching and calling your name. In these treasured moments a grandparent scoops up this child, surrendering his keys to the toy store.
IMG_4654No matter our age, our Heavenly Father delights in his children running and searching the halls, calling out for him and his whereabouts.

There are no “good days or bad days” that ever jeopardize his love for us.

And just like a father or grandfather, God loves to give good gifts to his children.

If you…. know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

In fact, our Heavenly Father’s best gift came to us as baby.
2017 xmas jammies kizzy mae 1The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, (which means “God with us”.) Matthew 1: 23 NIV

A baby who would grow up and give his life in exchange for our life; yes our Heavenly Father’s best gift at Christmas came to us wrapped as a baby.

We didn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it.
But God loved us enough to still give his very best, his only son.

If the bottom of your tree seems bare and empty come December 25, remember a good Father doesn’t show up empty handed. He gives good gifts.  He lavishes himself on his children.

This dad is beside himself, anxious for you to see and remember the blessings from the gift of his son this Christmas and all year long. If this is your first Christmas with Him, your Heavenly Dad can’t wait for you to open and receive this wonderful gift of his son into your heart.

In a grandparent’s eyes, their grandchildren, each and every one of them, make the “Good List” come December and beyond.
2017 aubrey xmas jammies 6In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, his children are always on the good list.  No “good stickers” or “checkmarks” beside our name ever earn or jeopardize his love for us.

There are no strings attached to the gifts bearing his name and affectionate love.

Unless you consider the strings that tug on his heart, when the sound of bare feet on wood floors are heard running and searching the halls, calling out for their Heavenly Dad.

Pinky Promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY CHRISTMAS GIFT OF OLD By Lori A Alicea

Christmas as a grandmother of ten changed everything for me.

Remembering how my grandparents put so much thought and festivity into Christmas Eve for us six kids and our cousins, an evening we looked forward to every year, stirs me to be a memory maker as my grandfather and grandmother were, to intentionally leave behind indelible Christmas card moments in the minds of our grandchildren.

Maybe our grandchildren watching a Hallmark movie might remind them of the lovely decoration creations that Gaga breathed holiday life into her house with.
USE as main pictureMaybe the old fashioned Christmas tree and specially wrapped gifts all stacked by the warm fireplace, waiting for anxious good little boys and girls to open might re-create a Norman Rockwell painting in their memories.
USE xmas tree presentsMaybe the Christmas table’s wintery themed centerpieces and place settings for everyone might remind them to always give thanks for those family members and friends sitting beside them for dinner.
2018 alicea xmas 2For me as a grandparent, it’s my inner child’s delight to unwrap the gift of our grandchildren’s excitement through every planned and unplanned moment of our Christmas gathering. I pray the next generation of grandparent’s experience the same holiday joy with their grandchildren as that last two generations have.  I pray I am honoring my grandparent’s legacy as I pass onto my grandchildren those Christmas memories they so generously gave to me.

Christmas Eve at my grandparents wasn’t the themed Christmas’ of today, yet holidays with them was every bit as memorable.

My grandparent’s tree was simple with its homemade ornaments and star, yet lacking in luster minus the sparkle of twinkling lights we use today, as the heavier miniature bulbs were popular in their day. I lavish though the ornaments that were passed to me from my grandmother’s tree, thinking of her just the other day when I decorated my own tree with a few of her treasures.

My grandparent’s cardboard fireplace set up in the basement corner looked authentic to a young girl as the plastic Santa sleigh and his reindeer did. I never told grandma, but I looked forward to seeing that fireplace every year, as we didn’t have one at home.

Grandma’s tables were accentuated and lit with holiday candles, which permeated the air with a Christmas fragrance of evergreen.
USE AS MAIN PICTURE 1Stacked by the fake fireplace were all of grandma’s gifts, each wrapped and topped with a pretty bow. Every grandchild snooped and found the package that bore their name in the stack.  With “ants in their pants” they counted the seconds until present time.
USE bowChristmas at my grandparent’s house was not the extravaganza of Christmas’ today. But Christmas at my grandparents nevertheless etched in my heart these framed moments I can see with clarity and enjoy today.

I remember all those rounds of pool with my cousins using the “kiddy pool table” that grandpa let us destroy over the years, while keeping the adult one hidden and covered.

Grandpa wowed and impressed us every year with the unveiling of his newest inventions awaiting a patent. Grandpa was super ingenious and had an infectious laugh.

Grandma kept our appetites satisfied before dinner with appetizers of meatballs and assortments of cheeses and crackers.

Once the dinner bell rang, I can still see Grandma Bertie going up and down the stairs to set the table with her famous roast and side items that completed our dinner. I sure missed her meals when Christmas Eve dinner became too much for grandma to prepare.

But my sweetest memory of Christmas at my grandmothers, was finding the table of her homemade Christmas cookies and peanut butter balls. I stuffed my mouth all night long full of her confections. The plate of cookies was as round as the table.  Grandma had to have baked for days to fill that plate.

