Big news in our family – something happy for a change

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My boy and his girlfriend

My boy and his girlfriend

Yesterday I used a word I have never used before.

It was a word I prayed I would use one day.

Like, I really did pray to Jesus about using this word.

I remember praying with my son throughout the years

When I tucked him in at night or

During casual conversation in the family room and

Around the kitchen table before dinner

This word has always provoked a sense of wonder and anticipation in our boys.

My boy and his fiancée

On Sunday at a fancy restaurant in San Salvador, El Salvador, my oldest olive shoot, my Soldier, my West Point graduate, my Ranger, my Sugar Boy asked his beloved to marry him.

She said, “yes.”

So yesterday I no longer referred to Lu as Nate’s girlfriend

Around 4pm during a very serious meeting in Raleigh, the Hubs and I spoke about a very happy moment as we were talking about a very sad one

Then these words flew out like a butterfly in the sky,

“my son’s fiancée.”

The air in the room grew lighter for an instant

photo copyAnd I felt a smile in my heart

A fresh and joyful moment, most welcome and healing to my soul

Their love story is such an adventure, your heart will smile as well

That incredible day, the one we have prayed about for so many years has finally arrived

My son has a fiancée, I have a future daughter-in-love!

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That touchy subject of mothers-in-law, what can we do differently and better?

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Thanks to all who read Hannah’s guest blog post about being a good mother-in-law.

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

It was one of my most popular posts.

But it’s interesting.

While many seemed to read the post, there were a lot less comments. I’m not blaming anyone. I get it.

You see, my own MIL relationship was complex. If blogging existed many years ago, I might have added my own stories. But my MIL Ruth died 17 years ago, my stories are limited, now seasoned with time.

In the bathtub prior to her passing, I wrote my MIL’s eulogy and on that cold February day in a Lutheran church in Peru, Indiana, I attempted to speak words of appreciation through my grief. I loved her and still miss her. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

As the mama of three olive shoots and no daughters, I want to do it right. I realize it’s not totally up to me but I want to do all I can to facilitate the relationship.

Sadly, many women even in the church, women that I love and admire in many ways, they roll their eyes when speaking about their MILs. It’s like picking an open, festering sore when I ask for advice. Such hurt and pain. Godly, Jesus loving ladies speak with disdain about their MIL and this prospect frightens me. What can I do differently?

Wedding day with a very large headpiece!

So here’s my stab at what I wish my older Cindy would have told the new bride Cindy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1. Remember your mother-in-law is trying – She wants you to love her and like her. She’s going to make some mistakes, so will you. Remember this lady birthed your husband and she wants to be in your life.

2. Don’t take everything so personally – It’s hard being a new bride but don’t make

Ruth was a pretty bride! Love seeing old pictures!

things more complicated. Maybe she wasn’t trying to make a nasty dig at you, maybe it was not a poorly veiled hint that you are in- competent.  Give her a break.

3. Ask her to help you with something – Allow yourself to obtain instruction. Here’s an example, my MIL knew how to use a pressure cooker, she bought me one but I never used it. She bought me a cast iron pan which I really wish I would have kept. Let her assist you in something, it’s not a sign of weakness.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

4. Listen to her life story – She has some wisdom. Appreciate the journey she has traveled. Glean from her victories and sorrows. It will give you a glimpse into her heart when you know her story.

5. Apologize – You’re not always wrong, she’s not always right. Extend grace and when there is a struggle, talk it over in a loving manner if possible. Your husband will be blessed that he wasn’t put in the middle. Your MIL wants your approval, you probably crave hers – MILs can be insecure.

6. Thank her – The Hubs, then only a fiancé was napping in the family room. I was sitting on the shag carpet, she on that miserable, uncomfortable couch when I said, “Thank you for raising such a good man. Although he will be my husband, I want you to know, he will always be your son.” I meant that. It was my intention to be the wife, not replace her as another mother. Ew.

My widowed father-in-law lives nearby and occasionally I will still thank him for raising such a good man, I want him to know how much I appreciate the way the Hubs turned out.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

7. Pray for her – I married her son prior to my spiritual conversion to Christianity. This presented a problem when my MIL overstepped her boundaries in a very sensitive area of our lives. It didn’t go well and that’s putting it mildly. I remember searching for Bible verses to use in responding to a foolish letter she had sent me. Dumb. I was hurt and she shouldn’t have gone there. I wish I had prayed for her more. She needed it in many ways.

