WE STILL DO!  By Lori A Alicea

Looking over my shoulder and into the distance of these last twenty-eight years of marriage together, I find myself stepping into the pages of a fairy-tale beyond one’s imagination, catching my breath to the unbelievable reality of a dream come true.

In slow motion, I gaze around this fairy-tale room in a soft spin as a princess atop her music box, taking in my life from the eyes of wonder and thanking God for a dream I never imagined would be mine.

Although, He’s always promised the desires and petitions of our hearts from the very beginning, if only we’d delight in Him first.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires
And petitions of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 AMP

Side by side at the altar before God and all of our witnesses, we stood together in a place of simplicity, having no earthly idea what the pages of our happily ever after would read.

david and lori listening to pastor

But yet, there were clues when the abundance and overflow of two hearts began speaking their vows of covenant and earthly commitment; their life’s map guiding them through the highways and byways of marriage (amid a few tears) if they stayed the course being led by the compass of their vows.

Two hearts become one in their “I Do.”

Then a kiss and their journey begins…kiss the bride

heading out into sunsetWhat gift of words did a “bride and groom” unwrap for each other at the altar of holy matrimony?

What hidden treasures of the heart were promised to each other before God, their parents and guests of honor?

Not wanting to walk away from our promises, we kept them written for our remembrance, “to have and to hold from this day forward”.first steps together

Her Wedding Vows to Him!
By Lori A Alicea

I stand right here before you now,
So happy and so proud.
I want to offer up my thanks,
For all that He’s allowed.

I look at you and beam within,
The love that fills my heart.
I never thought I’d see this day,
A new refreshing start.

There was a time not long ago,
No joy was to be found.
A fallen sparrow I’d become,
So lonely on the ground.

Each day would come with dragging time,
No sunlight I could see.
I soon began to tell myself,
There was no life for me.

But somehow He revived my life,
My heart He did renew,
And when I least expected it,
The Father gave me you.

You fit the mold He made for me,
He found the perfect choice.
How my heart does skip a beat,
Just hearing your sweet voice.

So tender are the words you speak,
The meaning they impart.
Your eyes illuminate my soul,
And ravish through my heart.

Because of this I want to give,
To you my everything.
I want to live my life with you,
From summer though the spring.

I count it all but blessed joy,
A privilege for me.
To know and serve your every need,
Though times you may not see.

But most of all I won’t hold tight,
My grip I will let go.
You must be free to do His work,
To squeeze would quench the flow.

For you I’ll burn a lasting flame,
Its warmth will be my love.
If you would ever feel a chill,
These words remind me of.

His Wedding Vows to Her!
By David Alicea

My love, my words can’t express how much you mean to me.
From the first time I met you,
My love for you is immense.
I thank the Lord, he heard my prayers.
You are so special to me.

I promise to love you with all my heart.
And lift you up when you are down.
I’ll fill your life with happiness as much as I can.
I will never leave you.

I’ll always be by your side.
You are the joy of my life.
From the first time I met you, I will always love you.

Lori my love, take me as I am.
I give you all of me.
I thank the Lord for you.

Their vows to each other would carry them through life’s most difficult challenges.

carried into happily ever after

Their vows would be a joyful gift when they stayed the course.

Their commitment to each other would be a warm security blanket on a cold winters day.

Her words…

Would give and be to him her everything…
Would live each spring and summer together…
Would serve his needs no matter if eyes ever see…
Would burn for him an everlasting flame of love.

His words…

Would love her with all his heart…
Would lift her up when she is down…
Would fill her life with happiness and never leave…
Would promise to give her all of him.

and twenty-eight years later….

you still see these truths continuing to bloom from the seeds they planted so many years ago in their vows.

God was a witness to our covenant exchange all those years ago.

Our Heavenly Father leaned in close and committed to memory each word unwrapped on our wedding day.

During the tough times of struggle we hear Him reflecting back our hearts from twenty-eight years ago…

Our answer to Him remains the same…

We still do.

25th anniversary - corner david and lori in corner 30

MORE THAN DECORATED TABLES By Lori A Alicea

“Just talk about yourself.”

Those were simple words spoken from my teenage granddaughter after asking her opinion for ideas of a future blog of mine while travelling together to church.

Pondering back over two years of blogs, I wondered if I had ever done just that,

“Talk about myself.”

 I’m sure you have guessed that I am “over the moon in love” with my ten grandchildren as their pictures illustrate and bring to life the words of my many weekly blogs.

The same is also true of my husband David, the man possessing my heart in our twenty-five years of marriage this past October.
25th anniversary - corner david and lori in corner 30
A 25 Year Anniversary Vow Renewal celebration we invited you as our guest to attend in blogs,

SHE DANCED UNTIL MIDNIGHT,
RENEWAL VOWS AND HONOR TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND
and LOVE IS.

In many of my blogs, as in my previous blog to this one,
SMALL BEGINNINGS,

I have encouraged you in pursuit of your dreams, so
it is in this thought that I have questioned myself though,
“Have I ever revealed to you my dreams?”

Maybe indirectly, as written in my blog,
A TABLE SET FOR THE UNSEEN GUEST,
a piece revealing the heart and love of mine for setting and decorating tables and for whom I truly decorate for.

So, at the urging of my teenage granddaughter to
“Just talk about myself”,
I present to you my passion and dream beyond a decade
as written in this blog titled,
MORE THAN DECORATED TABLES.
table centerpiece
“Do you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about your dream?
Are you willing to pursue it even if you can’t make a living at it?”
Author John C. Maxwell asks that question in his book,
Put Your Dream to the Test.

