If walls could talk. How about if windows could talk? Mine do! A little while ago the windows in my bathroom were speaking with a beautiful message that I believe the Lord revealed to me while I was in the shower.
There are pros and cons to living in a house that is over one hundred years old. We love the character a centenarian house brings, but our old double hung windows have a tendency to frost up to the point of completely obscuring the view to the outside world. It’s a little bit like living in a frosty root beer mug.
On this particular day, it was dreadfully cold outside and the windows were in full frosty effect. As I was in the shower, I noticed that the sun was trying to shine through one of the icy panes, and the diffused light lit up something pretty miraculous that I almost didn’t notice. What at first looked like typical frost patterns, started to reveal an even more beautiful and poignant vision. All of a sudden, the feathery ice formations revealed a stunning spring scene that almost jumped off the window at me.
I began to see flowers and in particular, dandelions, waving in the breeze releasing their seeds into the spring air. Keep in mind, it was far from spring and the actual temperature outside was well below zero degrees, so the last thing I was thinking about was a warm pre-summer day. But the specificity of what the image on my window portrayed was undeniable.
As I was marveling at mother nature’s unexpected “work of art”, I felt the Lord impress something upon my heart. He said, “Even in seasons of life that feel as cold and dead as winter, I can bring hope and new life.” It felt clear as day, and I knew He was using His beautiful creation to once again teach me more about His promises.
I think it’s safe to say we all have experienced those winter seasons where we feel like we are floundering and frozen. Those cold seasons can look different for everyone. Sometimes it’s a stagnant feeling in our professional life, or a struggle with anxiety and depression. Maybe it’s a coldness you’re feeling toward God and your relationship with Him.
What I felt He was telling me that day is He is a God of NEW LIFE! Sometimes things need to rest, or even die, to produce new life. The dandelion begins as a seed that grows into a plant which produces a flower. The flower is the “pretty” part of its life (even though us garden and yard lovers tend to despise these weeds). Those showy, deep yellow petals catch our attention and are the crown of glory for the flower. It’s the part of the life cycle where they shine! Then the flower petals die and make way for the next stage which is the seed stage. When a puff of air, or my daughters’ deliberate breath on the silvery seed clock, dislodges the seeds they begin to float in the air looking for a place to land with the sole purpose to create NEW LIFE.
1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
When we put our faith and trust in Him, He can breathe NEW life in all areas of our life. He is the God of seasons and you can believe that He will bring you out of the cold season you may be facing right now. He will cover you with “Sonshine” and warmth that will melt away the ice and bring forth the spring you are desperately needing.
If you are needing a change of seasons in your life try doing these three things:
1. Trust that the sun is coming.
Start working on your mindset. Believe that this place you’re in isn’t forever, that God has a plan and purpose for your life and that it is good!
2. Ask for change.
Go before the Lord with your hurts, your frustrations, your pain. Tell Him what you’re feeling (even though He already knows) and ask Him to do a NEW THING in your life. Be specific in your request and always pray for His will. Trust me, it’s always better than what we think we need.
3. Be expectant.
Live expecting that there will be change. It might not look like what we think, or it may take longer than we like, but expect that God will take your struggles, allow them to make you stronger, and then use them for good in a brighter season.
Winter ice eventually melts. Flowers bloom, and seasons change. Look for the lessons in the unexpected.
Even while you’re in the shower.
Did you hear that? That was me blowing the dust off of my keyboard after taking a break from writing and basic content creation in general. I’ve been M.I.A. from both my blog and social media since this past winter, but I promise I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. Really. I have plenty of dirty dishes and a needy dog to prove it. Believe it or not, there was a method to my madness. Here’s the backstory.
At the start of every new year, my husband and I take time to fast, pray and ask the Lord for guidance for the coming year. (I wrote a blog on it if you want to know more).
One of the things we consistently do at this time is ask that He give us “words” for our year that we filter the next 365 days through. One of the words that I felt was very specifically for me this year was “BE PRESENT”. Essentially, be where your feet are planted.
For me, that meant being extremely present with my daughters this year. They are at awesome teenage and pre-teen ages right now, and I am LOVING it. (I know, sounds totally crazy, but I am.) Around last January, I strongly felt the Lord saying to lay everything else in my life down, or at least touch it loosely, and focus my attention on nurturing and pouring into my girls.
