Day 16 – Thirty Days of Thanks – My Lifetime Dance Partner

20 years! Almost half of my life, I suppose… seems like a long time on one hand, but being in our young forties (at least I like to think it’s young forties… humor me, please), I hope we reach bigger milestones in the years to come.

So what’s with the 20? This is “Day 16” in my now annual journey of thanks. You see, on July 16. 1994, I became Mrs. Thomas R. Knight. In my mind, that sentence is framed with a myriad of exclamation points, but I think life has taught me that a firm declarative sentence doesn’t have to end that way. But you know what? This is my blog, and I am free to stretch rules of punctuation and grammar as I wish.  So here you have it – today is our 20th wedding anniversary! As for the title, you’ll see the explanation in #1 below. Allow me to continue here:

5 reasons I am thankful today, July 16, 2014

1. Dancing partner –About five few years ago, Andrew Peterson recorded the song “Dancing in the Minefields.” I loved this song, which is ironic, because I’ve never been too talented with footwork, and our alma mater didn’t have dancing as a part of life on campus. The words to the song tell the story of what the promise of marriage is. And my lifelong dance partner who hiked trails with me in state parks twenty years ago now skirts the “disability minefield” by finding state parks with paved paths, then pushing up to see an amazing waterfall.

2. reading partner – One of the first things that attracted us to each other was the love of the written word. Recently, he shared a fascinating article with me last week about this very topic – there is a lot of truth here! It’s interesting that our family picture a few years ago had us all wearing t-shirts proclaiming, “The book was better.” ‘Nuff said.

3. new appreciation for so much – While growing up, I know I was often pegged as a “nerd.” Life with T.R. has helped me learn to embrace such monikers. “Geek” wasn’t quite as popular, but it became appropriate also, and to have a best friend and partner who values such things is precious indeed. He has helped me see sides to life that I’m sure I didn’t appreciate before. And this leads to the next…

4. partners in cinema – Back we had VHS tapes, T.R. and I found that we enjoyed watching movies together, rewatching favorites, sharing with friends. Fast forward to today (because that used to be how one would finish a tape, for those who don’t remember). Over a few years now, we’ve been building a personal library of DVD’s to watch, then share with family and friends. T.R. and I can frequently be “frustratingly frugal” – purchasing a film is often more economical than a trip to the theater, so it’s not uncommon for us to watch shows this way. We have had so many fun discussions, interactions with movie-watching friends… this has been great! And I do appreciate how the DVD player has your finished program “rewound” before we hit the eject button!

5. partners in faith – to be united with a husband who partners with me as he leads our family, who prays, studies, and works as both a follower (of our Father) land a leader each day is truly a privilege. And a joy. The fact that we’re both planted on the same foundation makes life… well, it makes it work!


Growing appreciation for games, new music, growing “old and curmudgeony” together… I could write pages about any little facet of this. But not today. As T.R. and agreed while awakening this morning, it has been a good twenty years. Happy anniversary, Sweetie!

Thankful for Eighteen years – I love you, T.R.!

Eighteen… on one hand this seems like a very significant number, and I don’t even care to think of the fact that this will be our twin daughters’ age in five short years. But before that time arrives, I am totally thrilled to celebrate a special “eighteen” marked today. You see, on July 16, 1994, a young, intelligent and very thin fellow named T.R. Knight wore a tux, and with a group of equally uncomfortable fellows, took part in a ceremony with four green-clad ladies and one in white, Angie. They said “I do” and started a journey that continues today.

Two years ago, I shared a message of the same theme, “That’s what the promise is for.” This phrase has spelled out more than we likely anticipated. But we did say the words – now, after eighteen years, we’ve shown what the promise is FOR. And what this means. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

Eighteen years ago, these were words. Today, they’re life – and I’m so blessed by them! During my thirty day Thankfulness Journey, this is a list of “thanks” that is a joy to write.

Day 14 – Five things I’m thankful for, after 18 years of marriage

1. fuzzy blankets – I’m extra thankful for these when I get to share the said blanket with my sweetie while we snuggle and watch a movie. Even if the movie is on the weak side, it’s fun to be together.

2. dinner conversation – with each other (and now with our daughters), dinnertime is such a fun time to connect, and knowing this is an opportunity that will continue throughout life makes it even richer.

3. being pushed around – this may seem an unlikely blessing, but MS has zapped a bit of my physical prowess, and the once uncoordinated and less-than-speedy but energetic girl T.R. married now uses a wheelchair when going to events that require a lot of walking. He has become quite the pro at maneuvering the contraption, and doing so with a smile.

4. surprisingly large shoulders – though these joints may appear perfectly average to the general passers-by, they are remarkably good  for leaning or crying on. I’ve experienced both.

