Tuesday, October 28, 2014

our renewal

Day 28 of

This is a repost I wrote on our family blog to tell about the surprise renewal my husband planned for us and just to give you a warning, this is going to be a LONG post. The next few, many, paragraphs is an attempt to do justice the amazingness that was Saturday, May 31, 2014.  I already know that my words will not be enough.  If I was a better writer maybe I could come close, but there will be no way I have the vocabulary or ability to explain what my heart felt when I crested a hill and saw a dream come to life.

It had been a difficult year to this point and if you count the time leading up to September of 2013 it adds up to a long road past. But all of these things are part of my story and as much as I don't understand at times the whys of what God does, I think about something a favorite singer/songwriter/author, Andrew Peterson, said, God is the author of my story and he knows who I will be at the end of it.  Therefore he will take me through trials and joys needed to mold me into the person I need to be when my story is done.  Such a beautiful thought when you think of the big picture.

Because of these things and because Zach wants and knows how to love me better than anyone walking this Earth, he planned the most beautiful surprise and loving earthly gift I have ever and probably will ever receive.  At the end of that day he said his one goal was for me to know how much I am loved mainly because he knows this is one of my greatest struggles.  There's a good chance I will struggle with it again, the knowing that I am truly loved, because let's face it Satan has a good idea of where to get us.  However, for now and forever I will have this day to look back on to see that I am loved by Zach, my family, my amazing friends and church community but most of all, holy and dearly loved by the One who gave all these things to me.  

The "Big" day

Saturday started normally, or at least what I thought of as normal but it was all part of a master well thought out plan.  My parents were in town to stay with us for a couple days before they drove to Virginia for their hiking vacation.  I was woken up way too early, made breakfast for the boys, and watched our normal morning shows of MLB Whip Around and Curious George.  School had just ended for us all and Rebekah, a friend who moved away last fall, was in town for the weekend so a group of girls were getting together for lunch and a nails date.  Rebekah came to get me under the ruse of wanting to spend some extra time together in the car before we met up with everyone.  Obviously that was a big fat lie but hopefully there was truth in there as well ;)

Lunch was great.  We went to a new smoothie and sandwich place and just chatted about whatever girls chat about when they finally get a chance to hang out.  We headed over to get our nails done and had an awesome time laughing and talking across the room as the six of us sat there with our feet in bubbly water.  There's a good chance we annoyed everyone else there but sometimes that just needs to happen.  Zach had told me a couple days before that he was taking me on a surprise trip for a couple days for our anniversary so I was telling them about that as well.  Looking back it's amazing how skillful these ladies are at giving up no information.

On the way to take me home Rebekah said she forgot her wallet at Grace's the day before when she cut her hair so we were going to stop by "real quick" so she could pick it up.  So after hugging everyone goodbye and hearing many "have a great trip" we headed out to go "pick up a wallet."  I was standing in the living room waiting for Grace to finish giving her a tour of whatever when Morgan comes walking in the kitchen followed by Leslie and then Lisa.  Grace and Rebekah came back in the living room and I was just staring at them trying to figure out why the heck they came back too.


I'm pretty sure the first words after we have a surprise for you was Lisa saying oh my gosh I'm so glad this is finally here it was killing me.

I was informed that I needed to not worry, the boys were fine and I was to relax because this was the kick off to our anniversary trip.  I needed to spend the afternoon with the girls, get ready and then later Zach was going to come pick me up for dinner and a 10th anniversary sunset photoshoot.

For the next threeish hours they showed me three different dresses that Zach, with their help, had picked out and had fun bossing me around while I tried on different dress, shoe and jewelry combinations.  Bless my husband's heart he had thought of pretty much everything including my entire jewelry drawer that he just took out of my dresser and put in the car.  I ended up choosing this awesome white eyelet dress from Anthropologie because it fit the best and let's face it, it was from Anthropologie and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have another opportunity to get a dress from there.  They are not cheap!

After the dress was picked, Grace did my hair and make up and she's seriously just amazingly skilled.  I loved it all.  In between the getting ready and waiting there was more fun talk, a little drinking and some crossfit games watching.  Don't all girls do that together?

