We’re Having a Baby

Positive.

The line was faint. But it was there.

“Thank you Lord.”

I did my best to maintain a poker face as I made my way back to the table where my Beloved sat. I wondered what he was thinking, what he was feeling.

He rose from his chair, moving slowly around the table to pull out mine. His eyes desperately sought the result. Putting an arm around him, I kissed him gently, and through an unmistakable smile whispered, “We’re having a baby.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

He repeated the question a couple more times. Finally receiving it, he began to shout “Hallelujah. Yes. Thank You, God!”

Like most married couples, we very much wanted to have children together. He stepped in without hesitation to father the two children I already had. I love watching him interact with our boys. We still wanted to have our own. We prayed diligently for this.

Our current and temporary circumstances make it incredibly difficult to give it a good effort. In our 760 days of marriage we have spent 13 of those in private.

We are thankful for each one.

After each one we hoped, prayed, and waited. Each one hurt a little deeper.

Through the pain we trusted God and His perfect plan for our lives. If another addition wasn’t part of those plans, we determined to joyfully find contentment in the love and favor we’d received in each other and the boys.

During our eleventh private day together, we were notified that there was an emergency in our family. Torn to pieces I left early. By the grace of God, and mercy of the staff at the facility we were able to reschedule our visit for three weeks later. This unexpected visit was Gods awesome provision. Sweet redemption.

His love didn’t stop there. The following Sunday at church I entered into worship with the rest of the body. Almost immediately I heard the still small voice whisper, “Psalm 127.” Nothing else. I took a mental note and continued on in worship. “Psalm 127” persisted. Diligence is a characteristic God has been working in me recently. Perfect practice.

I sat down, picked up my bible and read. I wasn’t familiar with that particular Psalm. Immediately I was encouraged. It was verse three that I couldn’t seem to get past. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” I read it over and over, receiving it for myself. I began thanking God. I read the rest of the Psalm and rose again in worship.

I was looking forward to sharing the Word with Jacob who would be calling later that evening.

That weekend my sister was up from Florida. I had the privilege of hosting her. Sunday was her final day here. I’d invited the rest of our siblings and their families to come spend the day.

My house and heart were full.

My brother-in-law heard me tell my husband and was interested in hearing also. I told them about worship, and brought the bible out to my sister who read it aloud. Just before she got to verse three, I declared in front of my family, “This is what I am claiming!” Suddenly I had a room of witnesses.

It would be another two weeks before a test could confirm the Word.

I believed in my heart, but throughout the following week my mind had its doubts. When I found myself listening to my mind, I began to pray and give thanks.

“Father, thank You. I am so happy to be having this child. Though I hurt that Jacob won’t be here to experience the fullness of this pregnancy with me, I am so thankful that I will be experiencing every single moment with you. I dedicate this child to You, God.”

The following Sunday at church God poured out more love and confirmation. My Pastor announced we would be having a baby dedication. He led that dedication with the reading of Psalm 127.

A few days later the test confirmed everything my loving Father already had.

We’re having a baby!

 

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Finally the Bride

My body was shaking. I couldn’t tell if it was nerves, or the cool late April air filling the van. I rolled over towards the driver seat to see my sister sleeping well. I didn’t want to disturb her. She was doing so much already.

I wasn’t nervous to marry Jacob. I was nervous that I wouldn’t get to marry him.

At Attica Correctional it always seemed that the guards did all they could to deter visitors from coming. Their shallow mentality was that we were no better than the “animals” they caged. Their disrespect and mistreatment didn’t stop with the prisoners, but rippled out to us who dared love them.

Morning came quickly. The bus from New York City pulled up to the gate, indicating that the facility van was soon to follow. My sister was now awake and I began to prepare her for what was ahead.

As the van pulled up, we jumped out to stand in front of our vehicle.

“Regular visit or wedding?” the driver asked.

“Both, I am wedding and she is regular,” I said as I pointed to my sister.

I received number one, and Cassie would be called as number two for regular visits. She, along with my mother in law, Liz, would be our witnesses. Only three visitors were allowed at a table with each prisoner. The boys and I would be maximum for our table. Cassie and Liz would sit with one of Jacob’s dearest friends. I was excited for Cassie to meet him and hear his incredible story.

We boarded the van as soon as we were given our numbers. We waited as the driver finished handing them out. The van filled quickly with women in curlers and pajamas, wanting to be the first in the bathroom to use the mirrors for their hair and makeup.

