Here is our wedding photo from 2008 and our vow renewal photo from 2018 — my Lord — all that transpired within those 10 years would astound you! I’m considering writing a book to tell of ALL the Lord’s extraordinary deeds! Too many to count!
In 2008, we were babies — literal babies (24 years old!) and babies in our faith, unfortunately. We were young, wounded and naive — so many buried hurts and gobs of baggage — we were full of so many unresolved past-struggles and pent-up pain — planted deep inside — boatloads of grief we both denied and hid from ourselves and from one another. Stuffing pain was our hallmark and compartmentalizing was our m.o. Yep, paving the way for disaster. We had no idea what would be coming for us in the future, but we were super enthusiastic to be married — blissfully unaware of what it would ultimately take to have a fabulous marriage, oh so passionate about one another and madly in love! Friendship was the basis of our relationship — since we met when we were 4 years old, we’d been “friends first” for a lifetime! Little did we know, that our strong bond of friendship (all 27 years of it at the time) would come into play and become the only literal cord that would hold us together during the darkest, most nightmare-ish years of our marriage.
Those of you who don’t know me or our redeeming love story, might be thinking what an odd anniversary post! Ha!! The grim details of our story — which once upon a time I wanted to bury in my backyard and never discuss aloud again (you see my shame was defended by a bodyguard of lies), God would move mountains to miraculously heal us and bring about an overwhelming sense of honor for what all God had done in our lives! A scandal-filled, traumatizing, and humiliating story was turned into a JOY story! It was the miracle of miracles it seemed — like bringing the dead back to life — that was us — and it’s now our greatest delight to share our redemption-tale with everyone!
Sometimes Jesus has to tear the whole house down, in order to rebuild it in the right way! (He’s a carpenter after all!) That’s our testimony — something incredibly beautiful and powerful and remarkably redemptive blossomed out of a burnt-down pile of rubble! This story boasts of Jesus and in His mighty power — to save and to transform — to just what all He is capable of in a life! Our story reeks of human depravity and our great need for a Savior. Thank God we have one! I hate what happened, but I love the God-story we get to go and tell! What a gift! You see, that’s just how God works…come to Him with your disaster, your trash, your screw-up, your issue, your wounds, and He will turn it into something you’ve yet to imagine! The exceptional grace of how He works ALL things together for good and how He uses your own evil to save you. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. No, He came to bring life to the dead, to heal the sick, and to give sight to the blind! (And I was all 3 y’all!) I was on a highway to hell as fast as I could get there — the type of evil that all of hell rejoices over — addictions, strongholds, bondage, pride, believing lies and so many wounds! BUT…His blood breaks the chains! Jesus came to set the captives FREE! Me!!
Regardless of what life does to you or what you do to your own life! The Promises in Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 are always fighting and working on your behalf! You can lose everything else in your life, but you cannot lose these things. Cling to His Grace, His Sovereignty, His love, and His Promises that will NEVER fail you, turn on you, abandon, or betray you. His love will NEVER fail you -- even in the most horrific, season of suffering — He’s the hope that will NOT disappoint. Bask in His unrivaled faithfulness — for He was faithful — even unto death — faithful beyond being forsaken, forgotten, rejected, abandoned, and betrayed. And yet, He still came and died for His accusers — withholding nothing from us! For He is “famous for His faithfulness”! (Psalm 100:5) Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but rather to shower you with kindness and compassion! Knowing full well that the fruit of mercy grows into the beauty of celebrating the forgiveness of sins, deep relationship with Him, abundant-life, purpose, healing of wounds, removal of shame, security, deliverance, and fullness of joy! For “He DELIGHTS to show mercy!”(Micah 7:18) And He’s THE ONLY one full of grace that lavishes us with a LOVE that surpasses measure, transcends reason, and conquers death. He DELIGHTS to take the broken things and raise them to glory AND He uses us to then carry His victory! He conquered EVERY circumstance at the Cross of Calvary — and because of that Truth — He now joyfully trades our ashes for something new, beautiful and victorious! He alone eclipses every hopeless, despondent and most impossible of situations and turns our defeat into triumph! Experiencing this level of unconditional, unsurpassable, indestructible, overcoming-love in my own heart and in my marriage, changed Ellis’ and my life forever!
