City Girl Moves to the Country

What on earth would possess a girl to move from the city of Chicago to the country? I mean, if she can swing a place in the city, why not just stay there?

Well, I got married.

So what have I learned about living in the country?

-it’s not any quieter at night, but instead of hearing cars and sirens and yelling kids, you hear crickets and bullfrogs.

-Parking under a tree of any sort is a bad idea. Unless you like animal droppings as décor, of course.

-There are ridiculous amounts of things for a dog to find and eat or roll in.

-Overalls actually are useful – those pockets held all the garden produce used for dinner tonight!

-Dirt and spiders are a regular part of living in the country – both inside and out.

-Water does sometimes have a taste – unfortunately, it resembles rotten eggs (until you get the well running for a bit)

-Worms are not the enemy here. Unless they’re inside.

-Climbing trees are a great idea – but the vines wrapped around them are not.

-The dog cannot actually catch a wild animal, now that he’s given ample opportunity.

-Food tastes better eaten outside, at sunset, with clean air and open fields and trees as a backdrop.

-Marriage starts out well with lots of alone time.

-My husband is an excellent gardener and cooker of fresh food.

-I have everything I need right at my fingertips – between the garden and the silence and hubs.

-There’s a lot of work to living in the country.

-The above mentioned work is almost always completed by my husband.

-I’m right where I belong.

Check out this ridiculousness!


Breaking My New Covenant – The Dishes Story

So my husband and I had an agreement. It seemed fair to me. He does the cooking, being that he’s far better at it than I am, and I do the dishes. I mean, what’s a Norwegian’s cooking compared to that of an Italian? Plus, he is home two hours before me every night.

We started this agreement about a week ago, after spending the first weeks of marriage wondering who would cook that night. We both thought the other would. How does everyone else handle dinner? Is it always even? Or does one person cook? And does the arrangement work?

Well, our arrangement worked. Once. That’s right… we had one day of this agreement actually being fulfilled. Vince cooked dinner, I did the dishes. Then the next day, Vince cooked dinner and the dishes got partially done…  then the dishes were forgotten after that. (By me, at least.) I try to remember, but then I get absorbed in writing my book, or some project has captured my attention.

But guess what. It didn’t stop Vince from cooking for me. Every night when I get home, there’s rice in the rice maker or fish on the stove. There’s a box of fresh tomatoes and veggies from our garden and Vince is chopping them up for dinner. And he probably knows that I’ll forget the dishes again, but he’s still making dinner.

I seem to remember a group of people that acted a bit like me – the Israelites. Not the best people group to resemble, but I sure do. God always keeps His end of the covenant, even when He knew they wouldn’t be upholding their end. They probably had good intentions, had a desire to protect their family and businesses, but when it came down to it, they were just flat unfaithful to God.

Last night, I think, was the peak of the dishes and dinner issue. I made cupcakes for ladies at work. I finished after 9pm and was desperate for my writing time before the evening was over. Even though I’d made a covenant to do our dishes – and I should especially do MY dishes – I had other plans. Other priorities. I told myself I was just “taking a break” and would come back in a few minutes, but before long, much time had passed and I heard the clink of dishes in the sink.

My heart fell. I’d forgotten. Again. I ran in to help, but Vince was almost done.

Tonight when I came home, Vince was cooking. The dishes were already done. I walked over and kissed my husband, giving him an extra squeeze. He looked down at me with a sweet smile and kissed my head. Regardless of how badly I did with keeping my end of the agreement, Vince kept his side (and sometimes mine as well).

Just one more way that he exemplifies Jesus to me. I should be taking notes. I should blog about all the ways he exemplifies Jesus.

No, I won’t. Because right now, I have dishes to do.


When Your Wife’s a Writer (hang on for the ride!)

Let’s face it. Anyone who marries a writer gets to witness a roller-coaster. My husband gets a regular dose of “I love where my novel’s going!” followed by “I can’t stand this novel” and then back to the beginning again. Many times. He gets roped into brainstorming sessions, harassed for his opinion when he has none, and inundated with bits and pieces of works in progress. He watches the excitement from positive reviews and the frustration with negative.

You might be a husband-of-a-writer if…

-Your wife gets hurt, and her first response is… now I can write about this!

-You are harassed for your opinion on something you’d never read on your own

-You know the storyline of a romance novel you’d never otherwise have any interest in

-You become jealous of a made-up character who steals all your wife’s time

-You are randomly lassoed into brainstorming sessions

-The best antidote to frustration is coming up with a new story angle for your wife to use

-Your wife sits in front of the TV to spend time with you, but she’s actually in another world, with her headphones on

-Her social life consists somewhat of people who don’t exist

-New people you both meet are scrutinized as possible future book characters

-Your wife spends hours on her work, but doesn’t get paid by the hour. And she’s ok with that.

Vince has put up with a lot in the few months we’ve been married. And how does he deal with it? Pretty much like most husbands-of-writers I know.

I posted on Facebook about his involvement:

“I used to worry about my choice for a husband. I’m a writer and he can’t stand to read. But yesterday he texted me from the mower as he mowed the grass an idea for my work in progress. I don’t worry anymore.”