Once unloaded at the visitor center, we made our way inside. There was a rush to the counter to get visitor passes. Each pass corresponded with the number we had previously been given in the parking lot. We filled in the name of the prisoner we were visiting, their DIN number (or state name), as well as our name, address, and signature. With Liz still not there, my sister filled in as much as she could.

The civilian working behind the desk was notorious for being rude and showing her power in incredulous ways. I was always sure to be kind and respectful. She joyfully disclosed that her time on staff was coming to an end, making her final days even more difficult than before.

“Wedding people, you have until 8:30 to be back in this visiting center, or you won’t be getting married today” she said.

Looking at the clock and then to my sister, we dashed out the door to catch the van back to the parking lot. I would have about a half hour to prepare for my wedding.

I was highly favored to be able to drive down the road two minutes to a dear friends house. She was also a wife of a prisoner, and previously married inside Attica’s walls. She knew exactly what I was enduring. She kindly opened her home to myself, my boys, my sisters, and my aunt to help me get ready and share in that experience. Her hospitality was enormous, even offering breakfast.

I tried to not get anxious about the small amount of time I had to get dressed. We were as efficient as possible, getting my hair and makeup done at the same time. My sisters helped get the boys dressed and ready, while I finished the last-minute touches, including the special jewelry Jacob had a fellow prisoner make specifically for the occasion.

I made sure to stop and take a few pictures with my amazing family, before racing back to the facility.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling

We would have to be careful driving back, the Attica police were notorious for setting up speed traps every weekend just outside the prison. It was nearly 8:30. We parked once again in the lot we had spent the night in .We waited eagerly for the van to pick us back up. It was the only way to get back there. The gunners in the watch towers would shoot any “trespasser” who tried to walk or drive in themselves.

I looked around the people mingling in the parking lot as they waited their turn for processing. I was looking for my mother in law. I did not see her. I hoped she was in the visitor center.

The van finally made its way to pick us up. The visitor center was now crowded with several women waiting to get married, their children and witnesses, all the people from the NYC bus, and regular visitors who had driven themselves.

I immediately began to look for Jacobs mom, as well as his best friend, Antonio, who had come from NYC, to take part in our special day. They both were coming from the hotel where we all celebrated the night before. Antonio was once behind the walls with my husband. After twenty-two years of wrongful incarceration he was exonerated with DNA evidence. This was his first time back. He was exceptionally calm and brave to be facing that place, but now as a free man. It meant a lot that he was doing that in solidarity and love for us.

I located them towards the back of the center. Antonio, who arrived after the bus,  had a high visit number. He wouldn’t be processed for hours.

I went over towards the front of the center to wait for our call. I kept looking in my hands to be sure I had all I would need; the ring, the receipt to prove it was $150 or less, my driver’s license, the boys birth certificates, the money for the justice of the peace, the money for our vending machine lunch, and money for pictures. Now, it was hurry up and wait. And wait we did, for at least an hour.

My nerves began to creep up as the clock approached 9:30. Our paperwork specified that all those getting married should be in the visiting room by 10:00, and ceremonies would begin promptly.

Finally the first call for processing came, for regular visits. I was slightly frustrated and anxious to make it to my husband, and regular visits were getting precedence.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, regular visits only,” called the woman at the desk. She held the visitor passes that we’d previously completed in her hands. I gave my sister instruction, to grab the ticket and make her way to the van, which would then drive them to the facility entrance for further processing.

It wouldn’t be that simple. As my sister reached for the pass, the agitated woman said, “This isn’t all the way filled out. Who didn’t sign it?”  Liz explained that she wasn’t there when it was filled out, but she is here now, and can sign it.

“No, you’ll go to the end of the line.”

The end of the line was nearly in to the hundreds at this point. That would mean they would be processed by noon, if they were lucky.

Liz calmly and reasonably negotiated, apologizing for the inconvenience, and asked for mercy, which fell on a hardened heart and deaf ears. She refused. I stepped in, begging, explaining that I was getting married today and these were our witnesses. I began to exclaim that my sister and I had slept in the parking lot since a little after midnight. She wasn’t moved. The other visitors began to get agitated that the van was being held up.

I walked away to grab Antonio for further intervention. His intervention was to calm me down, and pray with and for me. Before I knew it, I heard “Thank you, God bless you,” coming from my mother in law. My two witnesses glimpsed back at me, Liz with a look of reassurance, and my sister with a mix of sadness and anger. She couldn’t believe the incident that just occurred.