In fact, I truly believe this command was from the Lord because I lost all passion for writing and social media which, if you know me, is typically not my character. Granted, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media, but writing? That’s the whipped cream to my hot chocolate. When I lost my drive for that, I knew God was trying to get my attention, and I needed to obey.
I also felt like He wanted me to REST. There are seasons that He takes us through, and times of REST are not a bad thing. If you’re a “do-er” like me, those rest times can be confusing. But we need it! Now, rest didn’t look like kicking my feet up and binge watching Fuller House all day. Nope, my days are still packed, but it’s been a focus shift that I needed to refuel my passions and put present priorities in place.
Are you feeling that there is something the Lord is asking you to put down, even for a minute, to be more present with your kids? It doesn’t mean He’s not going to tell you to pick it back up again at some point. And when He does, it will feel right and your cup will still be full enough to pour out for the people around you.
I believe the Lord gives us the desires of our heart, and He also amps them up and tones them down as a way of directing us in our lives. He knows when and where our talents and giftings are best used and right now for me, it’s being present with my girls. I only have one shot to be the kind of mom I want to be. I only have one opportunity to mold and shape these phenomenal humans to love and serve God, be kind, compassionate, hopeful of their futures, and strong to withstand the assaults of this world. And that time with them is short.
Recently however, I’ve been feeling the green light to get my creative juices flowing again and begin sharing the little nuggets God gives me as I walk, stumble, and run through this race of life.
Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
If you’re not sure about the season you’re in or the path God has for you, pray this scripture! Ask Him to teach you the way you should go and spend time with Him. He will show you!
So here I am. I’m (kinda) back. My priority is still being super present for my girls, and I may be a little inconsistent here, but my peace comes from the Lord, not a social media algorium.
And hey! It’s great to see you again.
This past Tuesday was a big day for me. It was the five-year anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer on March 22, 2017. Triple-negative is a pretty nasty type of breast cancer and there is the potential for a significant recurrence rate especially within the first three years post treatment. However, once you hit that five-year mark, that rate drops dramatically and according to my oncologist, “It’s very rare that the cancer will come back after five years.” You can see why this is a biggie for me.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to publicly acknowledge this day, and I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on that. I’ve never been one to feel that cancer defines me. It doesn’t. It’s not WHO I am, but it IS a part of my story. I also believe that dwelling on something that is negative in our life and giving it too much attention gives that thing unnecessary power. Continuingly dwelling on it is not healthy, and it gives that beast more credit than it deserves. Hence my struggle to even mention it today.
For the past five years I’ve been going to my oncologist for six-month checks. After leaving each exam with a good report, I would walk out of the exam room calmly grateful for the proverbial happy face sticker on my chart. Then I would make my way to the oncology appointment desk to schedule my next six-month check. I would proceed to my car, give my husband and parents a quick call to let them know all was good, and be on with my day.
But this time was different.
I had a little more anxious energy flowing through my veins as I waited in the exam room staring at the same gray exam table I have spent the last five years of my medical life laying on. When my doctor came into the room, I proceeded to cheerily small talk to keep my mind off the fact that this was the infamous “five-year check”. After she did the routine examination and asked me all the questions that I could have recited for her, she said something that completely rocked my world. “Jamie, you don’t need to stop at the appointment desk on the way out. You’re done with the oncology department.”
Tears were screaming to explode out of my eyes right there, but I held it in and saved it for my car and the poor guy walking by me in the hospital parking lot. Something about knowing that I didn’t have to go back to that specific department did something inside of me that I didn’t expect. It was closure.
I know that hitting that five-year mark is not some magic number that says cancer is forever defeated. There are plenty of dear people who are still on their journey and reoccurrence at any time frame is a real thing. I completely acknowledge that, and know this also applies to me.
However, I will continue to live my life with peace in my heart believing that I am healed and it’s not my time yet. God is not ready to call me home right now. He has more that He wants me to accomplish for His purposes here on this earth. My prayer has always been that He will use my pain, my story, and my life to help others and most importantly, bring Him glory.
