Posts tagged Marriage

I wonder what would happen if everyone had a chance to read the warning label before we made life decisions.

 The day of my wedding my warning label might have read: “Congratulations. You are young and in love. Enjoy the calm before the storm, for the years ahead won’t always be kind to you. In fact, they will be brutal. Yes, you’ll experience triumphs, but you’ll also come to know the darkest tragedies. Though you won’t mean to, you will make choices that hurt each other and yourselves. You will fail at a business before you succeed and while you've failed you’ll find yourselves searching the couch to find enough quarters to pay for diapers. You will struggle, and you will be afraid. At some point, you’ll wonder if you're capable of anything at all. You will come to know the darkest storm clouds and your wilderness will be vast and deep. Your heartstrings will be wrenched and pulled until you can no longer stand. You will have a child that will die, and you will fall to your knees and weep until your knees are broken and worn. Pain and struggle will be your teacher. And that’s just the beginning.”

Yet, next to the warning, I would have also read a benefits label: “Take heart. Though you may feel alone, you will not be, not ever. Your Father will be with you – for He is your tutor and all that will happen will be for your good. You will have a family and come to know a love you scarcely comprehend on your own. That love you will come to feel for your children will be but a speck compared to the love your Father has for you. At one point you’ll finally understand that to know the love of family is to know a little more about God, for we are all His children. Your tears of joy and sorrow will become a lens to your eyes and you will begin to see things you didn't before. Your heart will grow and feel more love and joy than you can imagine. Like a heavenly constellation, you will begin to see the tender mercies poured out upon your lives by a loving Father - however, you will only see those stars in the pitch of night. You will make connections between them and eventually see the hand of God through everything. And that’s just the beginning.”

Today marks our 21st anniversary. On that cool September day, I married my wife, I had no idea the journey that lay before our feet. I’ll never forget crying as the officiator spoke, not out of sorrow but out of a deep sense something was being put in motion – more than I knew. All I knew was I loved my wife and it was good. I knew I would be imperfect, but I would do my best. My love for this good woman has only grown stronger and deeper. I consider myself blessed beyond measure.

 Today, as I look back upon the 21 years we've had together, knowing the depths of horror and the heights of happiness – I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Between the hurt and the happiness, I have come to know a different kind of love – and for that love I am grateful. I would do it all over again. To infinity and beyond, I would do it all over again.

 And to think that today I can no more read the warning and benefits labels for tomorrow.

 Today is just the beginning.

It was a perfect day.  To be clear, life wasn’t perfect – but as days go, it was perfect.
— Christopher M. Jones | Mitchell's Journey

It wasn’t many years ago Natalie and I took little Mitch to Shriners Hospital for a check-up.  The leaves were crunchy and the season had changed from a hot summer to a crisp, cool fall.  I love every season for many reasons; each is beautiful in its own way and I’m grateful for the reminder that things are temporary and everything changes.

I remember this day so vividly.  Mitch was ever-so-tender and Wyatt was full of life and energy.  Natalie chased the boys around the park as they threw leaves in the air and giggled.  Sonya, Natalie’s sister, worked at Shriners and left the hospital to enjoy a little of the afternoon with us.  It was a perfect day.  To be clear, life wasn’t perfect – but as days go, it was perfect.

Little Mitch was young and our hearts were tender – our fear of the future, raw.  I made it a point to go to the hospital with Mitch as often as I could.  In fact, I almost never missed an appointment because I didn’t want my little boy to see an empty chair where his daddy should have been.  I wanted him to know how much he mattered and that I cared – for I knew a time would come when he would have to step into the dark abyss of death and I wanted him to be assured we were always at his side.  That abyss came much sooner than we ever imagined and I know in the quiet of that sacred winter night, my son didn’t feel alone. 

This photo was taken almost exactly 10 years ago; and today, that's about the half-way point in my life with Natalie, thus far.  Today marks our 20th anniversary. 

That’s 20 years I can’t get back and 20 years I would never give away – not for anything.  This dear woman has been the best investment in time, energy and love I’ve ever made.  Because of her, I’ve had 4 beautiful children and 1 amazing soulmate.  I am a better me when she is around and I’m forever grateful for her.

In honor of our 20th anniversary, here are two essays I’ve posted on anniversaries past that describe the thoughts and feelings of my heart. These words aren't still true ... they are more true today than the day I first wrote them.