Allow me the privilege of introducing myself.
My name is Lori A Alicea.
I reside in a small country town.
I have been an event decorator for over a decade.
And
John C. Maxwell, whom if you follow me, is my favorite author and mentor as I quote him often, best describes my passion to a precise-T:

That decorating tables (which encompasses so much more) is what I think about when waking up in the morning and before I go to bed at night, and up to this point although believing that will change, been willing to pursue without making a living at.
IMG_1765An excerpt taken from my blog “A Table Set for the Unseen Guest” details in vivid color my passion for decorating tables:

Nobody loves a party more than I do. I light up like a Christmas tree at the mere mention of making your event dreams come true.  I hyperventilate in the candy store of Pinterest.  I savor the hunt for napkin folds, centerpiece ideas, favors, intimate lighting and linens.  Glue guns are my weapon of choice and I dream in glitter of every color in the crayon box. 

It’s a mystery that setting a beautiful table fills my tank, yet it does. But it’s also the invited list of names I want to overwhelm in the details that motivates my passion, those selected guests who have no idea of the tables prepared just for them.

If truth be told though, some guests rarely notice the trappings of the table. A tablecloth would have sufficed; even a wrinkled one.  The decoration expense might be viewed as a waste and unappreciated favor gifts are left behind by many. 

No matter the opinion though, this event decorator will continue to pour her heart onto her guests, especially the unseen guest whom she truly decorates for, the Lord.

Decorating for me began when my mother passed on her “spirit of celebration” through all our holiday dinners and events; a gift I wanted to pass on to my family.

Soon, I was privileged to decorate for our children’s wedding showers and receptions. Decorating for me is more than creating a beautiful day.  It is about preparing tables with every guest in mind by the displays of my love for them in the details.

Then the babies came and their special events.

Fairy parties

Lemonade-stand parties

Diva parties

Under the Sea parties to name a few.

Last spring, I created the centerpieces for a school auction which benefitted children attending the school. Decorations were designed in my home then mailed in a huge shipment to the school states away, where I flew in town to assist my daughter ‘n law in overseeing and setting up the decorations the day before the auction.

As a military mom, I have decorated for a military Christmas dinner to celebrate America’s finest.

I have decorated for a fundraising event for a candidate running for State Representative, while also honoring a few invited veterans that day during the service.

I was even honored to create a military scene for a men’s event my church had hosted one year.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My most recent and cherished event was designing the decorations for our 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal.

And all these tables are just a few among many others not mentioned.

After setting and decorating tables for over a decade with great love, joy and passion, I still believed that God wanted more from the gifting He has blessed me with.

That belief was confirmed in a voice mail message from my niece, who after attending a young girl’s tea party with her daughter, could see and imagine me also hosting and decorating tea parties tables for girls.

A voice mail message heard while checking my phone at the grocery store, stirred up excitement as my prayer for the “next step” was answered through an unsuspecting family member.

Tea party celebrations for girls; this felt right, a perfect next step.

As a young girl, I remember the affirmation of being honored on my birthday.
Lori little Birthday cakeAnd after having so many granddaughters whom delighted in the decorations I created for their special events, I decided to pass on that deep love for girls, while silently honoring the little girl I once was and still am inside, by opening up my doors to help little girls believe they are special through the detailed decorations of their tea parties, birthday parties, princess parties or whatever special day they are having.

I began to put my true heart on display through the ground work of launching an event decorating business called

SHE SPARKLES,
Events for Girls We Celebrate.

Pictures for business cards were taken.

My heart through
SHE SPARKLES
Was to remind young girls:

They truly are one of a kind.
Their life has purpose.
Their life has meaning.

They deserve to be celebrated.
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A tax-id was secured.
Early preparations were made.
But sadly, preparations remain incomplete from when they began three long years ago.

What happened?

I didn’t believe enough in myself.
I froze in my confidence.
I stalled to my lack of finance.

Pride put a heavy burden on the backs of my success and gifting ability to make this dream happen, when all along it was God’s dream for me and only He could breathe life into the outcome.

I DISOBEYED.

And yet, I continued to seek another next step for this dream in prayer.
But God was silent in His answer.

I write about the silence of God when praying for the next step in an excerpt taken from my blog

SMALL BEGINNINGS.
You see, when I was speaking to you through my words of this blog, I was actually re-telling my story.

SMALL BEGINNINGS (an excerpt)

Small beginnings require faith and obedience for every step of the way that God has called us to take.

God speaks.
We listen.
We obey.
God speaks the next step.

Sometimes in the dream journey though, it seems as if God has stopped speaking and gone silent, causing us to question the next step.

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church
Asks the same question in his “Frequency Series” on hearing God:

“Have you ever been in a place where you felt you weren’t hearing God?
Then go back to the last place God spoke to you, and ask yourself, did you obey?”

In prayer, I repented for not trusting God and surrendered to his leading, his equipping, his provision, and gifting. I went back to the last word God spoke to me and chose to obey.  Shoes were laced and I got back in my lane, took the baton for my leg of this dream race, and purposed to run with fury.

I’ve been stirred again to pursue this dream of mine, though all the unknowns and concerns still remain from three years ago. I rest in the peace though that my only responsibility for this race is to put one step in front of the other.  I rejoice in the assurance of God’s faithfulness to my every step of the way.

There is a reserved seat and decorated table befitting every sweet princess.

She’s beautiful.
She Sparkles.
She deserves to be celebrated.

May all her dreams, including mine, come true.
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