I’ve been to some beautiful places in my life, but the white-capped mountains of the Rockies now take the trophy in my heart titled: “Most Breathtaking place on Earth.” My husband, Nick and I flew into Denver and drove to a small village, Snowmass, about 20 minutes away from Aspen for the wedding of an awesome couple from the NASCAR community. This couple is so special & we loved getting to know them over the months leading up to Nick officiating their wedding. I have never been to Colorado, and let me just say, I was blown away by its beauty! Our first full day, we started RUNNING up Snowmass mountain to the head of the Rim Trail. I have never ran in high altitude, and I thought I might pass out! (Snowmass is 8,209 ft elevation). I told my soon to be IRONMAN I needed one minute run, one minute walk! Thank God my lungs didn’t give out before we even made it to the trail head! This was my first hiking experience ever. ( I love running on paved roads and trails back home in NC.) At first we continued with the one minute run, one minute walk. But again I was repeating the “God please don’t let me die of heart explosion during this run” prayer. So I convinced my soon to be IRONMAN that we had to hike only until we made it to the top.
The hiking was amazing. This wild and free mama was praising Jesus as I weaved zig-zag along yellow and purple wild flowers!
And then we made it to the top. And we had one of those “God you’re so big, and I’m so small moments.” The timing for blogging though a series called “Basking- Fully aware & reveling in the presence & goodness of God” could not be more timely. Once I saw this mammoth of a mountain in the distance, I was reminded that I could never comprehend how powerful the God who created it was.
But the weekend just kept getting better. The next morning we headed out early for Maroon Bells, the most photographed scenic sight in America. It was about 6:30 am when we arrived, and the sun was just peaking up over the mountain behind us.
Nick turned around & said, “I think that couple just got engaged!” We watched from a distance for a few moments & then they moved towards us beaning with excitement & asked us to take their picture. It was so fun to witness such a beautiful proposal.
They re-enacted the moment per our encouragement. I told them we have been married almost 12 years, and he asked if we had any advice for them. I Fumbled over my words & told them to keep God in the center and just love one another. Nick sounded much more confident as he answered, “unconditional love, man.”
We walked away super elated on the love that seemed to be floating around in the air as present as the cottonwood that was falling all around us. I let Nick pick which trail to take, and we headed off to Crater Lake. Two miles and lots of rocks later we came to a clearing with another spectacular white capped mountain with a lake below. All I wanted to do was lay in the grass & be consumed by my surroundings. We walked around for a bit amongst a few other sojourners, snapping fun pics like this one:
We were about to take the path leading back when I said, “Babe, let’s just go back one more time and look down by the water.”
I’m so glad we did, because we sat on a log by the lake and for 10 solid minutes there was
Actually, it was imagined by ONE.
The One that whose Word is powerful enough to form a mountain that stands 13,000 feet above the level of the sea that he made stop at the sand’s edge. And if we can just pause from what we call “life” every once and awhile & sit in awe of Him, we will recover the fullness of life he meant for us to live.
These ten minutes were sacred. I describe them to you now, but only my Creator, my husband, and my soul can fully know the peace that was so loud it quieted my every thought. All we could do was sit and take in the majesty of a Savior who paints such a masterpiece on blank canvas.
We walked away so full. So amazed. Nick said, just think, after seeing that, how incredible heaven must be because:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
All I could do was thank Jesus he brought me here to get away with him. I don’t think I could have gotten any further “away” than to a remote area in Colorado.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
It was a much easier, down hill home on the way back Maroon Lake. We met the sweetest park ranger named Mary in the way. (I love meeting new people!) Nick talked a lot with her as she enlighten us about the bear & moose population and where the trails could take you if you went this way or that way. We expressed to her again how beautiful we thought it was there, and what she said next struck me deeply.
“I lost my husband to Alzheimer’s a few years ago, and this is where I get healed everyday.”
Her voice cracked a little. She smiled, we smiled & we wished each other a good day. Nick headed off to lead us down the trail & I was overcome with thankfulness that God has given a life partner to share all these experiences with.
A LIFE PARTNER
More than just a husband. More than a best friend. A lover. The father of my children. But a partner who I now look back on 12 years of memories that only he & I share.
This is the gift the young couple we came out to witness wed are walking into. This is what the two excited love birds who just got engaged have to look forward to.
Thanking God for my man.
Praying for each of my kids’ future LIFE PARTNERS.
Later that night at our friends’ Lauren & Andy’s wedding, the theme repeated over & over again was that of unconditional love- what it takes to have & keep a partner for life. Nick expanded on what he had told the newly engaged couple that morning. We can only love our spouse unconditionally because Christ showed us how.
“We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:19
He didn’t wait until we were perfect, but instead chose to love us and die for us while we were still sinners. This is the way he has shown us to love each other. Not based on performance or behavior of our spouse, but based on the covenant of love we promised them the day we married.
The funny thing about living out unconditional, covenant love with your spouse is that it frees the other party in the marriage from fear. Every person is flawed and imperfect. We are all going to mess up on some humanistic level. But living out covenant love means a never-ending amount of God’s grace flows through you onto your spouse. We don’t have to fear letting our partner down because there will be forgiveness to meet us in our less-than-perfectness.
So love on, people, the way you vowed to. Not based off of your spouses’ actions or attitude, but off the way you promised to. It’s a choice- a good one-one made day after day to end up being married for life. ❤️
12 years in – TGBTG (To God be the glory).
Andy and Lauren, about 12 minutes into their Unconditional Ever After ❤️. Could they look any happier?!
Love was in the air in Colorado! Praying it is in your neck of the woods too!