“Those who walked in darkness, have seen a GREAT LIGHT! Oh, those who lived in the land of deep darkness, a LIGHT has dawned!” (Isaiah 9:2)
We don’t have to live with this amount of disfunction, offense, isolation, shame, or brokenness. We were made to be restored — to the fullest extent of the definition! If you are in desperate need of GOOD NEWS and HOPE today — click here to listen to our full story on Jamie Ivey’s The Happy Hour Podcast!
We serve a resurrection-minded Father, the literal NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES — the name above your issues, above your marriage problems, above your fear, depression, anxiety, shame and wounds. He takes hopeless situations — like ours — and breathes life, wholeness, and miraculous healing into them! Beauty from ashes IS His Gospel and His specialty— it’s what He masters in, and we are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)! Praise be to our God!
Ellis and I stand TOGETHER today, miraculously HEALED and FREE — here to passionately “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!” (1 Peter 2:9) — who turned our “graves” into blooming, fruitful gardens and longs to do the same for you! Undeserved, yes — but oh so TRUE! Bring him your “nothing,” your failures, your strongholds, your disaster — and watch what grace can do on your behalf!
“He was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim FREEDOM for the captives to sin, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor! To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair!” (Isaiah 61:1-4)
“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a ROCK making my footsteps FIRM. He put a NEW song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; MANY will see and trust in the Lord!” (Psalm 40:1-4)
If you’ve got a past like mine, no more beautiful or hopeful words have ever been uttered! Throw off those grave-clothes and those chains, get those eyes to look UP, and step into your NEW-adored-purpose-filled-prodigal-shame-free-victorious-identity! God’s got big plans for you, sister!
Fast forward to 2021 — yep —this-side of disaster, Ellis and I have something we never dreamed possible! It took many years, but our marriage is 10,000 times what it was before — our old selves seem like a shell of or a shadow of what we have now with one another — and the THE ONLY WAY something like that is possible is by coming to Jesus for help! Jesus + an AMAZING Christian Counselor (who’s specialty was in trauma and addiction) + 12-step program + magnificent community around us + prayer warriors + we had hit rock bottom and had no hope in ourselves = FREEDOM, NEWNESS, HEALING, FORGIVENESS and RESTORATION!
Together, we celebrate the GIFTS His love never fail to deliver to us! For loving us past the point of betrayal, for pursuing us in spite of our rejection of Him, for giving us the assurance of redemption beyond our stories of regrets and mistakes, for providing new life after the failure, for granting us prodigal celebrations when abandonment was warranted, for gracing us with hope that floats in a storm in spite of the most difficult of circumstances, for turning hopelessness and despair into JOY and revival, for lavishing us with undeserved blessings when destruction was justified, for being our defender when we stood isolated and broken, for bestowing on us mercies that are new every morning, for trading our pain for a spirit of rejoicing and healing, for gracing us with a story to go and tell of His great fame, for blessing us with freedom from the law, for crowning us with the confidence of being made brand new in Him, for delivering on ALL HIS PROMISES every single day, and for remaining steadfastly and passionately devoted to us to the end!
We REJOICE in JESUS and the GIFT His life, His rescue, His sacrifice perpetually brings to our family!
So, we do not just celebrate today, although we FULLY enjoy it, we rejoice EVERY DAY — and may that never ever end — reveling in ALL God has done and is doing! Praise HIM for His healing of our hearts, His redemption over our home, and His restoration of our marriage! Thankful He graces us with JOY where despair once reigned! How magnificent His power, how carefully planned are His purposes, how miraculous is His healing, how joyous His redemption! Praying our story shines a SPOTLIGHT on THE Healer!!!!
Happy 13th Anniversary to us!