Lisa-Jo Wedding

In 1999 I got married twice. To the same guy. Once in the States and once in South Africa. Believe me, if you want to feel well and truly married, do it with back-to-back events four months apart.

Because when you are picking out cakes for the second time around to the same person and it’s not due to a golden wedding anniversary, you know he must really like you.

(Even when he forgets his four-month-old wedding ring in a WHOLE ‘NOTHER COUNTRY than the one where the re-run is taking place and has to borrow a substitute from the South African jeweler who made the engagement ring. And then, right as the first bars of the bridal march are playing, he realizes he managed to forget the sub as well!)

It’s been ten years since he scrambled backwards away from the entrance to our South African wedding hightailing it to our cottage to collect his borrowed ring.

Ten years since I watched his face as the speeches – a hallmark of South African receptions – hit the one hour mark and included both threats well-wishes and serenades from former beaus. (This all before dinner was served.)

Ten years since we toasted and danced ourselves silly on two continents before falling into bed, exhilarated, exhausted, and utterly married.

The locations, customs, languages and a lot of other stuff were different. But the promises we made were the same. Your people will be my people.

I had thought it would be romantic to draw on the story of Ruth, who gave up home and family and country to join with her husband’s people; I thought it a fitting metaphor for what a South African girl was doing by saying, “I do” to a green-eyed boy from Michigan.

I didn’t know the half of it.

Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16, NIV).

When I made this promise, I meant it. I just didn’t realize what it meant at the time. I was still high on the fading strains of the organ, a daintily embroidered white dress, a bouquet of blushing pink tulips, and the cowboy eyes of the boy in the tux standing across from me. I wasn’t thinking frequent flier miles, strollers lost by airlines or the impossibility of making New Year’s in Chicago when you are coming all the way from Christmas in South Africa.

But I would learn.

Like most of us who focused more on the ceremony than the life to follow, I have been learning through doing. What I promised then, I am living out now.

A decade, three continents, and two children later I am learning that marriage is a commitment of super glue proportions. And it’s the commitment that sticks even when the feelings ebb and flow. That’s the beauty and courage of marriage.

Penny-pinching so you can attend long-distance graduations, birthdays, and weddings?

Your people will be my people.

Strange accents, foods, pizza toppings, and television preferences?

Your people will be my people.

Death, divorce, and adoption.

Your people will be my people.

Supporting the Detroit Lions despite their 13 year losing streak?

Your people will be my people.

Because, after all, marriage is the ultimate parable, isn’t it? It’s the living picture of a God who looked at us in all our silly, selfish ways and then loved on us regardless, so that He could make Us. His. People. Amazing, crazy love. And all we have to say is, “I do.”

Wedding highs

**This is my beautiful new sister-in-law and smitten little brother looking on. Their wedding, 18 months ago, was the last time I was home in South Africa. I love how our heavily-laden baby stroller is in the background of their picture – the perfect juxtaposition of joy, both present and future, captured in a wedding.

by Lisa-Jo

  • Mary

    The reference to the book of Ruth is very fitting for me as well. It was used in my marriage with my English husband.

  • deb @talk at the table

    Oh what a surprise to see you here ! This was so well put. It sounds like you’ve overcome some obstacles and turned them into blessings. That’s what it’s all about really . So beautiful , and hope you have many more years of figuring it out and making it joyful.

  • Henita

    You describe my life exactly… 10 years and 4 children later, a Canadian girl married to a German. I used the same theme at our wedding day, but didn’t dream of how hard it would actually be…But praise be to God who gives his grace each new day, I love my husband more today then on my also bi-continental wedding days. Thankyou for sharing!

  • Jo@Mylestones

    Lisa-Jo, this is lovely! (And really, so fun to see you here after only “meeting” you a few posts ago.) Congratulations on 10 years, and on embracing the only way to make a marriage work– by saying “I Do” to selfless life, on the daily, and by His grace.

