Renewing Our Vows (In A Christian Church This Time) After Ten Years Married
"Let marriage be held in honor among all..." ~Hebrews 13:4
On July 11, 2021, after ten years married, Don and I renewed our vows. What an amazing experience! All the bliss minus all the stress! Instead of planning and preparing all the food ~ with much help from friends and family ~ and being consumed with anticipation about the big day, we enjoyed a perfectly peaceful and simple celebration with our new family ~ this time, in a Christian church and in the presence of God. Our first wedding was non-traditional, officiated by friend, Zen priest, and founder of Huku-Un-Ji Zen Center in Tempe, AZ, Hakuun Sokai Geoffrey Barratt. Our first wedding was simple and sweet ~ yet Buddhist!
Don and I are newly born again Christians. I wrote about my spontaneous repentance process in My Aawakening and Divine Healing post. I also shared the many glorious changes and blessings that transpired since repenting, and being regenerated of mind and heart, or 'born again' ~ up through our epic cross country move in April 2020. We were eager to leave the desert, and return to the land of trees, lakes and family. In 2020, Pastor Kembel baptized us in Lake Huron ~ another awesome day marking our new life.
Prior to our conversion, I believed in God, however I never confessed faith in nor obedience to Jesus Christ. I believed myself to be kind, compassionate, giving, and 'spiritual' ~ similar to what I understood to be Christian values. I had no clue about what it really meant to be obedient to God, and to believe God ~ not just in God. Belief in God is believing there is a higher power, without an intentional allegiance to God, His ways and laws, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ~John 14:6
Once you are born again, and if having a sincere desire to know the truth, the veils begin to drop away. The importance of adherence to His ways takes center stage. His laws ‘are not onerous’ ~ they are a roadmap to a healthy fruitful life!
My previous perception of being spiritual was born of ignorance. It was a more new-age-y sort of spirituality, built on sinking sand versus the solid rock of Christ and awareness of all of God’s laws.
A belief in God is inadequate to ensure salvation, entry into His kingdom and eternal life. A belief in God is inadequate to ensure receptivity of the glories and benefits ~ including divine healing of mind, body and spirit ~ as heirs to His covenant promises.
As a result of our learning God's laws, statues and judgements, it occurred to us that we had to correct some things, including renewing our wedding vows. As stated in Hosea 4:6:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Despite my ignorance, and many transgressions, God patiently waited for me / us to come around. He does that. He allows us to suffer the consequences of our choices. When we’ve finally had enough, we reach that point where we turn back to Him. Until then we go our own way, believing it superior.
I finally reached that point in May, 2019. For me, that point is when I throw my arms up in the air in utter surrender screaming inside myself, "God! I surrender! Please help!!!" (I had many 'that point' moments in my life, yet somehow this time, everything changed.)
In hindsight, I see how the hand of God had been working through my life all along ~ including saving my sorry arse from what could have been a near fatal car accident, at least once!
One way His 'voice' was speaking to me was through my yearning to meet that one special person, the perfect match for me. Since young, I sat out on Pratt Pier, overlooking Lake Michigan knowing with such profound certainty in every cell and pore of my being that 'he' was 'out there.' And, sure enough, he was ~ on the other side of Lake Michigan in Ohio! Well, actually He was all around me, but I never knew it.
|Pratt Pier in Chicago|
Dreams Come True!
For those who have asked, I’ll share again how we met, as there was no doubt God brought us together. For those who’ve heard, forgive my reiterating this story. Perhaps jump ahead a few paragraphs.
The Big Move West
In mid-February, 2010, my urgent pull to head west finally materialized. It was an arduous move that had been in the planning stages for a couple years. I packed all that I owned in the midst of a heavy snowfall, from homes and storage in two different states!
I felt like I was driving through a massive funeral for cars and trucks while driving through a particularly snowy, wet, cold winter in Iowa. Cars and semis which had slid, flipped and jack knifed littered both sides of the highway for miles. After an afternoon turned evening of white knuckling it, I made it through safely. Thankfully, once I passed through the Saint Louis arch ~ gateway to the west ~ the remaining drive was relatively easy.
After several days on the road, I arrived in Scottsdale on a warm Friday afternoon, mid-February, 2010. Thankfully, I had help for the last leg. Three of us unloaded a truck full of belongings into a little studio which I rented sight unseen. I was overwhelmed with trying to fit everything in, and over the moon about living on my own again.
Despite all my years of yearning to meet the man I knew I was supposed to meet, at this particular juncture, I was ready for some alone time. Well, that was not to be!
