Read Part One here
As the day of our 10th anniversary drew closer, the details of the special celebration we’d decided upon began to take shape, bit by bit.
I bought a dress.
I gathered up some prospective outfits for the Mister and our four small children.
I made a couple of appointments.
And as everything fell slowly into place, I began to feel that this day that had been capturing my dreams really might have been Spirit-led. This plan was burning inside of me and the very thought of it frequently brought tears to my eyes.
However, there was still one major component lacking, and it was pretty imperative, as far as I was concerned. Forgive me, please, if I bumble in the paragraphs to come, for I’m afraid that I don’t even have the words for this part…
As you might remember, our default photographer of all special family occasions, Benjamin Grey Photography, moved to Kentucky last year.
I was devastated, not just to see two of my favorite people on the planet leave our hometown, but also to lose some of my most dependable and enthusiastic blog cohorts. Teamwork is an important factor in creative endeavors, and I had grown so accustomed to having someone just down the street who could help me get the pictures out of my head and into reality.
Thus, when it came to hiring someone to capture our special day for us, I didn’t even know where to start. My taste runs high but my budget runs short, and homemade granola, blog exposure and maybe a Benjamin Franklin or less had always been enough to satisfy our very talented photography buddies.
Pardon me, but how was I even supposed to approach someone new with those terms about joining the Mrs. Gore’s Diary team without sounding like a beggar or a lunatic?
Especially because the “Mrs. Gore’s Diary team” isn’t even a real thing, unless, of course, you travel through the delusional and/or egotistical regions of my own brain.
To say I was stumped was an understatement.
Finally, just grasping for straws one day, I contacted a young woman on Facebook who grew up in my church.
She lives quite far from us, but she is a beyond talented wedding photographer who seemed to be in a creative network, of sorts, and I thought she might have some connections in the Tulsa area and could at least make a recommendation for us to begin a conversation with someone…anyone! I was growing less picky by the minute!
Thus – and I’m getting to the good part, I promise – you can only imagine my delight and shock when she, right off the bat, volunteered for the job.
I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t, really.
Praise the Lord for his sovereignty and kindness, she would actually be in a neighboring town on THE night of our anniversary, and the two of us proceeded with excited and giggly plans from there.
Now, I could try most vehemently not to gush about this girl’s talent and generosity, but it would be of no use.
Becky, of Champagne and Blush Photography, was on board from the very beginning of our correspondence, she caught the exhaustive vision of what I wanted this day to be, and she completely captured every single thing on camera (which I’ll be sharing with you so soon!) that I could possibly have dreamed of: the history of our wedding day ten years ago, my parent’s homeplace where I grew up and got married, our crazy-but-beautiful life with four children, and, basically, every single detail that would deeply minister to my heart as I looked back on this tangible portrait of what God has wrought in the life of a woman who, a decade ago, had no inkling of what lay ahead for her.
In other words, Becky captured the “then” of our life together and she captured the “now”, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for on the evening of our 10th anniversary, a “marrying”, if you will, of our wedding day to our present life as mother and father.
Obviously, there had been no Gideon in 2005. No Rebekah. No Betsie. No Shepherd.
The people who, for the most part, completely make up our world today were years from even being formed! It might have just been the two of us a decade ago, but today we are six, and since they are basically our best friends and constant companions, neither Mr. Gore nor myself could even begin to think of commemorating this day without our children. We are a family, and if one of us celebrates, by golly, we ALL celebrate.
And so here, finally, is the outline of our grand plan.
On the morning of our anniversary, Mr. Gore would take the boys for the day, and the girls and I would go with my mom through a full repeat of all the things that I did on my wedding day.
I and the girls would not lay eyes on the boys all day long.
I would get my hair swept up into something fancy at a salon.
I would get my make-up professionally applied.
We would drive home from Tulsa and hide in my parent’s bedroom where I hid on the day of my wedding.
And then, as afternoon turned to evening, we would exit the french doors that my daddy and I stepped through on June 11, 2005, to begin that momentous walk that changed my life in ways I never saw coming.
With my little girls beside me, I would revisit that exact path — out the little gate to the pasture, down the fenceline, through the big gate that enters the yard, and down the grass-covered aisle that was flanked by white folding chairs — but this time, rather than being met by a waiting crowd of guests, a choir, a minister, and most importantly, my fiance, it would simply be our boys, my husband and my sons, standing on the exact spot on the porch where I said “I do” to Mr. Gore and became his wife.