I thanked God, and came back to a spirit of peace, understanding that the enemy was only trying to steal my joy and rob me of the tremendous blessing of marriage. I prayed earnestly for years for my husband. In Jacob, God had given me more than I asked or imagined, which is why I call him my Ephesians 3:20. Our union was drawing near, and the enemy was working harder.

Finally, “1, 2, 3,  weddings only.”

That was me. Almost there. I grabbed the boys and loaded the van.

I stood waiting to be called for processing with another woman about to get married. She was waiting for a call from the Sergeant to see if they were going to allow her visit. She had three children with her, which would put them over maximum capacity at the table. The only exception was if the youngest child was under one, they could be considered a “lap child.” Her youngest was less than a month over one year old. I prayed with her, and asked the Lord to move in her favor.

“Rouse” the guard at the desk called. It was my turn.

“Stand against the wall and look at the blue dot” the officer commanded, “no smiling.” They were taking my photo to send through their data base, making sure I had no outstanding warrants. Once I was cleared there I would make my way to the metal detector.

“Shoes and anything with metal in the tray,” said the officer who began sifting through my belongings.

“Once inside you’ll stop at the package room and drop off the ring and receipt.”

After getting our hands stamped we made our way through the heavy steel doors. I took one glance back to the woman waiting with her children, encouraging her to keep the faith. I hoped with all hope I would soon see her inside.

The package room was right outside the visiting room. I had stopped there many times picking up packages my husband sent home with me. I rang the bell once. The guard behind the window took the ring, and reviewed the receipt.

“You can’t have this ring, it is more than $100” he said.

“My paperwork says anything up to $150” I rebutted.

“I don’t think so, but I will inquire” he said as he began to close the window. “Take your pass and go to the visiting room.”

Feeling nearly defeated I turned and walked to the visiting room. I handed my pass to the guard at the desk who would assign us a table. My sister and Liz were already seated. My sister, looking at my face looked back at me with the same frustration and pain she could see all over me. The morning had been so trying.

A day that was to be filled with joy had so far been filled with trial and tribulation. I felt so discouraged.

I walked over to where they sat, even though I could be terminated for “cross-visiting” and explained how I may not be able to give my husband the ring I had bought him. Ready to cry, I walked over and sat down at our assigned table waiting for my groom.

Every time I heard the familiar clicking of the prisoner door, I turned to see if it was opening for me. A few clicks later, the most beautiful man God ever created stepped out from behind the short wall. His immediate smile melted every frustration away. HE was why I was there. His love made it worth it all. I didn’t care if there was no ring. I didn’t care that I was in a prison visiting room about to get married.

Dressed in a white, perfectly ironed shirt, he wrapped his strong arms around me. I looked in his big brown eyes, reminding myself that in mere moments I would legally call him Husband.

This was the man God made specifically for me to love for all of eternity. No matter what the morning circumstances were, I remembered my high favor.

 

 

 

 

The Bride to be

I tried to remain calm as the clock ticked closer to midnight. I wondered if this was how every bride felt the night before her wedding, or was it just the prison bride? 

My siblings and I sat in the hallway of the hotel snorting with laughter. Just about every room on that first floor wing occupied a family member, new and old. I was so grateful they were all there to support Jacob and I with their unconditional love. 

The lines outside the facility would begin forming at midnight, as they did every weekend. With several weddings taking place, it was bound to be worse. I wanted all the time I could get with my husband on our wedding day. With processing taking hours, I would need to be one of the first in line.

Around midnight my sister Cassie and I began to load her van with everything we would need the following morning. 

Making one final stop to the room where my boys slept with their Aunt Peanut, I kissed them gently. I would see them in the morning.

My sister drove the fifteen miles to the castle that stood lit up like a city in the dark. There was only one other visitor parked before us.

We both looked at the barb wire, gun towers, and cement wall that was my wedding destination. Attica Correctional Facility, home of the deadliest prison riot. A massacre that shed so much blood it was likely still in the water. 

It certainly wasn’t the beach, or country setting I had always dreamed of. But, behind those walls lay a man, locked in a cell barely larger than he, who exceeded all my dreams. I wondered if he was sleeping. What was he thinking? I imagined he had everything out, ironed, and ready to go. Probably asking the same questions I was.

I whispered, hoping the wind would carry my message to him, “I’m here. I can’t wait to marry you today. I love you.” 

I closed my eyes, dimming the lights that filled the parking lot. I pulled the blanket to my chin, curling up in the passenger seat to sleep, though I wouldn’t get much. 

