A Love Story Retold: My Very Own Happily Ever After {Part 4/4}

Just tuning in?  I’m sharing Dale and my love story with you this week, in honor of the Beauty from Ashes Ceremony we are having this weekend to celebrate 2nd chances, as well as our 10th Anniversary, which is TODAY! 

  An anniversary has never held more meaning for us, as it does this year.  Today is extra extra special, because I just keep thinking, had I gone with my initial thoughts back in July, we’d be sharing custody of the kids this weekend instead of celebrating as a family!!!! Woah.
What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger! Praise God that He is able to trade beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and peace for despair!  {Get caught up here: Surviving Infidelity }

Happy 10th Anniversary to the love of my LIFE!
We’ve been given a second chance at a once in a lifetime kind of love, and I am not letting you go

I will see you this weekend,
At the end of the aisle,
I will be walking towards you with
Tears and a smile…..

I love you, Dale!

xoxo T

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  Part 4 of our Love Story, from the archives:

  I was engaged to the man of my dreams!  Now the wedding I had in my head since my childhood could take place.  Well, a budget version of that dream, but my dream wedding, none-the-less!  I had always wanted a huge foo-foo Princess wedding dress and a fancy night-time wedding in a church packed full of the people I loved most……

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By the time the invites were done, we had invited 800 people. I had chosen 7 special people to stand up with me as bridesmaids and witness our vows and Dale had done the same, choosing 7 groomsmen.

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I wanted to involve all 7 of my nanny kids, whom I loved and adored, as well as those who I babysat for for years.

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Scan_Pic0049And Dale, coming from a large family, thought it’d be nice to involve his cousins too.  In the end, we had 12 flower girls, who would head down our churches 4 side aisles that day, while handing out flowers to start the service.  Next would be 2 bell ringers down the Center aisle, followed by the Jr. attendant walking with the 2 more flower girls.  I wanted it to be a day to remember, Dale just wanted me to get down the aisle already!

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I’d like to tell you May 24th, 2002 dawned bright and sunny, but it didn’t. Well, it was bright and sunny on the inside, but outside? Terrible storms and rain.

My best friend called me in a panic that morning, worried how I was handling the weather, but my cheery “HELLLOO!” took care of any concerns she had.

This was my big day, a few thunder claps weren’t going to ruin anything!

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I had never been more thankful that God had restored my parents marriage and that I, once again, had a great relationship with my dad.  Because I had not moved out during our “rough patch” as I family, I woke up the morning of my wedding, in the bedroom of my youth.  I smiled to myself, giddy for the day to begin, and tried to capture in my mind the regular morning noises of my mom, dad and little brother making breakfast downstairs….for this was the last time that would occur.  When I left the church that night, I’d be heading to the home I would share with Dale, the one we still live in today! I was a 20-year-old young woman, ready to spread her wings and fly for the first time!

After all the hub bub of hair and make up, Dale and I met pre-service for what is now called a “First Look.”  We wanted to get photos over with ahead of time, but still have a private special moment when we first saw each other.  I don’t have the professional photos to capture it, but this is a snapshot from a friend.  Dale meet me at the end of the aisle with tears and a smile.  Before we parted ways, he grabbed me, pulled me close and whispered a prayer in my ear.  I loved that when the big moment came for me to enter the church and walk down the aisle on my Daddy’s arm, the butterflies were gone because I had seen my man. He had prayed with me and calmed my spirit. I was ready!

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The wedding was at 7 pm, and it was everything I hoped for.  The church was dark, the stage accented only by soft lights and twinkling candles.

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Our pastor gave a beautiful wedding charge, and when it was time, Dale and I  tearfully read our written vows to each other.

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Soft piano praise music played in the background the entire time, thanks to the musical talents of Dale’s friend on the Baby Grand, inviting the Spirit of the Lord there in the church with us that night.  And He was there, I could feel Him and He was smiling at us. The angels in Heaven rejoiced as they sat back and watched another ”Happily Ever After” of a Love Story written by the Author of Love Himself.

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Lest things get too serious on our big day, we tried to end on a fun note, and lighten the mood with the recessional song:

A roarin’, piano-thumping rendition of Little Richard’s “Great Balls of Fire.” It wouldn’t be complete without the part where you zip up and down the piano keys, and Dale’s friend nailed it!

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WOO-HOO!  He’s finally MINE! 🙂

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After an appetizer reception in the church gym-turned Garden, with twinkling lit trees, shrubs, gazebos and winding lit paths, Dale and I took off for our new home as a couple.  The day was everything we’d dreamed it would be and so very much more.

To end a perfect day, we sat down on a quilt in the bedroom of our new home, opened the picnic basket my mom had packed for us, and had a carpet picnic; eating all the wedding food and cake we had missed at the reception, as we greeted and hugged our guests for hours.  During this picnic, I presented Dale with my box of letters and purity ring.  As we ate, we opened them and read them from earliest to most recent.

