A few weeks ago I had a reader ask me how James and I worked out having difference religious views within our marriage.  So I thought I would share a bit on it.  This is not going to be a post about a religious debate or anything like that, so please don't criticize us in the comments.  (I hate that I even have to write that, but people love to give their offensive opinions when it comes to things like this). This is a more personal post, on a subject few like to talk about.  But the way the question was brought to me, I thought it might help others out there who are in a relationship where you don't agree on this subject, b/c they say that this is one subject you MUST agree on before getting married or having kids...
 (this pic above was from the other night when we went to see The Atartis play)

James is a christian, but he believes its something that is very personal, and holds it close in his heart.  He doesn't believe you have to attend church to feel the presence of God.  He has a very simple, personal and long lasting relationship with his faith, and its a beautiful thing.  For me, I have tried several times in my life to feel a connection with this way of believing, and have always walked away feeling unsettled, and not peaceful in my own heart.  But have always known there is a higher spirit among us, and a deeper connection within my own soul to be found.  And the way I hear this and feel this is through nature.  I don't have a label to put on what I believe, and that is okay with me.  I don't have a need to feel like I belong to any certain group or way of thinking.  My journey with the spirit world is something that will continue to grow, expand, evolve in cycles for the rest of my life.  I try to keep my heart open for a deeper understanding each day.  

For James and I, we both believe that this is a personal choice, and will still feel this way when we have children.  We don't feel the need to push our own personal beliefs on each other, or on anyone else.  He has never told me that I needed to become a christian, and I have never told him anything likewise.  We just have a level of respect for each other, and choose not to allow religion or spirituality to become a war within our walls, which is sadly what so many people have let happen in this world.  

For our wedding, we wrote our own vows, with a little help from our officiant, who was a family friend.  We gave him a list of all of the important things we wanted stated in our ceremony, and he did the rest.  It was so beautifully written, I thought I would share it here.  It also encompasses our ideas of love and acceptance of each other through our personal changes.  We have had many hard times and struggles within our marriage, so being able to come back to these words every now and then is a wonderful reminder.

I have been asked if I have written our story anywhere, and I have here on the blog a few years back!  It was a four part post, you can see it here.  1 // 2 // 3 // 4.  There are even pics from our wedding there.

(there pics are all from our first year together... yep, I had blonde hair!)

our ceremony and vows... we got married at my parents house, after many laboring hours of creating a beautiful sacred garden area just for it...

"Today you stand in this oasis of beauty alive with the spirit of nature, and are surrounded by the presence of your dearest friends and family who are here to witness and participate in your marriage, as well as by the thoughts of those who cannot be here and would have greatly loved to share this experience with you.  You have chosen this place to be married at because you both have a deep connection with family and nature.  You both, as well as many others, have worked very hard since the engagement to make this spot a sacred place for your wedding.  Now forever, you will be able to feel the amount of love that was put here for you, and in return you have given Linda & Tim a beautiful addition to there home for years to come.

You have chosen to have this ceremony as a way to publicly declare and enact your union with each other.  You have expressed the wish to acknowledge, articulate, and share what you are experiencing together with everyone here, as they are all people with whom you also share love.  This is a time when you can create a magical and unforgettable celebration of your love, and re-affirm your purpose and intent to yourselves and each other as you bring forth the images and promises that will guide you in your commitment.

The basis for this commitment that you have made and are continuing is not only love, but friendship, freedom, open-hearted communion and expression, the shared heart, and compatible values and lifestyle.  In your union you can continue to be playful as companions and friends as you expand your knowledge of the meaning of relationship.  Your marriage can enable and support spiritual growth and discovery for both of you, and expand your capacity for love, intimacy, and joy.

You gave me a beautiful and inspiring list of the intentions you would like to fulfill in your marriage.  Recall these words and take them in as affirmations for the future:  to unfold the adventure of marriage, to love compassionately, to encourage each others dreams and live them, to celebrate our differences and cherish our similarities, to respect, honor and appreciate each other, to listen, respond, and understand, to be honest and equal, to have forgiveness and lovingkindness, to watch out for each other, to remind each other to 'slow down', to comfort each other, to learn and grow together through the hard times, and to enjoy the beauty and the wonders of the world together.

Take a moment to think about some of the personal details you have put into your wedding.  From choosing your closest friends to stand beside you, to the little trinkets you carry with your flowers that belonged to your grandmother and great-grandmother.  From your gorgeous handmade cake Shelley made for you, to the one of a kind dress that her mother made, and over 100 hand stitched cloth napkins from your Nanna.  You have had your hands on each design every step of the way, and have made all of the things that are usually just 'stuff' become personal and about family.  You will have many treasures to keep and pass on for years to come.  Let this be a foreshadowing of your relationship.  Allow yourselves to always pay this close of attention to detail when it comes to taking care of each other.  And let this also remind you of the importance of family and friends.

In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare.  Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.  You have made a list of ten things things that you love about each other.  Lets take the time to read these to each other before you state your vows."

(this i will keep private)

ours stated vows to each other:
"James, do you now choose Laura to be your life companion, to share your life openly with her, to speak truthfully and lovingly to her, to accept her full as she is and delight in who she is becoming, to respect her uniqueness, encourage her fulfillment, and compassionately support her through all the changes of your years together?"  (and vice versa)

(anyone who made it this far, thank you!)

I find it fitting that this post ended up being this week, b/c our 5 year anniversary is next saturday, on the autumn equinox.  We intentionally chose to be married on the equinox in honor of the change into our favorite season, and a new beginning.  We don't have any big plans this year since we are trying to save for a car, so it will be a low key one.  Maybe well just stay home and make a baby!