Finally Free

“I’m afraid God. I’m afraid I’ve made a mistake. I’m afraid to trust. I’m afraid to completely break down the walls. I’m afraid God.”

Escaping the comfortable grips of my air mattress I determined to not “waste my wilderness.” I packed up my thrift store-bought nine west with my morning essentials, slinging it over both shoulders as a makeshift backpack. Snatching up my water bottle I made my way to the hiking trail.

Stepping into the shade of the woods was like stepping into a new world. Everything seemed more alive. Including myself. I was desperate to reach the small community of modern-day caves half way down the trail. Tree branches had been intricately woven to create a tent like structure. One of the caves was constructed around two boulders that made up its walls. This one was my favorite.

On top of its walls was where I met with God.

Taking a panoramic, I envisioned fierce zombie wars with my boys. I could see Caleb running toward them, slaying as many as he could with his sword. Deegan, hiding low in his cave, shot the ones Caleb missed. Jacob, head of the tribe, shouted protective exhortations.

It hurt to acknowledge the deep desires within my heart.

Better to practice contentment.

Deeply inhaling the fragrance of pure organic freshness, I began to unpack my bible, journal, and devotion. My fearful heart led me here and was still begging for acknowledgment and resolution.

“He’s not faithful to you. He’s a con man,” so many warned.

Logical enough. So I listened. I reasoned. I contemplated. Pulling my cell out of the middle pocket of my mock backpack, I checked the time. His counselor would be in. One call and peace could be restored.

Fear winning.

I committed ahead of time complete honesty to my husband no matter what answers I received. Staring down at the phone in my hand I heard a gentle whisper, “free indeed.” I immediately remembered the altar call at our healing service at my home church four days prior. The Holy Spirit spoke freedom over me.

I am free indeed! A gentle nudge of truth in the quiet of creation.

It was Him and I.

Yet so much fear.

What does one have to do with the other?

Looking up toward the brightest of all spotlights, I sat on Gods stage and made a choice

“You, God. I want You to speak to my heart what is true.”

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid…” Joel 2:21-22

Without my permission bursts of water streamed down my smiling cheeks. Spreading my arms like a soaring eagle I rejoiced, “I’m sorry. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. Yes! I say Yes, I say Yes, I say Yes.”

Freedom.

This marriage, as difficult the path, is MY GIFT. Every part.

Beautiful purpose. Crazy journey. Incredible love.

There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18) There is no freedom in fear.

I am free indeed.

I never made the call. I confessed all to my battle buddy. His patient, humble heart forgave me and peace was restored.

I didn’t return to my tent the same. There was a change.

A break.

A renewed steadfast Spirit within me.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Singing through smiles I made my way to the last morning major class of writers conference. Finding it difficult to focus, I gave thanks. The week had been highly insightful, inspirational, and informative. I wasn’t ready to leave, though I was looking forward to start practicing all I’d learned, or at least some of it.

Taking advantage of my lunch break I began tearing down the tent. Video game sounds suddenly filled the air. My husband was calling.

“Hello” I said.

“Hi baby girl, how are you? How was class?”

I gave a quick recap and inquired about his meeting with his new counselor.

“It was good. The usual six month review. But, I had to make a major decision.”

I stopped in my tracks, “What do you mean?”

“I had to choose between three dates.” He said.

The only thing I could muster was, “Shut the front door!”

Laughing with the love of a husband, MY husband, he promised sincerity.

Our much-anticipated honeymoon was approved by the State of New York.

Tears and laughter once again burst out of me. The conclusion of my amazing week in Montrose concluded alongside the painfully dry season of physical intimacy with my husband.

My newlywed.

Freedom.

We have the joy of counting down once again. It is exciting to imagine what our first private moments will be like.

Perfecting our love. Growing deeper.

Worshipping God.

 

May the garden grow

I was still looking for a way out. I had walked into this beautiful garden that flourished with life. In it I found tremendous joy and purpose. But it seemed nearly too good to be true. Maybe I was dreaming. Some others believed I was creating a fantasy out of the heart of a wounded girl with low self-esteem.

But I loved being in the garden.

Immediately outside the garden gates was a darkness that I despised. I grew to despise the outside long before I had discovered the garden inside. The outside was known as the American prison system.

I graduated college with an Associates in Applied Science. My focus was criminal justice. Instead of applying for academy I turned away from the field, disgusted after having taken my police ethics class. I did not turn away because I believed I lacked morale to be an ethical officer, but because the system I would be giving my allegiance to defend seemed corrupt.

