Sunday, July 3, 2016

9 Years and Counting

Wow does time fly!!!

9 years ago, as the country celebrated it's Independence, Charles and I were married in a small and private ceremony at sunset to the sounds of the waves and the ocean breezes.  We had elected to marry at Wrightsville beach in  Wilmington, North Carolina. We hired an ordained minister over the internet (we were living in Louisiana at the time) who was willing to do the service for us for $250 and 30 minutes later, we were Man and Wife and a family of 4.  (Well, actually a family of 5 but we didn't know Ashleigh was going to make an appearance til about a month later).

Our Vows:

Dearest loved ones: We are gathered here in the presence of God and this company that Charles and Brenda may be united in holy matrimony. May it be with extreme thoughtfulness and reverence that you enter now into this sacred relationship. The essence of this commitment is the taking of another person in his or her entirety as loved one, companion and friend. It is therefore a decision that is not to be entered into lightly, but rather undertaken with great consideration and respect for both.

Marriage symbolizes the intimate sharing of two lives, yet this sharing must not diminish but enhance the individuality of each partner. A marriage that lasts is one that continually develops and in which each person individually develops, while growing in understanding of each other. Deep knowledge of another human being is not something that can be achieved in a short time, and real understanding of the other’s feelings can develop fully only with years of intimacy. This wonderful knowledge of another person grows out of caring for the other so much that one wants to understand as completely as possible what the other is feeling. Thus, it is possible to share, not only joys and successes, but also the burden of sorrows and failures. To be known in this way is a priceless thing; because such understanding and acceptance increases life’s joy. But again, while marriage is the intimate sharing of two lives, it can yet enhance the indifferences and individuality of each partner. We must give ourselves in love, but we must not give ourselves away.

Brenda and Charles, you could not have chosen a more sacred or more majestic place for your wedding. As humans, we have always been drawn to the seashore. This is the place where the earth, the sea, and sky meet in beauty and wonder. Here these elements are joined to remind us of the power and majesty of creation. In marriage we find the coming together not only of a man and a woman, but their families, their friends, the lives the have lived separately that are now joined as one. And just as the seashore, a place of beauty and serenity can know tumultuous times, so in marriage there will be days of great challenge, yet love has the power to so in marriage there will be days of great challenge, yet love has the power to overcome all things. So in times of difficulty, allow the power of your love to bring you back to each other even as the sea returns to the shore.

Now each of you take a handful of sand and pour it together into the common vessel representing your marriage, and repeat these words. Our love is as strong as the earth, the sea, and the sky, and shall endure as these elements endure.

I still have our Sand - Black for him - White for Me. Along with Shells we found on the beach that day.

Let us join in prayer:
Heavenly Father, whose nature is love, bless this man and this woman who make these vows before You. Grant that this be a true spiritual union, a rich and full blending of hearts, souls and purposes. Bless them each with the inner gifts of trust, compassion, forgiveness and truth, that they may live and grow together in your love and peace. We give you thanks for Brenda and Charles, and for the example of love they embody in our midst. In gratitude, we all say, amen.

Brenda and Charles, marriage is a supreme sharing of experience, an adventure in the most intimate of human relationships. It is the joyful union of two people whose friendship and mutual understanding have flowered in romance. Today you proclaim your love and commitment to the world, and we gather here with you to rejoice in the new life you now undertake together.
As you take your vows of marriage, I would remind you to treat yourselves and each other with respect and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. In this way you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives, remembering that even if you lost sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.

The union into which you are about to enter is the closest and most tender into which human beings can come. It is a union founded upon mutual respect and affection. Your paths will be parallel, your responsibilities will increase, but your joy will be multiplied if you are sincere and earnest with one another.

Please join hands and face each other:

Charles, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto her for as long as you both shall live?

Brenda, will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, and forsaking all others, keep you only unto him, for so long as you both shall live?

Charles please repeat after me:
I, Charles, take you, Brenda, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, to love and to cherish until death do us part.

I, Brenda, take you, Charles, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, to love and to cherish until death do us part.

Please place the ring on her finger and say: Brenda, I give you this ring as a pledge of the sincerity of my vows, the strength of my devotion to you, and the promise of our lives together. With this ring, I thee wed.

Please place the ring on his finger and say: Charles, I give you this ring as a pledge of the sincerity of my vows, the strength of my devotion to you, and the promise of our lives together. With this ring, I thee wed.

Let these rings be given and received as a token of your love, sincerity and fidelity to one another.

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together good and long upon the earth.

Now for as much as you, Charles, and you, Charles, have consented together in wedlock and have witnessed the same before this company and have given and pledged your love to each other through your sacred vows and declared the same by joining hands, by the authority of the laws of the State of North Carolina, it is my honor and my delight to pronounce that you are husband and wife. God bless you both.

You may kiss your bride.

Often marriage is viewed as the union of two individuals. In reality however, marriage is much broader. As we celebrate the love that brings Charles and Brenda together, so, too we recognize, the merging of families taken place and the additional love and responsibility family and friends bring to this relationship.

With the union of this new family we recognize Alyssa and Garrett and the importance of the role they play in this marriage that we celebrate today.

We recognize that you are a very special part of this family, and we pledge to you our love and commitment that you will always be a very important part of our family life. We promise that your interests and your needs will always be honored. We pledge these things with our words, even as we surround you with our love.

Family and friends, it is my pleasure to present to you, Charles and Brenda Prince as husband and wife.

After we were married, we enjoyed the multiple firework displayed that were going off all around us. 

We knew the odds were against us.  We had a 10 year age difference between us - He was 22, I was 32.  That was Strike 1.   This was my second marriage and since second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages, that would be strike 2.  We would also become a blended family which often times causes so much stress that many relationships fail - Strike 3..  But against all odds and through many hardships, we made it.. Heck even our wedding day itself was so wrought with bad luck, from flat tires, tripping on my dress and falling flat on my face, and broken vases, it's a wonderful we didn't take it as a hint that we were making a mistake but we still got through it.

It hasn't been easy.  We've had ups and downs.  We've had some serious issues that have arose during our marriage that could have broken us apart - a special needs child, a custody battle for my daughter from my first marriage, multiple moves across the country, financial struggles.  But again, we made it though.

It seems cliche to say "I married my best friend" but it is the truth.   There's not a day we don't laugh together or tell each other that we love each other.  He never fails to kiss me every time he walks out the door and we always kiss each other goodnight.

Almost 10 years later, my dress sits in a vacuum bag and his sports jacket sits in a garment bag in the back of our closet.  Alyssa's flower girl dress was a rental and was sent back that following week.  And while the bouquet and tiara were lost in our multiple moves and our wedding video destroyed by my son, here we are celebrating 9 years of memories and love and family.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband. I love you more and more each day.

And to everyone else, Happy 4th of July.

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