Family life · Marriage · Parenting

Four Lies You May Be Believing About Your Family

Four lies

One lovely evening we invited friends to come over after church.  We sat around our fire pit watching the flames spit embers upwards and the smoke billow into the night sky.  Then to get the group talking, my husband suggested we play a game called,  Two Truths and a Lie.  Each person has to come up with two truths about themselves that others might not know, and then throw a lie in there somewhere.  We were to guess which one was the lie.  Do you know what the hardest part of that game is?

It’s not hard to come up with a lie – it’s difficult to come up with two truths to share!!!!

Not only is that true in a game – it’s also true in real life!  It’s just easier for us to listen to a lie than for us to listen to (and believe) the truth!

After our game was over, the fire put out, and my week got started, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered someone believing a lie in their life! Could you identify one you might be believing about your family?  There are many, but here are four lies I think are running rampant in our homes:

  1. This marriage is a mistake. 
  2. Things will never change.
  3. My child will go through the typical phases (like terrible two’s and teen rebellion).
  4. This stage of life is going to last forever!

Let’s counteract those lies with Truth:

  1. This marriage is a mistake. Once you said, “I do,” you marriage became a covenant between you and your spouse and God.  No matter the situation and happenings before you got married, God doesn’t want you to ditch this marriage – this covenant after you pledged your life and love!  He wants you to stay married and display the Gospel – Forgiveness, mercy,  and grace. When we promise to love ’til death, God desires we allow Him to work in our marriage because it IS His will.
    So today –Commit yourself to this marriage and stop thinking about what it would be like to be with someone else, or in another circumstance.  Pour yourself into this marriage like it was the first day you were married.  Make a difference in your husband’s life today!Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (separate).
  2. Things will never change. The previous truth about marriage isn’t meant to make you feel hopeless.  To say, “Things will never change” is to doubt an omnipotent God!  He is able to do MORE than we can ask or think.  As long as you are living – there is hope, because God is also alive and on the Throne!
    So today – Trust Him to answer and intervene in your life! Keep praying, believing and watching for what an all-powerful God can do!
    Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
  3. My child will go through all the typical phases. Your child was uniquely designed and created.  They were born with an old sin nature that will need to be dealt with.  A strong-willed child needs a different kind of approach than a child who is withdrawn.  But with biblical guidance and prayer, they could completely bypass those “expected” kinds of behavior.  Every child has a will and when that will is bent towards Christ and obedience at an early age, they won’t be little angels, but could avoid much heartache they could cause for themselves.
    So today –  Train your child in God’s Word and ways.  Surround them with godly people, biblical discipline and teaching, places and activities that will be the Truth their young heart needs.
    II Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  
  4. This stage of life is going to last forever!  I know that when you’re changing diapers,  chasing toddlers all day, caring for an elderly parent, or dealing with a hard season in your marriage, you think it’s never going to end, but I’m here to tell you there will could be day when you will look back and realize how quickly the time passed!

    Think back to something you did two years ago.  Perhaps it was a significant birthday, a special vacation or a wedding.  Doesn’t that seem like FOREVER ago?  Life is fleeting.  Children grow up. Changes smooth out eventually.  So  what do we need to do?  Learn to enjoy today.  Look for the blessing in the opportunity before you.

    When my mother-in-law had lung cancer, I cared for her in Hospice care in our home.  During those long days, I was exhausted and felt very overwhelmed and wondered how I could keep going. But in six very short weeks, she was in heaven and I was thankful for each day we got to care for her and spend time with her.  I look back on that time and it seems so short!  I don’t remember the hard things nearly like I remember the blessings!  I remember reading Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven to my mother-in-law.  I remember the night my husband and I got to go to a Bed and breakfast for a night away to rest in the middle of this time, and I remember the blessing of friends who helped by bringing meals, and came and sat with her so I could attend church.  Nothing on this earth lasts forever.
    So today – In the midst of long work hours that your husband is pulling, leaving you alone, or while you’re waiting for God to bring you a spouse, or while you’re cleaning up chocolate milk from the walls and floors, look up and find something for which you can be thankful! Look for the blessings and keep a mind on the truth that the clock is ticking!  Remember, too, that Christ could come at any moment and it will ALL  be over, and forever more we’ll be rejoicing!
    James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Thinking the Truth takes intentional effort.  Keep your heart focused on that which is right.  As Jesus said, The truth will set you free!

