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Voices and Vows

The last time I wrote, in December, my dear husband was hospitalized for pneumonia, a complication of COVID-19. Days after he was admitted to the same hospital where my best friend works, she tearfully confided in me that he had been dreadfully close to needing a ventilator.

Thank the LORD, Scott rallied and due to excellent care and many prayers that were positively answered, he came home after a week of inpatient care. Not everyone we were praying for came home. A sweet sister in the LORD, Donna, succumbed to her COVID-induced illness and passed on, the day after Christmas.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” ~ Job 1:21

We can’t know when ours or anyone’s time will end. All we can do is be ready and use the time we have wisely as that thief death will inevitably come.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring

Reading Gandalf's words gets me jazzed for one of our family's favorite winter activities--curling up together on the couch in front of a roaring fire and—over the course of a few weeks—watching all six films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Two days after Scott came home from the hospital (and a day before we all left for Ohio) was the seventh night of Hannukah. All six Sprys enjoyed celebrating miracles and basked in the light for five precious days together before Jacob was wed. December 16, 2020 ~ Waterford, Michigan

Scott’s recovery was a direct answer to hundreds of prayers. We are so grateful for the offerings of family and friends, an abundance of concern that included texts, phone calls and meals. The kids and I were truly overwhelmed by the love, as was Scott, who said, “I felt encouraged and hopeful by the outpouring of prayer. It gave me great hope for healing.”

Scott shared that upon admission, the doctor's initial assessment was that he would be in the hospital for at least three weeks. Seven days later when he was discharged, the doctor said, "I can't explain it. Your recovery was remarkable."

Five days later Scott watched our son, Jacob, make his vows to be a godly husband to his bride, Hailey.

Jacob and Hailey were married in a beautifully meaningful ceremony in Ohio on December 19. They were surrounded by loved ones who witnessed their covenant-making. Here is a photo essay of this milestone day, followed by an interview with our new daughter, Hailey Spry.

"the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of the bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those bringing thank offerings into the house of the LORD, saying: ‘Give thanks to the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good; His loving devotion endures forever.’ For I will restore the land from captivity as in former times, says the LORD." ~ Jeremiah 33:11

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by N. Elaine Photography

Hailey and her mother, Melissa

Hailey Kate and Bailey June

Hailey and Isabella

Jacob and his new brother, Hailey's brother, Chad

Jacob and his brother and best man, Aaron

Jacob and his best friend, Clay. Can you say Lagavulin?

The four Spry siblings

Our last family-of-six photo

I took this shot of an entryway and sign, noting that the masks would also be a reminder of 2020

An unintentional selfie, I took this photo of a mirror Hailey had decorated so elegantly

I snapped this one of Scott with our sons shortly before the ceremony

Jacob--being a good sport--poses for a last-minute selfie right before we head down the aisle

Hailey and her father walk down the aisle

Jacob's face as he first set eyes on his bride that day, as her father walked her down the aisle

A precious photo that my sister, Heather, took during the ceremony. Jacob's youth pastor, close friend and brother in the LORD, Devin Dunn, officiated. His message resonated the significance of marriage in light of Biblical covenant-making.

I was tickled to find this photo taken of Scott and me during the ceremony, almost 30 years to the day that he proposed to me.

Excerpts of Hailey's vows to Jacob: "I promise to respect you in all things, support you through whatever life may bring us, and trust you always...I promise my faithfulness to you and to stand with you through all the experiences God may lead us. I promise to be quick to show grace and forgiveness and slow to be angry. I promise to be your partner and to never let a day go by that I don't tell you how much I love you...I thank God that today, I will have the honor to be your wife, now and forever. Before God and these witnesses, I give you my promise."

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Excerpts of Jacob's vows to Hailey: "I promise to humble myself before you, putting your needs before my own. I commit to leading and guiding you spiritually towards our beautiful Creator, ensuring that you love Jesus more than anything else in this world. I promise to stand by you, through the ups and downs, seeking to always show unconditional love, grace and forgiveness, as our Father in heaven does...I promise to love you as Christ loves the Church and gave himself up for it. Hailey, you are God's gift to me and from this day forth, all that I am is yours. Before God and these witnesses, I give you my promise."

