Two Talented Neighbors — Guest post by Linda Landreth Phelps

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Blog, Family, Journal, Uncategorized | 10 comments

the-cover-of-colony-life

              Cover photo by Kelly Mihalcoe

From an article in the September issue of Colony Life Magazine

         

How do two retired introverts spend their days without stepping on each other’s toes? Married for 13 years, Ken and Janet Grunst’s happy solution is having space to devote to their avocations. “Ken’s Cave” says the sign on the door to Ken’s lower level workshop where he creates musical instruments.

“What interested me was the challenge and reward of unlocking the beauty of the wood,” Ken remembers. “When I put the finish on a chess board I’d made, the grain came alive!” Ken plays guitar, so decided to learn to build one. “I’ve done 23 so far, plus a 5-string banjo,” he says, “and given away about a dozen of them to family members.”

ken-working-in-shopEach is a work of art featuring exotic woods, intricate abalone inlay, and his personal img_3657signature carved sound ports representing the flame of the Holy Spirit. “King David was a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, and played harps that he’d built. I’m captivated by the idea that, like him, I can take a pile of wood and pieces and suddenly it makes music!”img_3663

 A picture on the wakens-guitarll near Ken’s Cave shows a young Ken Grunst performing with his college folk group back in Michigan. His friend and bandmate, Al Jardine, went on to fame as a member of The Beach Boys, but life as a professional musician never appealed to Ken. “There are the awful nerves before a performance, then the high of the actual playing and singing, but it’s such a downer when eventually the place empties out.”

Ken became a teacher and he and his first wife welcomed a daughter. “Teaching in Maryland with a salary of $5,000 a year, Dee and I would have actually had more money on welfare, so I got into home- building,” he recalls with a laugh. Ken was widowed in 2002, and then he met Janet at a Community Bible Study (CBS) conference. Janet, who was the executive assistant to the director of CBS, had been on her own for a decade and had two grown sons.

desk-2-2Janet’s tidy desk and book-lined corner of their family room is where she writes historical fiction. Her first book A Heart Set Free debuts in early December, and she is excited that persistence has finally paid off. “I refer to the book as ‘my Millennial in the basement’, because after 31 years, it’s just now getting wings,” the author jokes. She wrote her manuscript while her little boys were occupied, a snatched hour or two at a time. She tried to sell it herself. “It was almost picked up by publishers twice,” she recalls. “Then my life changed and I was busy working and raising my boys, so the book stayed dormant.”  After Janet and Ken were married, he read the story, the romantic tale of an 18th-century indentured servant, loved it, and encouraged her to try again. This time around Janet found a supportive agent and the manuscript was accepted by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. 

Janet with her agent, Linda Glaz

                      Janet with her agent, Linda Glaz                                    at American Christian Fiction Conference in August

Janet has a second story ready and plans for a third. “Writing makes me feel alive!” she declares. ”Marketing, however, will probably be a challenge,” the self-proclaimed introvert laughs.

Ken and Janet have found the secret of successful remarriage is staying actively engaged in things that bring joy, carving out space for themselves while cherishing time together. Their three children have given them ten grandchildren, including quadruplets born this year, and they jointly serve as small group team leaders for Williamsburg Community Chapel. Their goal is to balance fun social times with peaceful hours of creating beauty, both in wood and on the page.

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Janet, I love this!! And wait til Steve finds out that Ken played in a band in college with Al Jardin! SO fun! What a great story about 2 very special people. Talent just oozes from you both. 🙂

    • Thanks, Elaine, but Ken is the really gifted one.

  2. Love this post Janet!!! I did not know this information about you and your hubby. 🙂 So happy to be getting to know you. Hugs.

    • Thanks Melissa. Ken is a very gifted chap.

  3. Janet, you may be an introvert, but you certainly find meaningful ways to encourage others. I know; I’ve been on the receiving end many times. Love this story about you and your husband, Ken. Can’t wait for your first book to come out!

    • Thanks, Clarice. When I focus on others, I forget my own insecurities, and deficiencies. Ken is a remarkable man and one of God’s greatest gifts to me.

  4. So wonderful and so exciting!

  5. I agree with Clarice — you are a wonderful encourager, Janet! What beautiful work Ken does. I’m excited to see your book in print soon:)

    • Thank you, Cynthia. Ken does beautiful work, and it will be nice to have a dream realized.