8. Encourage your husband to communicate with her – I must say this was something I was skilled at even early in our marriage. I wanted a good relationship with my in-laws and prodded the Hubs to contact his parents regularly. When Ruth was fighting terminal cancer, I urged him to go home often even when though we had a temperamental newborn. I don’t regret that aspect of our relationship whatsoever.

This is my partial list, what first came to my mind. Teach me, friends! I want to learn!

Questions – So what am I missing? What else is there to learn? Do you identify with any of my reflections?

Advice from a young bride about being a good mother-in-law

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Pretty, young and wise

Pretty, young and wise

Today’s post is from my friend, Hannah. I wrote a blog post about a time we recently spent together and when I learned she was a writer, an idea was born! She just celebrated her NINE MONTH wedding ann- iversary and I knew her fresh observations as a daughter-in-law would be useful to me. Lord willing, one day I will welcome three daughters-in-law into this family. Here’s her story and reflections.

I marry my best friend at the not-so-young age of 19. He’s been my best friend since I was 15 years old and my childhood fleets quickly. A ring finds its way on my finger, one on his too. We become one, and I become a Daniel.

August 4th, 2012 is birthed into this earth and the small church to the right of the one-road-town fills quickly.

Marrying Andrew is the best decision I ever made, besides my salvation. But can I share a not-so-secret? Not only did I hit the jackpot by marrying an incredible God-loving, handsome man, but I hit the Lotto when I got his family as mine, too.

Not that mine is bad but I enter his whole family coming from a broken one. There was yelling, stubbornness, and a divorce after 28 years of marriage for reasons I’ll never fully understand, yet my mum+dad love me, all the same.

For those reasons there is something almost magical about being a part of a family whole, untainted. Why? Because I’m now (treated like) part of a whole.

Especially by his Momma.

I know, right? She is much less Monster-in-Law’s (the movie with J-Lo) Jane Fonda and more like  an angel from heaven that you get to call mom, gives the best gifts and hugs and advice…and serves the best FOOD. Yes, always food. I TOLD you I hit the Lottery with this gem of a family! So bear with me while I brag, because if you wanna know why she is the best mom-in-law (MIL[s]) everrr and what you future or current MIL’s can do have an awesome relationship with your daughter-in-laws..weeeelll, I’ll let you in on her secrets.

549585_10151175544017033_28494589_nSincerity –  It’s all you need, really. Be a momma to your new daughter—You have raised a man that she loves, so find out why he loves her back! Be a spirit-bearer (Galatians 5:22-23), and invest into her life and get to know her. Personally, I know I felt home (yes, it’s a feeling!), when I felt like she wanted me to be there, a part of her family.

Get to know her, and want it – Especially as a new wife, it’s tempting to keep all the bad stuff about you hidden and only let the most spectacular things about you shine. Yet, somehow, this home feeling came for me when I knew she wanted to get to know me, not this fabricated version of who I’m not.  Ask her to help you fold laundry as a means for talking (yes, domesticity made me feel like family) and gain a level of friendship with her. Sincerely mean it when you say she’s family.

911412_455036954579193_497764209_n

What a great looking bunch!

Acceptance – From what I’ve observed, MILs see their daughter-in-laws (DILs) as a nuisance—someone invading and imposing on her family. I would hope DILs, just like MILs, are seen as a joy to be around.

Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor (DILs included!) as ourselves, and that can be a difficult burden or a wonderful blessing. Nevertheless, your call is still the same, “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How? By letting facades fall: Be yourself and let her be herself (sins and all). You’ll become really appreciative of one another. (I know it’s true in my case).

And when all else fails –

912048_455036951245860_333159125_nPray – Can anything good happen apart from the Lord? Pray for her personally as a woman, a sister in Christ. Pray for her marriage to your son, for them to have a thriving marriage, reflecting the parable that it is: Christ and the Church. Pray for your relationship with her (especially if loving her is difficult).

Love her, sincerely; Accept her, fully; Pray for her, continually.

And I bet you will be a mother-in-law who is cherished.

Questions – What advice do you have for mother-in-laws? Daughters-in-law, what have you learned from your MIL?

Check out Hannah’s blog at Common Thought. Such a sweet and gifted young woman.