When my grandparents passed away, we adult kids were allowed to go through their house and take whatever items remained of their life. I was blessed to inherit my grandmother’s cookbook full of holiday cookie recipes.  That sad day I secretly asked my aunt if anyone had taken grandma’s beaded two-layered table cloth sewn by my great aunt and crystal plate, both which decorated my grandmother’s cookie table every Christmas Eve.

Aunt Bonnie took me to a closet where this “Christmas Gift of Old” hung in quiet silence, hidden probably for years from that final Christmas Eve my grandmother hosted. My aunt was more than proud to say I could have this coveted memory.

Oh the years as I child I admired the intricate time consuming detail of this table cloth while eating my grandmother’s cookies. Now, as an adult, I still admire the time my great aunt gave to making this tablecloth, the inheritance that now covers a table during my holidays. I even serve my Christmas cookies on the same plate my grandmother did, taking me back to the days when Christmas was simpler, yet whose wonderful memories have stood the test of time.

I miss my grandparents and times spent with them as a child at their house on Christmas Eve.

It’s funny how so much energy and money is spent on Christmas gifts that most, including myself, can’t remember what we give or get from year to year.

But I’ve never forgotten my grandmother’s ornaments or cookie table cloth
USE TABLECLOTH FINAL
and plate inherited all those years ago,
USE cookie platter
invaluable gifts from a woman who has no idea how much I appreciate, the holiday gifts given in her honor,

My Christmas Gift of Old.

 

THE TABLE OF THANKSGIVING By Lori A Alicea

Everyday life sets before us a
Table of Thanksgiving.

Surprising guests from meal to meal, life serves a different special from the menu,
Always confirming though one’s reservation at their
Table of Thanksgiving.

Every guest dining prefers their favorite table by the fireplace,
Where the warmth and coziness from the quaint flames stokes the ambience of the evening.

Life by the fireplace is tranquil and calming to the soul.
The lighting is dim and easy on the eyes.

The Table of Thanksgiving is clothed with fine linen and adorned with coordinating tableware and centerpieces to compliment.

Dinner consists of a choice meat accompanied with delectable sides and warm buttered bread; a meal to truly satisfy a hungry palate.

Coffee and designer deserts complete a full meal and a full heart with much to be grateful for seated at this
Table of Thanksgiving.
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Sometimes though, life sets your Table of Thanksgiving in the overflow section as the rush hour crowd has occupied the preferred seating, leaving only the available back table near the door, with a bit of warmth though from the bright afternoon sun to salvage the mood, still giving thanks though with a slight attitude from the inconvenience.

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Then there are those unexpected days where the guest list is terribly overbooked. A waiter’s apology for the least desired location of this Table of Thanksgiving, and gives his regret for the limited menu about to be served.

At this particular table there are no fine linens or centerpieces to adorn the table. The ambience is lacking with the glowing wood burning embers a room away.  Conversations carry a bit further in this seated section.

Though life has still prepared for its guests a special from the manager’s menu, the blessings are only appetizers and bite size finger foods served from the kitchen tonight, with a few guests chewing on bite size bits of disappointment at this
Table of Thanksgiving.

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This holiday, and every day,
God has seated us and prepared for us a table
where there is something to be thankful for,
something praiseworthy at our
Table of Thanksgiving.

There are many days life serves a banquet, a glorious feast.
Our plates are heaped in blessings from appetizers to dessert.
There isn’t a chill in the room seated by the toasty fire of his love.

God’s blessings are evident in its abundance.
It’s easy to give God praise being seated at this
Table of Thanksgiving.

Sometimes though, life serves us leftovers from dinner last night.

The day old bread isn’t as soft or warm as when it is served hot and fresh from a baking oven. Day old designer pastries lose their fine appearance and the meal itself leaves the palate unsatisfied, and while God is still faithful in this meal, our silent grumbling and complaining shows itself in the small tips of our praise at this
Table of Thanksgiving.

Every now and then a seat at the kid’s table reveals the heart of our praise. Do we praise Him when the dinner plate we are served is not the three course manager special, but cold snacks from the Kiddie Menu instead.
ethan praying
Wherever our table is located in the restaurant called life,
Give Thanks,
Give Praise,
Have eyes to see God’s faithfulness,
regardless the meal that is served.

Will we praise him “in all things” when the hunger of our desires stirs up ungratefulness for more.

God longs and listens for his children’s praise…every praise..

Every Praise
By Hezekiah Walker

 Every praise is to our God,
Every word of worship with one accord,
Every praise, every praise is to our God…

May we find something to be thankful for this holiday season.
May we see God’s hand of blessing in whatever is served at our
Table of Thanksgiving.

May we praise:

In every circumstance,
Give Thanks…
1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

May we always see God “good”.
May we see God faithful; see Him taking care of his children in every situation.

Remember, and know deep down that God is good all the time.
Regardless the blessings or lack of appearance of blessings,
Our plates are full,
our cups overflow at our
Table of Thanksgiving.
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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.

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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