Thursday, October 11, 2012

Love Story (6): Proposal

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

After a year of struggling to get to one another, the Professor and I were excited for a summer together.

He worked second shift for a printing company, and I had an internship with 4-H (dream job!), so we kept obscene hours, usually until 3AM or later.  Looking back, I wonder when I slept...but I didn't worry about it then.

The Professor had a few big ticket items on his summer to-buy list: a car.  And an engagement ring.

Now, this was no secret to me.  The boy wouldn't tell me he loved me (or kiss me) until he knew I'd marry him someday.  Then he started asking me about rings.  I talked him through online buying when it came time (he was too shy to go into a jewelry store--since remedied).  He even called and asked for a pep talk before asking my dad's permission.

But when he actually popped the question...I didn't see it coming at all.

I had been away at the state fair for over a week; the Professor drove two hours, picked me up, got me a Dr. Pepper, and caught me up on life back home while I'd been gone.

We brought in my luggage and talked with my folks for awhile.  They excused themselves to bed around 10, and after a week sharing a hotel room with three girls, I was eager to say a fond hello to my own bed.

"Let's go out to the barn," the Professor said.

Inwardly, I groaned, but I loved this guy and hadn't seen him in ages, so out to the barn we went.  I got reacquainted with the dog, the cats, the calves.  We talked and soaked in the quiet.

"Let's go out to the garden."

Oh boy.  Dreamland called, but I knew how much effort the Professor had put in to drive all that way and pick me up, so I trudged behind him to my parents' garden, poked around the carrots, commented on the strawberries taking over the place.

At one point I stumbled and started giggling, commented that I had gone over the edge of tired to giddy.

"Well, I hope you won't be too tired to remember this," he said as he reached for my hand and drew me to him.  The Professor pulled out a tiny box and opened it, revealing just the ring I had shown him: a small, square-cut diamond set in a simple white-gold band.  It glimmered under the yard light; so did his smile.

He cocked his head to the side.  "What are you doing for the next fifty, sixty, eighty years?" he asked.

All traces of exhaustion melted away.  I dropped the Dr. Pepper bottle, and he dropped to one knee with those words every girl fantasizes about hearing.

"Will you marry me?"

I had given so little thought to the moment; I'm far too practical and spent most of my daydreaming time on budgets and goals for our early life together.

But as the Professor twirled me around the garden, the yard light above us buzzing, the dog barking to herald the news, the ring warming on my finger--it was far more perfect than I could have planned.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Love Story (5): Enter Jesus

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

There may have only been nine miles between our campuses, but in a sense they were worlds apart: the Professor attended a small Christian school, while I was at a giant state school, even taking a class on evolution (a detail that somehow escaped me until the class began).

We had talked about religion and faith here and there over the summer without really getting anywhere.  I believed in God and knew Jesus had died on the cross.  I was good about going to church and tried to read the Bible regularly and to do good works.  I didn't think anything else really needed to be said about the subject.

Ironically, it was some boys from my church who got on the Professor's case about the differences in our beliefs, and so, on a weekend home visit, the Professor said those dreaded words that no one in a relationship wants to hear: "We need to talk."

We were at my parents' farm.  It was about 11pm.  He could easily give me the break-up speech and be back home in his bed by midnight.  I waited for a cheesy opening line: "It's not you, it's me"; "I just need some space"; "We're different people now" or some such like.

Instead, he started talking about Jesus.  He talked about grace, a word I knew mostly from that famous hymn, and how my good works would never be enough to cover up or outweigh my sins.

I didn't fully understand it then, but I did feel a weight lift from my shoulders.  I had always wondered just what it took to get to Heaven, but nobody could give me a clear answer.  So, I had spent a lot of time in clubs, activities, service opportunities, largely because I wanted those things, but also always in the back of my mind hoping that they would make me "good enough."

But even though I was outwardly praised and rewarded, I knew that my heart held some pretty wicked things: gossip, lies, judgment, even lust.  I often wondered (and worried) just what the ratio of good works would have to be to outweigh the wrongs I did and thought.

We walked outside and searched the Professor's car for a Bible.  He led me down the Romans Road, showing me Scripture that explained that I was a sinner (agreed), that Jesus died on the cross (agreed) in my place to pay for my sins because I could not pay such a high price (new to me), and that He offered salvation as a free gift (new to me).  I need only call on His name and believe (totally new to me).

The Professor led me in prayer, and while I still didn't entirely grasp what had happened, I knew that everything was changed.  That I was changed and changed forever.

I have a greater understanding of my salvation these days, though truly it is still a marvelous mystery that the Lord would save a wretch like me.  And that he used the Professor to speak that truth to me?  Makes it all the sweeter.

Friday, September 14, 2012

5MF: Focus

Yarn for sale


It's mommy brain at it's best.  Worst?  Strongest, at any rate.

Everything filters through my mind like a rushing river, the rocks worn too smooth for a single thought to cling and take hold.  Writing has suffered, blogging has suffered, even conversation has suffered.

But where I cannot buckle down with my intellectual self, a physicality I've never known has emerged.  I knit like crazy, my fingers flying over needle and yarn, pouring out a wedding gift blanket I never knew was in me.  Projects call out like siren songs: diaper covers, washcloth sets, booties.

Lord, where does this come from?  There's a busy, busy toddler who leaves me physically drained but intellectually wanting.  Shouldn't my naptime reprieves be filled with words and ideas and stunningly new thoughts?

Surely when the second one pushes forth into this world, and my hands are even busier, You will bring back the academic side of me and let this physical creative stuff slide...


Or maybe the gentle rhythm of clacking needles, the calm of soft wool against my fingers, is just the solace this busy mama soul needs.  And maybe it's okay to change focus when nothing else works.