Refresh yourself with truth about your family,

Christian love · home · Home making · memories · refreshment at home

Happy Imperfections

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I’ll never forget the day we moved into our country home where we are now.  It had just been finished being built! We were moving into our very first brand new house!

It was surreal.

I wasn’t moving into someone else’s mess or used home that needed work – this one was new and perfect!

We had many strong men helping us on move-in day lifting, carrying and lugging all our possessions into our new abode.  One kind man set down a box in my kitchen and I began to slide it closer to the place where it would be unpacked.  His response echoes in my ears even today:

These hardwood floors will scratch up even by a box being slid across them; you better lift that instead.

I followed his wise advice, fearful of causing some imperfection to come to my new and perfect home.

Those words guided the careful application of pads to every chair, table, foot stool, and anything else that was going to be rubbing across the hardwood.  I couldn’t stand the thought of a scratch ruining the looks of my perfect kitchen, hallway or living room.

But alas and alack, over the four years that we have been here, it has happened.  What would that man say if he could see where a can of green beans fell in my pantry and dented the floor there on a day when I was preparing a meal?  Or the heels that have walked across the planks causing scratches, or the other little nicks and bumps that have happened just because people live here, visit here, eat here, spill here, and do life here?

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Perfection isn’t a word that would describe my home, but I’m good with that now.  I’ve come to see those scratches as reminders that people are more important than my perfect standard.  If we lived here alone there would be far less imperfections, but oh, the blessings of belly laughs, happy shedding of tears, playful frolic, nurturing visits, prayerful conversations and loving of souls that we would have missed!

Thank you, sir, for your good advice.  I’m grateful you shared that with me – I really am.  I’ll keep the pads in place and care for my home as a gift from the Lord, but when the marks are added to the hardwood, fingerprints to the glass, or smudges on the walls, I can smile instead of grimace at the happy remembrance of the people that have helped make memories – not imperfections.

Last week when I mopped the floor, I saw a scuff on the floor and started to sigh, but then was reminded of the truths that God has been teaching me about living more for people than perfection.  Instead of sighing, with every stroke of that Swiffer, I thanked God – by name – for the different people who had been in our home.  It made my heart so happy – happy for my perfectly wonderful memories made in my imperfect home.

Do you ever get caught up in wanting your home to look perfect, and feel frustrated that it isn’t? People are more important.  Look at the people, instead of the imperfections, and you’ll have the freedom to use your home to glorify God!

Refresh your heart about your home.

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Christian Life · Family life · home · refreshment at home

The Healer of the Family

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This coming Wednesday in Pioneer Club I get the joy of teaching a Bible lesson I’m not sure I’ve ever taught. As I’ve pondered this Bible passage, I’ve realized how important this little two-verse story is!  It’s the story of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law being sick with a fever.

But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

.And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Mark 1:30-31

So why would this be in the Scriptures?  Why should we tell the children this story? Why do you and I need to read it? I believe it’s because it speaks volumes about the care we should have for our family.  Just as this family looked after the needs of this mother who was sick, we need to put the same kind of efforts into our family relationships.

  1. They loved her.
  2. They wanted to do the best thing for her.
  3. They got the best care for her needs.
  4. She showed her gratitude by serving.

It’s so simple, yet so powerful a message of family life as God intended it.

Loving, caring, giving, gratitude – all attributes every Christian family should have.

But so many homes today are filled with fighting and bickering, bitterness and grudges.  The thermostat in the home is set at the high temperature of STRIFE.  Heated discussions., sassy children, and hot words of anger fill the rooms instead of love, forgiveness and kind deeds.

James  3:16 says,

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Confusion.

Every evil work.

Is that what we want inside our home?  If we allow strife, that’s what we  will get.

I have a sad memory  from years ago of a grieving family who were at the casket of their mother.  She was now in heaven, and the family knew there were bitter feelings they had never reconciled.  This family had “solved” problems with shouting matches, that of course did no good.  Now their mother was deceased, and their hearts were hurting, filled with regret, and sorry they hadn’t taken care of it before she closed her eyes in death.

Standing at the grave of a loved one is not the time to make peace. It’s today.  Don’t let strife and confusion and every evil work typify your family.  Instead, allow your relations to  enjoy the forgiveness you received at the cross.  Life is too short and family is too precious.