On Monday, just 72 hours after arriving on Arizona soil, I walked into my nutrition class, taught by a licensed acupuncturist. It couldn't have been more perfect ~ my having studied acupuncture because of my first love, nutrition. The only problem was, I believed he was married! Darn it all! While out in the middle of nowhere en route to Arizona, I had received a call from an employee of the school I was about to attend. This person seemed to know the teacher, and his wife who taught the cooking classes.
As I walked into Don’s nutrition class, I thought to myself, “Too bad he's married, he would have been the perfect match!"
One month later, right about my birthday at the end of March in 2010, my mom called me and excitedly shared her dream that "I was going to meet my Prince!" Indeed, I already had. And it was the precision timing of her dream that was so phenomenal. I had just discovered that he had been divorced for a few years already, unbeknownst to that employee whom I spoke with! Woohoo! Dreams can come true!
And one year and a few months later, we were married. Quite the fairytale start to our union! There were countless other ‘coincidences’ as well which I won’t bore you with here.
All I can say is while I certainly waited a long time ~ dreams do come true! I was 47 when we met.
However, much has changed since!
Since becoming a born again Christian, it was bugging me that we did not have a traditional Christian wedding, and that I didn’t have my uncle, a minister, marry us!
To be clear, it meant a LOT to me to have my uncle walk me down the proverbial aisle, or rather the path to the little garden area of the Scottsdale Civic Center. My father had passed away nearly ten years prior.
|Yes that’s my original wedding dress which still fit!!!|
Don and I had been attending Haku-Un-Ji Zen every Sunday morning, and monthly for longer zazenkai meditation retreats, and volunteer samu work services. Having a Buddhist wedding seemed fitting at the time. I even brought my 400 year old alabaster Buddha statue to set up on an altar at the wedding. Essentially, we believed we were having a nice spiritually enlightened, non-dogmatic, non-traditional wedding.
Yikes! I highly doubt God agreed!
|Don & I at Haku-Un-Ji around 2011|
As newly born again Christians, we are still in our infancy, or perhaps by now, toddler stage! When we are born again, it’s really like starting over!
Don and I daily read through both the Old & New Testaments, referencing several Bibles, including The Holy Bible in Modern English, an excellent translation by Ferrar Fenton who spent 50 years studying the Hebrew and Greek languages, The Amplifed Holy Bible, The Revised Standard Version Holy Bible from 1952, and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) from 1995.
The first commandment is to not have any other gods before YHWH; the second is to not make any graven images. (Exodus 20:3-4)
Little did I realize at the time we were breaking two of God's most important commandments!
Basically, idolatry is a major sin. Something for which I/we had to repent!!! And, for which I had many items to let go, including the alabaster Buddha ~ which now has a new home at Hakuun-Un-Ji.
Sadly, since our wedding in 2011, I've let go of many in attendance as well. In 2020, both of Don's parents, and my uncle passed away. There were other losses and changes which I’ll share more of in future posts.
Since being born again in 2019, the stirring in my spirit to renew our wedding vows grew stronger. We needed to get right with God! While I cherish every moment of our first ceremony, and am grateful for each person present, being married by a Buddhist monk no longer felt good nor right to me, no offense to Sokai, who has also since passed.
"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." ~ Colossians 3:14
Renewing Our Vows 7/11/2021
On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Don and I made the 2+ hour drive up to our church in Capac, MI. Our ceremony to renew our vows followed the regular Sunday service. Every Sunday at Capac, we sing the old traditional hymns, offer up prayer requests, and listen to an always inspiring and passionate sermon by Pastor Ken Kemble.
On this particular day, a spontaneous sharing of testimony to God's grace and guidance occurred towards the end of the regular Sunday service. It began with Donita, the pastor's wife, followed by another, and another, and then myself. I expressed my gratitude for God bringing Don and I together, making our paths straight, and bringing us to Pastor Kemble, his family, and the Capac Bible Church family. It is so great to feel at home!
On July 11th, 2021, ten years from our original wedding date, and two days prior to Don turning 60, we were remarried in a Christian church, while taking traditional Christian wedding vows. I felt such a presence of the Holy Spirit. I was also shaking in my gold spiked sandals, just as I was on May 7, 2011.
One of his very talented daughters played a beautiful hymn on the piano, then Pastor Kemble sanctified us under God while the rest of the Kemble family and Capac church family witnessed. We enjoyed lunch and fellowship afterwards.
I was on cloud nine, and still am! I have such peace in my heart knowing that we are right with God, following to the best of our abilities, that narrow path that leads to life. Eternal life.
Thankfully, we have a patient, loving and merciful God who sent His only begotten Son ~ our Lord and Savior and King of Kings, and our bridegroom ~ to die on the cross so that we may live, be forgiven for our sins ~ and partake of His New Covenant! It's the greatest love story of all times that so many are missing!
I’m so grateful to ALL present to witness our renewing our wedding vows!
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." ~ Genesis 2:24