And maybe You work even in afghans and baby booties.


Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is focus.  You can find out all about it here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love Story (4): School Starts

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

He was in St. Paul.  I was in Minneapolis.  Nine miles separated our dorms; no one would call such an arrangement a long-distance relationship...but somedays it felt like it.

The Professor had a bike, and I had a bus pass.  Neither of us had a car.  To visit him, I took the campus bus to St. Paul, hopped a city bus to apartments near his school, then hiked into campus.  When he visited me, he biked four miles and took the campus bus to my side of the river and hiked to my dorm.

We got caught in a storm once when we had decided to meet in the middle: the Professor was biking home in a scene of Indiana Jones meets Twister, with straight-line winds rushing toward him as he peddled madly toward his dorm and safety (the textbooks he had in his backpack were never the same).  The campus bus I was on had to stop and wait half an hour because the driver couldn't see through the rain.

Needless to say, we didn't see each other more than once or twice a week--a devastating blow after falling into a summer habit of near-nightly trips to the grocery store for snacks and movies and long chats into the wee hours.

We spent a lot of time on the phone--hours and hours as we put off homework and talked about our days.  Sometimes I longed to get off the phone and join my friends as they "studied" loudly in the lounge or watched American Idol or played pranks.  I got in on plenty of those things, but sometimes I wanted to do more.

But something held me back.  I knew that I was doing those fun college-y things, even if it wasn't every night.  And I also knew that, while those things were fun and memorable, they weren't as great as I made them out to be in my head.

And I knew that the Professor was my best friend.  And he needed a friend to talk to, to rely on, to listen to him.

The Professor is a homebody by nature; he had never traveled much and was used to spending most of his time with his family or me or a small group of friends.  Dorm life was new, school was intimidating, and friend-making didn't come easily that first semester.*  Most high school relationships would have faltered under the strain of one homesick person and one embracing college life, but I knew that we were different.

Our "dates" weren't filled with trips to Applebee's or dance parties or putting snowmen on other floors of the dorm building, but they were filled with genuine heart-to-hearts, encouragement, exploration of our new surroundings, and a deep companionship that neither of us had ever felt.

And I wouldn't have traded it for any amount of typical college fun.

*Don't worry about the Professor; slow and steady wins the race.  As time went by, he made good friends and fully loved college life...which is funny, since I started out in love with my school experience but eventually grew tired of it--and that's when the Professor was there for me like I got to be there for him.  But that's a different story for another day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

WAR International

As a young mama bear living far from family support, I spend a lot of time with my daughter.  A lot.

Don't get me wrong, Professor Dear is great about letting me out of the house Saturday mornings to grocery shop, write, or just wander the aisles of Target to my heart's content to get away from home life...but I'm still here.  With the kiddo.  A lot.

The one day a year where I fly the coop overnight?  A state ladies' retreat.  This year was my second time going and I fully anticipated fellowship with the wonderful women of my church, roaming the camp, digging through the bookstore, learning from God's Word, and just enjoying myself.

And then the speaker's topic was human trafficking.  And things got heavy.

Don't get me wrong, Becky McDonald is a dynamic speaker who balanced her difficult, painful topic with a great deal of warmth and levity.  But I don't think anyone could walk away from her presentation thinking of herself.

So instead of telling you about the wonderful time I had, I would urge you to take a minute and head over to WAR International's website and learn how grave things are for our sisters around the world--facing forced prostitution, slavery, brutal abuse, and worse--and what we can do to help.

Please.  Please be informed.  Please take the time.  Your sisters need you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

FMF: Graceful

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is graceful.  You can find out all about it here.


Street Ballerina
Graceful.  Ballerinas, actresses from days gone by, beautiful people.

Hmm...not me.

Let's flip it around: graceful becomes full of grace, filled with the stuff.  That might hit a little closer to home.  Because I am a mess, a wreck, a wretch just like the song says.  Somedays I do okay, but usually I crawl into bed with a boatload of heavy, exhausted regrets.

I am never enough, can never do enough on my own...but He gives more grace.  Somehow the house gets clean, the Pookster is dressed and even works on her letters and Bible verse most days, and everyone is fed.    He gives grace.

I want to make more progress on knitting or writing or cleaning projects than I realistically have time for...but small bits of progress are made and change is seen.  Because He gives grace.

I want to be better than I am, to lift myself up, to do it on my own.  But then He is there in a gentle whisper: "I give grace."  

And when I yield, then I am strong.  And full of grace...even grace-full.


Friday, August 31, 2012

FMF: Change

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is change.  You can find out all about it here.



Change is that chill in the air first thing in the mornings now.

Change is in the pencils and glue sticks stacked high in the Target aisles.

Change is my belly that swells and now moves as this tiny girl finds her legs and arms.

Change is the three sentence words coming from my toddler's mouth.  And the new power behind her tantrums.

Change is what can happen when I get off my high horse and sit down to that slice of humble pie.

Change is moving, sorting, finagling huge piles of tiny clothes as one grows up and another is on her way.

Change is clearance stickers on those Target school supplies.

Change is leaves on the ground, crispy, even though it's not quite time for them to turn color.

But that will change, too.

Because change is constant; it is the only thing that never changes, but is never the same.  It is the rhythm of these days that fly by, the beat we hardly notice until it's passed.  And all we feel are its old ripples.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love Story (3): Summer

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

Professor and I didn't see much of each other between prom and the end of the school year.  We only shared one class, speech was over, and everything about the end of senior year is crazily hectic.

But there was one afternoon that our paths crossed.

