October 25, 2016
We are so excited to share the second edition of the Everlasting Love Series with you all this month! This monthly series shares stories and insight of couples that have been married for several years. It explores the beauty of marriage through images and storytelling. It’s purpose is to highlight the joy of marriage and uplift others along their journey. If you missed the first edition of this series, you can read it HERE.
Gary & Renee are good friends of ours and have been a beautiful influence in our lives. They’ve seen me (Janae) grow up, were guests at our wedding, and truly are dear friends. We have loved watching them do life together through many seasons. Their wisdom is profound, and their words are rooted in depth of experience. Thank you, Gary & Renee for walking around your beautiful property with us, sharing the work you’ve done on your home, and treating us to chocolate cake.
Here are a few questions we got to ask them, as well as portraits we captured at their home in Lebanon County.
How did you meet?
We met at Kreiders’ Restaurant in Manheim. My (Renee) best friend and I stopped in to meet some of her brother’s friends, one of whom was Gary. We “managed” to be at the same place four nights straight, both broke up with other people that weekend, and had our first date (a youth group barn party) the following Monday!
How long have you been married?
It will be 28 years on December 17, 2016.
What have been the hardest and easiest elements of your married years?
One of the hardest things has been to shift with different seasons of parenting. What worked for our marriage in one season doesn’t work for the next. It’s also hard to leave work and life and stress behind and just focus on each other. Major illness (such as Renee’s cancer) was also a challenging season. We genuinely like each other and have fun together, and we don’t actually disagree very often, so that has made marriage relatively easy and enjoyable for us.
For her, how do you balance being a mom, wife, employee, etc.? What advice would you give to a wife and mother?
Renee: I’ve had several jobs I’ve loved, but none as much as I enjoy being a mom. I’ve been blessed to work in places that have honored the fact that family is my priority. I walked away from teaching at one point because I felt like I had no energy left to give my family at the end of the day. I work really hard to make my family a priority, even if it means losing sleep in order to have late-night chats with my girls. I only get to do this once, and I don’t want to have any regrets. I do wish we had gone on more dates when the kids were little and not felt guilty about it!!
What advice would you give a husband and a father?
Gary: I would say the most important thing is communication. We’ve noticed that when our communication dwindles, it spills over into our overall marriage. Then when hard times hit, you are coming into it at a disadvantage. Take every opportunity to spend time with your kids. Pray for them faithfully.
What are some of your favorite places to go on a date?
We love theater, especially musicals, so that’s always fun. Dinner and a movie is always a hit … since moving to Lebanon County last year, our new favorite is the Blue Bird Inn. We also really like Ciro’s in Lancaster. And we love antiquing together, too!
What are some activities you enjoy doing together?
Collecting antiques and renovating our home is our favorite shared activity. We bought a hideously ugly ranch house last summer, and we’ve spent every spare minute transforming it into our dream house. We love the process of brainstorming, collecting salvaged materials, and bringing our dreams to life!
What is one of the favorite places you have visited together? And do you have any “DREAM” trips you would like to go on?
We are probably not typical in this area! Some of our most memorable trips were going to the U.S. Tennis Open in New York and antiquing in Ohio. Our dream trip was to go to the largest antique show (4,000 dealers!) in the United States in Brimfield, MA for our 25th anniversary, and we did! It did not disappoint! We came home with an entire vanload of treasures!
What advice would you give a newly married couple?
Talk a lot; listen well. Don’t watch much TV. Pray together daily. Die to the desire to be “right.” Learn to speak your spouse’s love language!
How do you feel that marriage has changed you for the better?
Renee: I am much less selfish! Gary is naturally very giving and selfless, which is one of the things that attracted me to him. I have really asked the Lord to make me more like Him and like Gary!
Gary: Renee constantly puts everyone else’s needs before her own, which in turn makes me want to put others first as well. I was initially drawn to Renee’s godly character, which has really pushed me to draw closer to the Lord.
If you enjoy this series and would like to see a particular couple featured please on it, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know! 🙂