A GRANDMA TOO IS BORN By Lori A Alicea

Every now and then I am taken aback with the surprise of the unexpected; especially if the unexpected are unearthed words I had forgotten I once wrote.

While I’m not one to fill up journals with my personal thoughts and prayers, I do dream through my words penned to paper on occasion.

This particular afternoon twelve years ago and prior to having grandchildren, I remember daydreaming about what it might mean to be grandmother.

That day I wondered if my heart was full of enough love to overflow into another generation, unaware then how many grandchildren would fill my lap.

I wanted to pass on memories of all kinds; holidays, special foods, traditions our grandchildren could remember their whole life, special time at their grandparent’s house and a legacy rich in Jesus.

Papa and I were overwhelmed at the thought of our children having children. We were nervous and excited all wrapped into one package of joy we hadn’t opened before.

How do you prepare to be a grandmother?

I imagined their faces taking our breath at first glance, catching us off guard with the miracle of life we held; faces already seen and watched by God as they grew in the secret place of their mother, already known to God before the beginning of time.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Psalm 139:15-17 NIV

One afternoon I imagined the wonders of being a grandmother.

My dreams were caught on paper, but mere words were beyond inadequate to what God was preparing in advance for this grandmother.

If I only knew then what I have experienced now.
Children are a gift from God, and it has been Christmas ever since that first little grandchild called me Gaga.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably
More than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us.
Ephesians 3:20 NIV

My heart before becoming a grandmother.

A GRANDMA TOO IS BORN
By Lori A Alicea

A baby comes into your life,
A family, mom and dad.
Their life gives birth to all their dreams,
For nine months, that they’ve had.

Kizzie Mae Pearl

Ten fingers, toes, they count them all,
Their hearts in two, are torn.
And yet, another miracle behold,
A grandma too is born.

Aubrey Ann

A woman who had raised her kids,
And thought her job was done.
Yet God had other plans for her,
Another race to run.

Rosalee Ann

An early morning feeding time,
Reserved for us to share.
The trips we take up to the stars,
While rocking in our chair.

Ayva Presley

The lullabies I’ll sing to you,
Lay kisses on your head.
You’ll snuggle back in peaceful rest,
My arms become your bed.

Hollis Blake C.

I think about you night and day,
Your life, my heart adorn.
How unprepared and overwhelmed,
When grandmas too are born.

Cova Grace Marie

The Friday nights we’ll spend with you,
When mom and dad go out.
Where rules stay in the diaper bag,
We’ll laugh, and scream no doubt.

Bristol Nicole

The play dates that we’ll get to take,
Can’t wait, a shear delight.
And stories that your gramps will tell,
He’ll rock you in the night.

Leon Ethan 

My prayers each day, the will of God,
His perfect plan for you.
Your steps already figured out,
His voice will speak to you.

Brodie Allen

But you must learn to listen close,
His Word will guide your way.
And grandmas here to share with you,
The things of God each day.

Brooklyn Nicole

Rich blessings for you little one,
My heart in two is torn.
It can’t contain the love I feel,
This grandma has been born.

Ethan candace pregnant with mom USE

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE…By Lori A Alicea

The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV

For every life there is a ledger.
A book of columns tallying the additions and subtractions,
Reconciling the sum total of our years here on earth,
And upon inspection of my life’s ledger,
I’d consider it an accounting of true riches
For those who call me friend, albeit even one.

 “If you have one true friend in the world,
You are very rich.”
Alistair Begg        

We were not born for isolation.

God himself said before blessing man with his wife:
It is not good for man to be alone…
Genesis 2:18 NIV

While telling them next to
“Be fruitful and multiply…”
Genesis 1:28

Birthed from the increase of families came
Community, the village,
Our deep and abiding friendships.

What a friend we have….
…to be loved by one as he loves himself.

As beauty rests in the eye of the beholder,
So are the many portraits of friendship;
Painted and seen from the beholders lens.

The portrait of loyalty as seen through the eyes of small children and their furry best friends, expressed through their inseparable time together, side by side throughout the day, never seeing one without the other, with the loyal friend keeping vigil and watch over his best friend at night.

Friendships paint a classroom of learning whose brushstrokes articulate the lending and sharing of talent, while hidden in the shadows of color are those dreams and secrets that friends both share together, creating a heart connection for life.

