Aaron is ENGAGED!!!

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photoThe time to drop your iPhone into the toilet isn’t hours before your middle olive shoot proposes.

Yes, you have read that sentence correctly.

My iPhone took a swim in the toilet on Saturday morning…

And my sweet boy Aaron is now engaged.

As of today,

I have an iPhone that needs repair – waa

BUT much more importantly

In the span of just SIX weeks

I have gained not ONE but TWO future daughters-in-love.

I have been the mother of three awesome olive shoots for many years

And a Brazilian exchange student for about two months

Truly the Lord has taken our family on a fascinating and creative journey. Love and loss, Alzheimer’s and abandonment, family and friendships, oh my goodness. Central America, South America, Chicago, South Carolina, our hearts have been all over the map. We have had a jam-packed season of suffering and joy, our spirits are dizzy and blessed. I scarce can take it in but I’ll try.

Here’s how the proposal unfolded.

After spending the day together in Chicago strolling the Lincoln Square area, Aaron took Kelsie to PF Changs for dinner.

Then they went for a stroll to the Trump Tower. The night was starlit, a slight chill in the air.

Aaron reminded Kels that this was the place where he had asked for their first kiss and professed his love for her.

And then Aaron, all fancy wearing a tie and looking oh so handsome,

My cherished bairn, he took Kelsie’s hand and got on one knee.

With all the confidence and happiness he has probably ever felt, with a host of truly thousands of prayers spoken over this boy throughout his lifetime just in anticipation of this one moment, my treasured Aaron reached into his pocket. Presenting his beloved her great aunt’s wedding ring, a family heirloom, he inquired,

“Kelsie, will you marry me?”photo 4

With nary a moment of hesitation, this dear young woman answered, “YES!!!”

It was a surreal moment for the both of them.

Apparently so surreal that my ministry-minded olive shoot carefully placed the ring on the WRONG HAND! Oops!

But don’t you just love it when things don’t go perfectly?

That’s how life happens, it’s not flawless. I want my children to live real lives and be authentic people. Those little blips and bloopers are what make memories stick. Kind of like what happened when Nate proposed to Lu. Click here for that story. The Hubs and I have so many moments about our own engagement, I’ll save those for another day. I pray that my children accumulate many stories throughout their lifetimes.

photo 5So yes, my phone fell into the toilet yesterday.

It was an unused toilet, for the record and I wasn’t on the phone when it happened. It just fell out of my back pocket. I promise!

But I am thankful nonetheless.

God has answered my prayers. He has been good. So many nights, so many dinner table conversations and prayers about the women my boys would someday marry. And now two of them know who she is.

Nate and Lu –

Aaron and Kelsie –

praise Jesus for my two future daughters-in-law 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.