  • Claire

    What a lovely, lovely post!
    Congratulations on ten years!

  • Sarah Mae

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!

  • Mari Mayborn

    “What I promised then, I am living now.” As you expressed, we can’t even fathom what this will mean. But it’s living out the promise–through not only the Detroit Lions’ losing streak and worse, but also the tender moments and great adventures–that makes “being married” even sweeter than “getting married.”

  • Zee

    wow… (and i don’t think i can think of anything else right now… i am…. wow)
    thanks for sharing, Lisa-Jo!
    still hopin’ that your wonderful quartet will someday visit here, the third continent :)

  • Jessica

    What a beautiful story! Amazing, and congratulations on ten years!

  • wendylu

    Sigh, beautiful photos to accompany a truly epic love story. Thanks, LJ, aka The Gypsy Mama, for another delicious post about all things love & marriage. Great to see you here!

  • Marjie High

    I too love the story of Ruth and her committment to her husband and his people. Congratulations on 10 years and prayers for the many more to come!

  • Chatty

    Beautifully expressed

  • Emily

    So nice to run into a familiar face over here at (In)Courage! I don’t think any of us in our youth and wedding planning euphoria understand the true power of joining forces in marriage. But how it has changed my experience of life. God is wise in His designs. I am off to hug my husband.

  • Kristen

    Beautiful, Lisa-Jo. Beautiful and true.
    And what a delightful surprise to find you here. How appropriate for a Gypsy Mama to be roaming about! :-)

  • Kelsey

    Absolutely beautiful, yes yes I do, wow so beautifully written!!

  • Maureen

    So many congratulations to you on celebrating 10 years together & thank you for sharing your beautiful, courageous, (13 years supporting the Lions?!) and romantic love story!

  • Abbie

    Thanks for a glimpse into your culture-spanning/combining marriage! You know, I married a boy I grew up five miles away from and there are STILL many things we do differently and have had to learn to change perspective on! I loved hearing YOUR story – and the pic of your brother and sis-in-law!

  • jenifriend

    as someone who is getting married in 5 months, this was fantastic to read! congratulations on celebrating 10 years!!

  • Melissa

    What a beautiful story – thank you for sharing it!
    Anyone who can survive one year as a Lions fan gets hearty congrats, much less 10+ years! :)

  • Luke Rous

    Hey Big Sis,
    Very nicely written, and we’re privileged to feature in your story. Can’t wait to see some more of you on this site.
    Much love,
    Luke and Carine

  • julie

    some of the best written thoughts on marriage i’ve read in a long time. i hope this site will post a lot more of your stories!!!
    after a year and a half under my belt, this makes me all the more determined to live up to my promises as well!

  • Mimi Perreault

    Lisa Jo this is beautiful. Positive and lovely. Pure joy is seen through your eyes. Congrats on ten years together.

  • Janet

    Beautiful thoughts and excellent writing!

  • Charity

    Fabulous post! Marriage is definitely that, whether you are continent jumping or have never left the state you were born in. It is work, beautiful, rewarding work, and your post captured that perfectly. Thanks!

  • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect

    Lisa-Jo! I didn’t know you were writing for incourage!! :) Your post is a beautiful reminder of exactly what marriage should be, exactly what we should strive for. And as my husband are in the midst of some big decisions, a perfectly timed reminder for me. Thank you.

  • Megan

    Truly beautiful! Thanks for sharing your special moments. And love the photos!

  • Abigail

    Every time, thank you for your beautiful words.

  • Becky

    Beautiful and thought-provoking story – thank you for sharing.

  • Melinda

    Hi LJ, what a wonderful article. You are an inspiration for us all!!!

  • Erica

    i am marrying a south african in 4 days :) thank you for this encouraging post!

  • Kara at The Chuppies

    I knew I wanted to marry my husband…and cross-stiched out this verse…ready for whenever he asked (just so you’s the only sewing project I’ve ever completed–if that even counts as sewing)…love this.