January 15, 2014

Love Grows :: Sarah+Michael

Photos by Sara Kristen Photography

The thing about love is that it is limitless – expanding to fill and encompass those linked by its lure. Sarah and Michael are a testimony to this fact – both beautiful people with huge hearts and an unending capacity for love.  Love is the impetus of marriage, and of two people growing into a family, only in Sarah and Michael’s case, marriage and family came together in one beautiful ceremony at Historic Cedarwood. 

Prior to meeting Sarah, Michael’s wife of 14 years died, leaving Michael with their four children – three biological and an infant son adopted from Ethiopia nine months before Beth passed away. Supported and encouraged by a strong circle of family and friends, Michael reached out to find love once again, finding the remarkable and beautiful Sarah. You MUST read Sarah and Michael’s love story at the end of this post!    We think it is fitting that Sarah and Michael included all the children in a “Love Grows” unity ceremony, watering a tree together that they now watch grow.  Enjoy the beauty and blessings of their union,  through these photos by Sara Kristen Photography.

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Michael & Sarah Venable’s story as told by Sarah, who warns, “It’s a bit quirky & goofy, but that is just mine & Michael’s personality.”

 “Michael & I met in a very unusual way – through an electronic communications network called the in-ter-net. It’s something Al Gore invented. You may or may not have heard of it. Specifically, we met on what one would call a “website” in which you create a profile to inform members of the opposite sex that you are interested in dating and/or pursuing marriage. This is where our story begins.  I (Sarah) had attempted to meet a future spouse via the in-ter-net in the past, but had not experienced success. It had been two years since I had tried to meet someone this way, when my best friend, Dr. Ashley Watson Johnson, encouraged me to try yet once again. Michael & I were matched up within one week of me starting my subscription. Michael requested communication with me first. I was very attracted to Michael & who he was, but he had a very heavy/intense story. However, he was very open & honest with his story from the very beginning and I truly appreciated this about him – which made me like him even more.

 Michael’s heavy/intense story involves him losing his wife, Beth, of 14 years in August 2012. Beth passed away due to complications with a medication following her second brain surgery. Michael & Beth had 4 kids together – 3 biological & 1 adopted. Katie (12), Mikie (10), Gabriel (8), & Scarborough – nicknamed “Scar” (21 months). Scar was adopted from Ethiopia 9 months before Beth passed away.  Here is a video about Michael & Beth’s story if you are interested in knowing more about the adoption of Scarborough:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wsgjL-8JJ-s#

I (Sarah) was hesitant about starting a relationship with Michael. But not because I had concerns about him or his kids, but I felt as though getting involved with him not only meant being involved in his life, but also the life of 4 beautiful children (who had recently lost their mother). This was not something that I took lightly. I felt as though I was not the right fit & I was concerned about my ability to not only become a wife, but an instant mom of 4 children. Additionally Michael lived in Hopkinsville, KY and I lived in St. Louis, MO.  I told Michael that I was willing to get to know him, but that I really felt he needed to be with someone else – someone more capable to handle his situation. Well, Michael disagreed & wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. So pursued me with a fierce passion (ok, so maybe it wasn’t that fierce, but since Michael put me in charge of writing our story then I get to write what I want – smiles.)

Michael & I emailed every day for a week. We asked each other a ton of questions. In one early email, Michael wrote:  “I realize that my story is overwhelming, but God has already brought good from Beth’s death.  As you have seen in the videos and the blog, God is doing AMAZING things!!  I decided to get on eHarmony for the fact that I know God has someone else out there for me to share this life with.  He has many great things left to do with my life and I figure He can be glorified even more if I have someone to share/live His story with.  I’m not looking for someone to just help raise my kids.  In 10 years 3 of my four kids will be out of the house.  I’m looking for someone to join with me in the story God has for my life.  I have an awesome life and miss being able to share it with someone.  I have a great group of friends that have supported me through the whole process, but it’s not the same as having that person that is there night and day.”   After that week, Michael asked me if I wanted to continue down this path or if I wanted to end it and we could go our separate ways. I didn’t answer him for 2 days – instead I decided to think & pray about it.

I responded that I was up for at least meeting to see if there was chemistry between us. He was pleasantly surprised to hear from me (at least that is what I tell myself – smiles) and we decided to meet half way in Marion, IL. Our first date was quite entertaining, to say the least… that’s a story we can share at a later time.  After our first date, we began talking on the phone and skyping each other almost every day. Our conversations would usually last about 5 hours. We continued to talk, laugh, & cry through these conversations over the next few weeks. After reading the book “How to Date a Widower” in 2 days (smiles), I decided to come to Hopkinsville to spend more time with just Michael before I would agree to meet the kids. Soon afterward it was time, and after meeting the kids, I decided to move to Hopkinsville. I then started to become a part of their lives. I would spend time at the house. I would arrive early in the morning to see them off to school. I began to do their laundry, pack their lunches, help them with homework, & helped put them to bed at night.

By April, Michael & I had decided to get married. Michael proposed to me on his 39th birthday. We had planned a scavenger hunt with the kids on that day, and Michael decided to surprise me on our first stop.  As we rushed to an old gazebo in a small park near downtown Hopkinsville to escape the rain, I realized we had left our scavenger hunt paper in the van. I ran back to go get it & when I came back to the gazebo, Katie (Michael’s 12-year-old daughter) handed me flowers. At first I just thought the flowers were part of the scavenger hunt. Then Michael turned to me & said, “We’re all taking a vote….and then he turned to the kids one by one & asked all of them what their answer was. After each of them said, “Yes”, he said, “We all agree, we want you to become a part of our family. Will you marry us?” Of course I said yes & some tears were shed. Michael placed the ring on my finger & we rushed off to continue our scavenger hunt.  After all, we couldn’t let a marriage proposal interfere from us winning (smiles.)  We were married on July 12, 2013 at Cedarwood in Nashville.”

 Thank you for Sarah and Michael for sharing your remarkable story. Our interaction with you and your family continues to inspire us.  Thanks also to  Sara Kristen Photography for sharing images with us.

Linda & the Cedarwood Event Team

P.S.  You won’t want to miss this Ordinary Hero story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wsgjL-8JJ-s#

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