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The Real Couple Behind “The Vow”

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It was November 24, 1993.

Newlyweds Kim and Krickett Carpenter headed west from their home in Las Vegas, New Mexico, toward Phoenix, Arizona. They planned to spend their first Thanksgiving as a married couple with Krickett’s parents.

But they never made it to the house that night.

There was an accident. Their white Ford escort collided with two trucks. Kim walked away with extensive injuries — a broken hand, a severed nose, a torn ear, a concussion, two broken ribs, and glass from the car’s sunroof wedged into his back.

Krickett’s condition was far worse, though. She suffered a massive head injury that left her in coma for weeks. And when she woke, relief turned to confusion. Krickett had no memory of Kim — the man she’d married only ten weeks earlier.

In their book, The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie, the Carpenters share the difficult journey this car accident sent them on; a journey of love lost and love rechosen. It’s a book that gripped me. So much so, that after reading a review of the film it inspired, I determined not to head to the theater. I feared its fictional retelling would pale when compared with the real events.

Yes, sometimes the true story is just that good.

I recently chatted with Kim and Krickett. Their warmth, love for God and each other, and their passion to see marriages thrive were evident even across phone lines.

Kim, how did you feel when you discovered that Krickett didn’t remember you?

Kim: I felt the same way I felt when I didn’t know she was alive. It definitely was one of the sickest feelings I ever had in my entire life.

I can’t even imagine. Krickett, it must have been a shock to discover that you were married, yet had no memory of a husband. How did you even begin to process this news?

Krickett: It was very, very confusing. The car accident was in November and I got out of the rehab in April. My parents sent me home to live with this man they said was my husband and I had wedding pictures, a wedding video, and a wedding ring. I kind of just accepted that I was married to him, but it wasn’t for quite some time that we actually discovered that I lost all the memories of meeting, dating, and marrying him.

Prior to that, I kind of just played house in a sense. You have to realize that the severity of my head injury, I acted like an eight or ten-year-old child when I first moved home to him. Once we discovered the memory was gone, that’s really where we got to start again with our relationship. I had to learn how to love him again. I had made a vow before God in good times and bad, in sickness and health. This was my husband. This was who I was married to. This was what my life was. I had to move forward and get to know this man that I had obviously loved and adored prior to our car accident.

What motivated both of you to stay true to your vows?

Krickett: For me, I made a vow before God and that is a promise to keep. If you can’t keep your vows or keep your words, then you shouldn’t say it or commit to something. I made that promise and I could either live miserably in this new situation or I could choose to make it good and make it right. So we just got to know each other again.

The second time around was a choice. I chose to love Kim based on obedience to God, not on feelings that I had because all of my feelings had been wiped out. We dated again and we got to know each other again. I had fun with him, and I began to recover more and more from my head injury. So I was no longer the 10-year-old girl, maybe the 16-year-old girl at that point. It was a daily process of perseverance and endurance. I fixed my eyes above and I fixed my eyes ahead. I just walked forward with the Lord’s strength to go through this new trial I was given.

Kim: For me, I think of in various facets. One, both of our parents, if you combine their marriages, have been happily married for over 100 years and have celebrated over 100 anniversaries. That in itself is a great example of commitment.

Two more things are obviously very important to us — the Lord and the role He’s played in our lives. The world today has tried to make me to be a hero for staying, when my wife showed courage that most people would not when they step out on their faith and that’s all they have. It says so much about how strong her relationship is with the Lord.

I look at it from the aspect of our children. Our children are a daily reminder of the fact that they are the true blessing of a vow. Had we not stayed together it would have been a situation where they wouldn’t have had a chance at life. I look at it with a real sense of accountability because they are our treasures.

Unfortunately, divorce is a reality in our culture. Our desire at Ungrind is to see marriages restored. What would you say to couples who may be contemplating divorce? How would you encourage them to try to work through their struggles and their difficulties?

Kim: I think the first thing is understanding what brought them together. What are the common bonds that they had and have they gotten away from that? The other thing is that people change. We all change and evolve into a new being as the years pass. It is interesting because marriage is not about possession, it’s about growth. As your relationship evolves, you need to adapt to find new loves and new things about your soul mate.

Your story inspired the 2012 film, The Vow. But you actually sold the movie rights to it 14 years ago. Is that right?

Kim: Actually, it’s about 15 and a half years in the making. It was a long process, but we had faith that it would get done. I think God has a timing in all of this. A Japanese television producer told me back in 1998 that the world needs this story and he hoped that we can give it to them.

The experience of the movie making business was very good. Channing and Rachel studied us pretty thoroughly. They visited with us when we were on the set. We were directly involved not only with the editing of scripts, but with some of the shooting as well. Even though there were some things that resulted that weren’t true about us, such as the divorce in the movie, we understand too that Hollywood sometimes has to portray things that are conducive to people wanting to learn more. I think they nailed it with that. There were many things that were dead on and there were some things that were way off. But that’s why our heart is in the book. We rewrote the book five months ago. It has ten more years in it from the first time we released it. It updates. It has our children and some new perspectives on life and where we are today.

What is the most important thing you hope people walk away with after hearing your story?

Kim: This is a challenging story. It challenges those who have divorced. It challenges those who are considering it. It even challenges those who aren’t even thinking about marriage. Our biggest hope is that it brings inspiration to people who are on the verge of divorce to rethink it or seek counseling or come back together when they’ve been miserable for years.

One of our security detail at our event here in Farmington told me that he saw the movie earlier in the day and he wanted to thank me. He told me he has made a commitment to work things out with his wife. He wants to start fresh and remember what they fell in love with the first time. He was very touched and very emotional. That’s the real crux of what we’re hoping the world gets from this.

To learn more about the Carpenters and their book, The Vow, visit them on Facebook.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

11 Comments
  • Suzanne Gosselin

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story of Commitment to the Lord and marriage. I appreciated the Carpenters’ testimony on The Today Show, as well! Thanks for bringing us such great content!

  • billie jeanne

    what a sweet story. filled with hope! it has encouraged me to pray more for people in my life that are considering divorce as an option. God is always so faithful to remind me of His power to work in His people. thanks for sharing.

  • Nelly

    Great interview! What an inspiring story and what a faithful God! I love their example!

  • Penny

    I enjoyed reading this article. I feel we need to have more people like the Carpenter’s that share their story and encourage others to keep working on their relationship because it is a commitment to God. I like this statement – “It is interesting because marriage is not about possession, it’s about growth. As your relationship evolves, you need to adapt to find new loves and new things about your soul mate.” Can’t wait to get the book and read it and then share it with others.

  • Heidie

    So inspiring! Wonderful to see a couple truly stand by the vows they made, even in extremely difficult circumstances.

  • courtney

    Wow! What a story… Thanks so much for sharing with us! :)

  • Carol

    Great interview Ashleigh! I really enjoyed the honesty in their sharing of their struggles and how they persevered because of their faith and trust in God. Have heard great reviews about the movie and plan on taking our 17 year old daughter.

  • Wow, I didn’t know this movie was inspired by a true story and -what is more amazing- it was born out of true obedience to God. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for sharing your life story. Such an encouragement! It is a good reminder to see that when we follow through & keep our word of honor or vow to someone…God will bless in return!

  • Amazing! Thanks for sharing their story. It is incredible that although Krickett didn’t remember Kim, she still remembered the Lord and the importance of keeping a marriage vow.

  • sandra

    this is truly an epic love story.Love knows no bounds.All things are possible when there is faith,hope and love in a marriage

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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The Real Couple Behind “The Vow”

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 6 min
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