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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FRESH VISION FOR 2020 By Lori A Alicea

Welcome year 2020, we welcome you with open arms and great anticipation.

You are a brand new year and a new decade and the blank pages of my calendar wait with bated breath for God to unveil the details of the next 365 days of my life and family, so I might capture and record His goodness and faithfulness for our remembrance and encouragement in years to come.
FINAL calendarEver since I was a little girl, I have cherished like gold and hold tight a stack of blank paper in my arms, a brand new journal or calendar where the dam that jams up the words of my heart burst and gush as a raging river onto the empty pages, leaving behind the sediments of sentences, paragraphs and chapters of my thoughts.

At the beginning and birth of every New Year,
I ask God to give me fresh vision for this leg of the journey.

I pray for 20/20 vision that He might bring into focus those things both near and far I have struggled to see in the past.
FINAL featured imageI bow my knees to the plans the “Lord my God” has prepared for me, embracing the hope and future he has promised. May I never waver or question the direction of His voice, as a good shepherd never leads his sheep astray.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
FINAL bible
For this year 2020 I pray that in order to see His vision, I must also hear His vision with clarity when my Heavenly Father speaks. Oh that my ears be unstopped from the cares and worry which deafens His voice from my unbelief and willingness to hand over the reins that lead me.

Oh that I might celebrate the amazing truth that He knows me intimately by name when He calls me by name.

I have called you by name: thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1 KV

That whenever I hear my name in the night as Samuel did, I immediately recognize His voice with my answer,

 “Speak, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV

Lord, open my eyes that I might see through your eyes the vision prepared specifically for me.  Might I write this vision down as you have requested, making it plain and easy to follow for the race you have called me to run, never wavering to the left or to the right whether your vision for my life will ever come to pass, as You are a God that cannot lie.

And the Lord answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV

God is not a man, that he should lie… Numbers 23:19

Lord, remind me this year 2020 to humble myself in your presence, to search daily for direction in Your Word, as promises of fresh vision is mine when eyes are solely fixed on you.
FINAL PEW BIBLE GLASSESFor this new year of 2020, I must turn the pages of year 2019, thanking Him for his faithfulness and goodness He has shown me and my family, yet moving on and forgetting the former things of the past 365 days, as He is doing a new thing, a wonderful and marvelous thing.

“Forget the former things;
Do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!…”
Isaiah 43:18-19

Lord, I want my life to count for this new year of 2020.
I want my life to matter, to make and be a difference for Your Kingdom.

But I desperately need a fresh vision from You today.

I need a slice of fresh bread of vision from You, not the day old kind the world has to offer.

Lord, I dedicate this new year of 2020 to you.

Oh, that my words and deeds this year be pleasing in your sight.

May I continue live my life as an ambassador for You.

May I clearly see with 20/20 vision and hear with distinct clarity
Your Fresh vision for 2020 set before me.

May every day this year of 2020 I reply as Samuel did when You repeatedly beckoned him in the night,

“Here I am Lord. Your servant is listening.”