Just tuning in? Please start at the Original post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.
Written October 2011
Our counselors told us months ago, in a word from the Lord, that when it was time for a renewal of our vows, and trading old rings for new, I would be hungry for it. At the time I sorta scoffed at it like, “Hungry for it? Whatever, it’ll be all I can do to SURVIVE this!”
Well, the Lord is taking me to that place this week: I crave the renewal of our vows, the new covenant with Christ, like a starving person. I know God is preparing us for this, and unless He says differently, we’d like to do this the weekend of our 10th anniversary, which is May 24th. He also has spoken to us that the time to share this story is coming……sooner than we thought, as I had a mom call me this week with stories of 2 more marriages torn apart in my circle of friends through infidelity. That hit really close to home for me, and I know for such a time as this.
I am so nervous about putting it out there, yet have peace that I can trust it will all be used for HIS glory.
The Lord spoke to my fearful heart this weekend, as I tearfully sent Dale to the very Men’s Encounter that shattered my world. He showed me, that the last encounter was to get the ugly out, to empty the broken vessel. This one? To fill the restored vessel up again! PTL!
Dale called me from Men’s Encounter weeping, saying that I mean the world to him, and that God was making him the man who I’ve deserved from the start. That he can’t wait to come home and share with me what the Lord was doing in his heart, as he found his TRUE worth in Christ Jesus. I am so thankful for the continued changes I see in Dale, as the Lord molds and shapes him into the man He has wanted him to be all along.
Written January 2012
We are starting to work more fervently on the Vow Renewal Ceremony, how exciting! I found “The Dress”……
(the pockets were my favorite part!)
My little stud muffins will be wearing these from The Baxter Boy, for both Easter and the renewal.
The girls will wear their Christmas dresses from a few years ago. Thank the Lord they still fit, because they go perfectly!
I bawled the day I heard this song by Francesca Battistelli. I knew, I KNEW, it was “THE ONE”. This is the song I will walk down the aisle to, this is the song that speaks the truth of what we have been through….”Love’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”
Dale and I have been working on our vows to each other, our hopes and desires for our special day. It’s all so bitter-sweet.
I had a well-meaning friend say, “Wow, it must be nice to get to plan a wedding all over again.” I swallowed my tears, along with the lump in my throat, and reminded her that this opportunity for a second ceremony came at a VERY high price. That, I would trade it all in a heartbeat for my husbands faithfulness many years ago, but I cannot live in The Land of If Only’s or I will drive myself mad. Instead, I chose to live in the here and now, moving forward as best I know how, to rebuild my marriage with the man my soul loves.
I LONG to hear him speak those vows to me, I LONG for a standing Covenant before Christ, a new ring of faithfully forever promises on my left hand, a circle unbroken. I have missed my wedding band on my finger all these months, and I am ready to say “I Do”, again, this time to a barn full of witnesses.
Yes, I said barn.
We are renewing our vows in a GORGEOUS horse barn, with wide open-beam rafters and 3 large sets barn doors to throw open and let the natural light shine in.
I’d love to have my wedding dress on display, as well as our wedding photo.
I am hoping to use Sunflowers (my favorite!) on the food table, as well as vintage fabric banners to make the barn fun and festive.
I am thinking Ball jars with strips of lace around the rim, old barn gates with painted signs to lead people to the location of our renewal, a big glass pitcher of fresh farm milk to go with cookies and sweets.
Thankfully, I have everything I want to decorate with in my home already! And the wonderful people that are allowing us to use their barn, are providing the seating as well. This has to be affordable and still accomplish what we have set out to achieve that day:
Celebrating God’s faithfulness in making Beauty from Ashes!
My friend Whitney, of Whitney Hamilton Photography, will be our photographer. She is the one that took the photo for our Invitations, which we emailed out.
I have a feeling this ceremony will be a really big turning point in our path to healing!!!!! Praise God!
Written Monday, January 23, 2012
Today I completed a chapter, closed a book and put it away for good, then I wept bitter, bitter tears at what had been lost.
