Who were you meant to grab hands and run with?

What I love most about her paintings is the whimsy, the playfulness. We commissioned our friend, Francie, to create a painting that would tell our love story, highlighting our first date—which really wasn’t a date.


All photos: Marlys
Francie Towne’s whimsical depiction of our love story

She painted the river flowing through town against the backdrop of the Cascades. She unfurled the flags on the Old Mill District footbridge, planted steaming mugs of Chai latte on a rock, and left snowshoe tracks along the river.

That first ‘non-date’ date was a hike along the river that flows through the middle of our town. After crossing the footbridge upstream and returning downstream to Farewell Bend Park, Dan presented options.

“We have a choice,” he said as he pointed. “We can go this way to the car … or we can go get a Chai.”

“Chai!” said the girl who hadn’t dressed warmly enough on that wintry day.

“Boy, I really had to twist your arm there,” said the man who wore the weight of his grief. It was my first sighting of the twinkle in his eye.

We sat in the winter sunshine within view of the colorful flags whipping in the wind, talking and hugging our Chai lattes, neither of us wanting the conversation to end.

Thereafter followed several ‘non-date’ dates in hiking boots and snowshoes on the nearby mountain trails, resting on fallen logs high in the Cascades, unwrapping sandwiches and sipping Chai latte from a thermos.

We went fishing and rode motorcycles. We had dinners out, cooked meals in, and planted Dan’s garden.

Early on, he mentioned something a widower had said to him: “It’ll take about a year before you’ll feel like dating.” Which I took to mean we would continue building a friendship for at least a year from his wife’s passing before there would be any romantic notions.

I was quite comfortable with that timeline since I wasn’t even sure I wanted to remarry.

And then one day in the spring Dan told me he loved me and asked if he could kiss me. Wait, what happened to our timetable?!

Back when I first awakened to the possibility of dating and remarrying, I listened to a podcast series titled “Single, Dating, Engaged, Married” by Ben Stuart:

Dating is not a status to sit in. It’s a process to move through to see if we’re meant to end up together. Dating is about evaluating: Is this the kind of person I want to run with in chasing the purposes of God? Are we meant to grab hands and run together?

Turns out, God wasn’t at all interested in my timetable.

This is the man whose heart was going in the same focused direction as mine. And this was the time to grab hands and run together, chasing the purposes of God.

Oh, and the man who gave me a glimpse of the twinkle in his eye on our first ‘non-date’ date? Well, he’s been twinkling his eyes at me ever since.

For more of Francie’s work …

The postcard below features some of Francie’s playful drawing. I loved the artwork so much that I tucked it into the old-window-turned-mirror in our kitchen.


A Francie-designed post card

Check out her fun, cozy, playful artwork here: https://www.facebook.com/francietowneart


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  1. Deb

    What a sweet story Marlys. So Happy for you….both!

  2. Nasus

    God is the BEST matchmaker, which has been obvious since you two met! I thank Him for His loving care in blessing you both in this way! Much gratitude for how much your threesome, Marlys, Dan, and our Heavenly Father, serve and bless others tremendously! Happy Thanksgiving to you two and your family!

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