Sunday, September 7, 2014

We Still Do...

Close to the arrival of our 5th wedding anniversary, Rence and I decided we would like to set a date (no special meaning to the date) to share a few new goals for our marriage with those we love.

We took many, many pictures to capture the fun, romance, and celebratory atmosphere of the day. A huge "thank you" goes out to Danielle Ault, who helped us set-up from 11 a.m. to taking down at 6 p.m. (yeah, we were pooped ;p ), not to mention she sacrificed her Saturday to take pictures of the event all day - from posing Rence and myself to taking pictures during the ceremony & reception. You were wonderful, Danielle!
The day was absolutely beautiful. We held the quiet, small event at Alexandria Park in Alexandria, Alabama. We rented out the gazebo and pavilion, and we were able to use the dining hall for storage of food and for getting dressed. Due to the possibility of rain (it had rained non-stop all week), we decided it would be wise to hold the ceremony in the pavilion, which would also be out of the sun, and we had over-head fans running from the ceiling for further comfort from the heat. The pavilion itself is beautiful without being decorated. The flooring is made of stone, and the fireplace is the centerpiece of the pavilion, which was the background for the ceremony (made of a different variation of stone). I further decorated it with greenery, a burlap & lace table-runner, the framed "Resolutions" that Rence & I signed and the pitcher and bowl for the foot-washing ceremony. The fireplace looked absolutely beautiful when we were done decorating it. The ceiling was covered in hardwood, and we had access to a nice bathroom. We set-up chairs in an arc for guests to sit in so they could be an intimate part of the ceremony. We set up a kids table and chairs for the boys (and Hannah, who was unable to make it due to illness) with plenty of toys, books and Play-Doh to keep them entertained throughout the day's events (pictures, ceremony, reception/fellowship). The cake table was behind the arc of chairs (with some room for walking/moving around) and was decorated with a shadow box with our original wedding program & invitation (and a few other wedding items), program fans that I made for the event, as well as some other decor. I decorated the cake with silk flowers and a jeweled "C" letter as the topper and a single flower on the side (all D.I.Y.). I loved the end-result of the cake. It looked gorgeous (and it tasted great, too!). We also served iced sweet & un-sweet tea with various bagged chips. The only "hiccup" we had was that Gavin (one of our 3 yr. old twins) came down with a fever. We dosed him with Tylenol and Motrin, but he continued to act like he didn't feel well at all, and his fever just wouldn't break. We kept an eye on him, with the help of Meme, Papa, Grandma and Uncle Ethan, and continued through the ceremony and reception, but took Gavin inside the dining hall for a bit during the reception time to try and cool him off. He perked up toward the very end and started playing with the Play-Doh. Other than Gavin getting sick, everything turned out great. It was a very relaxed event, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

As we began the short, yet intimate ceremony, we explained how much it meant to us that our family had sacrificed their day, their efforts, their energy into sharing this day with us. We thanked them for their love and support over the years, and for their love and support for the years to come. 
I then got the privilege of sharing my vows - my new goals in our marriage - first. Rence and I were facing one another: I in my wheelchair, and he on a small bench. The following is a note I read to Rence, followed by my vows (I made it to paragraph 3 before I was in tears):


It's hard to believe that we've already passed the benchmark of five years of marriage. Since that day, I knew God had amazing things in store for you and I and our future and hopeful family. God, once again, far-exceeded our expectations.

God gave us the miracles of these precious boys, and the story of how they came to be is a reminder to me daily that all things are possible in God's sovereign and mighty hands.

You now have a job you love - teaching college students the "terrors" of math - you love it, and through it, God provides for our family. Most importantly, God is using you in incredible ways to shine His light to the dark & dying world that surrounds us. You shine God's light brightly, and I am more than proud to be called your wife.

We are now heavily involved with encouraging and helping those who are sick or injured through the chronic illness ministry God called us to as of one year ago last summer. The sacrifice of your time, energy and sometimes our personal finances, has been a true testament to where you keep your focus in life, which is clearly on Christ and His love of serving others. I thank you for your example and servitude.

Lastly, as my health has presented its challenges over the years, you have stood by my side through it all to cheer me on in the battle. It's not been easy on either of us since day one. On our original wedding day, we certainly held more perspective on the phrase in our vows to stand beside one another through "sickness and health". Most men would bolt, but you're not "most men" are exceptional. And together, we have seen that God works mightily through our situations. My physical problems may have multiplied, but so has my joy in the Lord.

