Sometimes you have to dig deep

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Today is my 9th wedding anniversary. On the one hand it feels like I have always been married. On the other hand, we are just getting started. Nine years has definitely been a journey for us. We’ve had really high highs but the lows have been enough to knock the wind out of us.


At our core as a married couple, though, we knew that we would be able to get through the ups and downs as a team I because that is what we are. And I can honestly say that we are more of a team today than ever before.

The core is what matters

When it comes to exercise, any expert will tell you it’s all about your “core muscles” or your center. Our bodies are not run by our hands or feet or even our brains. It’s our core that runs the show and the stronger the core, the more we can physically achieve.

Likewise, the core of a relationship is the foundation. It’s the hardest and strongest element. It’s not the flowers or the dinner dates. It’s not sweet sentimental comments. It’s rough and many times covered in rust and sediment. But beneath all of this, it is the center. Without it, all those other things would have nothing to cling to.

The core is the dirty work. It’s literally the heavy lifting. The core doesn’t grow stronger by being left alone and bearing no burdens. It’s the weight of 9 years and 10 years and 50 years that builds and strengthens and grinds it into something beautiful.

Mining for gems

There is no better practical explanation for this than the quick camping trip we took in the mountains last weekend. We decided to throw caution to the wind and drive out to Boone for an overnight adventure with the boys. We knew it would probably rain, but we didn’t let that stop us!

Oscar has been really interested in gems and rocks lately (thank you Minecraft) so we thought if hiking got rained out, we would head to a local gem mine. I’ve always seen these around but haven’t ever tried it so we were all pretty excited.

mining brothers

We ended up at Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine and the moment we got there it started pouring down rain. It was the perfect day to sift for treasure. Oscar and Calvin were beside themselves with excitement as they found Quartz, Amazonite, Pyrite (fool’s gold) and Sapphire.

mining oscar

mining calvin

But it was when our guide pulled out a plain gray rock and turned his flashlight on that we were all amazed. I wouldn’t have looked twice at this piece of gravel, but to his trained eye, he knew it was something special.

In fact, he knew it was a pretty large ruby and he got really excited, which made us really excited. Ruby is my birthstone, so for me it was extra special. We decided to let them cut this ruby and I can’t wait to see what it becomes! (Edited to add: It’s here! See the photo below.)


Oscar with ruby

Our ruby!

Geology is a pretty amazing thing when you think about it. Years and years and years of pressure, weight and grinding turn the elements into precious gems. And you may not even see the beauty of this treasure until you shine a light on it.

Well, that sounds a lot like marriage to me. And when you withstand the pressure instead of being crushed by it; when you join together and overlap and share the burden, you just might find something beautiful.

cut ruby

Our cut ruby!

I’m so thankful that this reminder came at such a fitting time for us and I hope that if you are feeling the pressure, lifting the weight and moving through one of the tougher moments* of a relationship, you’ll be able to remember that you are building your core. You are refining your rubies.

identify gems

The foundation of paradise

I can’t help but think about the way the Bible describes heaven using some of these very gems at the foundation of paradise. Check out Revelation 21: 19-20

19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

I don’t believe it’s an accident that these precious stones help form the foundation of heaven. They are formed the way they are as a physical reminder that if our core is strong and if our foundation is securely placed, we do not have to fear what tomorrow may bring.

It’s so clear to me that this is an intentional component of victory that we must understand. Good things come from difficult processes. It’s not always pretty. In fact, it’s almost never pretty and progress is slow. You have to dig deep to find the real treasure.

It’s worth it and I am looking forward to many more anniversaries with my gem. 

Dig deep to find treasure in the core of your relationships

*Relationships definitely have their tough moments, but if you are enduring abuse, this is not the message for you. No one should feel like they need to “power through” an abusive situation. If this is your story and you need guidance, please reach out for confidential help here:

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About Andrea Updyke

Andrea Updyke is a married mom of two boys living in Raleigh, NC. She is a published author and blogger of more than 18 years and loves to celebrate the little things that make life awesome.

Whether she's sharing tasty recipes, traveling or hanging with the family, Andrea's goal is to help make your days a little easier and a lot more fun! Email inquiries to

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