I’m still here, at least for today, and I believe that God has a hope and a future for me whether that’s four more days, or forty more years. I am choosing to live my life to the fullest each day, grateful for every breath and every opportunity I’m given because that’s what cancer does. It gives you perspective.
Thank you, Jesus for FIVE YEARS.
“See, I am doing a new thing!” This is what I keep hearing in my heart for 2022! Are you ready for something new in your life? Do you feel like you need to be refreshed? I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us are feeling this way, and guess what? I have some good news for you!
As we know, a New Year brings all the cliche “new” things that we always expect, like new fitness goals, new work goals, and new finance goals, just to name a few. These are all great and good, but if you aren’t refreshed with a new spirit of hope and life inside of you, these dreams will be just that. Dreams. You won’t have the excitement, fire, and motivation that it takes to achieve those goals. This is where that word “new” is taking on a fresh meaning for me this year, and I want to share why I believe it can do the same for you too.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
This verse is all about HOPE! If you’ve been living in a “wasteland” this past year, know that God wants to refresh you this year and fill you with streams of living water. He wants to give you hope and new revelation! He sees you! He wants to help you rise above the weight of this world in all areas of your life. His desire is simply that you seek Him with all your heart and lay your burdens at His feet. He will help carry the load and give you joy in the journey.
Maybe this passage in Isaiah is meant to encourage you regarding that new project you’re wanting to start, but are hesitant because doubts regarding your abilities to pull it off are plaguing you. God is all about NEW THINGS! So go for it, and trust that if He’s put that desire in your heart, He will walk alongside you every step of the way.
Perhaps you’re simply needing a new outlook on life. It’s been a hard season for you and waking up every morning with joy and peace in your heart seems like a far-fetched wish. God says, “Forget the former things!” So, let it go! Look ahead in expectation at what He has in store for you, and say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” Let Him fill you with streams of joy and the ability to see each day filled with the hope of His promises.
Let 2022 be a year of NEWNESS and new beginnings for you and your family. I pray blessings over you and a renewed sense of HOPE because Jesus is Lord over ALL!
Are you feeling ineffective, inadequate, unable to really do anything worthwhile, or see positive change happen around you? Especially with all that’s going on in the world today, I think it’s easy to feel ineffective and overwhelmed with inadequacy. If that’s you, I have a couple of thoughts for you.
First and foremost, YOU ARE ENOUGH just as you are! Jesus isn’t sitting on his jewel encrusted throne looking down from the heavens saying, “Hmm..if only Susie would step it up in that one area of her life, then I might think she’s worthy of my love.” Wrong. He loves you just because you’re YOU! That broken, flawed, messed up, distracted, and floundering, you. (I’m speaking to myself here, too.)
But if you already know that and you’re still feeling all those “things” I mentioned earlier, I have a question for you.
How’s your prayer life?
Over the past few weeks, God has been challenging me to pump up my prayer life. And by that I mean, adding a little more “umph” in those conversations I have with Him. So yep, it’s confession time. I have gotten lazy with my prayer life lately. Well, that’s not very juicy. You’re right, it’s not. But this concept of adding some jet fuel to my prayer life has been burning on my heart to share for a while now.
Lately, I’ve felt stuck in a “prayer rut” and have been feeling Him challenging me to do more. More fire, more umph! Yes, I have my quiet time in the mornings where I (mostly) pray silently in my mind, and that’s good and all, but God’s been calling me to dig deep and kick in my inner beast mode. You know mommas, that kind of fire you feel when you hear your kid is getting picked on at school. That spunk that says, “I am momma, hear me ROAR!” I’m not saying go WWE on God when you pray, but instead make sure you are using the weapons He has given us to do battle in the spiritual realms.
The one I’m talking about here is your spoken words. Don’t miss what I just said. I said SPOKEN words. This is where I feel God has been encouraging and teaching me lately. Our words when spoken out loud are powerful, friends! You know that terra firma you’re standing on right now? God made that by SPEAKING it first. Outloud. If you read Genesis 1, before the earth, heavens, etc, was created the Bible says that “God said,…”. This should be a clue to us that when we speak our prayers out loud there is a shift that happens.