We always hear it said that we should never stop growing in our faith. I couldn't agree more. Over the past five years, I have personally grown as a wife, after many hardships and trial-and-error. As the head of the household and spiritual leader, you have also grown tremendously. You have shown me, specifically, the strength of forgiveness and patience with one another, as marriage is anything but a piece of cake.

As the spiritual leader of our home, you show our children at a young age how to talk to the Lord every night, followed by blowing God a kiss - you are instilling precious values in them, and teaching them to love the One who loved us first. You teach them to appreciate what they have by telling God "thank you" when we get "new toys", and by blessing our food and giving thanks for Mommy, Daddy and brother. The command by God for you to raise your family in the Lord has not been given lightly, nor has it been taken lightly, and that speaks volumes.

Your laughter is contagious as it fills up a room. From the times we would watch Everybody Loves Raymond at my parent's house to the latest incident of "friend road rage", your laughter never grows old.

I say all this to simply say "thank you" for allowing God to use you mightily as a husband, first and foremost, and secondly, as a godly father.

Today, I affirm the vows we shared before God, friends and family on our wedding day. These vows don't replace the others, but are new goals to help us achieve the healthy and godly marriage that God and we desire.

Rence, my vow to you today is this:

I will strive to find the best in you, therefore encouraging and respecting you in all you do.

I will keep an attitude of forgiveness and patience in the forefront of our marriage.

I will be vigilant of our friendship, romance and the well-being of our marriage.

I will accept you for who you are. When I don't care for something you do or how you handle a situation, I will change my attitude from "change him, Lord" to "change me, Lord".

I will make it my ultimate concern to minister to you, to foresee the things you need, and look for ways to be a blessing to you.

I will be approachable regarding guidance and correction so that we can grow spiritually as individuals and as a couple, ultimately glorifying God in all we do.

(*Note: Resource used for guidance in creating goals/vows: What's it Like to Be Married to Me? by Linda Partow)
We then had the beautiful opportunity to wash one another's feet. Thank you to Lauren & Justin Holland for letting us borrow the foot-washing basin & pitcher!

Some are not familiar with the practice of foot-washing. If that is the case, then I am privileged to introduce you to it. Washing another's feet was a practice that was done primarily in the days when people traveled by foot and sat on the floor to eat. The feet were the dirtiest part of the body, and still is today (for the most-part). The feet were prominently displayed at the table as others dined, so it was important for the feet to be clean. You can imagine, however, that not many people wanted to volunteer for the job to wash someone's nasty feet. 

When Jesus was preparing to eat the last supper with his disciples, he (the King of Kings taking upon himself such a lowly position) begin to wash the disciples feet.
Stunned by what Jesus was doing, Peter (one of the disciples) asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
(John 13:6-9)
I believe Peter was embarrassed that Jesus was having to perform such a lowly task, and Peter did not understand the ultimate purpose behind the foot-washing. 
As believers today, we have the advantage of seeing the full picture. Jesus goes on to explain in John 13:14-15 that we should follow his example in foot-washing. Many times, this is may not actually be foot-washing, but rather a metaphor for a lowly task God has called us to. However, I think the act of foot-washing itself is also important to remember and repeat, as it demonstrates several important things about spiritual life as an individual, as well as the metaphors of foot-washing in the setting of marriage (as we represented on the day of our event).

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.
(John 13:14-15)
When I was researching what others had done during this part of the ceremony, I ran across a blog/article in which we used a portion for the ceremony. Listed below, you will find the original text of the author's article, entitled "A Feet of Commitment" (from One-Flesh Marriage):

Washing Your Wife's/Husband's Feet:
1. Says I love you.
2. Shows that you honor and respect your spouse.
3. Demonstrates a humility of heart and character, kneeling before your spouse.
4. Communicates "I will be here for you through the muck and mud of life".
5. Places you in a position of prayer (on your knees) - a great place to be in marriage.

Having Your Feet Washed:
1. Says you are loved.
2. Shows you can receive your spouse's support, and won't "go it alone".
3. Communicates, "I will let you help me".


I will add that I believe it demonstrates complete servanthood. Christ demonstrated the act of serving out of a willing, joyful, and humble heart. Our command from God is to do the same.

I will end by saying that washing one another's feet on this occasion was one of the sweetest things we've done for each other. I praise God for the years he has given us and the years that are yet to come!

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Mental Illness and the Church