Sunday, January 4, 2015


January 3

Recently we found out someone we know allegedly isn't who she purported to be. It appears she falsified a significant part of her identity. It’s early yet and the allegations are being investigated. It could be some time before the ramifications of her choices are clear. We are only tangentially associated with her, so we’ll be basically unscathed, but yesterday we spent time with someone close to her, someone who has been like family.

This individual is experiencing a whole range of emotions. Primarily shock, along with anger, disbelief, questioning, wondering if the relationship built over the better part of two decades has all been a lie.

Looking in from the outside, we are experiencing more questions and amazement than anything. What causes a person to weave an intricate web of deceit, which goes so far and wide and involves so many? If the allegations are true, how did this individual get away with it for so long? While it’s fanciful to create possible back stories, we don’t really what happened and we may never fully understand.

On our basement landing hangs a framed print that lists a dog’s rules for life, as written by a dog. They are both accurate and amusing, especially to dog lovers. And they are cause for human contemplation, wondering if we adopted these rules to our lives, how improved might our lives be. One of the rules is “Never pretend to be someone you’re not.” In light of the current duplicitous situation, that rule came to mind as I watched our golden retriever wag her tail and vie for attention today, immediately after being disciplined for misbehavior. She wasn’t apologizing – she was simply being who she is. The misbehavior is over, in the past, so time to play. She is an excellent example of transparency. She is who she is. If she wants to play, she tells you. If she wants love, she’s sure to let you know.

What if we lived completely transparent, authentic lives? Most of us likely live mostly honest lives, but sometimes it’s easier to say we’re fine when we’re not, take a little more credit than perhaps we should, or not correct someone when they offer us credit that isn't due. As I watch this particular situation unfold, I am challenged to live honestly and react in grace, in both big and little things. 


January 2            

Fifteen years ago today, I said, “Yes.” It was the second day of the new century, and it’s my own darn fault I can’t say I’ve been engaged or married for the entire 21st century. Brian originally intended to propose on New Year’s Day 2000, but I was in a grouchy mood and not very pleasant to be around. We spent the day at his house and unbeknownst to me, the engagement ring was under the sofa the entire time.

Sunday, January 2, was a sunny day and after church, he suggested we drive down to Baltimore for a change of scenery. I had a cold and didn’t feel great, but agreed and off we went. We ended up at Fells Point. I don’t remember what we did initially that afternoon, but we ended up sitting by the water near a water taxi dock. Looking across Inner Harbor, we could see the sign for the Domino sugar factory.

I was sitting on his lap with my back to him. He had his arms around me, then reached into his coat pocket. I thought he was reaching for a tissue (since I was sniffling), but he was reaching in to pull out a delft blue porcelain box in the shape of a heart with the ring inside. I was stunned. I had absolutely no idea that he was going to propose. To this day, he will tell you that I took a sweet forever to say “yes,” so long that he thought I was having second thoughts. I maintain that it took me no longer than two or three seconds to respond. Regardless of whose account is accurate, I did answer affirmatively. And then I cried, as taxi passengers disembarked and watched.

Afterward, we went to dinner at McCormick and Schmick seafood restaurant, which has since become our “special occasion” restaurant. We called my mom and stopped by her house to share the news, then on the way back to Pennsylvania called my dad who said, “Well, he didn’t waste any time!” since Brian had just talked to him on Christmas Eve. I called Pam, who screamed and in her excitement, inadvertently crashed the keys on the piano, making Meghan cry.

The next evening we went to see Brian’s parents. His mother said, “Well, it’s about time.” We then went to see his sister and her husband, who spied the ring as soon as we walked in. When we shared the news with the kids, we got a mixed reaction, which was not surprising – really, who wants the news that their parent is getting remarried and that a new adult is going to play a substantial role in the life of your family? While not a surprise to the kids, it was still a significant change looming in their lives.

I recently took one of those silly BuzzFeed quizzes entitled, “What Kind of Couple Are You?” Our results accurately assessed us as a “Best Friends Couple.” And truly we are. We built a friendship before a romance, and that friendship is the foundation of our relationship and has been a sustaining force through good times and bad.

Fifteen years later, there’s a little less hair and more grey strands. More lines on our faces and life lessons learned. There’s been more joy and more challenges than either of us ever imagined. There’s been plenty of surprises along the way. But that’s how life is, isn’t it? It never exactly the matches the script we write for ourselves.

In the past 15 years, we’ve covered a lot of ground. I know the journey ahead holds more joy and likely more road bumps than I’d like. But what a gift to know I will share it all with the one I said yes to that day near the water taxi – the one I’ve said yes to every day since.


January 1, 2015

The new year has dawned. Rather quietly in our case. We went out to dinner (5:30 early bird reservations), came home and watched a bit of TV, then headed to bed at the regular time. Fireworks went off at midnight – to which Shelby alerted us with barking. This morning, B headed over to help N work on his house renovation while I stayed home and did some cleaning and the year’s first load of laundry. Then we headed up to the cabin for the long weekend.

We were a few miles from home when I realized I hadn’t packed the sauerkraut for the traditional pork and sauerkraut New Year’s Day dinner. The homemade-by-a-colleague sauerkraut that has been in the fridge eagerly awaiting its big day. Back home we went and then we set out again, 15 minutes after we left the first time, which mean an extra 15 minutes of listening to Cooper’s hyper-vigilant, anxious canine whining.

On the way we received a call from Fred, our firewood supplier, asking if we were at the cabin and if so, did we want another load of firewood. We agreed and since we pay him in cash, we stopped at an ATM along the way. (ATMs are few and far between in this neck of the woods.) This stop also served as a pit stop for Shelby girl who had been making her needs known for several miles. With our two loveys, it’s a rare occasion we make this trip without a stop for something!

We resumed our journey and soon came upon a few cars that were stopped. They had been stopped by the local fire police, who were in the process of closing the road. There was an accident and from what we could gather, it was a bad one. We turned around and ended up taking a windy mountain road detour on a road marked “ROAD CLOSED,” which didn’t bolster my comfort level much.

As we drove, I commented on how thankful I am that volunteers serve as fire police, particularly in rural regions where there can be substantial distance between organized or professional fire and police departments. Brian commented, “Perhaps there was a reason you forgot the sauerkraut. And why Fred called and we needed to stop at the ATM.”

We don’t know what happened beyond the road closure, but not much time had passed since the incident occurred. Without one or both of our delays, we could have been in the accident or been first upon the scene.

It was a good reminder that sometimes – or maybe even always – life’s interruptions are serving a larger purpose than simply training me to increase my patience, humility and joy.

And so we started out the year with some minor interruptions that served as good reminders that 1) interruptions generally are minor and we should just roll with them and 2) interruptions can be part of a bigger plan beyond which we can begin to see. I’m not likely to embrace with open arms all the interruptions that come my way in 2015, but hopefully I’ll be able to step back, take a breath and remember the bigger story being written.