Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Renewed Hope

We are officially one year into Jason’s clinical trial for his CLL. Today is my birthday, and the one gift that I wanted more than anything was a test result of white blood cells within normal range. We didn’t quite make it, but we are SO close. A result within normal range is under 11 and his count was at 11.9. Man, we just missed the target goal. But that’s down from 16 last time which is an enormous improvement.

There is a Panera across from the hospital where we ate lunch. We ate outside, and from our vantage point I could see a sea of something sparkly. I insisted we check it out before we walked over for the appointment. Here’s what we found:


If you can’t read the sign, it says that each pinwheel represents a lifesaving organ transplant performed at OSU. While we may not be here for an organ transplant, we are grateful for the hope we have found through lifesaving research that happens here. There wasn’t a cure when Jason was first diagnosed five years ago, and each day we get closer to an answer that will same as eliminate this disease.

I didn’t get to do my happy dance in the doctor’s office today, but as he left the room with a parting, “God bless,” I certainly offered a silent prayer of gratitude for the doctors, nurses, friends, and family who have been a part of this journey.

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” Robert Schuller



Love Is More Than a Language

The other day I took some time to reflect on the five love languages. You may or may not be familiar with the concept. Written by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages is a book about our preferences in how we give and receive love. Words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts are the five ways the author says we can express love.

Now, I freely admit I love this book and I believe it has saved and/or improved many relationships. Not only do I encourage other people to read the book, but I have even taught about it on more than one occasion.

However, I’m wondering if the concept can inadvertently cause us to become a bit selfish.

For example, my primary love language is acts of service (sorry about my husband’s luck). This means feel most loved when my husband does something for me like fixes a faucet, loads the dishwasher, or like in the picture, he washes the siding on the house. Only for me. Because mildew bugs me. And loving me apparently involves hard labor.

Here’s the deal, though. While I do indeed feel quite loved when he performs these kinds of chores, it would be dangerous if this was the only way I felt loved by him. During times with his health he hasn’t felt like doing a whole lot, and it would be wrong for me to expect him to do so, and even worse to feel unloved simply because he isn’t up to doing tasks for me.

There has to be more to love than the love languages. Back to my initial question, I have seen marriages end where (at least from a spectator’s point of view) the individuals seemed great at expressing just the right love language. Clearly, they worked hard to show one another they cared, but somehow it wasn’t enough. This is sobering, concerning, and a bit baffling.

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of selflessness in marriage, and that insight is profoundly convicting. I think I have a long way to go in losing my sense of entitlement. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love is not self-seeking. The word “love” in this passage is from the word agape. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. This kind of love isn’t about a feeling. It’s about a choice. That right there is where the five love languages can fail us. Because love isn’t always about a feeling, regardless of whether we are talking about a marriage relationship or any other kind of relationship where love is involved. To rely solely on the aspect as to how we can make someone feel loved, or how we can in turn feel loved will likely end in disaster.

What other factors do you think are involved in a successful relationship?


A Million Ordinary Moments

Warm sunshine streaming through the sliding glass door grazed my right shoulder. I sat reading an engaging book while my youngest worked on a drawing project with instructions from YouTube. Quite suddenly, I felt taken aback by an overwhelming sense of contentment. I let the warmth of the sun soak in, I focused on the sounds of my husband’s saw emanating from the garage as he worked on his newest project, and smiled at Austin’s joy as he held up his work for me to encourage his progress. The moment, completely ordinary, held a certain kind of wonder.

No doubt these feelings were prompted by the book sitting in my lap. Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the author of the memoir, Textbook, just passed away a couple of weeks ago from ovarian cancer. A prolific children’s author and YouTube video creator, Amy shot to the spotlight recently for an article that appeared in the New York Times entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” It was a final tribute to the man she desperately loved and hated to leave, a hope that some twist of fate might lead just the right woman into his path once she departed this earth.

It was my husband, Jason, that drew my attention to this author. He had me read the New York Times article. You see, Amy’s husband’s name is Jason, so the story seemed extra worthy of my attention.

Her book is quirky and creative, but I think what I like most about it, is that the stories and excerpts included are often just a matter of noticing…paying attention to the day-to-day happenings with eyes wide open. So far, there hasn’t been anything profound, but it does remind me to look at my surroundings with a fresh perspective.

In just a couple of weeks, we will return to OSU for Jason’s next clinical trial visit, and we are hoping his white cell count will finally be within normal range (if not this visit, then certainly the next). We have renewed hope that we will get to spend our retirement down the road together, God willing.

Life is full of twists and turns. There are mountaintop experiences, and times you get kicked off the mountain right down into the valley. Sometimes repeatedly. And that’s why I think we need to appreciate the moments that may seem otherwise insignificant, mundane even. The view from the summit holds amazement, but there are beautiful streams even in the valley.

What moment can you take time to appreciate today?


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