A friend and I were waiting until the parking lot traffic thinned before going to our cars.  She was talking to some friends when I saw Professor in his track uniform heading toward the drinking fountain down the hall.  I had to walk that way anyway, so maybe I could hope for a close encounter.

(I have since learned he was thinking the same.)

We fell into step halfway down the hall, went through the usual how-are-you's.  Then he asked, "Do you want to get together again sometime?"  I knew Professor to be shy, reserved, quiet...but here he'd asked me out, his voice confident and calm, with people milling around, listening and everything.

I said I would then rushed toward my car while he rushed off to practice.

Graduation came and went.  We attended each other's parties; I made him promise to call me as he left mine.  And he did.

The summer passed with dates for ice cream or bowling or just grabbing snacks at the convenience store, watching a movie, and filling the rest of the night with talk.  Oh, did we talk.  On those summer nights, we solved all the world's problems and shared our deepest secrets.

One night, I could tell something was up.  We sat on the picnic table in my parents' backyard, and I told him to spit it out.

He was flustered, shy like he was asking me to prom all over again.

"Do you think," he asked quietly.  "You would ever marry me someday?"

"Yes."  The word came without thought or realization.  But something inside me unclenched and I knew it was true.

"Really?" he asked, somewhat stunned but pleased.

I reached for his hand and nodded.

Why did he ask so soon?  Because Professor isn't the type to kiss a girl or tell her he loves her unless he knows it's for life.

And both those things happened on that starry night.  And the stars seemed to align in our favor: we were headed to different colleges, but they were both in the Twin Cities.

The only question that remained?  How would we make it work across two cities, on campuses that were separated by an ideological ocean, with no cars and no idea how to get to one another?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Lady Who Ran from Bible Study

Running part 1

My church does a ladies' Bible study in the park over the summer, complete with childcare for the littles.  One hope in meeting at the park is opportunity to be seen and even joined by others.

I arrived early one Tuesday and started chatting up the only other mom on the playground.  I mentioned our Bible study, she thought it was neat (especially the childcare!), and we went on to talking about our kids.  Ladies from my church started arriving and I decided to take Pookie for a bathroom run before everything started.

As we traipsed to the restrooms, I told the woman I'd been talking with that she was welcome to join us and introduced her to our childcare helpers on the trip back.  She got her older kids checked in for their swimming lessons and joined us.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself: inviting a stranger to join us was going out on a limb for me.  Boy, I'd done a good job.

The study went well, she referred to various Scriptures as she spoke, and seemed to be doing just fine.  Then one study question referenced Hell in a way that a friend of mine didn't understand, so we stopped to discuss it.  Several ladies offered wise, biblically-backed explanations of the verse.  Our newcomer mentioned she thought it was more allegorical.  Someone else brought up Scripture that refuted her idea.

The picnic table got awkwardly quiet.

Whoever was leading the study picked up the pieces and moved on, but our newcomer went quiet.  A few minutes later, she started looking past us and bolted from the table, scooped up her toddler, and made a beeline for the pool.

Now...this might have happened because swimming lessons ended and she needed to pick up her kids.  But the mad dash struck me.  After retrieving her kids, she loaded them in her car, then came over and gave us a quick "Thanks, bye!"

And I couldn't stop thinking about it all day.  And eventually the Lord tapped me on the shoulder of my heart: was I holding on to that moment because I felt for that woman...or because I worried what she thought of me?

After all, I had invited her to join us.  I had made the small talk, the invitation, the connection.  We must be cool, right?  But what does she think of me now?  Does she think I'm a crazy?  The worry went on and on.

I made the entire endeavor about me and how I looked, instead of praising God for the opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus.  I worried about how I looked instead of how the truth of the Gospel was presented.

I'll never know just what that woman thought of me, but I do know that I followed the Spirit's prompting in offering the invitation--and since only God can control the outcome, that is all that matters.

Guess I need to keep offering, inviting, speaking up...even if they forever run away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FMF: Stretch

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is stretch.  You can find out all about it here.

But my life isn't moving toward stretching, even as my belly does.  Everything but my middle needs to shrink.

My outside obligations.  My go-go-go attitude.  My personal projects and wants.

Little people need a lot of love, a lot of time.  I've had plenty of time to go hither and thither with one little person and still fit everything into the day, but with two?  With two, I need to shrink to the outside world and stretch into this little home of ours.

There will be less escaping to the mall up the road.  Fewer trips to the grocery store just because one item is on super sale.

There will be a lot more popcorn made at home and snuggle time and Bible reading while the littlest one suckles and the big little one nuzzles in close by.  There will be a lot more demands on this mama's time and attention...and there's the stretch.

Can I pull away from my desires, my ambitions, my in-this-moment wants to love these little girls the way they deserve?

No, I can't.  Not of myself.  And so we walk into this next season of nesting and preparing, with hands folded in prayer and Bibles wide open.  Because I simply may not be ready to parent two little girls in my own strength...but by grace alone I don't have to.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love Story (2): La Noche Festiva

{Just joining us?  You can find Part 1 here}

Needless to say, my feelings toward prom were drastically improved.  My mom and I shopped like crazy to find the perfect dress (and paid way more than we should have).  My friends and I chose a restaurant.  Professor and I went for a get-to-know-you-so-prom-isn't-awkward outing and then ordered our corsage and boutonniere at the local flower shop.

When the day finally arrived, Professor pulled up to my house in a car he borrowed from his grandpa (a vast improvement over the white van he usually drove).  I peeked at him through the curtains: handsome in his tux, his hair neat, corsage in hand.  I was all butterflies when he knocked at the door.

My mom answered and called for me.  Professor stared but said nothing; later I found out he had lost his breath and was gripping the door knob behind him.  We posed for pictures for my mom then hopped in the car for pictures with at least four different groups of friends, which was all a blur.