Let’s be like Simon Peter and lovingly go get the best help we can for our family – let’s run and find Jesus!  We must bring Him in on each situation and problem.  We must care for the needs of our parents, siblings, and children, forgetting our own.

Does your family have a need?  It can be met in Jesus.

(Tomorrow will be continuation of this post.)

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children · Christian love · Family life · home · Motherhood · Parenting · Wife's Role · Women's roles

In-Laws and Outlaws Part II

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Jokes about mothers-in-law…there are many.  I remember hearing one about a Greyhound bus going over the side of a cliff, but there was no worry, because the only passenger was the man’s MIL.  Ouch.  Where do those punches come from?  Maybe from people who have gotten fed up with that female in-law who crossed the relational boundaries.  But it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We may reason that

  • we only want to help!
  • we’ve been where our children are and we think we need to  give them some good advice.
  • we see our kids getting ready to make the mistake of a lifetime.
  • they need help raising those grandchildren of ours.

The reasons for mother-in-laws interfering are many, but for the most part, they may be very unwelcomed  from our birth children and our in-laws.  It can do far more damage than it does help when it’s unsolicited.

What is a mother-in-law to do if she desires to have a good relationship with a son or daughter-in-law?  Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning!).

  1. Only give advice when it’s asked for.  If you see your kids doing something you think is wrong, pray about it instead of speaking to them.  Trust a sovereign God to direct them just as He directs you when you’re heading down a wrong path.
    That would include little “hints” you might want to drop about your DIL’s housekeeping, lack of meal prep, or careless parenting skills.  Or your SIL’s need to turn off the television, get a job, lead his family or attend church.  Take it to God instead.
    I’ve had to ask both of my girls to forgive me for stepping over that boundary once they got married!  We’re so used to being “mom” that we scold, advise and reprimand our grown kids as quickly as we used to throw our arm across them when we came to a sudden stop in the car.  Let’s fold our hands in prayer instead and ask the Lord to give them wisdom to make right choices.
  2. Don’t demand your children’s presence for ANYTHING. would mean Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Mother’s Day – you get the idea.  They have lives of their own.  They have a family to care for.  They have burdens to carry.  They have jobs and ministries.  Let them live their lives.  Again, if you feel neglected, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Even if you don’t demand their presence, but you pout because they weren’t there…it’s just as bad.
    Also, be sure you’re building that marriage relationship with your spouse.  Have so much fun together that your kids will know that if they’re not able to come home, you both are fine just being together!
  3. Never drop in to your children’s home without calling ahead.  “Yoo-hoo!” at the front door as you walk in could make an embarrassing situation for you and your children.  It can also turn you into the lady that might be given a ticket to ride that Greyhound bus!
  4. Consider your child’s spouse.  Think to your own MIL and how you liked or disliked when she left you out or included you, as the case may be.  Love them.  Talk to them.  Send a text.  Call them occasionally just to say hi.  Pray for them.  Treat them with respect and give them those kind of words.
  5. Allow your children and their spouse to be adults.  Treat them as such, remembering that you raised them to be independent. Don’t see your son as your little boy.  He’s a man.  Let your daughter be a grown woman. Let go of those early days and let them establish a home as adults.

Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi?  Ruth was said to have been kind to her mother-in-law.  We may cry out – “My daughter-in-law needs to take a lesson from her!  My son-in-law needs to learn to be kind to me!”  But what made Ruth and Orpah want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi?  She had been gracious to them!  Someone has said,

Maybe if we were more like Naomi,

there would be more Ruth’s.

If you’re guilty of something in this post, be humble and ask the Lord to help you.  You might even need to ask your children and in-laws to forgive you for the way you’ve treated them.  A humble spirit of repentance could be the very thing that will turn those difficult relationships around.

Let’s be more like Naomi today.

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Christian love · Family life · Husband · Marriage · Motherhood · Refreshment in marriage · Wife's Role · womanhood

In-Laws and Out-Laws – Part 1

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Someone has said…

Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.

A huge part of the difficulty that can come to a marriage is dealing with the In-laws.   You see, when a girl says, “I do,” to a man she loves, she is also saying “I do” to receiving his family.  She takes them on as her own family, and of course, he takes hers as well.  But that isn’t always the easiest job in the world.  There are so many variables as to why that’s the case, but I’d like to address what to do in order to make those relationships better.

