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Archive for May, 2013

Last fall my sweet husband asked me to marry him again…on one knee at the end of church in front of the whole congregation. I didn’t realize then that he intended for us to have a celebration and renew our wedding vows, but this (pictured below) is exactly what he had in mind when he picked out my new ring and made me blush greatly that Sunday.

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We were young and I was pregnant with our first child when we married that beautiful morning on May 7th, 1988. Freddo and I had both been raised in church, but sadly we thought nothing of rebelling against God at that time.

I used to be so ashamed of our sin, but through the years, I have learned that God wastes nothing, and can use even our bad choices and their consequences, to change us into who He desires us to be. I have also learned that most people in life are not looking for others that have done life perfectly, but instead for friends that are transparent enough to be honest about their own sin. Not so they can excuse their sin, but so that they can see that God is faithful to forgive when we ask and love us anyway. God has given me the courage to be real with others, to take off the mask and live life in a transparent way that is encouraging to others and hopefully helps point them to Christ.

Freddo and I knew nothing about marriage or parenting when we embarked on this journey back in 1988, but God (I love that phrase “But God”)…He knew all and has taught us so much and has allowed us to share our story with so many others. God didn’t approve of our sin, but He turned our messed up lives into a story He could use to bring glory to Himself. The choices we both made even in the years before we met each other, muddied the water of marriage for us even more, but God has helped us move beyond all of that and live our lives now in ways that glorify Him despite our sinful past. One thing we agreed on at the very beginning of our plans to marry was this, “No matter what would come into our lives, we would never discuss divorce”. I know we didn’t realize then how life would test that deep level of commitment, but God has been ever so faithful to help us stand strong against Satan, who is out to destroy families.

That was then…wedding photo

This is now…

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We have had really great times in our marriage. There have also been times when we were just trying to stay afloat, even times when we wondered if we were even going to make it. It seems that no matter which season of life we found ourselves, in the back of our mind was buried that conversation we had in Freddo’s truck in the driveway of his parent’s house late one night… that no matter what happened, divorce would never be an option.

I say this so that everyone reading this blog about our 25th anniversary would understand that these years have not all been rosy. We have had times that we have taken each other for granted and even neglected one another. I would have to say that those times were the most dangerous for us, and they are the most dangerous times for any marriage. We have been listening to Andy Stanley’s series on marriage, and he said that in this day and age it’s never been easier to “fall in love” and never been harder to “stay in love”. So please let this post serve as a reminder to all of you to do the hard work of staying in love, we have found it to be worth it all.

For our marriage to stand the test of time both Freddo and I have had to give more than we’ve taken, forgive, forgive, forgive and forgive again, love God more than each other, and both of us have had to be willing to fight for our marriage. We have had to take time to study each other, pray, pray, pray and trust God at all times, especially during the darkest of seasons. We have done so much wrong, but God (there’s that phrase again) has been so faithful, and only by his grace have we made it to this point.

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This spring when Freddo told me that he desired for us to have an actual ceremony where we could renew our vows to each other, I really struggled…what about the money this would cost, what if people thought we were just showing off or they thought this was a dumb thing to do, what if no one comes, my list of worries went on. The more we talked and prayed, the more I came to realize, as Freddo already had, that staying married for 25 years these days is a HUGE deal, and it is something to be celebrated no matter what anyone else might think or what might go wrong. So we forged ahead and really enjoyed planning this celebration. In hind sight, after talking with people that attended and helped in some way, I was quite encouraged at the different ways God used our “silly little ceremony” to serve as an encouragement to others…in ways we had never even expected.

Freddo chose the date and scheduled the church before he even told me of his plans.

Interestingly he did not have any idea that May 4th was the day that my grandparents were married. Recently my aunt gave me a necklace that my grandfather had made for my grandma that had May 4th, 1939 engraved on it. In their honor I incorporated that necklace in my bouquet.

So we began to make plans to have a simple (cost effective and not too labor intensive) and romantic event so our friends and family could attend to celebrate with us. We did some research about how to do a vow renewal vs. a wedding. There was not much to be found on this topic, so I wanted to share our experience so perhaps others might be able to learn from what we did that worked well and what we wish we had done differently for their own celebration.

I had some great friends and family help pull this off. I wish I had a picture like this of each one of them with me!

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I am so blessed with such thoughtful friends, many that were there that day, and many that couldn’t be there! But here are some shots of some of them helping get things ready. We had so much fun decorating Friday night…we even tried out one of the plain cheesecakes….yum!

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20130503_201727Robin, Blane’s girlfriend, and her friend Elizabeth were a great help when we were decorating on Friday night.

