What are you afraid of?

It took a while after stepping into widowhood to begin thinking about dating and possibly remarriage. 

Being an obsessive list-maker, I drafted an inventory of what was important to me: A man who is family oriented, active outdoors, someone who is making a difference in the lives of others.


Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash


And then a friend counseled: “You don’t want to limit God to a list.” So, I filed it away.  

In time, I went out with a couple different men, but eventually decided that dating wasn’t for me.

But then, Maybe I can do this.

Followed by, Nope, too complicated.

A regular roller coaster ride.

As brave as I like to think I am, I suspect it was fear that fueled this particular roller coaster. 

On a hike through snow-covered hills last winter, I finally admitted my fears and spoke them out loud to God.

Among other things, I was afraid the man wouldn’t understand that my writing is a calling and requires time and effort. 

I was afraid he might not understand how my deceased husband’s family is just as much my family as my blood relatives—that these are my nieces and nephews, these sisters-in-law are the sisters I never had while growing up sandwiched between two brothers.

I was afraid of change. Transitioning into a married life after being comfortably and contentedly single sounded scary.

William Bridges said this:

We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up.

Did I really want to lose my independence? My ability to say, “Yes, I’d love to go to Israel with you,” “Yes, I’ll meet you on the Outer Banks,” “Yes, I’ll come to Mexico to help celebrate your husband’s birthday” ?

Hence, roller coasters.

And then … Dan. 

We met over an interview for the shower truck story. The conversation naturally turned to our similar experiences as cancer caregiver and widow/er. 

He thanked me for listening. 

I said, “Anytime.”

And he took me up on it. 

Our conversations continued over hiking and Chai tea and snowshoeing and a concert and dinners out and more hiking and more Chai tea. 



It just happened. I hadn’t planned on it, but I grew to love this good man.

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon that old “dating qualities” list in an online file.

Ironically, Dan fit each item, even this one: “Romantic in a thoughtful way, not in a spend-lots-of-money way.” 

The last item on that list was cancer widower. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but still … when I wrote it, I was thinking how nice it would be to partner with someone who had trekked through the same harsh wilderness I had. One more thing in common.

Dan is a rescuer of people with dead batteries and leaky faucets, and sweet elderly ladies who need a man’s fix-it powers. 

He’s the co-designer, builder, towel washer, and one of the drivers for the shower truck that serves the homeless. He volunteers at Ochoco Christian Conference Center on maintenance projects. 

He enjoys hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and snorkeling (previously a scuba diver)—and I’m having fun trying to keep up with him. 


Dan also refurbishes vintage motorcycles (I’ve officially been outfitted with a black leather jacket and helmet).



There is dust gathering in his easy chair at his house.

Last Sunday, this kind, thoughtful, big-hearted man said, “Here,” as we stood warming our hands in front of the woodstove at a friend’s cabin on the Metolius River. “You’ll need to set your tea down.” 

He took my hands in his, and looked me in the eye, and listed all the reasons he believes we belong together.

And then he asked me to marry him. (I said Yes rather joyfully, in case you’re wondering!)

Wow. Just … wow.

This isn’t about not wanting to do Friday date night alone. 

This is about partnering with a teammate headed in the same direction in life, a best friend who loves adventure, a man who enjoys giving his time in helping make life a little easier for people going through hard places.

Jake Canfield writes:

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

I am in the process of transitioning toward marriage, toward belonging heart and soul to a good man. 

I am not losing anything—not my freedom, not my independence, not … anything.

Rather, I’m gaining someone who will venture out with me, someone I can serve alongside.

And there is no fear anywhere near—oh, miracle!

What if?

What if we could conduct an honest search of our hearts to determine if there’s something we’re a little afraid of? 

And what if we could name those fears out loud—to God, to someone we trust?

Jesus said: 

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. … Do not be afraid. – John 14:27

This is me, choosing not to be afraid as I transition away from a single life that was comfortable and familiar.

