And they shall be radiant.

My 30th birthday was epic. Yep, I know it’s a totally overused, dumbed down by pop culture kind of word, but I distinctly remember Jon’s enthusiasm.

“Babe your birthday is going to be epic!” 

I think he embraced the words “go big or go home” long before they ever became a catch phrase.

“Mrs. Atkins,

Your full cooperation is needed both today and tomorrow as we celebrate the epic milestone of crossing over into a new ‘decade.’ Your assistance is required. Please DO NOT leave school when you get out at 11:30. There will be a driver arriving to pick you up and transport you to the next stop on the birthday weekend. Your vehicle will be picked up at a later date.

Thank you for your cooperation and have a nice day.
J. Atkins Cab Co”

And so it began. He had planned an entire weekend of surprises. New boots. Earrings. An afternoon seeing “Wreck it Ralph.” Dinner at The Melting Pot. And the next day, we took a trip to Galena, one of my all-time favorite, quaint towns. He also planned a surprise dinner with friends on another night.

The birthday fun never seemed to end.

Reminiscing about my favorite birthday mingles with a word that tumbles around my mind like clothes in the dryer.


And they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden and they shall languish no more. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow…and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:12-14.

Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

Life felt radiant on my 30th birthday. Glowing smiles and twinkling eyes fill every picture. I was cherished, immensely loved, and I was excited.


But there came a day when I wondered if I would ever be radiant again.

In the early weeks emotions were lava. “Lord, these words “they shall be radiant” magnify my sorrow and even make me a little angry. How could I ever be again? I want to reflect your goodness, but how will brilliant light reflect from a shattered life?”

I tumble the word over and over. Beautiful, flourishing, stunning, dazzling, and brilliant: connotations vividly spring to mind.

“Ami you seem exceptionally well these days.”

“Thank you. I am well.” 

How marvelous that others notice! My friend’s recent words penetrate my heart with joy.

I am well. 

The tumbling word greets me like a warm blanket. Radiant A healed heart, gladness, joy and dancing: I am well.

From whence does brilliance come? “Those who look to Him are radiant…”

True radiance results from beholding Christ. Because Jesus is light unimaginable, the gospel spoken and believed has the power to make my life shine.

The grain. He is the Bread of Life.

The wine. He is the Vine.

The oil. He is the Oil of Gladness.

The flock. He is the Great Shepherd.

A watered garden.  He is the Living Water.

My life might have felt radiant 3 years ago, but if it was, birthday fun and being spoiled didn’t cause it. If there is ever radiance, it emanates from Christ alone. It’s not found in circumstances, relationships, money, or things.. Rather, radiance resides in all Jesus is, all He has done, is doing, and will do

“My people will be satisfied with my goodness.”

God is good.

“And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the LORD who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

The more I see Jesus, the more I am transformed. O Lord, that my life would be a stunning reflection of you!

33 today. It may not be an epic day, but better than epic birthdays is to be satisfied with the goodness of the Lord. My heart is glad.

I don’t know if my life radiates Christ. Certainly there are times when it doesn’t! I struggle and sin just like everyone else. But I want it to.  

Lord this is my prayer. Make me more like you. Transform me. May your reflection shine more and more accurately from my life.



Chicago Dogs and the L

577028_10150663361503269_1450451404_nSliding his arm around my shoulders, he grinned, eyes twinkling. His face was a blend of excitement and adoration. When he smiled, small mischievous creases appeared at the corners of his eyes. They were my tiny wrinkles.

“You just love this don’t you?”

I laughed, cupped his chin, and planted a playful kiss on his mouth.

“Yes, I really do.”

Decked in our Cubs gear, we were riding the L toward Wrigleyville. I was a kid in a candy store. It was my first exposure to the infamous elevated tracks of Chicago. I peered out the window at the city below. I observed the myriad of humanity sharing the car with us. I fought the urge to be a tourist, wanting to capture everything on my camera. I took it all in, relishing the freshness of a new experience, enjoying the closeness of my husband.

It was Jon’s 30th birthday. Life had its sorrows, problems, and longings, but that day was carefree. The world could have crumbled around us, but we had God and each other. That was enough. How funny love is sometimes. I wanted to spoil him for his birthday and give him a day devoted to something he loved, joyfully sharing in a sport to which I had little actual allurement. So I bought the tickets, got the shirts, and said, “You’re not allowed to work on this day.”

Yet he delighted to spoil me. It was his birthday, but so much of his happiness stemmed from giving to me. He loved the childlike excitement that blossomed in me at the thought of a new adventure. I loved the childlike excitement he had all the time.

There was mutual joy in giving to the other.

“Look Lovee, I bought you your first Chicago dog! You can’t really experience Wrigley without it.” He was a 5 year old boy eager for praise.

I looked down at the conglomeration he proudly bestowed, all beef hot dog, poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear, celery salt, and not a hint of ketchup in sight. It wasn’t exactly what I would have chosen.

“All right Andrew. (Jon’s middle name and one of my favorite terms of endearment) Here’s to getting the full experience!” I laughed as I took a bite of the mess before me. It was really good.

The Cubs lost. Not a surprise.

Late that evening we rode the Metra home, our fingers entwined, my head on his shoulder. We were content.

I love this memory.

Jon’s 32nd birthday quickly approaches, but there will be no extravagant plans this year, just quiet celebration of cherished memories.

It’s his second birthday with Jesus. But perhaps there are no birthdays there. There’s no need to grow old when life is eternal. As for me, I love that I smile as I type. So far, as I think of this “second,” there is joy and not sorrow. I know sorrow may come.

But, the world may crumble around me, and still God is enough. I am content.


The day before, blowing out candles with our little Plesics.
The day before, blowing out candles with our little Plesics.