With this in mind, I started making a point to pray more aloud in my car while running errands around town. Being alone in your car and making it a specific time to pray is such a beautiful thing. Not only do you have the privacy to pray about whatever you want, or for whomever you want, but to other drivers around you, you simply look like you’re rocking out to your favorite song or chatting on your bluetooth! (So don’t worry, you won’t look like a weirdo.)
But little do people know that you are not ordering takeout for dinner tonight, but that you are connecting to the creator of the universe! Boom! You are using this opportunity, even if it’s 15 minutes from school drop off to the gym, to speak both His truths and your requests in a powerful way. And the coolest thing is you are doing battle against the enemy, AND moving the heart of God at the same time! Now that rocks.
When I started doing this I instantly felt, and saw a shift happen around me. Distraction (something I battle) turned into focus, opportunities to be Jesus’ hands and feet in small ways opened up, and even certain prayers regarding my children were answered.
I fully believe that soft quiet prayers said internally are just as powerful, and God hears ALL of our prayers, but for me those out loud conversation prayers fire me up and make me feel like a full-on, kick-booty warrior in a 5 foot 3 inch body.
Why not tap into that power? I dare you to try it, and see what happens! If God blows your mind with something after you’ve given it a whirl, encourage the rest of us and share it in a comment!
This morning began like most mornings do. I sleepily got out of bed before my 5:30 alarm, since I’d technically been awake since 4:30 trying to wrangle in the “mind-spin”, then spent some time with the Lord, and lastly got my kiddos off to school. I pulled back into the driveway to see an anxiously awaiting double-doodle staring at me from the family room window. It was time for her walk and she wasn’t going to let me forget it.
Every morning I take Luna for a spin around the neighborhood and we almost always find our way into the university campus that resides close to our home. I love walking on the college grounds because the paths are winding and lined with trees and beautiful landscaping. I also enjoy seeing the students walking to class as the sun streams across the bluffs and lights up the walkways.
Being a creature of habit I tend to walk the same route and usually find myself passing a particular building that has many tall, rectangular, east facing windows. The building is situated in a way that the rising sun hits the windows and reflects into the path where I walk. Everytime I walk past these windows, I’m always struck by the periodic bursts of heat that hit my face. It literally feels like alternating laser beams that strike, and then are instantly gone when I pass areas of the building that aren’t reflecting the sun.
I’ve walked past this building MANY times, but for some reason something pretty profound struck me today. I got a strong sense that the Lord was showing me the power of reflection. And no, not the kind of reflection where you ponder those stupd things you did in college and realize there were probably plenty of reasons you should have gotten some professional therapy. No, the kind of reflection where a powerful light source hits a shiny surface and bounces the opposite way.
The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Hmmm.. let’s reflect on that a bit. (Did you see how I did that?)
Wow. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as believers? Doesn’t He call us to reflect Him?
He doesn’t ask us to BE the light source. That’s HIS job. He only wants us to REFLECT Him. So what does that look like? How do we reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with? And yes, I said EVERY person. Even that guy that cut you off today in the Target parking lot because he was texting and flying in his souped up Honda Civic like a bat out of you know where!
Let’s ask ourselves, what was Jesus like? What characteristics did He exhibit when He walked the earth? If you’re a list checker like me, then let’s start with one of my favorite lists in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you want to flare at that offensive comment on Facebook, do you reflect love? How about patience? Or maybe most importantly, when your flesh wants to furiously type a rebuttal and virtually body slam that ignorant bleep bleep into the cyber ground, do you practice self-control? Ouch.
It can be hard. But showing EVERYONE love, letting them see your joy even in tough times, and being gentle in spirit when persecuted, is reflecting the light of Jesus to a hurting world.
And remember when I mentioned the heat I felt from the sun reflecting in those windows? You guys, seriously, it was HOT! Like I thought the skin was going to start peeling off the left side of my face. Just because you’re the reflection and not the “source” doesn’t mean you can’t pack some heat! We have power as followers of Jesus, and we can walk boldly knowing that when we make a genuine effort to be Christ’s reflection, He will bring intensity to your witness that you won’t have to work for. That’s the beauty of reflecting from a place of power. He will translate His unlimited energy through you to positively affect someone else’s life.