Cheered on by their attendants, the bride and groom kiss

A Spry Seven family photo. Last summer, Jacob and Hailey selected felled birch trees from our property for their arbor and asked Scott to build it. He was glad to have a hand in helping make the ceremony extra special.

Sisters share a joyful moment with the bride and groom

Jacob and Hailey asked Aaron, Bailey and Isabella to play/sing for their first dance, Annie's Song by John Denver.

Photo credit: Devin Dunn

Photo by Heather Hillary

Aaron shared a very touching best-man speech, paying homage to their brotherhood and Jacob's character, which elicited many tears of joy.

Hailey with her parents, Melissa and Keith Pickelheimer. Keith gave a very touching welcome, prayer and toast, reminding us that God's vision is always 20/20, and despite the tumult of the year 2020, the newlyweds and all of us can trust that God is sovereign.

Hailey and Jacob dash through the rain for their getaway car. They dodged the chilly north for a week in the high-desert of Sedona, Arizona.

A day after returning from their honeymoon, we were all blessed to be together again, witnessing and celebrating as Devin (who officiated for Jake & Hailey) exchanged vows with his bride, Nikki. It was another very special wedding punctuated by a Messiah-centered covenant and great fellowship.

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies." ~ Song of Solomon 6:3


In my last post, I captured some of Jacob’s thoughts as he approached the big day. Soon after the wedding, I had the opportunity to ask our new daughter, Hailey, her thoughts.

She has been dreaming about being a bride since she was a little girl. “I had a bride costume with a little veil, it was my favorite, and I often wore it around the house.”

Hailey on her third birthday in April 2001

Hailey dances with her father to "Butterfly Kisses"

Hailey met Jacob in 2016 in a biology lab seminar their first week of class at Hope College in Holland, MI. They hit it off immediately and began spending time together. She was not fond of the unwritten campus “October Rule” promoted by the chaplain, and was pining to officially date Jacob beforehand but he insisted on waiting.

When they went on their first official date on October 6, she had her doubts after he ordered a pizza for them with pineapple and onion. “Who orders onions on their first date?! And who gets pineapple on a pizza?!” Hailey told me laughing, “I was low-key but I was so surprised, I thought that was the weirdest thing.”

She shared about the time when she first thought seriously about marrying Jacob:

“It was October 28, 2016. We were sitting in the Jack Miller music building in a piano practice room with some friends. Jake was playing piano and I thought, ‘I think I’m gonna marry him.’ Later that evening, my roommate wrote the date down on a sticky note and it stayed on a cork board all year.”

Jacob is a multi-talented musician--piano, guitar and harmonica. He will keep Hailey swooning and laughing with his ballads and ditties. Here, he and Bailey June play together. December 14, 2020

Hailey kept her eye on him…

“I watched Jake with other people, with friends—he is very intentional, he would remember to ask about what was going on in people’s lives. I also saw a very close and loving relationship with his siblings and parents—pure characteristics of someone who is very loving and selfless. Jacob loves people unconditionally. He is wise and thoughtful. He loves Jesus more than anything and it shows. He is full of surprises and isn’t afraid to go on new adventures.”

Hailey’s close friend told her, “Jake has made you more fun and spontaneous, willing to experience new things.”

"He loves Jesus more than anything and it shows."

Hailey agrees, “He has definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone.” So did getting married during a pandemic!

Hailey was flexible with the obstacles and restrictions and Jake did a lot of listening and encouraging. “I tried to roll with the punches as well as I could,” said Hailey. And she did. Her grace and attention to detail resulted in a seamless and picture-perfect day, one she had dreamt of since girlhood.

Only two weeks into marriage, she was reflecting on the joy and perplexity of one-ness. “We get to go home together, no more separation! It’s interesting living with a boy, with different organizational skills,” she laughs, mentioning the stark difference between each of their sock drawers.

“I look forward to moving forward. I’m excited to get plugged into a church and find a small group, hopefully with other young couples in a similar life stage. I'm looking forward to Jake being very intentional in his time with the Lord; even on our honeymoon he would read the Bible and pray. So glad I have a husband who is making that priority.”

Scott and I are so glad and thankful that we have a new daughter who loves the LORD and our son. Welcome to the family, Hailey Spry! L'Chaim! To Life!

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