The arbor we had hoped for was dead and drab with sleeping rose stems. But the old wood gazebo by the rickety bridge shrouded by trees was lovely in the autumn veil.
A justice of the peace administered the vows. The years of turning my back on God were slowly coming around, but not enough to bare witness under a steeple with a real Minister of vows.
As rocky years tumbled by, the old gazebo torn down and replaced, it became a symbol of our life together....
... our love took blows, our lives traveled hardships of many kinds, but our faithfulness to each other did not fail. Like the foundation under the gazebo, it had not failed, only the structure needed to be re-worked. So, to, our ways of old were tore down and new ways were built on the foundation where we once said, "I Do".
Our faith in God grew, first me, years later came him. More children piled up in between, all raised in the Word of God as my years of running away faded and my time of running towards became enriched.
I trusted God with my marriage, with my then wayward husband. And God did not fail. HE never fails, even when we do.
Two months ago my husband and I witnessed a union of a dear old friend and a dear new one. Destitute but desperately in love and desiring to do right by God, they went to the justice of the peace; their turn to take old lives with kids already made, battles being fought, and transform into a hope in something new.
With that, we removed the worn gold from our fingers and, as witnesses, prayerfully placed them in hands in time to vow.
Yes, this is right, this is good.
Yet as the months have passed since our heartfelt sacrifice, I have wondered at how my previous life; before marriage, son from another husband, daughter created before vows exchanged, if it would haunt me as people saw me with a passel now and no ring. Will God be judged through me and my lack of outward proclamation to claiming a Christian life if I did not look a Christian wife?
I do not judge others this way. But, as a missionary and representative of God, I wondered if I should be sure my outward showed my inward.
At storage yesterday, retrieving the winter clothes, I dipped into my mother's amour, bequeathed to me when she passed. A gold circle, only ornamental, lay in the felt lined drawer. I will take it, I will wear it, it will show I am right with God.
This morning, as hubby and I talked, he reminded me that I was covering up an opportunity to witness. To share how lives were changed and a sacrifice was made because we no longer trusted a ring to symbolize our love... we only trusted God and the hearts he gave us for each other. I guiltily removed the gold.
Two hours later, the once 4 month old, now 13, drew us back to where she hid a secret gift...
... she knows love is not a thing, but she knows she loves her mom and dad. She does not know where we have been and how far we have come, but she does know what the symbol means... and it means something to her too.
I placed it on my finger and I instantly felt ashamed. For thinking I had to prove something. For assuming I had to show. For thinking I had to do something God was already working on himself. I realized in that moment that no peace of metal could mean near as much as that one she had made with her own two hands.
My finger is not bare, as I wake and celebrate 13 years. It would have been OK if it was... but God knew my heart and he put it on the heart of my daughter's to make that reflection complete.
My gratitude today, and not so miscellany, is nothing less than...
... God, who cares about what matters... even when it shouldn't!
... My husband who, even through the hard times, never took the weaker route of running away.
... My darling daughter who no longer likes lacy things but certainly loves us and makes us proud.
... My life, for each breathe as a gift to be a mother, a wife, and His child.
May God's love shine inside and out in your life this week... in a multitude of miscellany ways!
*I am counting my blessings, you can too....
My testimony of how prayer transformed my life and renewed my hope for a true Happily Ever After.