Peonies and Promises


I wanted peonies for my wedding bouquet. The only problem was that our nuptials were planned for late July in Southern California. Fresh peonies would be out of the question, I masked my disappointment and settled on pink roses. It was so hot that day, I remember sweat dripping down my back under the lace of my dress. It didn’t matter. The wilted flowers didn’t matter. None of it did, just the guy who nervously rubbed the skin off my hands as we said our vows, only he mattered.

Last year we celebrated six years of marriage, but we didn’t feel like celebrating. It had been seven months since he’d had a job. He’d flown all over the country from interview to interview, strung along on the hope that “this one” would be the right fit, only to come home defeated and deflated. The year had been beyond difficult, a series of let-downs, joblessness, failed attempts, and tears. I’d spent my quiet times crying out to God. Begging Him to reveal the plan. I couldn’t see far enough ahead to take more than one step at a time.

And so, that’s what we did. One step at a time, most of the time with tears in my eyes.

We were hurting, frustrated, losing hope in ourselves and each other. Things looked bleak. Then came the phone call, the interview, the flights and fit. Life was moving, changing, progressing.

I hadn’t “seen” the house when he put in an offer. We were under contract, earnest money transferred, escrow pending and I hadn’t even stepped in the threshold.

I had kissed him goodbye and put him on a plane. We’d be apart for a month, and although I know so many couples experience time apart, we never really had and I was scared. I wasn’t alone, I had family around helping, but strangely I felt alone. The right side of the bed empty, alone. The baby is crying and I’ve got to do this, alone. I’m feeling lonely, alone.

Nevertheless, I kept my chin up. I knew it was for the greater purpose, and I was so excited about what was on the horizon.

Everything felt like a goodbye.

Goodbye beach, goodbye California.

Goodbye salty walking trail.

Goodbye dear cousin, playdates and coffee at Kean.

Goodbye family.

Goodbye friends.


It ached. I ached. But again, I kept my chin up.

We got on a plane, just the kids and I, and landed in Salt Lake. He was waiting at the exit and although we had only been apart I few weeks at that point, it felt like a sweet reunion.

He bought me to the house that would be my home. Everything seemed a shade of beige and it just didn’t feel like home. But then he showed me the trees. As we stood under them he took my hand. I exhaled.


I had to go home, get on a plane again, and return to California, but then I felt confused. Where was home now?

Again we were apart, and this time the realities of the goodbyes set in. The packing and planning became more real. Now, rather than one step ahead I could see two, three, and even four at a time. The world became a whirlwind, twirling and twirling until it was finally time.


It felt foreign, but it felt good, it felt peaceful. And finally I could stop begging for answers, because here they were, we were walking into them.

A new job, a new church…the plan unfolding.

We were home less than two weeks when the snow began to fall. Everything lay dormant. We spent the cold days making the house a home. Hanging pictures and rearranging furniture.

Then Spring. Buds began to appear. It was so kind of the previous home owners to plan yellow daffodils all the around the property. The house was clearly loved by the people who lived here before us.

On my knees I tugged at the roots of some nasty weeds that had popped up. I moved leafs of the surrounding plants to get a better angle. Then they were sprouting up from the earth, lovely and green, with promises of full romantic blooms, peonies.





Published by rachelcheriebaker

Meet Rachel. She thinks she's hilarious. Not always so. She laughs at her own jokes. She's married to a ginger, who also happens to be a Pastor. Rachel and her ginger-Pastor husband have two children. They are the cutest children on earth. Don't even try to dispute it. Rachel, her ginger-Pastor husband, the two most adorable children on earth, oh and a rescued blue heeler named Lucy are living a daily adventure. Sometimes it's fun, other times scary, and just about everything in between.

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