Our Family Ceremony at Dorral Farm

Marriage is hard work.

I’ve shied away from sharing much about the work we’ve put into our marriage for many reasons. Sometimes it felt like absolutely no one else could relate. If you’ve been married for any length of time, I’m sure you can. I’ve come to recognize that certainly every relationship has it’s hills and valleys. We are human and that is just the way it is being a flawed individual and married to a flawed individual. Sometimes I was too overwhelmed and it seemed better to just push through than share. I’m sure, now, this is also extremely common. Sometimes it was necessary for the integrity of our ministry to simply limit our sharing and keep things confidential between just us or in a very small group. Your spouse deserves your trust and not everything is “sharable”. That was an extremely hard lesson for me to learn because I often felt like I was being inauthentic or even suffocated by confidentiality. Now I see that earning and keeping someone’s trust (especially your spouse’s) is a mark of loyalty, kindness and godliness. Sometimes I simply couldn’t find someone trustworthy to confide in, and several times when I tried, that trust was betrayed. To say I have been gun-shy is simply a steep understatement. There have been many seasons where I didn’t know who to trust and I completely withdrew.

Truthfully, I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. God has been doing a lot of chipping away at us in the background and we feel like we’re finally regaining some strength after an exceptionally long season of challenge after challenge.

In light of all of that, we decided to something a little bit different for our 10th anniversary.

We planned a private Family Ceremony.

We wanted to do something intentional to change the tide and put a line in the sand for the start of a new season. We did this so that we could reaffirm the commitment that we’ve made to each other. We did it to lay down any weapons we were holding against one another in pursuit of peace. We did it to more fully surrender our lives and future to the Lord. We did it to show our children how important marriage is, and how God wants us to honor the vows that we make. We did it to show them that God blesses those who seek to live with integrity and grace, and that God gives His strength to us when we consistently forgive one another. We did it to make vows as a family. We actually spoke vows in unison with our kids and we will write those vows to be seen and remembered in our home. We did it to intentionally move from a season of discouragement to a season of laughter and joy. Occasionally, that’s a choice we need to make long before we feel like we can – but I’m certain that’s when we welcome God’s supernatural power and peace to work in us.

One final reason, for me personally, was to get some wedding portraits taken we never did. It poured on our wedding day, we only have a handful of portraits inside of a dark restaurant – the only space available to us due to the weather. We never got to go outside and take beautiful pictures together, and I’ve always longed to have those. I was able to wear my wedding dress again (!!) and so that makes me cherish these portraits even more.

We shared the beginning of the ceremony together, repeated scripture, reminded ourselves of God’s promises to us, and then the kids walked out and joined us.

I want to share the vows that we made as a family. I absolutely loved hearing their sweet little voices say these words in unison with us, and its something I’ll never forget – and I pray they’ll remember forever, too. May these words become a deep part of who they are, and may God give us the wisdom know how to write these on the tablets of their hearts.

FAMILY VOWS

We will worship God with our lives // We will be different than the world // We will keep our minds pure // We will ask God to give us His direction // We will love with our whole hearts // We will not love evil // We will be devoted to each other // We will honor each other above ourselves // We will joyfully serve God together // We will hope in God // We will be patient and trust God when we are sad // We will pray together // We will share generously with others in need // We will open our home with others // We will bless others, even when they do not bless us // We will rejoice with those who rejoice, and be tenderhearted towards those who are mourning // We will be humble and always care for others // We will not be proud or evil, but always humble and kind // We will be careful to do what is right in front of others and when we are alone // We will live in peace and harmony together, honoring God in thought, word and deed.

Honey, when we are married for 50 years, I pray we will look back on these early years as the ones where our relationship were forged through the fire. “The testing of our faith develops perseverance…” Those words are trust in our faith in God, and in our faith in each other. They have been tested, and we are walking out of the flames with a powerful testimony to help others. Thank you for your patience and steadfast love when I was engulfed in those flames – I know that’s a big reason we are where we are today. I pray our kids will always see that in you, and that they will both marry someone who has that enduring quality of perseverance.

Finally, I need to thank Keith for being here to walk us through (and help me plan) this ceremony. Keith, and his entire family, are dear friends of ours and he has been the consistent and faithful one there to listen, counsel and pray through these low, dark times. His home is a refuge to me and his friendship is a precious and beautiful gift from God to us and our children. Saying thank you just isn’t enough.

Thank you to Josh for helping set up and playing music during the ceremony. Thank you to Courtney for helping me get ready and helping watch the kids. Thank you for spending time listening to me, and praying for me and with me as I prepared for this day. God knew I needed your sweet friendship and sisterhood in my life.

Other Thanks: Pictures by Karime Photography, Hair by La Prima Beauty, Arbor by Janie at Dorral Farm, Ceremony at Dorral Farm. (Thank you to Cindy from Dorral Farm for your hospitality and kindness to us and allowing us to have a private place for this special ceremony.) My dress alterations by Morning Glory Fashions, Mike’s tux by Ralph Lauren (alterations by Martha Alexander), Broach provided by Bev Babbert, Hair clip (mine and Mila’s) from Hobby Lobby, Earrings from wedding day, pearl necklaces (mine and Mila’s) were my late Grandma’s given to me by my mom. I made my bouquet and Mike’s bout is from Connell’s Maple Lee.

You may see a bunch of beautiful photos below, but I see a lot of hard work, God’s power and grace, and a story He’s redeemed from it’s darkest hour. All my soul glorifies Him and is surrendered to the joy and peace that only He can give.

“In the Savior’s love
I find joy beyond compare
Endless peace covers all of me
When You breathe within
You turn winter into spring
Grace dissolves every fear in me

Your Love brings me to my knees
Brings me to my knees
My King forever
You are all my heart desires
Until the end of time
My soul surrendered

In my vacant heart
Lord You came and made a home
You bring light to the dark in me
When I lose my way
I am beckoned into grace
You alone are my everything

Your Love brings me to my knees
Brings me to my knees
My King forever
You are all my heart desires
Until the end of time
My soul surrendered

All the earth sing of mercy never ending
I will worship with all that is within me
Holy Holy, Lord God almighty
King of Heaven, Yours is the glory

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