I had to quench my thirst for a better understanding of the complexities involved in the entire system. I wanted to dig toward the roots, which I believed was people and society. I began working on my second Associates with a focus in Sociology. It was around the same time that I graduated that I gave my life over to Christ.

I had been in the church for nearly two years, but I wanted to get in Christ.

I being the lover of books and writing decided to record my journey in a journal. It was on the very first page of that journal, dated March 4, 2010, that I committed myself to two personal and career goals. Those goals were to diligently seek God and criminal justice reform.

My heart was completely sold out for God and the people made in His image.

Living in the sin filled world we begin to see people as their sins, forgetting each and EVERY individual was wrought by the Maker, in His image with great purpose.

My heart was adamant, my efforts were short…except with God. He had my all. It was Him and my family. I lost sight of my goal of reform for a few years, until my own brother became a product of the system I believed to be failing.

His path coincided with mine, leading straight to the garden.

I grew in the garden. I loved in the garden. It was not a place I wanted to leave, yet it was a place I feared. My fear was that maybe I had taken the path to temptation, and not the path of God. Even with the scriptural and life confirmations, I looked for a way out. Though I had already said yes to receive this man who comprised my garden to and before God, I was face down in the dirt, making mud with my tears, to be sure it was His will and not my own. Thinking that maybe since it wasn’t yet made legal He would show me a path out. My faith knew He was certainly able to close a door He didn’t open.

Light and life, that’s who He is. Light and life was (is) my garden.

He never took me out of the garden because it was where He wanted me. And I wanted to be there. So when the day before my legal wedding arrived I rejoiced.

God revealed that for the first time in my life the focus of my wedding was not on the celebration, the location, the dress, the rings, or any of the material incorporations that make up a traditional wedding, but on the heart of a man I adored, admired, cherished, treasured…A man I Loved with the love of Christ.

He so happened to be my two goals in one.

I love my garden. I love my husband. Most of all, I love my God. I believe with all my heart that He has purposed this marriage to increase the light from our garden to the outside surroundings. To turn the darkness into light. As long as we remain diligent and focused on Him, our flame will become a torch and life through love will be brought back to a system of people in need of real justice, real reform.

 

Loved and Unashamed

Words have power, the power of life and death. “I love you” I tell my husband, but I cry because it doesn’t seem enough. These words tenderize the heart and bring comfort, but are hardly significant in expressing the level of commitment and depth of devotion I hold for him. That is why I strive to love him in deed and truth. (1 John 3:18)

This is how I long to love Abba.

In May of 2013, I wrote in my journal about an experience I had during a “praise and worship” night at my church. Earlier that morning, I journaled, “It’s all about Jesus! Make it that way. NOTHING else will do. HE is the center of it ALL!” I went on to pray, “Jesus, it is all about You.” It was later that evening when I was lost in praise that I heard four clear and gentle words, “Mean what you say.”

Mean what you say.

These words would lovingly grab my attention when I spoke in the future. Was I truly, in my heart meaning what I was saying? Less than a year later, I was saying such things as,

“Come, interfere in my life.”

“Take me deeper than my feet could EVER wander, that my faith would be made stronger.”

“Yes God. I say yes to whatever it is that YOU have for me. Your will be done. Not my own. I am Yours, and I say YES, without even knowing what it is.”

“I surrender all.”

There was a dramatic point that I would have an opportunity to love my Father in deed and in truth by meaning what I said. Everything I was asking for, I received.

I had been quietly treasuring this new love that had developed in my life. I had made vows before God to love this man as his wife, but only two people in my life knew about him. My brother who introduced us, and my best friend Melissa. I was happily in love, secretly. I wanted to share my joy, not hide it. My love had not yet cast out all fear. There was fear of what I would face and what I might lose.

I was able to have a glimpse into my fear during lunch in the break room one evening at work. The room held two men and four women, including myself. Three of us were self-proclaimed Christians. Conversation turned to prison and prisoners. Some of the things I heard were, “They should all be put on the front line”, “I can’t believe they get three meals a day”, and “I’m so mad that I have all this college debt and they get free education.”

The shallow, ignorant hatred pierced and confirmed the fear I held.

I sat quietly, not revealing my secret love affair with a man known more by his DIN than his name. We faced a world who cared more about his charge than his story.

Interference had arrived. I was walking so deep, I had no choice but to rest and trust in God, walking in sheer faith. He reminded me again that saying yes to His plan meant leaving behind my goals, my dreams, my plans, my fears, my family, my friends. Nothing was off-limits. Did I love Him or the world? Him or my reputation? Him or fear?