5. the unexpected chef – the man who managed to burn a pot of Campbell’s tomato soup eighteen years ago (with my help, I will certainly admit) is now a very good cook and excellent baker. The dark chocolate layer cake he makes rivals the dessert we had during anniversary celebration last week, and his nieces just told me today how sad they were that Uncle T.R. and his cookies were gone. And they wouldn’t get to make the fantastic no-bake cookies with him like they did last year, as he needed to leave our family trip early.

When my own weaknesses seem to grow, he’s there to add needed strength: to offer support, to lend a hand, and sometimes just to remind me that I’m still a valid part of life. When he first made those promises eighteen years ago, I know neither of us really knew what was in store. But we knew what a promise was – and what it is. And as we learned, that’s what the promise is for.

“That’s what the promise is for”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been sixteen years since T.R. and I shared those vows, since we dressed up (he in a tux, me in a lacy white dress), while other close friends and family members wore particular matching things they rented or never wore again anyhow… but wow, sixteen years!  This seems like a drop in the bucket on one hand but quite a long time on another, when we look back at what those sixteen years have held: jobs, moves, graduate school, children, chronic illness, family and friends who have brought both joy and heaviness to our hearts… and I just heard a new song last week that encapsulated this all so beautifully.

Andrew Peterson is a writer and musician whose new album “Counting Stars” is to be released later this month, and the song “Dancing in the Mine Fields” was released online with a loving, moving video.  I find it ironic that T.R. and I are both graduates of a relatively conservative university where social dancing was not allowed, but our journey has still been one of “dancing in the mine fields, sailing in the storms.”  I love the closing sentiment of the touching song: “Well, this is harder than I dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for.” 

Our rings weren’t from the pawn shop down the road, and our ages were slightly different than those in the lyrics, but the visualization of lifelong love is one that is so accurate.  At least so far. 

“Well,’I do’ are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end.
But to lose your life for another, I’ve heard,
is a good place to begin.
‘Cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down,
and I believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found.”

Our life does seem at times to be one of “dancing in the minefields,” which is precarious by definition. But as the song so beautifully states, I believe that’s an easy price to pay for the life that we have found.  We did take those sacred vows, and I agree with all my heart with the thesis of this beautiful musical poem: that’s what the promise is for.  Happy sixteenth anniversary, T.R.!

Truth in fiction

One of my favorite types of literature is “juvenile literature,” that which is intended for older children.  I read some of my favorite books as a child, and Madeleine L’Engle still remains on my favorite list, not just because I enjoy fantasy, but because of the truth and beauty that can be found between those pages.  Why?  I think L’Engle explained this well in her autobiographical A Circle of Quiet: “lf it’s not good enough for adults, it’s not good enough for children.  If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books.  And words.”

In July, my older brother introduced me to a new author to add to my “favorite” list.  I am glad that I hadn’t read Andrew Peterson’s work before July, as the first book of The Wingfeather Saga left me wanting more, and I have been able to experience book two, North! Or Be Eaten less than two months after the first.  Though these are considered juvenile literature, I found beautiful truth and imagery within.  And one truth within was a truth that is missing from too many of the books that crowd our shelves: our Maker has a plan for our lives.  On page 143 of this work, a bookseller states this well.  “Whether crushed or sheltered by the Maker’s hand, ‘tis beneath it we go, from breath to death.”  (warning: if you have not yet read these books, the review below does contain spoilers of the first one.  Not the second, though… how fair would that be?  It would be like a certain older brother of mine who used to give away the ending of a book as I was starting it.  Not nice.)

Lest this story sound simple, allow me to explain.  Here is a little synopsis of the book:

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.

Finding they’re royalty, as wonderful as this may sound, did bring on responsibility, not all of it welcome.  12-year-old Janner, the oldest of the Igiby children, faced this question as they started their escape.  “Is it worth it? he asked himself.  Was it worth his losing his own life in order to learn the truth about who he was and who he was becoming?  Yes.” (p 79)  Among other things, this book was the story of Janner and his very unusual coming of age.

In the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the Igiby children were told their roles, intended since birth.  Janner, the throne warden, was not to be king – that was his younger brother Tink.  No, Janner’s role was to act as protector of the king, to keep him safe. Reading how Janner acted as caregiver to an unwilling brother and how the weakest of the three children, their young sister who needed a crutch to walk, overcame the largest of their physical obstacles … these aspects spoke to me personally, falling into the “Invisible Issues” theme of this blog.  And yes, I needed a few tissues along the way.

Andrew Peterson’s storytelling was gripping, his style engaging, and his characters memorable.  The story is one of love, redemption, family, responsibility, honor, and so much more.  And you know what?  I think Madeleine L’Engle would have liked it.