Today, 1/23/12, Dale and I went to the ring store, and turned in our two wedding bands in exchange for Dale’s new band. For nearly 10 years those bands have resided on our fingers, but for the past 6 months, those same bands have caused me nothing but sadness. Sadness for what was lost that day of betrayal, anger that Dale’s ring stopped nothing it should have stopped from occurring.
I haven’t worn my band since July, so I didn’t think I’d be sad to see it go today, but as I tried it one last time, remembering how happy I was the day Dale slid it on my finger and promised me his faithfully forever promises, tears began to well up in my eyes, blurring the ring from my sight. Dale could hardly hold the tears in, as he too, experienced the stabbing pain of what had been lost. He told me later, with tears running down his face, that it took everything he had not to have to excuse himself from that ring store to pull it together.
We drove home in silence, tightly holding hands, weeping bitter tears, as we both quietly processed what had just occurred. Both of us shocked that the rings were gone I think, as it happened all in a few moments time, just as we prepared to leave the ring shop.
The owner said:
“Here take the new ring in exchange for the old, you have paid for it with your trade.”
We wanted to wait for Dale to wear his ring in May at the Renewal ceremony, but also knew him not wearing a ring for the next few months was not an option either. So this evening, as we put it on his finger, we prayed over it, asking God’s blessing on the new vows and covenant to come. We cried again, over the rings we left behind today and the lost dreams of 2 young kids in love.
Dale’s new ring is called Tungsten, it is un-scratchable, even if you take a metal file to it. This has great significance to us, as we start anew:
Fresh, with no scratches or blemishes.
This one stays shiny all its days, this one has will never tarnish or get nicks….
New ring, new promise, new start.
Dale is a new creation in Christ, the old has passed away…..he is like this ring, unblemished in the eyes of Christ forever more.
But we also have peace, the kind that comes from taking another step in the right direction on the road to healing, one weary step at a time.
Next Weekend, along with our 10th Anniversary, we will celebrate a new covenant with Christ. We will re-commit our lives to each other and exchange new bands and new promises of faithfully forever. We will re-sign our Marriage Covenant, and it will once again hang proudly in our home.
(This is a page from our wedding book, but it shows a photo of the signed covenant, as well as gives explanation for the meaning of it all.)It hurt me to take that Covenant down last summer, but I could no longer stand to look at it and see such a bold reminder of all that was lost. Someday soon, I plan on hanging the Covenant and our original wedding photo back up, as well as a picture of us from the ceremony this weekend.
And I can’t forget these:
A reminder of the Cross I nailed my un-forgiveness to at Women’s Encounter this past fall, but most importantly, a reminder of the ultimate Healer, the Ultimate Giver of Forgiveness…Jesus Christ our Lord, who died on the cross for all sins. ALL of them.
To Him be ALL the glory, for it is HE alone who can make Beauty from a pile of ugly Ashes…….
Thank you SO much for sharing these beautiful and meaningful details of an upcoming blessed event. I know I’m not alone in longing deeply to be able to be there to witness this special ceremony, but know I will be with you in spirit. LOVE your dress and the kid’s clothes too. The signs…the rings…the material…the nails. What a mighty God we serve. Unto Him be honor & glory! He has done great things!!!
I am so excited for you and Dale! It will be so good for you to renew your vows to each other.That was such a well written post. The song… Oh my.I LOVE it! It sure made me cry too. I am sure there will not be a dry eye in the “barn” when you walk down to that!:) I am sure it is going to be a BEAUTIFUL day for you. Starting your “new” life out together with the Lord.I wish that I could be there to share in your joy. You will be in my heart and are always in my prayers. Thanks for a good cry this morning. But they were tears of joy with you,not sadness.:) Hugs and love are being sent your way,Kristina
Tonya and Dale,
Your story is such a beautiful one. I feel so privileged that you’ve allowed myself and the rest of your readers to follow along and watch it unfold. You’ve each brought me to tears with every one of your posts, your honesty and vulnerability so refreshing in a world where most people choose to hide the ugly and painful sides of their lives where no one can see them. I know you are helping so many by sharing your story, including myself! My marriage has not been through what yours has, but it has certainly opened my eyes to the seriousness of the temptations that are waiting for our husbands. You’ve encouraged me to start taking it more seriously, praying for my husband every single day, with every bit of strength and love that I have for him. We’ve also opened the doors again to sharing quiet times together and regular communication–making Jesus the center of our home, our marriage, and our family. We’ve been struggling to do so until now. So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for allowing God to use your story in powerful ways!! Blessings to you and your beautiful family!!!
