Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

I’m Challenging each of you to a Love Dare – Last week I wrote about the blessing found in choosing to love my in-laws. I’ve noticed that every time I write about in-law relationships – it gets awfully quiet. I’m getting ready to do a couple of articles on how when we honor and reach out to our husband’s family how that allows him to grow into the man he was designed to be. My love dare? Dare to love like you were born to them – like they are your favorites, love like you’d love your children on a bad attitude day. Just in case you missed the hard part of loving an in-law and turning the hard into blessing. I’m writing this to create awareness about the importance of our husband’s position in his family.

 

The Umbrella City my husband's family creates at the beach - 34 - and not everyone could come!

The Umbrella City my husband’s family creates at the beach – 34 – and not everyone could come!

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep”(Psalm 127: 3-5)

Over 3o years ago, God gave me a priceless wedding present – my husband’s family. This gift – if I chose accept it, embrace it – had the ability to enrich my marriage, my motherhood, my life in ways that at 21 I possessed neither the maturity, life experience, heart-size, or selfless-ness to fully value.

Beside a dirt tennis court and picnic tables – that’s where I first met a good portion of my husband’s family when we were dating. Coming from a matriarchal family (due to deaths and divorce), it was a daunting first meeting – not his mother and father, not his sister and brother-in-law – no – it was the future nephews – all 4 from 1 to 81/2.

I knew nothing about boys: boy jokes, boy antics – boys growing, uninhibited, undaunted in a consistent out-pouring of unconditional love.

My husband loved them – and so I determined I would, too. True Love – or rather, unconditional love does that.

I think one of the great misconceptions of in-law-relationships is that a good in-law relationship won’t be hard or uncomfortable: hurt shouldn’t ever exist.

Why would we expect no relationship bruising from our spouse’s family if it occurs in the family that raised us (remember the growing-into-independence years)? Shouldn’t the same grace and forgiveness, the working through tough moments that leave us scratched, bruised and worn – working through them to forgiveness – shouldn’t that same grace and forgiveness be extended to the new members of this new family.

It’s not just working through challenges in building relationship with this new family, it’s learning to appreciate and value the differences. Just as parents and teens stretch to appreciate and value the differences in each other, so will spouses and in-laws stretch to appreciate each other.

If you accept the marriage gift – God creates something amazing and beautiful. Yes- you and your husband are 2 who become one. Yes, you both leave your family and cleave to each other – but, remember how God works in an Opposite Day Paradigm? You and your spouse  are a single family unit that flourishes best when that single unite fits with others to create a whole family – whole, as in complete – yet ever-expanding.

A heart grows by loving those God gives us. He gave us our birth, or in some instances, an adopted family, our spouse and children – and our spouse’s family, our brother and sister-in-laws. Love is a choice. When we chose to love those God gave us, our hearts grow, eventually uninhibited, undaunted and unconditional.

When this small-town city girl married country boy – we each brought different ways of thinking and doing things into both our families. I don’t doubt my husband’s family shook their head in exasperation but they scooted, stretched and made room for me – just as I stretched an scooted to make room for them.

Some people say, “You don’t know my in-laws. . . . my mother-in-law wants nothing to do with me . . . .they make choices I don’t agree with. . . . “

Nobody ever said love was easy. It’s a choice. It’s rolled together with Faith and Hope. It’s not giving up.

umbrellaIn the story of the Talents, the master gave his servants, 5, 2 and 1 talents according to their abilities. The servants with the 5 and 2 talents worked with what the master had given them, who said, “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Shaddai gave you and me our first family – the family that raised us. Then, through marriage He gave expanded our family – to include not only our children but our husband’s family.

How can we go out and save the world if we cannot love what He has given us? How can we maintain the endurance to love and save both the easy and hard in our neighborhoods, towns, country and world if we don’t possess the endurance to not give up on those He gave us through birth/adoption and marriage?

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?;And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt 18:14)

My family – all of them – will probably be the first to tell you I don’t always love well or gracefully. I don’t always have the right words – or even the right dishes for a family event – those 4 boys all grown up now won’t let me forget the stuffed-eggplant I brought to a cook-out. However, I like to think I don’t give up reaching.