I was sitting on the couch on the laptop, and yes, he still texted me from the tractor. Vince is an engineer who probably owns no more than three books. He has never liked reading, or even spelling. He’s not the type I’d ever thought I’d marry, but here we are.

A few writer friends responded to my post with similar situations – non-writing husbands who were along for the rollercoaster. What I found so interesting in their responses, however, was the “but.” It was present in every response. My husband doesn’t like books BUT…  he’s the best editor. My husband doesn’t write either, BUT…  he’s my biggest fan.

Most writers don’t marry other writers, but God still makes it happen, doesn’t He? Maybe they’re not exactly like us (which, honestly, is probably a good thing), but they each love their writing spouses. And they have a huge desire to support them, in whatever way they’re able. Maybe they don’t read their wife’s romance novel cover to cover – or even at all – but they give up time spent with them, sometimes pick up the slack in housework duties, pay for writing conferences and contest entries, give them their own “writing space,” and sometimes even enter into the process in a way. They support, encourage, and push when necessary. But the best part is, as their writing spouse is flying through ups and downs on that crazy roller coaster of the publishing world, they’re right there next to them, in the seat, going up and down with them.

Thank You, God, for the husbands of writers. You knew exactly what we needed.

Starting over at 89

I spent the evening with my grandpa tonight. He’s less than two weeks into a new life – living alone. This, after 67 years of marriage.

As I sat with him on the couch, I realized I’d hardly talked to my grandpa over the last several years. Not because I didn’t want to, but because communication is so hard. His doctor says he only has 10% of his hearing, which I believe is a generous estimate. Especially when his quiet granddaughter is the one speaking. 🙂 And up until lately, I’ve always talked to my grandma, who could hear better than I could.

I’m here to abate his loneliness, but how does one do that if she can’t be heard?

Easy. You listen. I asked my grandpa to help me figure out some cords on the piano – no talking involved, just playing.

Then, I asked him about his favorite memories, and he delved into some amazing stories about the time that actually cost him his hearing. He spent years aboard a ship in the Navy during World War II. He says when the guns went off, the boys lost their hearing for a few days. “We never thought anything of it, because it always came back eventually.” Until he was 89, and suddenly it stopped coming back. Ok, not suddenly. But you get the idea.

We relived memories of my grandparents’ courtship. He told me about their first date to see his grandmother, and they drove back his inherited car and got 5 flat tires. He told me about his first grade classroom.

He may not be able to remember who was supposed to come visit him tomorrow, but he remembers meeting the love of his life, dating tons of girls at camp, and carving pumpkins with a three-year-old me. You know, the important stuff.


I leaped outside my comfort zone this week

I majorly stepped outside my comfort zone to speak at my grandma’s memorial service. She was that important to me, and I wanted to tell everyone why. She served food, raised children, and helped her husband. Sounds like anyone’s grandma, but there’s a reason she was a blessing to me specifically.

I was blessed with a very fun, outgoing, friendly family. If you haven’t met my grandpa yet, it’s only because you haven’t come within about a 10 foot radius of him. Even the introverts in my family are talkative.

No idea how I ended up a part of this family. I’m a quiet, introspective writer who only speaks when I have something to say. Naturally I took a background role, watching their antics and enjoying the conversation. It could have been a lonely role if it hadn’t been for my grandma. When all my cousins were the ones having adventures and drawing tons of friends, my grandma noticed me. She spent as much time with me as I’d give her, and she read every book I ever wrote (and believe me, there were many books, they were long, and not always good). She would have made the best sales agent ever, because she was my biggest fan.

Whenever I visited, the red carpet came out, cookies were served, and Grandma would sit on the edge of her seat to hear about my highly uninteresting life. Unless you’re a movie star, where else can you get that kind of treatment? Especially someone as quiet as me.

Aside from simply noticing me, we bonded because my Grandma was also a background person. My grandpa may have been the one turning in the essays and papers for his academic work, but it was my grandma who typed them up. On a typewriter. Her family may have run smoothly, but that’s because she was working her tail off behind the scenes to make it that way. She was a natural born leader, but she chose the role of a servant to honor God.

When are you in the background? Maybe you stay at home with kids, or you work on a menial task at church. Perhaps you do the right thing when no one’s looking. It’s tempting to become discouraged when no one realizes what you do. But don’t assume you are unimportant. Oh no, you are definitely not. Everyone who visited my grandma left feeling like an individual rather than part of the crowd. To each of those people, she meant the world. She noticed people the world did not, and took interest in people that others ignored. As a result, she had hundreds of people at her funeral, all celebrating her life. Even at 88, she had more friends than most young people. She may have felt ignored at times, but let me tell you – she was noticed by those she noticed.

Yes, she was an incredible servant of God. Why was I lucky enough to have this woman as my grandma? I have no idea. But I do know that God, in His sovereignty, knew what one quiet little girl needed for the first 30 years of her life.

And I thank God for my grandma.

Those in the background – keep doing what you’re doing. Someone is thanking God for you.