Reading through your journey has been so difficult, and yet at the same time I also saw through your words that God was doing a mighty work in your lives. As I read the post for today, I felt such excitement that God has brought you to this place this weekend, for a time of celebration and renewal. To God be the glory! Praying for a most wonderful weekend for you!
I’m so excited about your vow renewal ceremony. I’m praying that God will keep just pouring out his forgiveness, grace, and joy on you, and show through your marriage what it means that he MAKES ALL THINGS NEW. =)
Tonya and Dale…..your words are so beautiful today and the work the Lord is doing in your lives is even more beautiful. Whether you have been married 10 years or 40 years likes we have, there are always temptations and pitfalls….Praise God that He is the same yesterday, today and forever….what a time of celebrations your vow renewal will be. Many will be there with you in spirit.
tonya! i sewed many MANY yards of fabric bunting (out of many different awesome vintage style fabrics) for kate’s wedding last june! i know my mom still has it all at her house! i’ve been looking for another bride to pass it along to, so ask kate to send it to you!
I’m so excited to see you guys renewing vows! What a mess this has been but praise God for restoration!! We are continuing to pray for you guys and so many other wonderful people in our life. God bless.
Thank you for sharing your story to the www. I love seeing God’s work thru you and your family. I’m happy for the both of you and may your renewal day be just as special as your wedding day.
Tonya, you just had me in tears all over again today. I remember when you got married! Does that make me sound like an old lady?? Lol. I would have just turned 15 the month before and I still remember. At that time I was all over the idea of love and marriage and how wonderful it all seemed. I wanted to go to your wedding and I can’t remember now why I didn’t go. I know my Dad did your music my parents came home and talked about how there wasn’t a dry eye there.
I can’t even LOOK at your renewal plans without crying, I can only imagine what the renewal will be like!! What a TRUE celebration it will be!!
Just breathing in…and out. And in and out. I rarely have words that seem to do my heart any justice after reading your posts, but today I’m just soaking in the beauty of HIM in all the details. Because He is a God of stunningly small, and incredibly big, details. Hmmm. The richness of this season of your lives, and the beauty it leaks over into those around you – on the tangible scale and that of the cyber world – leaves me awestruck.
I don’t know you’s personally, but thank you for sharing all the excitement of the up coming renewal of your Vows to each other. Your story of pain and forgiveness reminds me that God works all things for our GOOD, to those who Love HIM.. Also that our tears and sorrows HE turns into JOY !!!….. May God continue to Bless your union … <3…
What a amazing post, it brought tears to my eyes. I am looking forward to joining you to witness something that I KNOW will be amazing. Thank you for sharing this past story, as your Genesis says so perfectly, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Many lives have been touched by you and Dale sharing your story, probable more than you will ever know.
The part about the rings was especially hard for me to read. My husband switched jobs last year and his new job requires that no jewelry can be worn while at work. My husbands wedding band has been sitting in his truck for the past 2 months, has not been moved. Just thinking about this makes me cry, as to me they are more than just a piece of metal.
Thank you, and see you next weekend.
The two of you are being examples of all the things I have learned so far in the Bible. AMEN!
T – I’m SO excited for you to have the chance to renew your vows and finish starting fresh. I’m so inspired by your courage and faith throughout what I can only imagine to be the most gut-wrenching challenge and hardship of your life. Thank you for sharing your ever-strong faith and devotion to the Savior! He’s the light and life of the world, and I love that through all of this, you’ve kept his light before you.
Sending you all my best!
Did you just so happen to choose a horse barn? Or was it planned based on what your friend emailed you about his dream? That instantly popped in my head as I read horse barn.. how perfectly fitting!
Total God thing! Still gives me chills….