The only things I remember leading up to the dance?  Professor having to fight my dress into the car so he could get the door shut, smiling like a crazy woman at every mother and HER mother's camera, being too excited to eat at dinner (unheard of for me), and Professor letting me know that he'd cover my hair with his jacket if it had started to rain when we headed to the car.

A true gentleman.

{I feel dated scanning a photo!  But there you have it...none of the pictures I have
is great, but I always smile when I see this one: my mom kept directing us to move
this way or that to make up for the height difference, but we were both so shy and
nervous, we ended up backing all that way up the stairs!

The dance was fun: we usually were within sight of each other, though during fast songs we often ended up socializing and moving among various circles of people.  But slow songs?  That boy found me like a magnet finds...another magnet.

Now, Professor is 6'3"; he's got a foot on me.  I couldn't keep looking up at him while we danced or I'd have become at one point I leaned my head on his chest.  And, sappy as it sounds, it was like finding the jelly to my peanut butter; we just fit together perfectly.

I asked if he wanted to duck out before the last song to beat traffic out of the parking lot (oh yes, my dad taught me well).  He glanced at me, heard a slow song start and pulled me back toward the dance floor.

Post-prom was like the dance: usually in sight of one another, sometimes within talking range and sometimes not.  Around 5AM they were ready to wrap up and hand out door prizes.  I was so tired, I let myself rest my head on Professor's shoulder...he didn't seem to mind.

Poor Professor was so tired on the drive back to my house, I asked him 1,453 questions to keep him awake.  Even exhausted I loved hearing his answers.  Little did I know it was only the beginning of hours and hours of discussion that lay ahead of us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5MF: Connect

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up to 5 Minute Fridays, a weekly writing prompt shared among all bloggers who participate.  This week's theme is connect.  You can find out all about it here.


Connect.  Fellowship.  Friendship.  When you've pulled up your roots from home and feel like a tumbleweed, these can be dirty words.

Growing up, it was easy to connect with anyone: I had a big mouth and lots of time.  As an adult, it's tough to find five minutes in a person's schedule to chat, let alone an hour for coffee...or a few for dinner.

And I will admit we haven't tried as hard as we could.  Professor and I are just rolling through, getting a PhD so we can go onto the next place for some post-doc work, and then a final destination after that.  Why work so hard to leave people behind in the in-between?

"...and love your neighbor as yourself."

Oh, right.  We are called to connect, to reach out, to support, to love on those around us.  It doesn't matter what I want or that I get frustrated when our efforts aren't reciprocated.

Jesus gives no qualifiers.  No ifs.  Just do it.

Just thinking this way reminds me of some kids I promised ice cream and a family I've been meaning to get back to about a get-together.  It is my job to connect, to love, no matter how uprooted I may feel.

Even tumbleweeds roll into other things.


Monday, August 6, 2012

The moves!

I've had a "Work in Progress" word count tool in my sidebar for ages.

{photo source}

And it's been at zero.  For ages.

But, not anymore!  As August drew near, I decided that WIP needed more than just good needed a swift kick in the pants.

I've blogged before about schedules and plans and such, but I dreamed up those things before being pregnant.  And before the Crazy Heat began.  And before the terrible twos descended upon us.

I'm taking this manuscript process slow; my goal is 500 words/weekday, plus another 1000 on the Saturdays I get to leave home and write (obligations are starting to crowd out these precious blocks of time, but I'll still try to do my best).

My wordcounts will go up on Twitter and Facebook to help keep me accountable.  Hopefully I have a finished draft before this baby enters the world!

Friday, August 3, 2012

FMF: Here

I recently stumbled on a great writing challenge: Five Minute Fridays, a prompt to write for five minutes without editing or revising...then sharing whatever comes out.  I've been lurking for a few weeks, but I decided today to throw myself into it.  You can find lots of great writers in the link up, but this is what I did with the prompt, "Here."

Here is a place beyond yesterday's doubts.

"What if they can't fix the car...again?"

"What if we have to put more money than we have into the car...again?"

"What would our life be like if we just gave up on having a car?"

We went through a lot of "what if" before we got to

"God is big."

"God is sufficient."

"God has a plan for us, even in car trouble."

And we were serious about talking car-free living, that maybe God was calling us there.  And that maybe we would be okay with going to that place.

I scoured for bus routes to get us there.  Two and a half hours one way IF the schedule ran exactly on time...on a Sunday?

I thought about biking.  We've got a newborn on the way and another Midwest winter around the corner.

I thought about taxi rides.  But I cringed at the cost.

I thought about humbling ourselves and asking for rides.  And then I realized we'll be a two car seat family and who has that kind of extra space?

Then I got the "you can come pick up your car" call.  And it was smooth sailing, with no more knocking sound, all the way to the gas station.  Then to the grocery store.  Then to our home.

And I thought about how we'll be able to drive to a birthday party tomorrow, church on Sunday, and a send-off for a family from our church who are moving...because God has gifted us with a car.

So here?  Here is a place full of gratitude for transportation and a God who gives more abundantly than we deserve.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love Story: Prom?

Note: this is the first in a series about how my dear Professor and I fell in love.  Everybody likes a good love story, right?

Senior year of high school, I was pretty sour on the idea of prom.  Junior Prom had been fun, but it was kind of awkward: my group of "going stag" friends all got dates at the last minute.

Which left me sitting in the bleachers for Grand March.  By myself.

Other than that, it was a great night: we went to dinner as a big group, danced the night away, and then went to a school-sponsored post-Prom party (complete with games, snacks, racketball, sumo suits, you name it) that lasted until morning.

