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.

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH By Lori A Alicea

… I take thee,
To have and to hold from this day forward,
For better or for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
From this day forward,
Until….

Our wedding vows;

Our sacred promises we speak from the deepest well of our soul, vowing to one another for life and before God on our wedding day.

Our heart’s oath spoken at a holy altar, promising to love and to cherish thee thru whatever comes our way, from this day forward, until…

Weddings are an exquisite “painting of a thousand words.”

Details too many for a single sentence, fill up a bride’s journal as she displays her heart in the volumes of pages.

Wedding couples experience a whirl wind of excitement in the months prior of  planning and preparation. They are overcome by euphoria when a fairy tale comes to life on their wedding day.  Sometimes though the wedding hype overshadows the sacredness and life-long commitment they are making during their marriage ceremony that a couple’s wedding vows might be glossed over as mere words mirrored back when the minister states, “Repeat after me”.

Long after the wedding dress is dry-cleaned and the thank-you cards have all been mailed, reality returns and life begins for two people who promised to

Have and to hold each other, from this day forward,
Until….

Life begins and life happens.

Real life isn’t the picture perfect moments posed and portrayed in your wedding album. Yes, married life is beautiful, wonderful and worth it all.  Speaking from a marriage kissed by God, we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this October.

But in real life you can’t photo shop the disagreements, the misunderstandings, the unexpected bills, the attitudes and the mundane weeks.

The hardships of real life tests your heart’s commitment to those wedding vows
For better or for worse,
Until…

It’s easy to stay married
In the better,
In the richer,
In the health,
And in the love.

Baring the extreme and justifiable circumstances, many couples give up on marriage because they have created a back door called “Until…”

They stay until
The better becomes worse,
The rich becomes poor,
The health becomes sickness,
The love becomes unlovely.

 Yet marriages surviving a lifetime are committed in the “until…”

Lasting marriages dig their heels in the tough times until
They lock arms in the “drought seasons of not enough” until
They wage war and fight thru battles of sickness, loving and holding on to each other until…
They love without condition no matter how unlovely until…
A man and woman committed in the until…
Stand as one
until….
death they do part.

Forty-plus years ago my brother married his high school sweetheart. They met and fell in love at a youth sponsored roller skating event and have been together ever since.

Forty-plus years ago my brother and his high school sweetheart stood at an old fashioned altar and vowed:

To have and to hold each other from this day forward,
For better or for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
From this day forward,
Until….

 My brother and his wife have enjoyed true love in marriage, though encountering their share of ups and downs.
They have rejoiced in the good times as well as the bad.
They have known plenty. They have known lack.
But through it all, I’ve never seen them more committed.

The back door of escape called until doesn’t exist in their house.
Especially when you witness them honoring their vows of

 In sickness and in health.

 Both have known serious sickness.
Sadly, sickness still wages war on their health yet they remain standing firm on the front lines, fighting for life today.
Both rejoice and hold tight to their unshakeable faith that God still heals and keeps his promises.
2019 houle mark and connie rainbowTo speak with them by telephone or by text, you leave the conversation more uplifted as they are the ones encouraging you.
2019 houle mark and connieA true testimony of love and courage in the until…

The hardships of real life tests your heart’s commitment to those wedding vows
For better or for worse.

 That bride and groom who remain in the trenches and fight those battles which wage war for their marriage,

Together will always see the better in the worse,
Will feel richer in the poor,
Will experience health in the sickness,
Will know true love to cherish,
From this day forward,
While staying committed in the
until….