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Noni’s Move

Noni’s Move

I have the best mother-in-law ever. And, no, all you doubting in-law-phobes, that was not sarcastic.

I know that most people cannot claim this. Yes, I have heard horror mother-in-law stories, and heard the laments of many a wife’s Mama’s Boy’s woes.

Have to say, this is one area in life in which God gave me a pass.

Her given name is Anne, but ever since kids came along, she’s been Noni. Or Nonee. Or Nonni. Nobody is quite sure how it’s really supposed to be spelled, and even within our own family we all spell it differently, but since I’m the writer, I get to put my version down as the official one.


Yep, I’m actually a little prideful about my mother-in-law. I’ll even go so far as to say that she’s one of the only people in the world that I’m fine to have stay in my house for extended periods of time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that whenever she’s there she cooks and does my laundry and cleans and buys groceries and feeds the kids and…

Did I say she does my laundry?

Yeah, and she makes the best pasta sauce ever.

But it goes far beyond her uber-helpful Italian mama industriousness. I truly like the woman. She and I are kind of kindred spirits. She is smart and funny and outspoken and opinionated and down-to-earth.  She is an amazing vocalist and has a soul-deep love for music, and when you want to play her some new song you’ve found, she always listens eagerly and gives you feedback like she’s excited about it too because she really cares. She cracks me up and gets me going and listens and dishes and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. The two of us can go on and on for hours, castigating Obama for his most recent scandal, debating the virtues of homeschooling versus public education, or decrying the loss of spiritual integrity in our culture. She’s one of the few people in the world who can take all of my intensity and not want to run away screaming after more than 30 minutes.

I mean, how could you not love a woman who, in her younger years, switched up the inner-circle wine with the outer-circle grape juice in the communion plate at her ultra conservative church, just to make a point?

And I admire her. She has suffered and overcome, she has made do with whatever circumstances she’s been given, and she doesn’t complain even when it’s not fair at all. Her faith in God has been her foundation, even when the bottom fell out and life gave her the short end of the stick. She also got my husband to adulthood without killing him, and, from the stories I’ve heard about what he was like as a child, that in itself required some serious faith. And patience. Thank the Lord she had both.

But it’s not just her relationship with me. She’s guiding and caring and absolutely amazing with children. She manages to have this perfect mix of nurture and discipline that I can only envy from afar, and be thankful that my own children get to experience. And, because of that, my children have a special relationship with her like they have with no one else.

Even animals love her. I think my dog is happier to see Noni show up at the door than she is me.

Oh, and have I mentioned giving? Yeah, somehow while being frugal and responsible, she also manages to be one of the most giving persons I know.

It’s high praise, all this. But deserved. OK, yes, she locks all the doors in the house like Fort Knox, and I highly suspect she thought I was nuts for all my home-birthing, homeschooling, always-off-the-beaten-path approaches to life at some point along the line, but, to her everlasting credit – she’s supported me anyway. She has loved me and listened to me and been willing to walk along beside me, even when the choices I’ve made have been uncharted territory.

Yes, I love my mother-in-law.

But she has, for the past few years, been 5 hours away.

After we moved back to Roanoke, “Noni time” has mostly been brief trips to see family, or her days-long visits to see our girls. Life circumstances and family ties have rooted her coast-side, while we’ve planted in the mountains. For various and sundry reasons, we just assumed it would always have to be.

God had other plans.


  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

Noni is moving to Roanoke.

It is an answer to prayer, a desire fulfilled, a new chapter beginning…

It is hope from the Lord after a very hard year.

The details aren’t all worked out, yet – little things like where she’s going to live and all – but it’s happening. My husband gets to live near his mama and I get to inherit a second mama again, and my kids will now have both sets of grandparents in the center of their world.

Really, are there better blessings than family?

This month I lost a friend who moved away, and I am gaining a family member moving to. Because that’s just how God works – He only does gains.


  • “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

He keeps reminding me, showing me anew – He is always, always working for good.


  • “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I don’t know how all of this will work out (although I do know it will include some very good home-cooked Italian meals), but I know that my Lord is showing us Himself. That He is singing over our family with a song of love. And that, after the worst year of our lives, He is making real for us that in His hands there are always fresh, exciting, hope-filled beginnings around the corner.


  • “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’” Acts 17:28

Yes, no matter our location, when our move is in Him, we are always in the perfect place.

One Response to “Noni’s Move”

  1. Mary Lee Loope says:

    I am so happy for Noni and your family. I am able to begin to know this special lady through your beautiful writing. Look forward to meeting her in person. Blessings to you all.

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