Reflection can be small, like those little prisms I used to hang in my window as a kid. Or it can be massive like in the valley town of Rjukan, Norway where mirrors were installed to reflect sunlight into the town’s square that is normally shadowed for half of the year. (Cool right?)
Both are good. Both are beautiful. Big or small, your reflection is bringing much needed light into a place riddled with darkness.
Where can you shine today?
Shine on, friend. Shine on.
Our love for smoothies began when I was in the thick of my cancer fight, and chemotherapy was kicking my patootie all over the place. To combat the occasional bouts of nausea, I found that keeping a small amount of food in my stomach at all times helped tremendously. But let’s be real. When you feel like you’ve been run over by a dump truck (twice), the last thing you want is a big juicy steak and a side of fries. Okay, I take that back, the fries actually hit the spot quite a bit, just saying.
I knew I needed to supply my body with the best nutrients I could to help fight the cancer and recover from the grueling treatments. But I also wanted to ENJOY said nutrients so my incredible husband dove headfirst into the art of the smoothie. Bless him.
Smoothies not only gave me the nutrition I desired, but they tasted darn good too! It was a treat to down one or two of these each day, and it became a good way to easily ingest multiple small meals daily.
I often get asked about the smoothie recipes we use so thought I would share some here. If you’re serious about upping your smoothie game, regardless if you’re going through cancer or not, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in a Vitamix blender. This machine was literally sent from heaven. In fact, I’m pretty sure angels use a Vitamix to make their own celestial concoctions. Just saying.
There are a lot of different models available, so choose which one is best for your needs and your budget. I’ll warn you, they are a bit of an investment, but they are SO worth it. Not only do they make killer smoothies, but you can make hot soups, salsas, baby foods, batters, nut butters, non-dairy milks, frozen desserts, and more. Yah. I know. Run, don’t walk people.
Let’s get to the good stuff. We have found many great recipes in multiple places. One of our favorite smoothie resources is Rich Roll’s Plantpower Meal Planner. My husband has this app and uses it religiously. Here are a few of our favorites:
But a couple of tips first:
Tip 1. Each of these recipes makes 2 servings. If you aren’t going to drink two servings, you can save the other in the fridge for an afternoon snack, or you could share it. Sharing is caring friends!
Tip 2. When a recipe calls for bananas, we recommend freezing them first. Peel them and put them in a zip lock bag in your freezer for easy access. Using frozen bananas makes your smoothie cold (if your other ingredients aren’t) and it also makes it thicker and not so watery. If the consistency isn’t thick enough, you can always add a few ice cubes.
Tip 3: We try to use organic ingredients as much as possible. If your budget allows for it, DO IT! Not only do you avoid potentially toxic pesticides, but I think they taste better too!
Avocado Lime Smoothie
Banana Berry Protein Smoothie
Creamy “Caramel” Banana Bread Smoothie
When I was going through treatment I chose to cut out all processed sugar to help my body fight inflammation. This was incredibly hard because I am a sugar lover! To help satisfy my screaming sweet tooth, I created a smoothie that hit the spot every time. Here it is. You’re welcome.
Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Another great resource for smoothies specific to breast cancer is a book by Daniella Chase called Breast Cancer Smoothies. What I like about this book is that it shares why each ingredient is good for fighting cancer, and certain recipes are created for specific breast cancer types. (ER, PR+, Triple -, etc.)
If you are one that struggles with keeping weight on and are looking to beef up your smoothies with some healthy fats, you can always add a scoop of avocado, or coconut oil to your recipes. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower butters are also great choices for adding some much needed, healthy calories. It’s also important to get a lot of protein when you’re battling this disease so feel free to add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to each smoothie.
I hope this information has given you a little push to jump on the smoothie train. I’m so glad I did, and I think we will forever be hooked!
Let’s go! Get blending!
Everyday I am learning how to be a better parent to my girls. I admittedly make a gazillion mistakes daily so I’m no expert, but there is one thing that I think is super important. Give your children a DECREE. You may be thinking, “What the heck is a decree?” Don’t worry. I thought the same thing. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I actually stumbled upon this a few years ago when I was “Christmas shopping” in Hobby Lobby. (a.k.a. wandering around one of my favorite stores daydreaming about completely redecorating my house with ceramic pumpkins and dreamy L.E.D. candles). In my crafting, DIY, delusional haze I found myself in the aisle that had all of the “farmhouse chic” painted signs with inspirational sayings. I was immediately drawn to one particular sign and this is what it read:
I am the daughter of a King,
Who is not moved by the world.
