A Weekend Away: Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake is one of my favorite places to go – year round – or especially in the ‘off-season’ – Spring/Fall. We tried to stay pretty low-key on this trip… But we did make it over to Ohiopyle and visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” house! Overall, the weather was typical April in the mountains. The ski slopes had closed the week prior…. But on the last day, we woke up to 4 inches of snow! Because it’s a lake and a mountain, the Summer AND Winter are busy seasons. But, if you go after the snow melts, but before it’s warm enough for water activities, you can score a really good deal on lodging. Will O The Wisp is a good option. It’s a condo complex right on the lake. Indoor poor, indoor games, restaurant/bar on-site. Each condo is privately owned — so they are all differently decorated/updated (some are rough — some are great).

Graduation

Because I know she wouldn’t, I’m going to boast instead and tell an abbreviated story about the greatest human I know; my wife, Ariel – and her college experience. If posts boasting about a significant other annoy you, PLEASE feel free to move on (I get it… trust me). But for those that have a heart…

This past December, after 6 years of schooling, Ariel quietly graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame of Maryland University – with 2 job offers in hand – one of which was a full-time teaching position starting the day after New Year’s.

A blessing. An answer to prayers for sure.

But not surprising. Because Ariel had worked extremely hard for many years to get to that point.

In 2009, at 16 years old, Ariel was accepted to Loyola University: Class of 2013. She registered, got her housing assignment, and started planning her dorm with her roommates-to-be in the Fall. Unfortunately that summer, finances didn’t come through, she revoked her acceptance, and went to work instead. Dreams deferred.

In 2011, Ariel started a new full-time job as a coordinator of a Marital Arts Studio – essentially managing the business. She also created and co-ran a brand new program for young girls with the goal “to motivate young women to live life inspired, to be strong and confident, to be empathetic and kind, and to be empowered.”

Because that’s Ariel.

In late 2011, Ariel began taking night classes at Anne Arundel Community College.

Ariel and I started dating in 2014.

In the Summer of 2014, Ariel applied, and was accepted, to Notre Dame of Maryland University for the Fall 2014 semester. She ended up deferring to the Spring 2015. It’s not Loyola University – but it’s literally right next door – they even share a library!

In January 2015, Ariel left her full-time job and began college full time – living on campus in a dorm. (Though she kept a few part time jobs!)

In May 2015, we got engaged and set a wedding date of that coming October. From May to our wedding, Ariel lived with my friend’s parents, taking classes over the summer and then back to full-time in September. She also planned a wedding – had a wedding – and the following Monday went right back to school.

Because that’s Ariel.

For the first 2 years of our marriage, Ariel focused full-time on getting through school – including classes during the Summer. It was a demanding coursework in itself – and exasperated by Ariel’s commitment to doing things incredibly well. Too well I’d sometimes say.

Because that’s Ariel.

I was routinely amazed at how dedicated Ariel was to her assignments. Ariel approached every assignment with the same intentionality and focus as if it were a final exam or project. She couldn’t bring herself to do “just enough to get by”. If her name was on it, it was being done well. That’s an incredible trait.

A’s in every single class. Her papers were used by Professors as examples. She was asked to pilot a new teaching certification program. She received Notre Dame’s “Educator of Promise” award. And so much more. She put herself fully into whatever was thrown her way.

Because that’s Ariel.

When one of Ariel’s internship teacher’s went on maternity leave, the school asked Ariel to long-term sub.

When one of the teacher’s at a school where Ariel was interning left within the first few months of school, Ariel was offered a full-time position to replace that teacher’s substitute. She hadn’t even graduated college yet.

Because that’s Ariel.

Ariel is focused. Dedicated. Extremely thoughtful. And especially caring. She’s only “officially” been teaching for 2 months (though she’s spent PLENTY of time in classrooms and teaching kids over the years) and she’s already making an impact in the school she’s at now. It is extremely evident how much she cares for “her” kids and desires to see them excel – especially considering Ariel is their 3rd teacher in 1 school year. She was thrust into a challenging first teaching experience – but has excelled at the challenge!

I graduated college, yes. But I did it the way the majority of people do it – just the next thing you do for the four years after high school. Ariel had a much more challenging path, committed herself to it, and excelled at every turn.

And during all of THAT – she was a new wife. We prepped and prayed and planned for our marriage… But as anyone who has been married for any length of time can attest; you don’t really know what you’re doing in the beginning. In the most straightforward relationship scenarios, the first couple years of marriage can be extremely challenging. Ours has had it’s moments… but those moments have been blanketed with an amazing amount of grace, love, joy in the present, and hope for the future. In the midst of the around-the-clock demands of school, Ariel was an incredible wife to a not-always-easy-to-live-with husband, for sure.

In one of her college essays (at 16, mind you) Ariel wrote: “I will suspect that maybe I won’t impact the world, but I will share my plans to affect this nation we love so much in a very positive way…. I will be securing a safe world to raise our children in.”

Ariel, you have impacted the world. You are impacting the world. You will continue to impact the world. You have touched dozens and dozens of children’s lives so far. You have, literally, changed my life. You will most assuredly leave a legacy of inspiration, empathy, and empowerment. And you’re only getting started! I am so incredibly proud of what you’ve been able to rise above, muscle through, have faith in, and accomplish thus far. Thank you for letting me see behind the curtain and be a part of it. You are an incredible woman.