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We laughed at the little-girl scrawl of age 13, starting with “Wuz up?” and ending with an oh-so cool “Ciao”, smiled at the grown-up words of a 17-year-old young lady, had flashbacks of a difficult time during the broken-hearted letter of age 18, full of apologies for giving her heart away to a guy named Dale, and finally, a tearful letter addressed: “My dearest Dale”, full of love and devotion from a 19-year-old woman, engaged to be married to the man of her dreams.  It was a beautiful moment, one I will not soon forget.

We were blessed to go on a week-long Honeymoon to Maui the next morning, thanks to the generosity of the amazing family I nannied for.  It was Paradise, just like they say!

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A lot has changed in 9 years, and we are not without our trials and tribulations, fights and tears. But I can tell you one thing, there is not one time I look back over our Courtship and that particularly difficult time in my life, and not see the Lord’s Fingerprints ALL over it. He guided us when we were lost, He carried us when we were too weary to stand, He lifted us up when we were broken down, and most importantly, He lovingly took us away from each other, to prepare us to one day be together again, this time FOREVER.

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When I said “I Do” I meant it, forever and ever, till death do us part.067

I leave you with 2 thoughts:

Guys, “If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you aren’t worthy.”

And girls remember this, “A girl should be so lost in God, that a guy has to get lost in Him to find her.”  You must be content in who you are alone, before you’ll ever be content in who you are with someone else.

Take these quotes to heart, hold out for your very own “The One” and GO get those books by Eric and Leslie Ludy.   They are LIFE CHANGING!

Thanks for letting me share our Love Story with you! It’s been a really fun walk down memory lane for Dale & I!

~T

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17 thoughts on “A Love Story Retold: My Very Own Happily Ever After {Part 4/4}

  1. HAPPY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY DAY!!! As much fun as it was to share this beyond-awesome love story, we are all SO blessed you were willing to share with us. :-* So much for a budget-wedding huh? ;-} A.MA.ZING!!! Everything was stunningly beautiful – and a honeymoon in Maui? PERFECT! It’s soo sweet you involved all your ‘nanny kids’….my heart is stirred and I am deeply blessed to call you Friend. May you sense God’s strong loving arms around you both as you renew your vows tomorrow. You are an inspiration and blessing to every life you touch. You are LOVED! LOVED! LOVED! Thanks for letting God shine His love through you to us. XOXO

  2. Happy, Happy Anniversary….what a wonderful celebration of love you are going to have. Thank you for sharing it with us…..praying that you will celebrate many more anniversaries together.

  3. First of all, Happy Anniversary!! Second, thanks so much for sharing your story with us all. You both are so blessed to have this second chance and I pray you never take it for granted {I don’t know how you ever could!} I will be praying for you both and thinking of you this weekend as you renew your vows to each other and to God. Now go enjoy each other and your sweet family!

  4. Tonya, I have been following your blog for about a year; I found it through a friend’s blog =) I actually just recently read your Love Story, maybe about two months ago (I even shared it with a close girlfriend who is seriously dating a christian man), and then have been reading all your most recent “Surviving…”posts. So many thoughts and emotions have swept through me as I have followed the story. (btw I have loved your blog this past year… your sunny smile and fun posts about family and kids and your recipes-yum! =)
    My heart broke with the first post! It was so shocking and sad and heartcrushing. Then the more I read of your story and your past year, I marveled at all God was doing in you! I don’t know if I could have responded that way! I am sooo glad to hear that it IS possible to do the right things and choose God’s ways (even if our first responses aren’t so pretty or nice). And to read and see how God worked in such miraculous, amazing ways in both you and Dale… He DOES care and longs for us to have beautiful, victorious, praise-worthy lives and CAN truly do miracles in all of us!!!

    I also have been thinking a lot about the question, “could this happen to MY marriage?!” Could it happen… either way: my husband or I, not being faithful?! It seems that it can happen to the most unsuspecting, the most “mature”, the ones who “have it all together and the perfect life”…… yours, isn’t the first story I’ve heard…. And truthfully, it’s pretty scary. Can this happen to ME???
    I have been asking the Lord what I can do to make sure it never does. How can I safe guard it so that I never fall so far??? So that I’m always my husband’s ‘only girl’??? We have a somewhat similar love story as yours, except that we both had saved ourselves for our spouse… and it’s a lovely story with a wonderful, although crazy n busy marriage! =) And never in a million years do I think this could or would happen to us, but I am willing to do WHATEVER it takes to make sure that it won’t from me!!!
    I felt so challenged, and as if part of those questions were answered by a comment from another reader a week or two ago, who said she has since started praying for herself AND for her husband every day, that God will keep their marriage beautiful and strong and faithful! And I want to do the same!!!

