My husband and I went away for a few days last weekend to celebrate our upcoming anniversary. It was quiet–we picked blackberries, puttered around in antique shops, and walked in the rain.

Thirty-six years ago we made a solemn promise, and it’s been both better than we dreamed and harder than we imagined. So many joy-filled moments and now this great sorrow.

The steady joy of tested love is like a favorite sweater–the weight and warmth always nearby to take the chill away. Thick and comfortable. Familiar and cherished. I do not take this love for granted.

We talk about Marissa often. I think he shares his heart more than most men. Maybe grief has been a good teacher. We remind each other of God’s faithfulness, repeat words of hope. We remind each other to keep walking this pilgrim path, this thorny path that has been chosen for us to walk together.

We miss her so much, but we remember where she is. We remind ourselves of truth.

I’m thankful for the deep roots that steady us.

The crape myrtles are starting to blossom here. Our neighborhood is lined with their color.

I’ve always loved the idea of a tree that is most beautiful when the weather is hot and so inhospitable. All of the other trees bloom in the coolness of spring with ideal temperatures and a host of flowering encouragement. But this one waits. This one bursts with color in the middle of summer.

I am wise enough to know that there would be no flowering without the roots growing deep. I know storms can uproot–I have seen tall and beautiful trees blown down by strong gusts of wind, some unseen weakness underneath.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15

I want to be a flourishing tree, to still bear fruit in old age. I want to be the tree that flowers in summer, the plant that is watered by a desert stream. I want the deepest roots in my marriage, my family, and my heart so that I will be firmly planted. So that I will not fear when the heat comes.

Ultimately, though, the story is not about the flourishing of the tree. Ultimately the story is about the uprightness of God. About His powerful ability to be our rock, our strong tower, our hiding place.

Ultimately, the beauty is from Him.

The beauty is Him.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8