In other words, “Daughter, did you really mean you surrender ALL?”

Though it meant loss, persecution, pain, tremendous amounts of tears and sacrifice, I meant what I said when I said, “Yes, I am Yours, everything I am and everything I have.” I knew the gain would be much greater than the loss. I chose eternal over temporary.

Our perfect love has cast out all fear, and I am unashamed.

On a later occasion at work one of those same persons from the break room, a “Christian”, stopped me as “a friend” and wanted to make me aware of the “rumors” going around about me. They went on to say that the rumors were that I was “married to a prisoner, charged with murder, who was black.”

After an internal laugh, I drew slightly closer, and proudly answered, “I’m married to a prisoner, who was charged with murder, and he’s black. Well, half black”, I corrected.

My invitation for interference came. I chose to be radically obedient. I chose to not only KNOW the heart of Jesus, but to LIVE IT! (Matthew 25:31-46, Hebrew 13:3) I will share the grace I have been given. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14) I will LOVE ALL people (John 13:35), the ignorant and the imprisoned. I will die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31), pick up my cross, and I will follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23)

Saying “Yes!” has been the most rewarding, though painful, beautiful choice I’ve ever made. I have never known such love, and held such STRONG faith. Praise is continually on my lips!

 

Our secret vows

Today we have been legally married for five months. Though this is a joyous celebration on our journey, the mile marker we reached yesterday was even more so.

One year ago yesterday was our second date/visit. But it was so much more than that. It was our spiritual marriage.

Our first date confirmed that we were deeply in love. We recognized God in the midst of us. God revealed that in one another lay the promise of all we had prayed for and more. We desired to receive the gift He was offering and offer ourselves back to Him. We yearned to honor Him by saying yes to Him, and one another.

The first concordance study I ever completed after surrendering my life to the One who gave it, was the word vow. For the first time I understood how binding these were in the sight of the covenant keeping God. He had brought to remembrance a vow I had made long before regarding His sacred marriage covenant.

In one word, one study, many lessons were enveloped and addressed to me.

I had long had visions of a man loving God and myself enough to initiate taking vows before God, just the three of us. I hoped for a man who saw the institution of marriage more binding in the eyes of its Maker than the eyes of the state.

When Jacob uttered the words, “I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me you’re my wife, I know it in my heart” I placed them in the already overflowing bucket of confirmation. We made the decision to intimately share vows of marriage sanctification.

September 24, 2014, our second date, we did what we had done so many times before; we gave our will over to God and said yes, with joy, to Him and all He was doing and would do in our lives. We surrendered our relationship to Him and His plans for it. We praised Him for the love our union held, as well as the tribulation. We understood that our endurance through the tribulation would produce a far more exceeding glory. (James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 4:17, Job 23:10) After we prayed, we looked into one another’s eyes, with God as our witness, committing ourselves to one another in love.

There in the visiting room of Attica Correctional Facility, table 4-3, the same table assigned to us on our first date we shed tears and laughter. There was no looking back. Our yes was yes! (Matthew 5:37)

We had made the decision to make love a commitment and not a test sample. We knew that we would have a lifetime to get to know one another. We understood that we were ever-growing and changing, and that we wanted to commit, for better or worse, to do that together. A “test drive” is not what God requires. He requires faith. We both had been walking plentifully in that. We count ourselves blessed to have been able to take one more giant step forward in the journey of our faith together.

Though this path has its own trenches, we stand in them together, united. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Every marriage has its trenches. The difference of endurance is the DAILY CHOICE to say yes all over again. It’s fixing your eyes on the firm foundation and the blessings He has provided.

I’ve learned to look at, with gratitude, what we have…IMG__201509268__101123 (2)

and not give my time to that which we don’t. What we do have is far too precious. (Photo from our celebration day yesterday 🙂 )

When the circumstances of our trenches begin to seep into the cracks of my heart and mind, I envision myself in place of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water. When I behold the beauty of my Savior I am able to walk on the water. It is the moment I look around to see how strongly the winds are blowing, I find myself drowning.

My helpmate then reminds me, “In Christ we fell in love and in Christ we shall remain.”

That is why I call my husband my Ephesians 3:20, my exceedingly and abundantly above all I could think, imagine, or ask for.

That is why today,

I am a prisoner’s wife

IMG__201509268__095319 (2)

That day (Sept. 24, 2014) he even gave his first lady as proper a proposal as he was allowed. ❤