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! 

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!  
NOTE:  This post has been revised from the original version.  A theme I touched upon about believing God, versus believing in God seemed fitting to create a separate post, as that itself has been a fundamental change I've experienced since being born again.  I also thought I'd share a few differences between our first wedding, and our vow renewal, ten years later.

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.  We never attended church while in Arizona, so I was excited to find the right pastor and church once we moved.  Through a series of inquiries, we were referred to Pastor Kemble located in Capac, MI just over two hours north of us.  In 2020, Pastor Kembel baptized us in Lake Huron ~ another awesome day marking our new life. 

Prior to our conversion,  I had no clue about what it really meant to be obedient to God, and to believe God ~ not just believe in God.  I believed in a higher power, without an intentional allegiance to God, His ways and laws, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Being raised secular, I laughingly learned more about God's laws by watching The Ten Commandments as a child than I did anywhere else!  I had never actually read the Bible until beginning in 2019!  How can we know what God's word is if we don't read it?   I'll be writing more about this in upcoming posts. 

As stated in Hosea 4:6:  

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  

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. 

God's laws are pure, eternal, just.  They are more desirable than gold.  They are sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb.  For they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them. ~Psalm 19:9-11

As a result of studying God's laws, statues and judgements, we realized we had much to correct, beyond what we had already repented for, not the least of which was renewing our wedding vows ~ this time in a Christian church under God! 

Thankfully, our God is a patient, merciful and loving God! 

As already stated, Don and I are newly reborn again Christians.  We 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 BibleThe Revised Standard Version Holy Bible from 1952, and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) from 1995.  The Bible is truly a roadmap to a healthy, fruitful life!

The first  commandment is to not have any other gods before YHWH; the second is to not make any graven images, which is idolatry.  (Exodus 20:3-4)  

Little did we realize at the time we were breaking two of God's most important commandments!  

Yes that’s my original wedding dress which still fit!!!

Flashback:  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 (after just shy of three years back in the Midwest) finally materialized.  I packed all that I owned ~ which was dispersed in two different states ~ in the midst of a heavy snowfall.  Translated:  I had to do a lot of shoveling just to load the car!

The first leg of the drive, especially through Iowa was a bit sketchy.   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. 

Flash Forward

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. 

Since becoming a born again Christian, we've realized the error in our ways!  

For a couple years prior to moving back home to our roots in the Midwest, I had begun to unload several statues I no longer wanted to carry around.  Once learning God's laws, I knew exactly which items needed to go.  My alabaster Buddha found a new home at the Tempe Zen Center, and was incorporated into a memorial for Sokai after he had passed away.

I had also been feeling remorse for not having had my uncle, a minister, marry us, even though it meant a LOT to me to have him 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. 

Don & I at Haku-Un-Ji around 2011

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!

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.  

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. 

Our first wedding was a joyous and momentous occasion.  

Our second wedding has far surpassed it.  

The first wedding involved family and friends, and all the heightened excitement and focus planning all the details.  Lots of details, including reserving hotel rooms for out of state guests during the final busy tourist weekend in Scottsdale.  I also took on the task to cater our own wedding!  Hey, I'd done that before in Aspen, DO.  Thankfully, I had lots of help ~ my sister (who did double duty as my photographer) and friends.  

The ceremony was slightly delayed as my friend had to drive me around the parking lot for a few laps as I attempted  to calm my nerves.  Carefully, my uncle and I walked to our little outdoor area, adorned with my alabaster Buddha, lights strung in the trees, and all our guests seated on the stone curved wall-like bench.

By contrast, renewing our wedding vows involved little planning.  There was no need to get my hair and make up perfect, manicure my nails or any of that stuff that we believe is so important.  This time, we didn't invite anyone, other than those who would have been attending the regular Sunday service.  

Both weddings have provided lifelong memories.  The only thing missing from our first wedding was God!  

The wedding vow renewal ceremony was our opportunity to have our union sanctified under God.  There was no doubt of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I never felt so grounded, present and right as  I stood there, gazing at my Prince, while Pastor Kemble read the vows ~ even though I was shaking in my gold spiked shoes!  I’m so grateful to ALL present to witness our renewing our wedding vows! 

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!  

Praise God!

"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

"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." ~ Colossians 3:14

There has never been a doubt that God brought us together, and sanctified our union despite our transgressions, and lack of knowledge of His laws!

Since I was young, He instilled a yearning within me, to seek something greater than what I was witnessing.  He also put the knowing in my heart that this special person I was meant to meet was out there, somewhere.   I would sit out on Pratt Pier, overlooking Lake Michigan speaking in my mind to him, longing for the day when we would finally meet.  

Back then, someone in my life tried to tell me that my yearning for 'him' was really a yearning for God.  I believe that was true.  However, as fate would have it,  Don grew up on the other side of Lake Michigan in Ohio!  And despite our separate but parallel journeys taking us across several different states, we met in Arizona, and have now returned home to our roots ~ the Midwest, and our Christian heritage.

A happy beginning indeed!

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