But nobody had asked me to go with them, and I went through typical, teenage, nobody-will-ever-love-me angst over it.  And when prom came around senior year?  I wanted nothing to do with it.

I also launched into long, unending rants about how I wanted nothing to do with boys, would never get married, and planned a dream journalism career for myself in which I was too busy for romance anyway.  (How my friends put up with me during that time, I still don't know.)

My best friend happened to be discussing prom with a fellow classmate who mentioned he wasn't likely going since he didn't have a date.  She saw her chance.  "You know, Michelle doesn't have a date, maybe you should ask her."

This boy and I didn't know each other well, but in a class of just 150, you know everybody to some degree.  We were both on speech team and had friends in common--who were more than willing to let me know he was going to ask.

So when my morning plans fell through one day and I ended up sitting in front of my locker at 7:15, I knew exactly why the lanky kid from five lockers over sat down beside me.

We exchanged good mornings, but then, feeling shy about the whole thing, I turned my attention back to my homework.  American Government, maybe?  Even at the time I couldn't make any sense of it.

"Hey, I was wondering..." he started, sounding nervous.  "You're probably already going with somebody, but I was wondering if you would maybe want to think about maybe going with me to Prom."*

"No," I said.  His face fell, crushed, before I could say another word.

"No," I repeated, then sped up. "I'm not going with anybody.  I'd love to go with you."

And oh that little grin on his face.  "Well, great," he said.  "Now I'm just going to go...jump for joy."

He really did jump up from the hallway floor then sprinted down the hall and around the corner toward the calc classroom we'd both sit in once the bell rang.

I'm not sure his feet really hit the floor as he went, and I doubt either one of us learned much in calculus that day.

*Did you notice all those maybes and hedge words?  Professor still does this and it makes me smile.

{Linked up to the Perspective on Life and Love Carnival at}

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Your home is so beautiful"

Little House on the Prairie
{photo source}

It's back: house envy.

I go through bouts of severe house envy from time to time; after ten days back home where everybody owns their own place, it was bound to set in.  Add in the fact that a younger cousin of mine just bought a house (a government-owned foreclosure selling for next to nothing), and my green-eyed monster has me sulking.

Owning a home makes no sense for us now (we'll certainly be moving when the Professor finishes his PhD), but...oh how we long for a place of our own, grass to dig our toes into and claim, walls to paint, maintenance to do.  All of our daydream conversations revolve around our "someday" farm and property; sometimes it just feels so far away that it might never happen.

But God knew I would have this struggle.  That's why he sent my Indian friend, P, for a visit before my trip.

She gasped when she crossed the threshold, and it took her a full minute before she said anything.

"Your home is so beautiful."  She said it over and over again, wide-eyed and open-mouthed as I gave her the 30 second tour of our 750 square feet.  P noticed every picture on the wall, every knick knack (impressive as there aren't many...clutter makes me crazy), every touch I had added to hide the fact that our walls and carpet are bland, builder beige.

Our daughters got down to playing, swapping baby dolls and smiling shyly at one another.  I asked P about this and that, and while she answered my questions, she wasn't fully engaged in the conversation.  She was luxuriating in the splendor of my apartment.And so, even while I long for colorful walls and a real washing machine, I am trying harder to be content and to praise God for what he has given me.

A larger-than-your-average-apartment kitchen.
Space in the closet for a portable washing machine.
Nice living room furniture, a wedding gift.
The most comfortable bed.
The space and ability to hang our favorite art and photos.
A just-the-right-size bathroom.
Shelves full of books.
Sufficient closet space.
Uncluttered (mostly) surfaces that make the whole place look bigger.
A garage for our rather needy car.  (And a car at all!)
A family to love, serve, and live for.
And for God Himself, who is there no matter my housing situation.

If I can put aside my envy at what others have and enjoy what He has been faithful to give me in the here and now...then anything bigger/nicer/fancier/better than this will be just gravy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Home again!

After ten days in Minnesota on my family's farm, I have plenty to say about our trip...but I'm not sure I could hold your attention all THAT long.  So, I'm taking a note out of Kari Patterson's book and doing a "thankful-for" post (inspired by her "Week's end with thanks" posts that show sweet snippets of her week and the blessings in it).

So, without further ado, I am so grateful for...
  • Safe travel.
  • Room to run and space to breathe.
  • Not cooking or cleaning.
  • Being back in the barn.
  • Visiting family and old friends.
  • Our first overnight getaway together since Pookie was born.
  • Health and recovery after looooooooong colds.
  • Air conditioning.
  • Celebrating Pookie's birthday with ones we love.
  • Lunch at the best Chinese place in the world.
  • Best gas station breakfast sandwiches...twice.
  • Rice Krispie bars made just for my birthday (if you're sensing a food pattern here, bear in mind that I am pregnant).
  • Brunch at an elegant restaurant, knowing my little brother {all-grown up} was behind the kitchen door making our food.
  • Long naps and restful nights.
  • Watching Pookie blossom and thrive on the farm.
  • Experiencing all my favorite things...and watching them happen through her eyes.
  • Picking raspberries.
  • Crying for the first five miles home...because it's always tough to see tears in your big, strong father's eyes.

And I think Pookie would have her own separate list:
  • Skipping breakfast until Grandpa comes in from the barn and makes eggs.
  • Going out to the barn.
  • My Curious George birthday party.
  • Two bouquets of birthday balloons.
  • Watermelon nearly every day.
  • The cows.
  • The new baby calf, Meg.
  • Red, the dog.
  • Charlie, the cat.
  • Chocolate always waiting for me in the barn fridge.
  • Shouting "Happy Birthday!" and reminding everybody we had cupcakes.
  • My own pool.
  • Freezies after swimming.
  • A parade...with horses and tractors and princesses and clowns and candy.  Lots of candy.
  • Fireworks.
  • Waking up with Mama and Papa in the same room as me.
  • Going to the zoo.
  • Having lots of extra people to love on me.
So, that was our trip in a nutshell.  We're mostly unpacked and I'm sure I could dig out the camera and share some more photos...but my brain hasn't quite gotten out of vacation mode yet.  Maybe soon...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Riu Bachata beach, Dominican Republic
{photo source}

Gotta love auto-post.