Did you receive a Christmas card?

Consider yourself #Blessed!

More might be to come… For now, enjoy some videos below and also some photos of our 3rd floor condo — as decorated as it could be on the outside! And a random photo of our tree on Jason’s roof. So lit. We hope that Buddy the Elf would be proud.

 

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Dashing through the snow | Honda Civic Si w/ Lighted Christmas Tree on Top!

Christmas Tree

Also, here’s a fun video of us playing the Whisper Challenge.

365 Days

Adventures are fun – and we’ve had a lot in this past year… But there is nothing greater than being fully known and fully loved – and that’s what I’m most grateful for this past year.

After the music video part, there’s the audio of the vows we spoke at our wedding – along with all the sounds of an outdoor wedding at a vineyard. Then there’s a little clip of the below quote from Timothy Keller that I appreciate… especially since he says ‘sexy’ 3 times in 1 thought.

Real love is sacrificial service and the increasing delight that comes from someone you’ve invested your life in. At first you’re like, “I’m falling in love with this person.” You’re falling in love with the idea of who that person is not the real person. As years go by, you find out who you are, you both find each other’s flaws, you both get totally disillusioned with each other, then you rebuild your respect for each other because you see each person holding on, giving up, trying harder, moving on through, embracing, repenting, forgiving, showing grace to each other. Slowly, real love grows. Slowly you begin to admire that other person for what she’s been through for you – and vice versa. In the end, that’s the most ‘sexy’ thing of all: when someone you admire.. admires you. -Timothy Keller

 

Our Vows

Ariel, Growing with you for these last 651 days has been the best unexpected blessing of my life.

I see who God is making you and it excites me. I want to partner with you and God in that journey.

I promise to eventually understand when too much tickling is really too much.

I promise to never stop kissing your forehead, opening your car door, or reminding you how beautiful you are.

I promise to forgive you when you leave the dirty dishes in the sink.

I promise to ask for forgiveness when I inevitably do something to offend you.

I promise to be your husband and not just your provider.

I promise to care, protect you, to comfort and encourage you, to be gentle with you, and to stay with you for the remaining days of our lives.

I promise to work towards listening, learning, loving, nourishing, cherishing, and shepherding you well. I commit my whole self to you.

I promise to make my relationship with Christ a priority so that by God’s grace I can fulfill these promises for you.

 

Jason, Falling in love with you has been a joy and an adventure and I’m excited to fall in love with you again and again day after day as we grow into the Godly couple we are called to be.

I promise to always be attentive to you and support you in all of your pursuits. I will encourage you with love, respect, and trust.

I will be careful with my tone and words that can pick away at our love and will instead seek to always be gentle in my words and actions towards you.

I will be your confidant, your challenger, your motivator, your prayer partner, and your friend everyday of our lives.

I promise to always meet you at the door but not immediately ask about your day at work.

I promise to point out all your new grey hairs and wrinkles and tolerate it reasonably well when you pick out mine knowing that they signify time spent together and laughter shared.

I also promise to break all of these promises at some time.

Except this one.

I promise to love you faithfully, forever, in an abundance of forgiveness and compassion just as God first loved us faithfully, endlessly, and full of grace.

My faith in Him gives me faith in us to be marriage partners for the remaining days of our lives.

Texas Quarry in Cockeysville, MD

Quadcopter footage from the Texas Quarry in Cockeysville, Maryland. At nearly a mile long and 500 feet deep, “Texas Quarry, located in Cockeysville, Maryland, has been in operation for more than 150 years. This facility provided some of the building blocks of one of the most recognizable landmarks in our nation’s capital—the Washington Monument. Today, the material mined at the Texas Quarry is primarily dolomitic limestone, used in road construction and producing ready mixed concrete and hot mixed asphalt.”

Loch Raven Reservoir Sunset

Loch Raven Reservoir is a 23 billion gallon capacity reservoir lake that provides Baltimore City and Baltimore County with drinking water. There are miles of wooded hiking trails and beautiful waterfront views. On the weekends, Loch Raven Drive is closed to vehicle traffic so that walkers, runners, and bikers can safely enjoy exercising around the reservoir. Having the road closed makes it extra safe & accessible to picnic along the shores of the reservoir lake.

It also boasts, arguably, one of the best sunset views in the state.

Music: Flapo – Dear Neighbor Ft. Jenni Potts. Check Flapo out on SoundCloud! https://soundcloud.com/flapo/flapo-dear-neighbor-ft-jenni-potts-1

Towson, MD Aerial Shots from a DRONE

Towson (/ˈtaʊsən/)[1] is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place in Baltimore County, Maryland. The population was 55,197 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Baltimore County[2] and the second-most populated unincorporated county seat in the United States (after Ellicott City, Maryland in nearby Howard County).[3]

Swallow Falls & Deep Creek Lake

 

Photos from exploring Swallow Falls/Muddy Creek Falls and also the frozen-over Deep Creek Lake.  Not the first time here, but definitely the best time.  We got to Swallow Falls before anyone else.  There was an eerie fog and grayness to the landscape which contrasted the tall hemlocks.  It had snowed the week prior and there was a serious melt going on — so the water was raging!

Still working on the rest of this post!

For now, you can click through the embedded album from Flickr.

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We’ll be making a ‘summary’ video from our trip… but in the meantime, we’ve put together these individual videos from various aspects of the trip.