I’ve been both a daughter-in-law and am now a mother-in-law, so I can speak a little to the female side of these relationships.  Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the mothers-in-law.  But we’ll look today at being a daughter-in-law that would honor the Lord and also be a blessing to the other side of her family.

  1. Give your in-law’s names – When I was newly married, I had a sweet father-in-law who oddly enough had been (and still was) my boss at the school where I taught.  He was also my pastor.  Now all of the sudden, we were related!  That was a strange transition to make!  My mom gave me good advice before my wedding.  She said, “Start calling your in-law’s by the name you choose right after you’re married.  It will sound like it’s bouncing off the walls when you first say it, but keep on saying it. It will get easier.”
    My husband and I had decided to call one another’s parents as we do our own, Mom and Dad.  When you have parents of your own that you treasure and love, it’s hard to throw that title to someone else, but these people were parents to the man I’d given my life to! Could I not “adopt” them as my second set of parents?  So, after the honeymoon, I needed my mother-in-law’s attention and I had no choice but to say it – “Mom…”  It was just like my own mother had warned me.  It seemed like I had shouted it into a megaphone!  But I kept on saying it until it became as natural saying my own name.
    It can be so difficult to give your in-law’s a name that instead, you refer to them as only pronouns.  Love them enough to give them a name – Mom and Dad, Bob and RuthAnn, Mom C., something! It’s so much kinder than “her” or “him!”
  2. Give your in-law’s the benefit of the doubt. If you’re questioning their actions, their absence, or their words to you or your husband, just step back and don’t assume anything but the best.  Instead of asking, Why does your mother only call you and ask about the holidays?  Don’t I count?  Assume that he is the one who could answer her questions.  Then you make an attempt at saying, Hey, I hear you’re wondering about us coming for Thanksgiving.  We’re looking forward to it. Do you have a minute that we could talk about what you’d like me to bring?
    It’s a tendency to get offended, but sometimes if we build a bridge for communication, it will make things easier the next time.
  3. Give your in-law’s time to be with their son without you.  Don’t feel offended that your MIL would love to spend time with your husband.  Instead, help that to happen.  When my in-law’s came to visit us for Christmas, I always tried to encourage my husband to take his mom out for breakfast one morning.  They could talk and spend time together, and I know she appreciated having her son to himself for a couple hours.
    (Tomorrow we’ll discuss what happens if this need becomes obsessive for her!)
  4. Give your in-law’s time with your whole family.  Holidays can be downright dreadful if there are not wise decisions about where and when the holidays will be spent.  Going back and forth to both families is exhausting and sharing that holiday with only one side of the family can be hurtful.
    Our solution to that is to spend Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas the other.  Then the next year do the opposite.  Birthday’s, Mother’s Day and so on can be handled in the same way – back and forth.
  5. Give your in-law’s the same kindness you’d give your own parents.  Most husbands aren’t good at remembering to buy gifts and cards for their mom once they’re married.  Why not consider it your duty as his wife to remind your fella to buy a card for his mom for Mother’s Day?  Or you pick out the card and gift for her birthday and let him sign it for both of you.  She’ll recognize his handwriting and will be elated that he remembered.  Only you will be the wiser!  The point is, be sure to do the same kind acts for your in-law’s as you do for your family.
    In the book of Ruth, we hear Naomi saying to her two daughters-in-law:
    Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
    Both Ruth and Orpah had shown kindness to their mother-in-law and she was fully aware of it!
    Could that be said of you and me?  Take the high road and show kindness. Be first to do it.  Do it even if it’s not returned.  What to do?

    1. Call them.
    2. Send a text to check on them.
    3. Send them pictures of your children.
    4. Send them pictures of your husband!
    5. Pray for them.
    6. Love them with words
    7. Love them with your time.
    8. Love them with actions. A card, a gift, a loving gift of your time.

It would be hard not to love a daughter-in-law who responds with those kind of actions.  I didn’t always do that. I struggled, especially in our early years.  But I thank the Lord for the good relationship he gave me with my in-law’s over time.  Ladies, sometimes the hardship in the in-law relations can make them look like outlaw’s, but if we make the effort, we could very easily turn things around for God’s glory and we daughters-in-law could be remembered as favorably as Ruth was.

What’s your best tip for responding as a daughter-in-law? Who has a great daughter-in-law that you’d like to brag about?

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for tips for the Mothers-in-law!