True friendships are those paintings of hill climbs thru hard times, journeys thru deep valleys of sadness and miles of desolate roads with no bright intersection in sight, yet depicting relationships still locking arms to get through it all together, never entertaining the thought of leaving the other behind.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
Maya Angelou

There are those nightstand 5 x 7’s reserved for friendships remembering their worst and best day, those good Samaritan moments caught on camera rescuing a fallen friend in need.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Ecclesiastes 4:10
hands ethan and ayva park 2
Friendships are for life; a picture riding off into the sunset, showcasing a bond birthed as cousins, yet grew with them through the years into brothers and inseparable friends.

There are those friendships beautifully framed in love and influence, portraits that hang over the fireplace of those who have touched and impacted our hearts for the first time, yet leave a handprint on our life forever.
father grandfather ayva and daddy walkingThen are those generational wall groupings, our inheritance frozen under glass for our reminder, our journey back to our roots, our heritage and friendships that can’t be explained on canvas, only told through the stories of those faces caught in time.

Friendships are snapshots of sisters, or friends who become sisters and family, snapshots where the naked eye is unable to distinguish the difference because love goes deeper and hides itself in these pixel moments of time.

There are friends,
there is family,
and then there are friends
that become family.
Unknown

Friendship on canvas is..
A friend who
overlooks your broken fence
and admires the flowers in your garden.
Unknown
flowers ayva smelling flowers

Sweet friendships refresh the soul…they awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence. Proverbs 27:9 TPT

What a friend we have…
The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV

 

SEPARATIONS OF LOVE By Lori A Alicea

Have you stopped and smelled the roses today?

Have you opened the gate to the “little things of your life”, to gaze around and take in the bounty of beauty before you?

Have you stood on that secret hillside moments after sunrise to soak in a vast view that fades into the horizon beyond what eyes can see, a scene bursting with roses of every color in the rainbow, whose perfumed fragrance will overwhelm with just one breath?

Your “rose garden of thankfulness” remains open for visitors all hours of the day and night.

A garden hidden in your heart, whose passage only requires a moment of reflection, a moment of silence to stop and smell your roses of blessing.
Roses 1The world was caught off guard weeks ago when she was unexpectedly “put on notice” to take shelter at home, temporarily closing the doors of life as she knew it.

No one saw this coming.

A “perfect storm” which vacated streets, shuttered businesses and took people everywhere “off the clock”, clearing their “to-do-lists” until further instruction.

Our busy lives turned into ghost towns.

Chaos of calendars is quieted.

The unknown of tomorrow is on everyone’s mind.

The world in their homes wakes up to a posture of stillness, a forgotten atmosphere of silence, yet a gift for those who wake up smelling their roses.

You don’t realize what you have until you can’t have it for now, confronting a new emotion from our

“Isolations of love.”

A month ago our house was a flurry of activity. A month ago our house was a revolving door of grandkids, friends, neighbors, and loved ones.  A month ago I could visit my mother at her nursing home facility anytime I wanted.
A month ago we found ourselves stopping and smelling our “roses of blessings” quite frequently, never giving a thought though how unreachable our garden would be a month and a day later.

Now, we grieve from the “social distance” we must keep from these ten grandchildren we are so crazy about, unable to explain to them why overnight visits to Papa and Gaga’s house have been postponed.  We grandparents want to break all rules that bar us from reaching into these windows and cyberspace for hugs and kisses that have left our arms and hearts terribly empty.

Harder yet, how does a grown child bring comfort and peace to their lonely mother separated and isolated from the other side of her screened view, whose arms they embraced and hands frequently held in conversation only a month ago.

During these Isolations of love the world is experiencing together, what an appropriate time for all of us to stop and smell the roses that never go out of season.
Roses 1Though as grandparents we long the noise of running feet of our grandchildren racing up and down the halls, we are immensely grateful as they enjoy this much needed family time with their parents through homeschooling, play and meals together.

Though as adult children we long to freely walk into the nursing home facility where our mother calls home, and while my mother and her resident friends are now socially distancing taking meals in their rooms and playing hallway bingo.
IMG_7174We haven’t forgotten how spoiled and well-loved our mother is at this facility. The staff here takes every opportunity to create special events during the holidays for their residents.

Don’t get me started on the great honor bestowed to these residents during Mother’s day one year.

Just ask the community and family members invited to come Trick-or-treating at their grandparent’s residence and hear their boasts about the detailed thoughtfulness of food, games and candy waiting for them during Halloween.

How included and special our mother and residents are made to feel during Valentine’s Day and Christmas, especially from the local police officers handing out gifts and wheelchair speeding tickets to our loved ones.