This is me, hanging on tightly to this good man. Because I have a suspicion the ride is about to get deliriously fun and wildly purposeful.


What truly brings you joy?


Making a difference, one bike at a time


  1. Rosie Goss

    ❤️ Congratulations! So happy for you! I’m interested t see how he likes visiting CBA!?

  2. Brenda

    I am so happy to see how radiant you are and have found someone to share the journey! Blessings to you and Dan!! Adventures ahead!! Love, B

  3. Pat Christiansen

    Congratulations to the two of you. I have truly enjoyed reading your journey. May God continue to bless you in a new chapter.

  4. Jen

    Love this! Travis had made a list for his future wife too, and had put it away and forgot about it. Troy found it years later and used it in his best man speech. 🙂 We might forget but God doesn’t!

  5. Jan McDonald

    Marlys! I am so incredibly happy for the two of you! It is wonderful to have a best friend, partner, as you move through these continued years of your life! It has been a pleasure to follow along with you on your journey, which has provoked many a deep thought. Thank you and I appreciate you! Warmly, Jan

  6. Peter

    Bx & I send our congrat’s, great news… I’m singing ‘Iove is in the air’ & …. by Dan Seals – ‘Love is the Answer’.. there you go… that’s my shout from across the ocean. God Bless you both, Bx P & fam’.

  7. Toni Roberts

    Congratulations I’m so very happy for you! The lord listens to us and brings wonderful caring and loving men into our lives ?

  8. Rita Weick

    I am sooo happy for you, Marlys! Your openness to a new relationship is a reflection of your trust in yourself and God. Many blessings!!

  9. Aerin

    This brought a giant smile to my face. I’m so happy for you! Much love

  10. I am so happy for you. In my eyes, you have always been the Proverbs 31 woman, along with so many other talents and attributes. It is so fitting that God would bring this wonderful Godly man into your life.
    “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you”. Ps 8:10
    May God richly bless your lives,

  11. Julie Miller

    Congratulations Marlys, your smile says it all. I’m so happy for you, and lucky Dan, and for your next chapter of life.

    Bless you


  12. karen wykes

    Oh Marlys, this is making me smile, actually grin from ear to ear. I’m so happy for you! Karen Wykes

  13. J.Lee Westlund

    Oh Marlys my far away far away cousin,
    Ronda and I just read your last post. What a joy to read. We are so happy for you. Have been praying that the Lord would bring someone to you. What an answer to prayer. NOW when do you bring him back to Wisconsin for a visit??????
    All our love to you both.
    Lee and Ronda

    • Dear Lee and Ronda – I didn’t know you had been praying for a new spouse for me. Thank you! God answered that prayer above and beyond what I could have ever imagined. Yes, Wisconsin is on our “travel list”. Can’t wait for him to meet you and you two to meet him (I’ve told him about your awesome, hand-crafted-by-you log cabin)!

  14. Marshall Matthews

    So joyous for you that you each have discovered a whole, new mountain of joy to climb together. Doesn’t sound like that will be a difficult climb either. Linda and I feel so blessed and thank the Lord every night during prayers, that He gave us another chance at love, completeness (now at two and a half years). It’s never too late to fall in love, again.

  15. Rosalee Reyolds

    Hi Marlys, I am so happy for you. I think of you often and have been enjoying reading your blog. Blessings to you and Dan.
    Rosalee Reynolds

  16. Elizabeth Cain

    Marlys, this is your best story of all, and my first time commenting on any of them, as much as I’ve enjoyed all of them. Thank you for bringing such good news into my day! God’s timing is impeccable, as evidenced here, and I wish you all His blessings as you enter this new adventure with your wonderful husband to be! Jesus, I trust in you??

    • Well said, Elizabeth: “God’s timing is impeccable.” I love how He nudges us, and changes our hearts, and moves us into position, and opens doors we thought might never open again. Thank you!

  17. Becky Lawry

    Dan truly IS a good man and I love him too – like a brother. I am very happy for both of you! Hoping we get to meet one day, Marlys. Congratulations!