This was not a vow renewal, really.
It was a meditation of vows already made, a proclamation to our little family that Papa and Mama spoke sacred words of promise to each other ten years ago, words of promise that God designed for men and women to flesh out, words of promise that God alone has helped us to keep, and words of promise that we intend to fulfill, by the grace of God, till death do us part.
And, oh my goodness, what a surreal experience this turned out to be, from start to finish, and I do believe I could write up an essay comparing the mentality of brides versus that of wives and mothers.
It’s funny, the crystal earrings I had worn on my wedding day and pulled out of hiding had not changed a bit.
The yard had not changed, except, of course, for the playset my parents set up for the grandkids.
The music we played on our ipod was identical, note for note, to the music we enjoyed during our ceremony and reception.
But I, the blushing bride of yesteryear, have CHANGED, and I’m not just talking physically!
For starters, I was so very tired by the time this event arrived.
Granted, there had been a pretty important Cinderella birthday party for our daughters only six days before this anniversary celebration, but still. Where did all of that energy come from when I was a soon-to-be newlywed?! How was I able to plan an event – that included a full supper, mind you! – for 400 guests in the middle of nowhere at the age of 23, yet barely manage to pull off a simple dessert party for our six family members in that same location a mere ten years later?
There had, indeed, been a lot of shopping to do, including my dress. There were clothes to gather up and iron for all four kids and my husband. There was wedding day memorabilia to dig out of storage and transport to my mom and dad’s house. There were hair and make-up appointments to schedule, after extensive research with all of my peeps on the Mrs. Gore’s Diary team. There were photography details to discuss with Becky. There was music to purchase and download. There was a cake to order and pick up. There was an outdoor pavilion to clean and decorate.
Not to mention, of course, a thorough scrubbing of my own house, where my husband and I would stay, alone, for two nights after leaving the kids with my parents.
I kid you not, by the time our anniversary finally arrived, I was almost too pooped to party!
But, even more noticeable than the exhaustion I was feeling in my body were the surprising changes that have occurred in my attitude after ten years of being a wife and eight years of being a mother.
When I was a bride, I felt pretty much entitled to all that was being done for me. This was my wedding, after all, and while I was no bridezilla, I didn’t shrink from a sliver of the attention or the pampering that was consistently coming my way throughout my entire season of betrothal.
Therefore, it truly took me off guard, about halfway through the planning stage for this anniversary celebration, to find that I am just no longer fully comfortable with splurging on myself, an art that I formerly excelled in!
The expense of this simple celebration made me positively squirm, I tell you, especially when it came to my own dress and appointments.
“This is such a waste of money…” I thought to myself as I made the call to schedule my updo. “And for what? To only be seen by a handful of people, most of whom are under the age of 9? To just go home after we eat cake and call it a night? WHY did I decide to do this??”
Frankly, I was embarrassed. I had made all of these appointments and I had spent all this money and I had done all this work and I had hired a photographer, and it just all seemed so goofy and indulgent and unnecessary for a minute.
But then do you know what I did, and I sometimes wonder if this, too, was inspired by the Spirit?
I considered my prom nights as a junior and senior in high school, and therein found a new and confident resolve: if a girl can spend hundreds of dollars and take all sorts of pains to look amazing and special for a guy or a group of friends that she, for the most part, will only see on Facebook in the years to come, why on earth should she not do the same for her beloved and faithful husband, the person with whom she intends to spend a lifetime?
She should, by jing!
And she should do so with giddiness and gladness.
Which leads me to the biggest lesson I learned through this entire anniversary experience, a lesson I knew before, but whose resolve has been more deeply etched onto my heart than EVER before…
Marriage is worth fighting for.
It is worth our time.
It is worth our exhaustion.
It is worth our discomfort.
It is worth our money.
It is worth pampering and spoiling and getting fixed up for.
It is worth everything we can give it.
And this night of celebrating and luxuriating, though definitely out of the ordinary for Mr. and Mrs. Gore, was a cradling of our vows that I will never, ever forget…
and never, no, NEVER regret.
Thank you for joining us for this anniversary series! Stay tuned for more, tomorrow!