When you stop,
when you take a moment to smell the roses,
the blessings of God emerge,
come forth,
become magnified and overwhelm one’s heart
when you take inventory of what God has done
and means in your life.

All this uncertainty shall pass.

Normalcy will return with hopes that we have been changed to a simpler life, a more appreciative view of our blessings.

Papa and I can’t wait for the doors of cousin camp to reopen.

I can’t wait for the day when the doors of my mother’s nursing home are open again for visitors.

May we as a family view our time with her differently by not putting off visiting her tomorrow when we might only have today.

Might we as a family celebrate her even more, as she has been a wonderful blessing especially to those who call her great-grandma.

A true blessing to those who call her grandma.

And an eternal blessing to those who call her mom.

I treasure and am forever grateful in my heart for our 25th Wedding Anniversary that was shared with family and our mother, an evening scrapbooked of memories and highlights that would not have taken place a few months later.

Mother even was caught on camera doing the limbo.
25th anniversary - limbo momWhile mother doesn’t understand Facetime or the fancy trends of technology, mother is still a phone call away during these isolations of love.
Screen 2
Mother has missed us as much as we do her, and the wonderful people of her nursing home have allowed her to tell us so through their pictures posted on social media, a gift that we as a family and all the resident families are truly appreciative of.
Screen 6During our day when we find ourselves especially lonely and void during these
Isolations of love.

 Might we be drawn to the hillside of our blessings, to that secret place whose gate is open whenever we need a lifting of our countenance,

When we need to be reminded of our bountiful blessings,

As we stop and smell the beautiful roses that God has planted in the garden of our hearts.
Roses 1

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        

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….

love is…..By Lori A Alicea

Twenty-five years ago this October while vowing love and commitment to one another at our wedding altar, my husband and I received mined gold pieces of wisdom spoken by our Pastor, a compass he gave us to discovering love for a lifetime.

Our Pastor encouraged us as “bride and groom” embarking on a lifetime journey together to love, respect, honor, enjoy and revere the other with our eyes. To see goodness, uniqueness, virtue, value, future, beauty and wonderment in the other,

A mining for love in the noticing.

The eyes see it all; the good, the bad, the ugly.
We have a choice.

Each and every day we have a choice; to see the bad, to see the ugly.
Or notice the good hidden in the corner of your eye.
The good is always there.

Don’t look away. You’ll miss it.
Take a second look if you have to.
Don’t miss an opportunity to
mine for love in the noticing.

True love isn’t riches measured in dollars and cents.
True love is captured in the pause of a long stare, between blinks in a given moment. True love is in the eye of the beholder.

True love is mined in the noticing.

Life is full of beauty.
NOTICE IT.
Notice the bumble bee,
the small child,
and the smiling faces.
Smell the rain and feel the wind.
Life your life to the fullest potential,
and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Love is in the simple.
Love is in the day to day.
Love looks for it.
Love searches for it.

Love is always there.
Love is mining in the noticing.

Love is eyes lighting up.
Love is falling in love with my husband over and over when I notice him:

Making the bed in the morning or turning the covers at night.

Deciding it is his responsibility to tackle the sink full of dishes after meals.

Ironing better than any dry cleaners in town.

Unashamed to fall to his knees in prayer.

Calling my mother or visiting her on his own without me.

Endearing my mother by referring to her as mom.

Hauling the basket of dirty laundry to the basement then bringing up the clean and folded clothes unassumingly.

Wearing cologne at all times; after showers, before bed or for no reason at all.

Lathering our little grandsons with cologne so they can smell like Papa too.

Smiling because every Facetime call from our grandchildren begins with,
“Where’s Papa?”

Always treating and referring to my children as “our children” from day one.

Full of grease after working on the car in all the weather elements regardless of having no garage.

Reaching the heavens and hearts with his voice in song.

Revealing his gorgeous smile.

Laughing for every little thing.

Revisiting a conversation when customers have inquired about his no-show whereabouts after making such a lasting impression of courtesies and promptness.

Setting the dinner table standard of eating whatever my hands have prepared; even during the early years when my attempts at Porter Rican rice resembled oatmeal to our children’s gag-reflexing dismay.

Revealing his heart through sensitive tears; especially when they fall regarding his kids and grandkids.

Holding my hand throughout our 25 years of life together;
while in the car,
while watching TV,
while drinking coffee together,
while lying in bed at night.