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We used mason jars, mosaic beads, water, candles, pictures of us (that I had made to hang on our wall last year, click here for directions), scrapbook paper, our Blessings Unlimited plates, bottles and blue mason jars that my dad had collected many years ago, white tablecloths our church had, burlap, ribbon and pedestal cake stands. IMG_5175  IMG_5172 - Copy

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We displayed our wedding album and an album I had made for Freddo a few years ago, that was filled with the things about him that I love.

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My mom made my dress, which turned out beautifully, I might say! And one of the things I knew early on was that I wanted to wear a pair of shoes from Toms’ Wedding collection. Yes, I even had Erika take a shot of my happy feet!

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Robin really caught me off guard when she came up the stairs and saw me in my dress for the first time. Her excitement was such a joy to my heart.IMG_5217

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My friend, Erika let me wear her diamond tennis bracelet that her husband had purchased for her. It was such a sweet gesture and was a beautiful finish to my outfit.IMG_5222

Freddo contacted Gary Thomas, who married us 25 years ago. Gratefully he was more than willing to do our ceremony.

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It was great to see him again and listen to him challenge us and others in our marriages…even if he made a bad joke about God taking the rib out of Adam to make the first loud speaker. Here you can see my initial reaction to the joke, and then we actually really laughed. He always has been this ornery, so glad to see that some things never change.

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In keeping with some traditions of our wedding, we exchanged rings. In the Bible silver symbolizes the price of redemption. Since we are so grateful for God’s redemption in our lives and regarding our marriage, Freddo and I selected silver rings with this significance in mind.

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We had some great friends take pictures of our day. They captured so many great shots, including a video of us saying our vows we had written to each other. What a wonderful treasure to us now.IMG_5300

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After much searching and some prayer we decided on two songs. Our friends sang a song that we had at our wedding, “Household of Faith”.  Sweetly, they sang this song to each other at their own wedding.

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A special man in our life sang “I Will Be Here”.  In this day and age, Freddo and I chose the second song, because of our commitment to weather any storm that may come.

Freddo talked about the passing of my dad during that song…one of the worst storms we have endured so far, thusly the tears here. Both songs were a blessing to us and to those that attended.IMG_5337

For the reception opted out of wedding cake, and chose cheesecakes instead. This was a very cost effective way to feed everyone. My friend, Dena Cox, made 7 different types of cheesecakes: pumpkin, oreo, chocolate chip, chocolate malt, pistachio, orange/pineapple, and plain. She made these in one evening…one very long evening. They turned out great. The Oreo cookie was the most popular, but there were compliments on every flavor we had. I’m glad she suggested we make cheese cakes when we were talking through what type of dessert to have.

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Another friend, Chris Nelson made her own recipe of Raspberry Lemonade with frozen blackberries floating. It was delicious!

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My mom and mother-in-law provided some finger foods, we had cucumber sandwiches, Mexican roll ups, cheese, deer sausage and cackers, cucumbers and dip. And these hands made it all beautiful on the serving tables. IMG_0003

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In the hardest season of our marriage Freddo and I wrote notes to each other every day and continued in the years following. Gratefully we kept them. These notes journaled a bit of our journey and testified of how God brought us through, loving each other in a deeper way. For this reason it was important to use them at our reception. My friends worked really hard to find a good way to incorporate them into the decorations.

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It was such a fun day, seeing people that were there at our wedding in 1988 and friends that we have made since then. Frankly, it was so hard to limit the number of people we invited, but we just had to. There were so many more that we would have loved to invite.anniversary pics 112

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anniversary pics 115There were some things we wish we hadn’t forgotten or done differently, so in an effort to help others that might desire to plan something, I list them below:

Sadly we didn’t even think about a guest book, but my mom took the time to write everyone down that she remembered.

Additionally it would have been better to make sure we had certain photos taken, but we just didn’t think about this ahead of time.

It would have been great if I had checked to see if the candles we bought would work AFTER they were lit. Honestly, everything happened so fast, it really didn’t matter, but the candles only stayed lit for about 5-10 minutes before water seeped over the edge and went out.

Although my great friends did amazing stepping in and making this work, I should have asked them ahead of time to plan the lunch for those of us that were there before the ceremony instead of attempting to do it.

In addition, it would have been great if we had more time to take pictures of us before the ceremony, we just didn’t plan this very well. However, we still ended up with some wonderful shots!

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Freddo and I had talked about taking some time to share with everyone at the reception some memories from our wedding day and introduce the maid of honor and best man and some lessons we have learned in our years together, but the time so quickly slipped past and there were so many people we wanted to visit with that we missed this opportunity. We did get a picture of our Best Man and Maid of Honor.

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Even though we have these minor regrets, the day turned out beautifully and we had a great time!

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