  18. Congratulations! Our Lord is Good. May He continue to bless you!

  19. Shirley Hartzler Berry

    Hi Marlys,
    So very happy for you. I know God has been with you every step of the way and will keep leading you and your new husband.
    Love, Shirley

  20. Marlys Keenan

    Congratulations,Marlys. Very happy for you.

  21. Marlys, this was such a fun read! You’ve described the dating after widowhood so well. And now you’ve moved beyond fear to saying “Yes” to Dan’s proposal. He sounds like the perfect teammate for this next chapter of life. Adventures await. I often marvel at how good God is. When we aren’t looking He brings the just-right blessings into view.
    Congratulations. Love to you both. Maxine

  22. Vera Lynn Holiday

    Oh Marlys, Mark and I are Rejoicing with you! We can imagine the smiles on your families faces! “Joyful, Joyful we adore thee…?” We too have been asking God to reveal to us our fears holding us captive then allowing his transforming power to speak truth into our lives… so delighted for you and Dan:) Thank you for saying yes to God’s call of writing…Hugs ?Lynn Holiday

  23. Kristen

    You made me cry happy tears, sweet lady! What an amazing story. I’m so happy for you. Congrats!!

  24. Loretta

    “God has poured out His love into our hearts” – Romans 5:5
    I’m so very happy for you Maryrls, what a joy to read you wonderful news.
    It seems God has granted you all of life’s blessings and love’s joy all in
    Dan. Everything you listed plus some you didn’t think of? I can’t stop smiling.

  25. Debi

    I am so excited for you Marlys! Isn’t it funny how good things come to us when we are not even looking? I always enjoy your stories girl and can’t wait for all of the new adventures in this next chapter of your life.

  26. Esther

    So happy for you, Marlys!

  27. Lori

    How wonderful for you, Marlys. Sounds like a perfect match. May God richly bless you both and our joint families.

  28. Joan Mimiaga

    Congratulations to the both of you, that God put you together. God is Faithful and gives us the best! Joan

  29. Larry Lewman

    Oh what wonderful news! Our Lord always shows up on time to give us the desires of our heart…love that God has found you someone you have to try and keep up with which is something we had a hard time believing would happen..?B’cuz you are a firecracker! .. We can see your other dreams becoming a reality too! ???dianne and larry

  30. Katie

    Marlys! Congratulations! I am so very happy for you and yes, it is quite a transition. I asked myself all those same questions with so many of the same emotions. I would love to chat more and listen when you have time, since I’ve walked this road too. 🙂

    • Katie – Thank you for your kind congratulations. Yes, let’s connect. I’d love to learn from your wisdom of having walked this widowed/remarriage road.

  31. Rosalee Reynolds

    Hi Marlys, I am so happy for you. I think of you often and enjoy reading your blog. God bless both of you.

  32. Tom F Stutheit

    Hey Marlys, Tricia & I are so very happy for you both. We could see there was something between you guys from that very first interview. All the best .

  33. Julane Dover

    Oh this made my eyes leak, and just feel so happy for you. God is so good. What a blessing- I can’t wait to read about your adventures together! Congratulations to you and this lucky guy!!!

  34. Kit

    Marlys! You had me at “He thanked me for listening. I said, ’Anytime.’ And he took me up on it.”

    Words can’t convey how much joy fills me at your news. You deserve every happiness and I’m grateful to God for bringing you Dan!

    Big love, sister!

  35. Patty Coleman

    Marlys, I’m so happy for you! Congratulations to you both! ❤️❤️❤️

  36. Kathy

    Oh, my! This good news on top of Easter joy! God is so good. Beautiful! So happy for you both! ?

  37. Shelley Espinoza

    So very happy for you both. Brought tears of joy to my heart. God’s blessings!

  38. Beautiful, filled with hope and the resounding voice of saying YES to living! Exciting and so proud/happy/joyful for you.