    Thank you Tonya for sharing. For following God’s promptings, and for walking so close in Him and His ways and heart! I c.a.n.n.o.t imagine it’s been easy posting each of these posts every day for the past few weeks. But thank you. ‘Cause you have been an instrument still in so many other lives… =)
    For myself, I am so encouraged to see how close you and Jesus are. I want more of a relationship like that! Much more! =) I want my marriage to have even MORE of God-centeredness!!! I feel as if my eyes have been opened to a threat to my marriage and now I can do something about it… because we all have the same threat: satan desires to destroy us no matter who we are, what our stories are, where we come from, in any way possible! What we do about that is the crossroads, huh?
    By the way, I was so happy (and encouraged) to read some of your husband’s posts and to “hear” from his heart. (and to see his brokenness and humbleness in sharing some of the whys as to how this could happen… I am so much more aware how temptation like the pornography, and even just not walking as closely to the Lord, etc can be so big, evil, and effect all of us so much, and that we truly ALL need to guard ourselves from any of these temptations, and to really be in God not just of God!) It is so good to see how he has grown and matured and come so much closer to God through this! That he had the right response, and I am soooo very happy for you that he did!
    May God bless you and your husband, your marriage and your family, and this fresh, beautiful, new beginning SO INCREDIBLY much!!! I am so overjoyed to hear about this weekend, and for another anniversary! I can’t tell you how much!!! =) Only that I am very happy for you Tonya, and will pray your ‘new’ day is absolutely radiant and God-saturated and lovely beyond dreams!!! That the next ten, twenty years are also so!!!!! 😉
    Happy Anniversary Tonya & Dale! Happy new life & marriage!
    ~Carrie~

    P.S. So sorry this is so very long. =( I have wanted to write since the beginning…. I guess I just want you to know how blessed I feel to learn so much from your story, and to even feel as if we are truly a small part of your life! Be encouraged Tonya, God is going to continue doing a good, amazing work in your own lives AND through you in the lives of so many others!!! May He richly bless you and Dale for being willing to be such humble, open vessels!!!

    • Oh WOW, Carrie! Wow, thank you for this. You have given me the boost I needed to get through a difficult day. It’s exciting but oh-so bitter sweet to be remarrying my husband again this weekend. I have such mixed emotions crashing inside of me today….joy and sorrow all in one. I am emailing you!
      Hugs, T

  5. Happy Anniversary!!! May God bless you both. Tonya, The first thing I read when I check my e-mail is your blog.

  6. you and Dale r such a blessing and i know you from here on out will be blessed with a life rich in love and in God. Thanks for telling your story

  7. Tonya and Dale. May God seal your Hearts and Souls together unto Eternity, and Abundantly Bless you’s and your family.. Much Happiness , Joy and Peace to you both… <3…

  8. Hi Tonya,
    I just got finished reading your whole series of posts on surviving infedelity and I am SOOOO excited for you and your husband today! I found your blog thru a link a friend posted on Facebook. Such a God thing because it was so the encouragement I needed that day. My world fell apart in a similar way just 4 days after yours…it was July 14 th of last year that I accidentally (or divinely) discovered my husband’s 3 year pornography addiction while fixing something on our computer. I was devastated to say the least…the years of lies tore my heart apart. As you know it has been 10 months since then and God has done a miracle in our lives as well! Jesus is an amazing healer and our marriage though still on the road to full restoration is better than it ever has been. I was so encouraged by your rawness and transparency in sharing your story. It makes me feel not so alone in all this. I pray big blessings on your special day today and will continue to contend for your marriage from one wife to another!

    • Proud of you for standing by your man, even if the hurt and betrayal might have made it seem easier to walk away. Encourage your husband to seek counsel for his addiction, just as a drug addict would need to, for porn LITERALLY affects the body chemically as a drug would. I also would encourage you to look up xxx church. It’s a great website designed to help with accountability.
      Thank you for this comment, have I mentioned I am so proud of you! More importantly, your Heavenly Father is SOO pleased at your choice. satan is a big fat jerk, he comes to kill, steal and destroy, and has managed to destroy 51% of all marriages. Guess what, he can’t have our men OR our marriages ANYMORE!
      Hugs, T

      http://www.x3pure.com/
      http://www.xxxchurch.com/

      • Thank you! Yes counseling is a MUST! I agree! We have a an amazing Christian counselor who has been walking through this with us from day 1! He has been the perfect fit for us and specializes in the area of sexual addiction and we are so thankful the Lord brought us to him. Finding the right fit for a counselor is a make or break thing I think. I have learned so much about sexual diction that I never thought I wanted to but I am so thankful for it now though. Still I know that sexual addiction is SO misunderstood, especially in the Christian community and I think that alone prevents many men and couples from seeking the help they truly need to save their lives and marriages. The battle is so real and we’re not giving up this fight! I pray our stories would bring God glory and bring healing out of pain!

I adore hearing from you, comment away! :)

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