No, I'm not anywhere quite that sandy or pretty...but in my eyes, my parents' Minnesota farm is just as beautiful.

As this posts, it'll be my birthday.  I'll be waking up on my first overnight getaway with the Professor since our Pookie was born. Nothing fancy, just a hotel in a nearby town with a pool, room service...and plenty of quiet.  Then lunch at the only Chinese place the Professor trusts and back to the farm for the same angel food cake my mom has always made to mark my birthday.

Ten days of family, food, rest, and escape from the daily grind.  I'm bound to get out of my rut and come back ready to tackle the world.

Hope you have a wonderful 4th!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


{photo source}

Only this isn't quite as cute as that guy.

Blech.  Isn't that navel-gazing, who-am-I-really, insecure line of questioning supposed to slip away with junior high?

Still, that's where I find myself these days, questioning my writing.  And then I pulled out an old mixed CD from high school--how fitting.  Back in those days, music mattered more than anything.  I could live inside a song for days, weeks, playing it over and over and losing myself in the lyrics.

So it only makes sense that a song from way back when would bring me through this funk.  Ladies and gents, I give you Be My Escape by Relient K--my own "aha" version.

And I’ve been housing all this doubt and insecurity

Yep.  I've realized lately that neither my blogging voice nor my noveling voice is quite me.  I'm trying to imitate others, which can work to get you started, but it can't be sustained.

I adore blogging as a medium; I devour blogs of all kinds, and I try to make my voice honor them all.  But when their voices and choices conflict, I can't do that without coming across as insincere and...well, flat and lifeless.  And I've had a nagging feeling that while I occasionally write something worthwhile, when I'm writing in my own strength and purpose, I miss the mark.

I’ve been locked inside that house all the while You hold the key

Why haven't I turned to the Lord in prayer?  I do this over and over: have problem, try to fix it, dig in harder, get frustrated, try again, realize I haven't consulted--or even shared my plans with--God.

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).  I've read it a million times...will it ever sink in?

I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake
I gotta get outta here
And I’m begging You, I’m begging You, I’m begging You to be my escape.

My writing style has to change, has to be truer.  But my projects have to change, too.  I'm stuck in a rut with the draft of Sergius Paulus, so I'm tabling it for now.  It's scary to abandon an entire manuscript for a new project in a new genre (mainstream Christian fiction rather than historical Bible fiction), but I'm actually (starting to) pray over this project like I haven't in the past.  So we'll see what the Lord establishes.

As for know how people start a blog to learn about a topic?  Like they want to learn to cook with their crockpot every day or lose fifty pounds or dress better, so they start a blog to track the progress and share the things they learn?  My heart has to come from that place--not a place of expertise.  I want to learn how to love people like Jesus does, and I want to share that adventure with whoever's willing to join me.

I’m giving up on doing this alone now
Cause I’ve failed and I’m ready to be shown how
He’s told me the way and I’m trying to get there

So, there's the lesson: a big serving of humble pie for this girl.  More time on my knees, less time on my high horse.  And definitely a lot more love.

All right, I promise the introspection and high school angst is over, and we'll get back to regularly scheduled programming soon.  Until then, the song really is great; have a listen...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Not Jesus...but a Mixer

making the chocolate mousse
{photo source}
Two weeks ago, a snippet in a sermon got to me that boils down to this: if I know what Jesus has done for me, what on earth is keeping me from sharing it?

And during the sermon, I kept thinking of my conversational English partner; we'll call her P.  P is from India, here with her husband as he does post-doc work, and raising their first baby.  Their daughter is beautiful--a one-year old with a full head of thick, dark hair and a sweet, shy smile.

Pookie and I head over there every week to help P practice her English just by talking about life and babies and food mostly.  We prayed together once when she had to go back to India for a season unexpectedly, but otherwise I've been pretty quiet about Jesus...beyond mentioning Bible study or what we did at church.

After hearing that sermon, I had a whole little speech mapped out.  It wasn't pushy, it wasn't loud, but it was heartfelt and sincere.  I prayed and prayed as I prepared a few utensils and extra ingredients to take to P's house to teach her to make carrot cake.

I waited and waited for the right moment to give my spiel, but it wasn't coming the way I had expected; the conversation never fell where I wanted.  And then when it got close...I knew that speaking out in just that way would have been forced.

I didn't feel the Spirit lead, so I stayed quiet.  And this quote from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary came to mind:

If there is one thing I’ve learned about loving people in the last five years, it’s that nobody wants to be featured as a prayer point in your newsletter. Nobody wants your unsolicited, but loving Christian counsel. Nobody wants your corny Bible tract.

Indeed, nobody wants to be your pet-project for Jesus.

And as I stood in P's tiny student-apartment kitchen, measuring carrots and laughing at our daughters' antics, I knew that it wasn't the day to speak; it was a day just to love.

I left my hand mixer with P, promising that I had one at home and this was just an extra, so please keep it.
I left knowing that P is my friend, and I love her and her family.
I left knowing that I need to be ready to share about Jesus naturally--not because I've prepared a speech but because I really have no greater joy than in Him.
And I left a friend feeling my love...and that's a good step.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I have a confession.  I've never read the whole Bible.