I was pretty excited and nervous the entire afternoon.  Suspense pretty much is the worst thing for me so the waiting for Zach had me in a very first date butterfly mode and I had a feeling there was still something I was not being told.   Shortly before Zach got there it started thundering and pouring and I asked Leslie if she thought Zach was freaking out over the rain.  The looks that passed between them all were not ones of confidence.

Zach showed up around 5:30 and I just sat on the couch as our five chaperones demanded that he come to the door to get me.  We took a couple of cute pictures and they loaded all the stuff in that Zach had lugged over earlier back into his car.  I hugged everyone good bye...again.   and headed out with my hubs who was looking all handsome in some khakis and a white shirt while I was dressed in a white dress.  I'm pretty sure that I commented on the fact that we matched and looked a little ridiculous but that since he looked hot it was ok.

We went to dinner at Las Flores and in the midst of him being a little anxious and checking his phone literally every five seconds to look at the weather, had a fun time.  We got their super yummy house margaritas, chips and dip and split a quesadilla and talked.  I have NO CLUE what we talked about.  Like seriously I remember none of it.  My stomach was in knots trying to figure out if there was anything else going on and he just alternated in between looking at my phone and telling me I was gorgeous.  Shortly before we left an older lady came up to our table to tell my my ring was beautiful and congratulations.  HA!  We did totally look like we had just gotten married in our all white and me done up like it was prom.  We just told her thank you :)

He said he had found a cool place in Covington to take pictures and had rented a nice lens for Reilly who was going to do the photoshoot.  She is a wonderful and talented young lady who goes to church with us and helped us with our family photoshoot last fall.  She also happens to be an amazing babysitter.  We passed a car dealership and then all of a sudden he off roads it up this hill on the way to a field and I saw Reilly standing at the top.  I couldn't believe he had made a 15 year old wait in a field in the rain by herself just so we could get pictures taken.

When we got out of the car he looked at me and said that there was a little more to the surprise then I thought.  That's when I saw a person crawling behind a hay bale and I got really confused.  I wish I could remember his exact words, but they were along the line of He knows we had talked about a vow renewal at some point but didn't want to stress me out with details, so he just planned one himself.  Then we walked a few more feet up the hill and all of a sudden I saw a white arbor in the middle of a beautiful field and rows upon rows of people.  Leslie later said that I squealed which doesn't surprise me. I just started crying and walking and looking.  I kept spotting more friends who had come from in town and out of town, both of our families who had driven from Alabama, south and north Georgia, and South Carolina, and our sweet boys all dressed up in their khakis and white shirts.

The closer I got the more people I could see and randomly started waving and crying some more.  Then I heard the music that was playing and saw Mike and Lindsay, our previous worship leader and dear friends, singing one of his songs that we absolutely love called I love you still.  As I walked down the aisle with Zach and the boys I was stopped by Rebekah, Morgan, Leslie, Lisa, my mom and Zach's mom in turn to hand me daisies that became a bouquet.  At one point someone handed me a tissue which was sorely needed.

We made our way to the front and Dave began our ceremony.   It was beautifully specific to
us.  Seven of our couple friends did readings of some of our favorite verses.  Those truths have been such an integral part of my last year.

Colossians 3:12-14 (Zach & Lisa)
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

Colossians 3:15-17(Matt & Dara Lynn)
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 15:4-5, 9 (Ryan & Morgan)
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

1 John 4:7-9, 16-19 (Donovon & Grace)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 

1 John 4:16-19(Jeff & Rebekah)

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Psalm 139:1-2, 13-14, 23-24 (Brit & Lisa)
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
   Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!

Revelation 21:2-5  (Matt & Leslie)
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

After Katie and Jered sang Abide with me, one of my absolute favorite hymns, Dave gave his message which I am planning on writing up and posting separately at some point because it was encouraging and dripping with Truths that we all need to hear.  Then Zach shared with me his renewed vows...

Sarah, 10 years ago we made vows to God, and promises to each other. And time and time again, I failed those promises. And then I got lost. I lost sight of your love, and the love of God. But after all that, you love me still. You were the constant one, never wavering, never giving up. You have exemplified the love of Christ more than anyone, and for that I am eternally thankful. And now, He is making all things new in us. God brought us together, and he’s not done with us yet.

