12.29.2020 marked 10 years of marriage for us. With all the living we have packed into 10 years, we decided to renew our vows. Our decision to do this was pretty easy to make because let's be real, when you're standing at the altar on your wedding day, you have no idea what you're agreeing to. As young newlyweds, we could have never predicted the life we were asked to walk through as a couple and as Christians. So after a few trips around the block, we decided to rededicate ourselves to the only thing that truly matters in a marriage: giving God full control.
The live stream for the ceremony can be found HERE. However, the sound quality for the video was not great, so this week's blog post is all about the sights and sounds of that day!
The Venue: Casa de Wetzel
Our home was the venue for the vow renewal with altar and benches made by ME! (Fun fact: I love DIY projects and this was a fun one for me and my chainsaw!)
The Wedding Party:
Josh's dad, Patrick, was recently ordained and acted as our officiant. Harper and Payton were our girls of honor.
Walking Down the Aisle:
A decade ago, I walked down the aisle to "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. It's still my favorite song, so 10 years later, it signaled the audience that we were headed down the aisle.
After Patrick welcomed our guests, it was important to us to establish why we chose to renew our vows. Our desire was to ceremonially put Christ in the center of our relationship. This day was not an anniversary party-- we did not want congratulations on surviving 10 years together. Instead we asked our family to bear witness to how life's hardships have strengthened us and the important lesson it left us with: abundant life is not a life filled with
worldly things, but a life anchored to the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend
themselves. However, a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Like most
couples, we can testify to years of constantly playing defense. Years
when life felt like we were drowning or could never get ahead. And while we
can do our best for each other, a life that relies on human effort will never be more than survival. Wrapping our lives around the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is finding joy in surrendering to God. To demonstrate this, we participated in binding the cords provided by Harper and Payton. The cord on the left symbolizes Josh, the cord on the right symbolizes me. The cord in the middle represents Christ. The braiding of these cords is a sign of both obedience and a celebration of submission to God’s plan for us.
While we braided the cords and prayed for each other, the Koryn Hawthorne version of "Graves Into Gardens" played. This song rings true to the exact declaration that we desired for this ceremony. Even if our marriage was perfect, nothing would be better than God. With gratitude, we eagerly laid down everything we thought we were supposed to be and turned our focus toward God.
I got pretty emotional at this point. Josh said an incredible prayer for me and it induced a lot of joy, grief, gratitude, and love all at once. After we finished praying, we grabbed our hand-written vows and headed back to the altar.
His Vows to Me
10 years ago, you and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. As we stood there in First Baptist Church of Fort Payne a decade ago saying "I do," we were clueless about the journey we were about to be on. We also had no idea what it really meant to "have and to hold for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part." Over these years we've been blessed, we've been broke, we've been healthy, and we've endured sickness and injury that kept us in a hospital for two years.
Through all these things we have finally learned to put God first in our relationship. We have finally learned that we are on a mission together. And so, from this day forward...
I vow to be the leader of this family through the good times and the bad.
I vow to stand beside you and work toward the mission that God has placed on us.
I vow to never go to Afghanistan and get blown up again.
I vow to be a servant alongside you.
I vow to love you as my wife. You are my best friend, my partner in crime, you've got my back and I've got yours. I am honored to do life with you and walk out our God-given mission. I am yours and you are mine forever.
My Vows to Him
Josh, it is amazing what I thought marriage would be. I thought it would be a problem solver--it was not. It was nothing other than a giant leap of faith; because nothing can truly prepare anyone for marriage. I was often surprised and disappointed when things didn't turn out the way I thought they should, but that's also because I didn't know what love was meant to be.
To love is to submit, to exalt you above myself, to serve, forgive, and sacrifice.These are not terms the world uses, but they are the actions of the One who not only IS love, but demonstrated the greatest love on the cross.
So, after 10 years of marriage and 10 years of learning, I have new promises to make...
I vow to praise you for how you are different than me because great teams are made of people with the same goals, not the same gifts.
I vow to forgive as if my own forgiveness depends on it. Even if all the feelings we feel today fade away.
I vow to see our marriage as a mission field that could help other people get to heaven.Thus, I will remember that the gospel is the mission, not our own fulfillment.
I vow to evaluate the hard times for the harvest they will yield later.
I vow to never make you responsible for my happiness. God created us both completely. I am confident in His creation and will treat you as fearfully and wonderfully made.
I vow to be your teammate and not your coach.
Last, but most importantly, I will remember that a great marriage is not about how much we feel like loving each other, but how much we can love God together.
You have faced so much pain, adversity, and uncertainty and it has not broken your spirit. As I watched you navigate evading death, fatherhood, post-traumatic stress, a job, and marriage, I was the one that grew. I am so thankful for every perceivably bad thing that has inspired us to stand here today and reclaim this marriage in the goodness of who God is. Thank you for loving me.
(Payton asked Josh's mom "why is Mommy crying?" She tried to say because we were so happy and Payton replied, "No, I saw her crying tears for real!")
We concluded the ceremony with this promise:
To choose each other all over again promising to cling to each other in the bad
times and celebrate each other in the good times. To be a warrior in
life’s battles, to acknowledge our marriage as a ministry, to honor and forgive
each other, to cherish how God made us, to forsake all others, and to love each other as Christ
loves the church
With an "I do," we declared our marriage strengthened and reaffirmed!
As I look back on it, this vow renewal is one of the best decisions we've ever made. I am so thankful we were able to do it on our anniversary (a day that is normally right in the middle of family Christmas traveling) with our children and family there. To renew marriage vows after half a year's worth of quarantine is proof that God has done a GREAT work in us. Please continue to pray for us as we work on the daily habit of submitting our relationship to God.
I'll close with this, when Josh and I went to Franklin Graham's Operation Heal Our Patriots retreat in Port Alsworth, Alaska, our chaplains led us through a conversation about the fears and frustrations of long-term commitments. A piece of advice that Josh and I have always held onto from that day was this:
"When you think about your marriage, don't think about the next fifty years, don't even think about tomorrow. Just wake up every day and decide to give God and your spouse the best 24 hours you've got."
Here's to a thousand more 24 hours together.