I've started all sorts of times, but somewhere in the middle of the Law I lose steam and let "life is busy" take over.

Now, I've joined up with a Bible in 90 Days group and am beyond excited!

{photo from amazon}

And this time around is different, because...

1. I signed up online...and they have a Facebook group.  If you've ever seen my Facebook page, you know that putting something online = instant accountability for this girl; that's why I post my word counts (which, you will notice, have been few and faaaaaaaaar between since le bebe took up residence).

2. The hubs is doing it with me!  I mentioned it casually to him over gchat while he was at work, floating it by as if I didn't really care too much which way he went, just that it might be sort of fun...and good for us.  AND HE SAID YES!  I don't know why I was so shocked, but I was...but so grateful and excited to grow together.

So, today is Day 3.  If you'd like to sign up (there are more than 90 days scheduled, so it'd be easy to catch up!), it's being hosted by Kelleigh Ratzlaff, so go have a peek.

Not much else to say about it as it's only Day 3; we're staying on track so far, and the discussion in our house has been really fun as we wade through Genesis, pondering different things and shaking our heads at Abraham from time to time (although we always realize that we do some pretty ridiculous/sinful things ourselves).

I'll update at each month marker--one more accountability step!

Have you read through the whole Bible?  How did it affect you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

But Wait, There's More

Yesterday, I was driving to the library (and Chipotle...the nausea is pretty well gone, but food is still unappealing.  So how does one get the proper nutrition and calories into a day when food just sounds blah?  A yummy, gorgeous burrito the size of my head!), and I heard it on the radio.

"Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that nightWhen I drank the world's sinSo I could carry you inAnd give you life I want to give you life"
-Tenth Avenue North, "By Your Side"

This is a beautiful, poetic representation of what Jesus did on the cross.  But as I got wrapped up in that wondrous phrase "swallowed the grave that night," something whispered across my soul.

"But wait...there's more."

Because when my boyfriend-now-husband opened up a Bible on Halloween all those years ago and laid out the pure and simple gospel for me, all I was looking to answer was "How do I get to Heaven?"

It was a question no one in my growing up years could answer definitively.  It seemed our church had absolutes...except where the absolutes were trumped by other things.  There were centuries upon centuries of theology that weren't shared with the little guy so that the little guy interpreted things as he wished, cherry-picked beliefs and doctrines abounding.

I was swimming in a sea I couldn't navigate when all of the clutter was swept away by the simple truth that Jesus is God and He died for sin and rose again to redeem us to the Father.  It is breathtaking in its simplicity and mind-boggling in its mystery.

But wait...there's more.

It has taken years, but I've now realized (in a conscious way...perhaps I have known it longer in my heart) that Jesus has given me so much more when He opened my heart to the truth--because He opened it to the Word.

{photo source}

Where before my opinion was easily swayed by rhetoric, I now have something solid that informs my stance on every issue.

Where before I solved problems with whatever might work, I now have the ultimate conflict resolution manual at my fingertips.

Where before I wondered what to do with my life, I now have the Book that shows me how to do life--no matter where circumstance or choice takes me.

Where before I worried about being loved, I now know that my job on this earth is to love my neighbor without holding back, because I have already received the greatest Love there is.

So, yes, I have salvation.  Assurance of Heaven and enjoying God forever.  But there is more: the gift begins now; the Kingdom is at hand (John 3:2).

And what about you?  What do know now?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cat's Out of the Bag...

Yep.  So all that vague, weird "health stuff" I've been rambling about?  The stuff that has left me exhausted and miserable and unable to string five words together in a pleasant, novel-y manner?  Morning sickness.

But God is so good!  We're having another baby!!  The Mr. and I are beyond thrilled and feel incredibly blessed to usher another little life into our family.

And God's timing is so perfect: the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad morning sickness?  All but vanished the day before I had planned to start potty training the Pookster.

Oh, and we're due on Christmas day.

But enough of the lovey-dovey that my brain has come back online, I'd like to share a few Second Pregnancy Funnies...

1. KFC.  First craving!  I hadn't seen the Colonel--or tasted his chicken--since high school.  Then I saw the stuff on TV and couldn't stop talking about it.  The hubster okayed a night of fried chickeny goodness and I.pigged.out, felt oh-so-full and satisfied, left everything on the table so I could go lay on the couch and rub my belly in triumph.

An hour later, I walked toward the kitchen...and stopped dead in my tracks.

"Honey," I whined, my face pale.  "Could you put that chicken away?  The stink of it is making me sick."

My how quickly the tables turn...

2. By the end of the day, I'm already pulling the hair-tie-in-the-button-loop trick...even though I haven't put on any weight.  First pregnancy?  I put on 15 POUNDS in the first trimester but wore my jeans all the way to the third trimester.  Different strokes...

3.  Midnight pee sessions.  Followed by a drink of water.  Maybe a snack.  And maybe another pee.

4.  I was so very, very tired there for a while.  I thought it was far worse than the last time, but my husband says I just don't remember.  He remembers how I slept evenings away on the couch...and he was totally ready to catch up on playing Civ IV while listening to sports talk radio.

He says it's exactly like the first pregnancy...except we have a better computer.

5.  Early on, I had some concerning pain and had to have an internal ultrasound.  I wish that torture on no one--not even my greatest enemy (if I had one?).  Not even the most heinous of novel villains.

Do you have a funny pregnancy (past, present, somebody else) story to share?  I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview and Giveaway!

I may have been radio-silent around these parts for the last couple of weeks, but I'll be back next week with exciting stuff.  Promise.

In the meantime, you should head over to Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes!  Debra recently interviewed me and asked some great questions, plus starting tomorrow she's giving away a copy of my book!  (And after you're there poke around her blog--her kids are too cute!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grace for the Ambitious Girl


Some time ago, I posted about my writing schedule.