This week, I’m at the beach with my husband’s family. Those 4 boys that scared me to death? Some of them have children my boy’s age. There’s 34 of us – from Nanny down to the newest, Maddie. Nanny’s here. My husband’s sister, 7 grandsons from 39 to 13, 7 great-grandchildren, in-laws with daughter-in-laws.

I fell in love with my husband – and then I chose to fall in love with his family. Somewhere between 31 years ago and today – that choice became something real and deep. God’s wedding gift has enriched me beyond measure – all because I never gave up!

It’s not just a southern thing; It’s a Christian, too. A Christian doesn’t try to hide their crazy family members – we take them to the beach, let them crazy run-around and show them off  because something special happens when we’re around them. In this choosing-to-love, Christian-kind-of-thing, when we do it God’s way, we not only do we start seeing others how God sees them but maybe we just start loving Gods-kind-of-way.

tubes_edited-3

Read Full Post »

floridatrees14“For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9)

We packed up the van with 3 boys, 5 beach towels and bathing suits, one camera, a knitting bag, two computer bags, too many media chargers and too many pairs of shoes. I bet if someone looked hard enough, we could have come up with a kitchen sink. I don’t know how to travel without one.

We spent two days with my mom – experiencing so much blessing. We broke bread with those who love us, met people who shared their gifts with us, like Mary and Charlie’s red and white Camellias, come pink edged in purple – and ivory. They took us on a blooming tour of their hands’ work – building my mother a beautiful bouquet. I think they grew more than Camellias, azaleas – and all sorts of beautiful flowers I won’t get to see through the summer – I think they grew generosity of heart, friendship and genuine kindness, too.

IMG_9788cc

Sunday morning, My husband and I walked these Northern Florida small-town sidewalks canopied with Red Bud blossoms and tree moss -to church where we listened to a sermon that included The Devil and Daniel Webster. Then we moved to a Sunday school room, meeting a community who had prayed comfort for us this year when my husband lost his sister. A retired World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War  Navy chaplain  change our lives by telling his stories – of facing fears, ministering to athiests and waiting on God.  It made me want to go back every Sunday. It taught me about waiting for God to grow opportunities that save.

IMG_9820ccGod met me in the sidewalks and pond walks, the church walks and breaking bread – in the people, in the petals, in the moss above and winter leaves below not quite blown away.

We spent the rest of our holiday further down in Florida, practicing my joy-catching – and I caught smiles, a brotherhood strengthening, and time to savor. The littlest, the 14 year old, decided at the beginning of the journey, he was Zack who played baseball and basketball, who referred to us as “you people” – who settled into his born-to persona mid-way through and decided we could keep him.

We talked politics, faith and humor, why we need to love the hard along with the easy. We encouraged them to not out-smart their common sense as they logically tried to one-up each other. There was a little letting go and learning to live with time – time to find Him – in a long walk, in flipping rubber lobsters in a pot to win a blue and yellow stripped stuff animal, over a cup of coffee, in the strengthening sunlight.

IMG_9891ccDespite 10+ hours of over-stuffed traveling, teens trying to keep wrestling to words, despite them not being sure they really wanted to be with us in a hotel room for 5 days, not trusting mom and dad’s ideas of fun – I believed God would satisfy the longing in this soul and fill it with his goodness, that if I would seek goodness – I would find it. God proved himself good to me – I cam home with a soul-net full of joy caught.

“Thank you for taking me,” said the new college student when we got home.

Yes – a soul-net full of joy caught!

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks (Lamentations 3:25)

pinkflowers

Read Full Post »

A Time of Refreshing

I am a Tolkien fan.  His books might be called Science Fiction, but Tolkien’s books talk much about the fight for right, the price and value of freedom, and  God. There are parallels to Christ’s journey and the great battle against satan. The first Tolkien book I ever read was The Hobbit; it detailed a beautiful God-pattern of hope. That after every great challenge (or major stage of the challenge), God provides a time of physical, emotional and spiritual freshening.

And this week, I am off to a refreshing time with my family. I hope to see a lot of this:

See that brotherly love

and those smiles

And taste fresh seafood from my very favorite market

and experience some of my favorite things

smiles from reluctant teens,

ocean floating

lazy rivers

pillows and quilts

ocean sounds wafting through my patio door in the morning

sand castles

bocce ball

and family

lots of family

laughter

quiet time

holding hands time

God-inspired time

A refreshing time

 I hope you find a refreshing over your Holiday, too!

Read Full Post »