Love isn’t a feeling.
Love isn’t a fairy tale.
Love is a choice.
Love chooses to see the good in a bad day.

Love can be for a lifetime.

Love remembers that:

Love never fails…..
1 Corinthians 13: 8 NIV

When
Love is mining in the noticing.

Love just is.

THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH By Lori A Alicea

Dearest to my heart, dearest to everything I hold true is the joy of sharing a lifetime with that special someone created and chosen especially for you.

The thought of two people walking together side by side and cleaving to one another for life is a love story captured in a

Painting of a thousand words”,

A portrait passed and hung on the walls of the generations for their reminder of the heart of God depicted on canvas,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
P
roverbs 5:18 NIV
looking out of water 1
We’ve all been alone some time in our life.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for someone to share our hopes with, someone to share our dreams.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for a shoulder to cry on, someone to dry our tears.

In our “aloneness”, surely we didn’t want to be alone forever.
looking-out-of-window.jpgEven God himself said,
18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I
will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NIV

 The first love story ever written,

God took the man’s rib and formed his soul mate for which the man called her “bone of his bone”.  (Genesis 2:23 NIV)

22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  Genesis 2:22 NIV
first looks
In whose purpose is to protect one’s delicate heart, a beautiful love story written in the smallest of details when God chose a rib to complete the “aloneness” of a man.

Walking together side by side “for whatever comes their way”,
first walkCarrying with them their

Painting of a thousand words”,

Cleaving to one another and unearthing the hidden treasure of God’s heart revealed from their life together “one step at a time”,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18 NIV

Love stories are inspired words authored and written on paper.

Love stories are the overflow of one’s heart, spilling onto the pages of that soulmate we cling to.
writing letterLove stories come to life and can be read “between the lines” of a smile.swingLove stories can be witnessed in the carefree spirit of the
“Wife of Your Youth.”
swing 1
Love stories face each other as they face their future together,
are you readyFor whatever comes their way,
For better or worse.
Remembering that nothing can stand between,
nor tear apart,
or come against,
two people united in love.
signing licenseEspecially when your love story is depicted in a
“Portrait of a thousand words”,
looking out of water 1
A love story inspired and written by God.

 

A NEW BEGINNING By Lori A Alicea

As a faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, morning greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

 New beginnings that promise a “blank page” if you dare to write the next chapter.
New beginnings that promise another “chance” if you dare to try.
New beginnings that promise “hope” if you dare to dream.
New beginnings that promise “life” if you dare to breathe.
New beginnings that promise “friendship” if you dare to be a friend.
New beginnings that promise another “race” if you dare to lace up your shoes.
New beginnings that promise a “song” if you dare to sing.
New beginnings that promise “relationship” if you dare to forgive.
New beginnings that promise “love” if you dare to open your heart.
New beginnings that promise “the moon” if you dare to shoot for the stars.

New beginnings that promise a “kiss”
If you dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises, all yours for the taking.
Do you see them?
Do you look for them?
Do you want them?
girls looking out windowThe author of our yesterday, today and forever;
our beginning, and our end (Revelation 22:13 NIV)
is the author of our new beginnings,
the author of another day.

Might we be encouraged to take the dare of a new beginning?
Might we take our blank page and write the words we wanted our life to say yesterday?
What do you have to lose?

Our faithful God is a “God of Second Chances; everyday”.
His mercies and compassion’s are new every morning;
a clean slate for us to try again.

22  …for his compassion’s never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Might we dare to walk the “high wire” of a new beginning risking the fall for the promise, relying on the “safety net of your father’s arms to fall into” if something does go wrong.
Aubrey touching papa's face

For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:3 NIV       

Be confident in taking the next step of your new beginning without the security of yesterday’s training wheels.
Your Father’s got you.
Kyle teaching Ethan to ride a bike

You’re not alone in this world of new beginnings, your Father sees you.
Ayva in car seat
Allow your Father to sing over you,
To remind you:
“You’re everything he hoped for.”
“You’re everything he dreamed.”
Joe Cocker

 

 

 

Song YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL
by Joe Cocker

“Today” is that faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, like morning who greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

But new beginnings come with a dare.

YOU MUST

Dare to try.
Dare to dream.
Dare to breathe.
Dare to be a friend.
Dare to run your race.
Dare to sing your song.
Dare to forgive.
Dare to love.

Dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises.
You must see them.
You must look for them.
You must want them.
You must reach for them to take them.

You must Dare to kiss back.