This Essay is part of the September Seasonal Content.  Visit each month to get more.

August  -  September  -  October  -  November  -  December


September 6, 2017  |  7:20PM

The best 20 years of my life have been with this girl. Tonight I gave her a surprise anniversary gift that represent her greatest treasures. Her dad took this photo and I had it framed to include little Mitch.


I remember nervously asking Natalie to join me at a family reunion in Nevada. I was a college student, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was just a goofy guy – a geek on every level. She worked in a law office and always intimidated me. In her mind, she quietly felt as though she lost her glass slipper, an intruder at the ball, and that she wasn’t anything special. To me, she was a princess, unaware – more beautiful and remarkable than she had eyes to see. How often I tried to say, “If you don’t believe your eyes, please believe me.”

So when she said yes to my invitation, I almost couldn’t believe it.

I remember the long six-hour drive to Mesquite, Nevada. I worried about boring her. I worried that if she discovered the real me … you know, the ordinary, flawed me … perhaps she would lose interest. On so many levels, I felt like an impostor; for I felt far less than what I might have seemed. But I set those self-doubts aside and trusted where my heart was leading me. All I could do was be me and hope for the best.

Nineteen years have passed and this humble princess who felt like a peasant has become, at least to me, the most beautiful and courageous person on earth. I remain, and will ever be, deep in her shadow. For her light shines brightly, so often helping me to see. Me, the true peasant, and she, royalty.
— Christopher Jones | Mitchell's Journey

I’ll never forget that long drive. We talked and laughed and before we knew it, the 6-hour drive felt like 30 minutes. At one point, our arms were resting on the center console and they almost touched … my heart nearly exploded. It was on this same trip Natalie and I sat at the edge of a swimming pool under a moonlit sky when I asked her if she would marry me. I didn’t have a ring in my pocket – I just had a lot of love in my heart and I wanted to give it all to her.

Somehow this extraordinary woman said yes to a most ordinary boy.

We started our lives together in humble circumstances. We lived in a dark, spider-ridden basement apartment. We had old furniture and used dishes, hand-me-down books, and thrift-store decorations. We were poor in things of the world – but we were rich in the things that mattered most. As I’ve grown up a little, I’ve discovered the material things we think we want in life often take us away from the things we need.

It wasn’t long before we started our family. Each child was a remarkable gift. Laura-Ashley, our first, was a precious little girl who was smart and sassy. She is almost 18 years old now, and she is still smart and sassy. Ethan soon followed; a loving and sincere boy who was as funny as he was creative. Then came Mitch, a quiet and docile child whose love was transcendent. He would capture our hearts, break them and put our faith to the test. Wyatt soon followed … an alert, passionate and loving boy who would become a ray of light during life’s darkest moments.

I had no idea that the girl who swept me off my feet and made my voice tremble and hands shake as a college student would soon become my soul mate and that our life journey would take us down such unexpected, soul-stretching paths. I wish I could say life went according to plan. To the contrary, our greatest nightmare became our waking reality. We’ve had wins and losses. We’ve endured famine and weathered terrible storms. During times of trouble, we clung to each other and held on the best we knew how.

Nineteen years have passed and this humble princess who felt like a peasant has become, at least to me, the most beautiful and courageous person on earth. I remain, and will ever be, deep in her shadow. For her light shines brightly, so often helping me to see. Me, the true peasant, and she, royalty.

When we’ve reached our golden age, when our lives are nearly done, I’ll look back and count my blessings and know that Natalie was the biggest one.




I married this good woman almost 19 years ago - in fact, we celebrate our anniversary next month. We've had good times and bad times, even horrifically sad times .... but looking back, they have been the greatest times of my life. She brought me Laura-Ashley, Ethan, Mitch and Wyatt - the 4 most profound blessings in my life.

I took this photo of Natalie on a lunch date this afternoon. She wears a little pendant with Mitchie's face around her neck every single day and it warms my heart. 

When I am with her, I can't help but count my blessings ... and when I do, I find my arms are overflowing and my knees buckling - so great are the blessings. 

I thank my Father for being kind to me and helping me when I least deserve it, so that I might learn and grow. Most of all, for sending me this angel-made-mortal; a gift so grand, only heaven truly knows.