So the secrets out (except that it never actually was a secret); my husband Steve and I had a vow renewal. Usually people do that sort of thing after 10 or 20+ years of marriage, so why after only 5 and half years of marriage would we? Yes. I said “and a half.” Like a 5-year-old makes sure you know they are five and a HALF. Five was so 6-months-ago. Five is little kid stuff. Don’t you dare leave out that half. I fought for that half, and whether it’s half a decade or half a century I will continue to fight for that half. I’m not satisfied with a survival mode marriage, or a family business partnership, or no marriage at all. I want the real deal: a Christ centered marriage, and that requires fighting. I learned the hard way that that “fight” looks an awful lot more like a surrender. From the outside it might’ve looked like I was raising a white flag in defeat, but inside I was fully armed. I wasn’t fighting my husband, but instead I was fighting my old ways of thinking and acting. It was incredibly painful, but it was so unregrettably worth it.
In that half year there was a lot of surrendering going on. FIRST, pride was surrendered and replaced with humility. Expectations were surrendered and replaced with a (vocalized) grateful heart. Disappointment was surrendered and replaced with grace. Anger was surrendered and replaced with MORE grace . . . were you expecting me to say “forgiveness”? Normally I’d agree, but if it’s not within your capability to forgive it would have to be through God’s grace not to be angry anymore, right? Right. Grace. Dang, I should’ve been a lawyer, because that’s a good argument right there! Before getting acquainted with grace, I thought it was just a soft feminine girlie name like: Grace Ann or Grace Marie or I know of a Grace Scarlett. So precious. So sweet. Like a little girl in pigtails. But it’s not. It’s tough as NAILS. Nails pounded through my Savior’s bloody beaten body to be exact.
So with all that said, after 5 and half years of marriage and having discovered grace we wanted to celebrate. PART-aaay! I look for any reason to party. Once, I even threw an anniversary party for Sesame Street. Seriously, I’m a dork. There was a pop quiz and everything. My kids thought Elmo was the stuff! For Cinco De Mayo I usually invite friends over for burritos. I’m not Hispanic. I just like burritos. And friends, they’re good too. So to have a newly grace-filled marriage is so much more worthy of a celebration. It was actually Steve who “proposed” the idea to me. I accepted and we invited our immediate family and closest friends to this intimate ceremony. It was indeed intimate and yet I want to share some of it with you. Why in the world would I do that? Because more important than privacy Steve and I have an overwhelming desire to: #1 give God all of the glory and #2 encourage others in their marriages.
I shortened the vows during the ceremony, because I was embarrassed that it was too long.
I love you, and I am so excited to be here with you tonight. Five and half years ago we stated our marriage vows, and I can honestly say that since then it has felt like we’ve had two completely different marriages: “The Old,” and as of 9-months ago, “The New.” It’s not a coincidence that it was almost 9-months ago that together we decided to conceive a new marriage. We have given birth to 3 beautiful children, but now we are birthing a new marriage. As future new parents do we have envisioned what our new life will look like. We have gone to all of our appointments, and we have sought the Ultimate Physician, who has been faithful to grow and stretch us. As the old proverb goes “It takes a village to raise a child,” we have joined a community of supporters (everyone here). We have pushed through all the aches and pains it’s taken us to get here tonight, and now we eagerly await to embrace whatever God has in-store for our future together.
As a testament of God’s transforming power I’d like to give some examples of our Old and New marriage.
Old Steve was a good dad, but NEW Steve is an a-mazing dad!
Old Steve was passive when it came to spiritually leading his family. NEW Steve talks to his children about Jesus all throughout the week (not just at bedtime and on Sundays). On nature walks he’ll say things to the kids like, “Do you see the leaves changing colors? God made them do that!” or during thunderstorms when our kids are curled up in our bed he’ll say, “God made thunder to show us a little bit of His power. He’s so powerful, but we don’t have to be afraid because He loves us, and He will protect us.”
Old Steve was complacent when it came to disciplining the children. NEW Steve has taken authority. He lovingly explains what is expected and generously rewards the children with praise. He makes sure they know they’re loved especially when discipline is necessary.
Old Steve did not get excited about going to church. NEW Steve sets the alarm himself extra early and helps get the kids ready. New Steve can’t wait to get to church so he can worship God.
Old Steve considered reading the Bible a bore. NEW Steve eagerly dives into the Word. He enjoys seeking out new study material, AND he has even started memorizing Scripture!
Old Steve did not offer to pray for his wife (at least certainly not out loud). Now, when an issue arises, NEW Steve lovingly grabs his wife’s hands and starts to pray. He even prays over the phone!
Old Steve avoided talking about God to other people. NEW Steve looks for ways to share the Gospel with co-workers and strangers.
Old Steve was quick to anger and often raised his voice. NEW Steve attacks the problem not the person. He keeps a look out for the Devil’s schemes.
Old Steve was overwhelmed and discontent with our house. New Steve sees our house as a blessing and has been more actively involved in restoring it.
Old Steve had unrealistic expectations of what a house with 3 little ones should look like. New Steve doesn’t get angry when the kitchen floor is a Cheerio minefield. Instead, he runs a vacuum and helps pick up.
Old Steve was hesitant to give compliments. He left his wife wondering if he was still attracted to her. New Steve praises and encourages his wife so much so that she has no option but to feel beautiful and desired.
Old Steve made the comment once that he just wasn’t into cuddling anymore. New Steve is so physically affectionate to his wife that she has to fend him off with a spatula just so she can finish cooking.
Old Steve worked late hours and sometimes didn’t come home until after the kids were in bed. New Steve has negotiated with his company to let him out by dinner time or he would find another job. At dinner instead of complaining about the cooking New Steve shows gratitude for “Audrey Surprise.” He has impressively taught the children to say, “Thank you Mommy for making dinner” (even when nobody eats it).
But enough about you, lets talk about me!
Old Audrey was a sleep-deprived Mom who was resentful of never having time to herself. I vow to wrap my arms around our children and make sure they know how grateful to God we are for them. I vow to show Jesus to them in how I treat them and to encourage them to get excited about God’s goodness.
Old Audrey was never wrong and therefore, never needed to apologize. I vow to continue practicing humbling myself and asking for forgiveness (it’s a work in progress!).
Old Audrey was defensive and didn’t take criticism well. She was easily offended and took everything to heart. I vow to let you speak into my life and to take correction without immediately lashing out.
Old Audrey let you know, loud and clear, when she thought you were wrong. I vow to be a more gracious person that can look over certain downfalls, but to lovingly speak truth into your life when needed.
Old Audrey was stingy in giving compliments. I vow to be your number one fan. I want to encourage you (not pressure you) into being all that God has created you to be.
Old Audrey took her husband for granted, as if he’d always been there and always would be. I vow to cherish our time together and to thank God for the precious gift He has given to me in you.
Old Audrey looked to her husband to fulfill her every heart’s desires. I vow to look to God for my identity and ultimate fulfillment.
Old Audrey was never content with her physical appearance. I vow to take care of my body as it is a temple of the Holy Spirit and to freely share its beauty with you.
Old Audrey prayed for her husband occasionally. I vow to cover your life in prayer. I will continually pray that God would protect you physically, spiritually and mentally. I pray that God will continue to increase your faith and use you for His glory. I pray He will be strong where you are weak, and that He will give you grace to love me even when I don’t deserve it.
Old Audrey was unsure if our marriage was strong enough to stand the test of time. I vow to fight for you with all that is within me.