Shortly thereafter, that schedule went out the window.

This spring has been one thing after another: debilitating seasonal allergies, a pinched nerve that left me with numb fingers, overnight guests, a toddler gone AWOL...

It's been a trying season, but I've still felt guilty for not sticking with my plans.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps {Proverbs 16:9}.

Have I left God out of this equation?  Have I forgotten to seek His face in this?  I believe I have; my prayers have always been for the energy to get through my tasks or for the burden at hand to be lifted.

I haven't taken time to give Him my plans.

So here are some changes happening in the Jorgenson household...

1. A New "Schedule"
I've started napping during Pookie's naptime; it's been a big help.  But when I wake up, it's difficult to hop right into writing mode.  Instead, I'm moving writing time to her TV time and in the morning before everyone's up.  It's not quite as much time, but the time crunch just might make me more productive.

2. Goals Instead of Minutes
You know, when I have thirty minutes to "edit," a little might get done or a lot might get done.  But if my goal for today is to "edit chapter 27," then I know I will get that done (or at least do everything I can to reach the mark!).

3. Mercy for the Tough Days
Today is a miserable allergy day--the second in a row with a sleepless night between them.  Touching my manuscript might do more harm than today it's soup, tissues, and cuddling with the Pookster.

4. Above All, Prayer
Numb fingers are scary and definitely a reason to go earnestly to the Lord.  You know what's another?  Absolutely. everything.  My prayer life is all peaks and valleys; it's time to start climbing a long, tall mountain and sticking to the climb.

So those are the changes here.  I wish I were more productive these days, but the Lord is showing me some wonderful and exciting things as I draw near to Him--and they're worth all the progress in the world.  And now, Sesame Street is over and there's a toddler looking for a cuddle...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He Is {still} Risen

I forgot to share my Easter card here...but better late than never!  Besides, we celebrate each day that He is risen indeed.

{But it's nice when someone super cute reminds us of it.  Have a wonderful week!}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post :: Another Writer's Schedule

Note: since my schedule post was pretty popular, I thought it would be fun to see into other writers' lives!  Also, I know that my days of naptime are limited, so I'm curious how others do it.  Today my dear friend Sydney is guest posting with how writing fits into her busy days!

When Michelle asked me to write an entry for her blog I was excited and bubbled the news to my husband. The engineer asked, “So you’re going to write about writing instead of writing?”
“Of course! Isn’t that wonderful?”

Michelle and I became friends shortly after she and her husband moved to our area and got involved in our church. We visited at young adult fellowships (I no longer qualify, except as a host) and ladies’ Bible study. At the time, she had just graduated with a degree in English and I was (am?) a writer-want-to-be. Husbands and children aside, our conversations always circle back to faith and writing. 

Sydney's treadmill desk

Writing is not something I set out to do; it’s not something I’ve chosen. It’s just part of who I am. It happens. I love words and ideas: teaching, reading and writing.

The highlight of my 7th grade year was reading my father’s Louis L’Amour collection nestled in a fuzzy recliner while Tchaikovsky boomed from speakers on either side. The next three summers I spent rare afternoons without campers sitting on a log porch listening to Tchaikovsky and reading while thunderstorms rolled across the Big Horn Mountains overhead.

Michelle asked how I find time to write with my “busy, busy, busy” schedule. My husband I have four children (ages 10-18) and live on farm.  I am a substitute teacher, women’s Bible study leader, Good News Club coordinator, and president of the Fine Arts Booster Club at the high school. I think that’s what she meant by “busy, busy, busy.”

And the writing? Like many young writers, I kept a journal for thinking therapy throughout my teens, though never consistently. I graduated from college, taught and we started a family. But within a year of receiving our fourth child, I fell into depression, a world of shadows. I remember picking strawberries that June through a haze of sad weariness. It continued through the morning of our church’s Easter breakfast. Then, as I lay awake in the dark of night, words tumbling in my head, I stumbled downstairs to a glowing monitor and returned to the world of writing.

That year I saw four articles published. In the process of growth, my pure motives twisted as I began to attribute success and accomplishment to my own efforts.  I met with publishers from Moody, Harvest House and Kregel about a book proposal. And God said, “No.” He did not allow me to continue at that time. Since then, He has continued His faithful work on this unwieldy lump of clay and I am actively writing again.

When do I write? I begin every morning, after turning on the coffee pot and feeding the cat. Pulling my Bible off the shelf, I prayerfully read a passage, recopy a meaningful verse, and write out an interpretation and application for the day. Then I follow this verse: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I meet with my husband for breakfast and prayer, get everyone off to school, start laundry, sweep floors, straighten shoes and pillows, and/or go to work. On days I’m home (like today), I carry my laptop to the basement, prop it on the platform my husband fashioned for the treadmill, walk and write. On a good day, I get in a couple of hours. Some days, I don’t write at all. 

Crazy, right? But awesome!

The writing is God’s project and I trust that He will both prompt and provide based on His timetable. My job, my goal, is to be obedient to the priorities He’s given: serving Him first (Mark 12:30), my husband second (Ephesians 5:22), our children third (Deuteronomy 6:7), and so forth. I am the first to admit that there are moments of failure and meltdowns, but writing is not my first priority. As it pleases the Lord, He makes it happen.

The last six years I’ve been working on a young adult work of fiction. I hope to finish the editing process this spring and see where the Lord takes it. Until then, I take to heart Jim Elliot’s famous quote, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Sydney is a wife and mom, active in teaching and serving as God gives opportunity in her home, local church, and public schools.  She blogs at Heart Quencher.
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