I was in my wedding gown, veil in place, bouquet in hand, just minutes from my walk down the aisle when Mother entered my dressing room. Her words hit my heart like an arrow shot at a target. She named me a prostitute and not welcome to return to her home with the illegitimate child I carried within when my marriage failed, which she announced was certain to happen.

sealed with an embrace

I was grateful I had chosen a veil for over my face so I could conceal the tears and gain composure as I walked the church aisle.

Our ceremony was finalized with these words, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder, and followed by “You may now kiss your bride.” We were invited to seal our vows with a kiss and a sweet embrace.

As I think back on that day my mind goes to the words in Genesis 2:28:

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

And leave and cleave we have – for 50 years!

My marriage vows tell of our journey through those years to mountain tops and into deep valleys.

I take thee to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse.

I once was told I have the greatest opportunity to both bless my husband but also bring him harm. That has played out in our journey together. Dane has seen my worst. He has also encouraged my better. He has invited me to dream and to believe in possibilities. I have purposed to do the same for him.

For richer, for poorer.

Dane has supported my sometimes risky adventures and brought to life my wild ideas with his great gifting to build and create what I see in my mind. He had faith in me when I said I could create a business of hand crafting cloth dolls to make car payments. He believed, and I made every payment.

I have walked beside Dane through a number of job changes and many moves. We have packed up our belongings and journeyed to a new home 14 different times so far. We’ve named our moves our “Abraham/Sarah Adventure.” It seems fitting that we presently live on top of a mountain called Mt. Moriah.

In sickness and in health.

He has stood beside me in my days full of joy and in my darkest nights full of fear and uncertainty. We have both cared for the other through major replacement and repair surgeries.

To love and to cherish till death do us part.

We were young when we married. We knew little about love or cherishing. We’ve learned along the way. It’s not all been sunshine days or starry lit nights.

We came together committed to breaking the generational cycles of abuse in our families.

Evil has been quite aware of our determination to create something different for our family. We have not gone without attack from the enemy which has at times become a battle against one another. We continue to learn how to love well even in disagreement and to be certain of who our true enemy is. Our marriage has been challenged severely at times. We have a story we tell together of what we call “The Earthquake” when our marriage came precariously close to ending.

We left and cleaved, held strong through richness and being poor, which has often had little to do with our checking or savings accounts, through sickness and in health, through the best and through the worst of both of us. My mother’s prophecy did not come true. It’s been our commitment to make sure it didn’t.

sealed with an embrace family

Our commitment has been to ourselves and to our children and grandchildren. The photo here speaks volumes to us. Through us God brought five children who married and have added 20 grandchildren to our family. We feel blessed for the legacy created and sustained.

I love this photo but there are three boys missing. Two of the boys we won’t see until we cross Over when our journey here is done. One little boy wasn’t born yet when this photo was taken.

In celebration of our fifty years together our children are planning an Avery camping trip. They have great memories of our time camping together when they were young. I look forward to all the fun and festivities planned and have a request. A family photo that includes our littlest grandson and shows how our legacy and bonds continue to grow.

We hold onto and embrace the last few words of our vows spoken 50 years ago.

“to love and to cherish till death do us part.”


valerie avery Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 46 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope.  You can read more here.
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