For my God is with me,
And goes before me.
I do not fear,
Because I am His.
I felt that quiet voice in my spirit say, “This is for your daughters.” I reached out, pulled it off of the shelf, and quickly put it in my cart.
I hung it in my oldest daughter’s room, in a place where I knew it would be the first thing she saw when her eyes opened, and the last thing she’d see when she drifted off to sleep. I started reading it with her every night, and I had her repeat it out loud as part of our bedtime prayer routine.
On our way to school every morning I began having both of the girls repeat what we now call the “I am” statement, and sometimes I would change the words to decree it over them myself. When I do that, it sounds like this.
“YOU are the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world. For YOUR God is with YOU and goes before YOU. YOU do not fear because YOU are His!”
As the girls got a little older, I started to get the slight eye roll and the, “I know mom, I know. I’m the daughter of a King, blah blah blah.” But much to their chagrin, I keep doing it. And I’ll keep doing it as long as they live under my roof. (And you can bet your biscuits I’ll be calling them when they’re off to college someday leaving it on their voicemail when they’re screening my calls. You can’t get rid of me girls! Insert evil laugh…)
I think words of affirmation are so important, but I believe there is a difference between words of affirmation and a decree. Words of affirmation are words or phrases that uplift, encourage, and support someone. These are very helpful and can aid in positive thinking and self worth. Words of affirmation are awesome-sauce moms and dads, so if you currently shower your kids with them, keep rocking it.
However, words of affirmation are very different from a decree, specifically a Biblical decree. A decree is a legal term that is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “an official order issued by a legal authority.”
A Biblical decree comes from a place of God-given authority. Just as God spoke the earth into existence, He has given us authority with our words too. Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
Matthew 18:18 says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
A decree contains words that call down the truth of God’s WORD to be MANIFESTED on earth. There is power in the words you speak that align with what the Bible promises. Let’s break down how the decree my girls and I say, lines up with God’s word.
My prayer is when life gets tough for my daughters that this decree will bubble up inside of them and they will remember who they are. They’re not a dancer, not a basketball player, and not a rocket scientist (come on, I’m their mom, I can’t help it). Those are all things they enjoy and may potentially DO someday, but it’s not WHO they are. They ARE the daughter of a King. Careers and talents come and go, but that identity never will.
Also, when they say this decree they are calling down the blessings, each of these words contain, from Heaven to manifest over their lives. Does it mean that they will never have trouble? Hardly. But they can be confident that they will have a heavenly inheritance, the strength to stand firm through trials, the knowledge that they are never alone, the security of a Creator who is moving and clearing paths before them, and the peace that they have nothing to be afraid of because they are His children.
Don’t we want all children to feel this way? That’s what I thought. Amen, sister.
Don’t just say it. DECREE IT!
Calling all married folks! Yep, this one’s for you.
Last week my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years of absolute, perfect, wedded bliss. Okay, just kidding. “Perfect” would definitely not be a word that either of us would use to describe our marriage. Fulfilling, challenging, stretching, loving, growing, hard, forgiving, and a lot of WORK would all be a much more realistic way to describe this union we entered into years ago.
I love being married. I honestly admit that I have had my share of “relationship practice runs” as a dating single. As strange as it may sound, I’m grateful for those past dating experiences because they prepared me for the incredible man God had waiting for me. (Uh, by the way God, you could have brought Prince Charming into the picture a little sooner and saved me a bunch of headaches, you know. A few less nightmares about being a single, weird, cat lady knitting socks for my friends’ kids for the rest of my life would have been nice. But I get it. You’re God. So I’ll let you off the hook this time.)
On that incredible day that my husband proposed, one of the amazing things he did after slipping on THE ring was hand me a single long stemmed red rose. Then he proceeded to recite the most beautiful words I’d ever heard a man say to me.