So in humble reliance on God’s grace, I promise to seek the Lord first in my life. Not you. Not anything else. I promise to build you up with compassionate acts, produced by an inner disposition that only comes from God. I will cherish you and pursue you, encourage you, and assume the best in you. I will honor you and respect your thoughts, and try to never use my elder voice. I will always be exhilarated with your love, your beauty, and your gracious heart. I will serve you humbly, fold clothes with you, and will always sweep the floors. I will desire you and none other. I promise to be committed to you, stay alongside you, and walk with you for the rest of our lives. I give you all of me, a broken man, trusting that the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

His words and humility melted my heart and I just stared with my tearful smile so thankful.  Next in the ceremony Zach gave me a new band to go with my rings.  It's gorgeous and glittery and makes the female inside me smile.  It's a beautiful white gold band with ten diamonds inlaid in it to represent our ten years together.  One of my favorite parts came next.  Since I obviously didn't know about the renewal I couldn't write any vows, but over the sound system they played the vows I said on our original wedding day.  It was such a sweet moment listening to the voice of my pastor growing up and the voice of a little 22 year old girl I barely recognized.  

We prayed together while Lindsay sang my hands down favorite song of Mike's.  Psalm 27  

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; 
Of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against my life,
When my enemies and foes attack my soul,
Though an army raise against me,
Though a war rage within me,
Even then will I be confident in Him.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
This is what I seek, This is what I need;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord,
All of the days of my life.

To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
And to see him in the place his glory dwells;
For in the day of trouble, I am safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his arms.

To end, Zach and I went to the middle of the aisle while everyone surrounded us and prayed.  My dad, Zach's dad, Ames, Matt Rieger, Matt Cardoza and Dave all prayed aloud for us.  Then standing in a field surrounded by people we love, we shared our first renewed kiss. 

Dave ended with the benediction that Zach's dad always uses.

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.

I thought that was the end but as soon as I asked if I got to talk to everyone now they told me that there was a party at the Rieger's house that we all got to go to.  Of course I couldn't wait to give out hugs and talk so we did a little of that before we finally got around to that sunset anniversary photoshoot.  

The rest of the evening is somewhat of a blur.  Dara Lynn, Kayla and their husbands did an amazing job decorating her house.  There were flowers, tiki torches, white lights and delicious desserts.  There were laughs and smiles, sharing of secret plans, more hugs, pictures and just an overwhelming sense of joy and peace.  

I will never remember all the details of this day, but I will never forget the feeling it brought.  There was nothing I would have changed about the day from the location to the people to the music to the decorations.  It was literally a dream come true and there are not enough thanks in the world for not only the people who worked to make it happen but also the ones who just came to be a part of it all.  

To Zach, Dave, Leslie (and Matt), Lisa, Grace, Morgan (and Ryan), Rebekah(and Jeff), Kayla, Dara, Matt, Alex, Ames, Donovon, Brit and Lisa, Mike, Lindsay, Adam (the manager of the field), Mary, Magda, Gina and Bailey (for the yummy desserts), Reilly (photographer) and Eric, my parents (for helping with the boys), Jered (video) and Katie, and our family and friends for knowing and not giving up the secret.  I hope that I can one day do something just brings you just a little bit of the joy that you all brought me!


  1. wow! what a blessings and inspiration to us all! love this post. Thank you for sharing!

  2. My goodness what a WONDERFUL surprise! So glad that you have this blog post to relive your amazing day whenever you need to!

  3. Amazing day! I love the photos! And you are a very skilled writer. I could visualise every detail. Just lovely.

  4. Wow! That is awesome. First of all good call on the Anthropology dress. Secondly, kudos to your man. That took a lot of effort. AMAZING! Lastly, are you my long lost sister? ;) We renewed our vows for our 10 year anniversary and your ceremony reminded me so much of ours. Here is a little video collage I made. http://www.messymom.com/2010/11/anniversary-movie.html

    1. Oh my goodness we are two peas for sure. That was a little crazy. Beautiful dress! The last picture of just the two of you reminded me of the (almost) end of pride and prejudice. Love a good sun flare!

  5. Holy moly what a story! And the pictures have just captured so many beautiful moments. Thanks for sharing!