To love and to cherish...

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May 5, 2013

Today, we celebrated our first year of marriage. I thank the Lord that I can still wake up each morning next to my precious husband even if it means I must sleep on a cot to prevent him from falling out of bed or because he shows no affection toward me. I'm thankful we can live at home together and for those that surround us with their love and prayers.

Our first year of marriage has been far from the life I dreamed of and at times a nightmare. After the chapel bells rang, I whispered to Dean that our new life together seemed like a dream. After the accident, on the hospital floors I wondered if it had only been just a dream. I am thankful for our wedding photos and video, a few voicemails, emails, poems, family and friends that remind me what life was like along with the 300  witnesses that celebrated with us. At times I'll listen to his recordings just so I can hear his sweet voice and tenderness again. I'm thankful for all the precious memories God gave me with Dean before the accident and the privilege of calling them to remembrance. I thank the Lord for His unconditional love which He displays and gives to me with each new day.

During this dark valley, I remember the sufferings Christ endured in order to redeem His creation and draw strength from His life. When you enter into the depths of God's love you'll discover His love goes yet deeper and deeper still until you find there is no end. You can only give what you have received and so one must know God's love to enjoy the true riches of love. His love carries me through even when my soul is weary. Throughout the day, my heart swells up with love for Dean that makes me cry or long to hug him and never let go. A year ago, I was royalty but now lowly. Once accepted, but now rejected. Once loved, but now hated. I am thankful my identity is in Christ Jesus and not based upon what any person says or thinks. Knowing this, my love remains for my dear husband and I'm asking God to restore our marriage. I pray he will rediscover love just as he learned to take a breath again. And that he would have the desire to become the excellent husband God created him to be. All things are possible with God and so my heart is filled with much hope!

In the morning, we listened to our wedding ceremony and sang our favorite hymns during church. Then we made the journey to the top of the mountain where he proposed and had a lovely picnic together. Our  family joined us at the Mercersburg Chapel where we renewed our vows in the garden as the bells rang in the background. Dean's brothers held him up as he repeated our vows. I miss the twinkle in his eyes and the sincere emotions that once flowed from our souls. We shared in cutting the cake and thank everyone who made the day so special. It was a beautiful day so we took a stroll around the chapel and documented the day in hopes that someday soon Dean will see and know how we celebrated. I placed the camera on a tripod, set the timer for 15 seconds and ran back to Dean to support him into a standing position. A few snapshots have been posted of the day!

Only a year ago...
My heart was bursting at the seams as I gave my vows to Dean with the understanding that we were both fully committed to God and one another. I had always hoped to share the beauty and wonders of life with my best friend while growing old in his arms and now the gift was truly mine.  If our hearts had wings we would have flown to heaven just to thank the Lord for his friendship!

The night before...
It was in a small pink room where a young girl learned to pray and patiently wait for the desires of her heart. There are moments where time seems to stand still and others where it flies by before one can open their eyes. I desired to marry my best friend and prayed the Lord would keep him during our years of youth until we became more mature in the faith. The Lord was faithful!  And after 27 years, I was so excited I could hardly close my eyes like child anticipating a field trip the next morning. Embracing this new season well into the midnight hours, I pondered the vows I was about to give while committing them to both heart and memory. I suggested writing our own vows but Dean appreciated the traditional vows first published in 1549 found in the Book of Common Prayer. They have become so precious to my heart as we live them out each day.
I Dean/Dannielle, take thee Dannielle/Dean to be my lawful wedded wife/husband, 
to have and to hold from this day forward,
For better, for worse, 
for richer, for poorer, 
in sickness and in health, 
to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live, 
According to God's holy ordinance: and therefore I give thee my vow.
It was the most joyous day of my life, as the bride of the "one whom my soul loveth" in celebration of God's design for holy matrimony. In moments like this, one knows, "Dreams come true" and I still believe they do so I keep on dreaming. More so, I believe in the Creator of Life and His power to redeem and restore His Creation. This is God's Great Love Story and He invites us to have our names inscribed upon the pages. Dean and I value that our names are written in the Mercersburg Acadmey Chapel Record Book but at a greater cost we value that our names our written in the Lamb's Book of Life. While we look not at the things which are seen, but  at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18 
Recently, during our Scripture reading I asked Dean to define "eternal" and he said, "long-lasting." While Dean was in a coma and a vegetative state I was informed by medical personnel that he may never speak again or at best have to completely relearn English from basic sounds to vocabulary. Over three months of silence passed before Dean could make the faintest sound. Before long he began to whisper and spell words often with the correct pronunciation before he could even complete the ABC's in order. Seven months later, he repeats any word you say yet still is unable to say his alphabet without missing or mixing them up.  We are working on saying words clearly and slowly to prevent his words from slurring together.
I remember writing Dean a few love notes on red paper hearts a few hours before the ceremony and saying: "I'm excited to walk by your side whatever may come."  In Dean's note he wrote: "I want you to know that, no matter what happens, I will love you forever."  Little did we know, how soon we would be tested on the vows we gave and the path it would lead to knowing the power of God's grace and mercies in a new way. In the midst of much sorrow and pain there remains yet a deeper peace which truly passes all understanding. There is a resting place that can only be found in the shadow of his wings. As the Psalmist says, "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."-Psalm 36:7

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