He said, “Jamie, this is a Devotion Rose. I will be giving you a rose every week until the day we are married to signify my love, commitment, and devotion to you as my wife and to our marriage.” Say what?! Cue the waterworks and the fleeting thought of, “Is this guy for real?” Well, he was, and he remained true to his word. He presented me with a rose while repeating the same words he said on our engagement night, every. single. week.
There were weeks when he had to get a bit creative which was fun. At one point, he was traveling in Alaska, sleeping on a glacier in a tent with no cell service, and doing helicopter ski trips on the mountains during the day. I know, I know. I had the same thought. I think I’m marrying a crazy person. But during that time when he was as far away as the Western world is from Siberia, he asked his FATHER to show up at my workplace with the Devotion Rose. My soon to be father-in-law walked into my office and repeated those same words, inserting his own little twist of committing to be the best father-in-law he can be. Yep. You guessed it. Not only was I crying, but so were all of my fellow female co-workers who witnessed it all. One big, obnoxious, blubber-fest.
Over the course of the nine months between the night we got engaged until our wedding day there were 38 weeks, and 38 red roses. Andrew and I decided that we wanted to incorporate what had become a tradition each week into our marriage ceremony. We had our florist create a beautiful bouquet of 38 red roses that would be placed at the altar throughout the entire ceremony. During the ceremony we placed one, white rose in the center of the arrangement. We wanted this final rose to represent God in our marriage and the importance of centering our entire relationship on Him. We also chose white because it represents purity, love, loyalty, and new beginnings. It was a very powerful moment for us and one we will treasure forever.
What’s the point of this story? Every year on our wedding anniversary Andrew gives me 38 red roses and a single white one as a reminder of the commitment we made to each other and the important role that God plays in our marriage. (We would be a HOT MESS if Jesus wasn’t at the helm of this marriage boat!)
When I received my bouquet this year I realized how much I appreciate this tradition. Not only do I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture, but every year it takes me back to the foundation of what our union was established on. Our love for each other, our commitment to relishing the beautiful moments and persevering through the challenging ones, and most importantly our faith.
I believe traditions are so important because they keep us grounded in past truths and keep our roots firmly planted. Is there a tradition that you have with your spouse that is special to you? Or is there one that you used to have that has been unintentionally shelved and needs a little dusting off?
If you don’t have a tradition, that’s okay! There’s no better time to start than NOW! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be simply writing a love letter to each other on your anniversary. Or revisiting the place where you met or were engaged, and reminiscing about the dreams, hopes, and visions you had for your future life together. If you’re really hard up for ideas, just play Tony! Toni! Tone!’s song, “Anniversary” from 1993 and dance around in your living room. Scratch that. We want you to STAY married.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it special and unique to you. Use it as an opportunity to take you back to those butterfly feelings you had when you realized you were going to spend the rest of your life with your very best friend. Let it be an opportunity to keep your marriage fresh and grounded in the beautiful things that keep you strong as a couple.
Remember the love, and find your tradition.
About a week ago, I woke up feeling fearful and agitated. The weight of all the pain, confusion, and evil in this world suddenly came crashing down on me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Yes, I have complete and utter faith in my Jesus, but I’m human. And sometimes that firm foundation gets a little mini-quake once in a while. When the enemy tries to rattle my cage there’s only one place I go when I need a little grounding….
To my knees.
I began praying, and I came to God as a child asking her Father to hold her because she was afraid. I asked for God’s peace that surpasses all understanding and for protection over myself and my family. In that quiet moment the words “Psalm 91” came to my mind. Obviously, I don’t have large chunks of scripture memorized so I had no idea what this meant. I reached over to the table next to my chair where we have our Bibles and started reaching for one. I began to grab the NIV translation, but I felt like the Lord impressed upon me, “No, not that one. This one…” And instead, I grabbed my Message translation.
I opened it up and read.
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“
If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
I hadn’t even finished reading the whole passage before I burst into tears. Knowing a God that loves His children so much that He would give me, AGAIN, exactly what I needed to hear in that moment broke me. No matter how strong or how weak our faith is at any given moment, He is always faithful to reassure us that HE is sovereign, HE is in control, and we can have PEACE when we sit in His shadow.
Don’t ever underestimate His power, and the power that you can have over fear, anxiety, and evil, when you plug into the source.