Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Marriage’

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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the previous post on The Mother-In-Law Chronicles, we discussed how the bride and groom each left their family – she legally, he spiritually because he was integral to his family congruity due to inheritance laws. The purpose of  The Mother-in-Law Chronicles is to promote awareness of biblical honoring of the husband’s family community. In most instances regarding biblical families – the husband’s family community/history-was the seat of identity. Generational Curses were passed down from the husband’s sin, not the wife (Exodus 34: 6-7). Blessing was passed down through the husband’s family line. Even Moses had to discover his own family community in order to lead that community out of bondage, to become who he was destined to become. The husband’s family community needs to be cultivated just as thoroughly as the wife’s family community in the 21st century.

and the bride Rachel stepped from under the canopy
back into her father’s community for 20 more years
for mandrakes she sold a night with her husband,
yet demanded this husband give her
a son or she would die
who didn’t know her husband’s community
didn’t know the stories
didn’t know Jacob was conceived
because of a faith prayer
his father prayed over his barren mother
who 20 years later with her husband
left her father’s house with false Gods,
stolen trinkets that couldn’t answer prayers,
had no idea the faith of her husband’s community
blended into her own
and to Rachel Was born
Jacob’s favorite son
a son who would ultimately save
Her husband’s community during famine
A blending of two families
Into one

How are You Leaving?

Entering a new community requires relationship reaching, relationship building, boundary establishment and blending. Before you can blend, though, healthy boundaries need to be established. Incongruous-sounding, yes, but that’s how things with God work sometimes, somehow.

Jacob found himself in a quandary. He had run away from his father’s community and was now ready to return to face his past, ask forgiveness, restore honor, and claim his spiritual heritage and community.

20 years earlier, Jacob had come to his mother’s family community, found a wife, well 2 wives, and, well, he really had no peace. Isn’t that the way it is when you are not where you are supposed to be? Things just don’t go quite right. You can still move forward in your faith walk but it’s just not quite as graceful as it could be? That’s where Jacob was.

His place in his father-in-Law’s community really was not one of honor. He had lived 20 years in his wives community without a wedding contract that separated his wives from their family. Rachel and Leah’s ultimate authority, in many ways, was still their father.

Jacob had worked for his FIL, promoted his FILs interest – and the profit from those interests would be the inheritance to his brother-in-laws – not his wives. Jacob was not in a position of power and authority. As a matter of fact, his position was so weak, his FIL tricked him into 2 wives.

It is when Jacob decided to return to the home of his inheritance, his father’s community, that we start seeing a man of wisdom, power and leadership emerge. It is through his paternal family that he would find God’s plan for his life.

Rachel and Leah had not separated from their community until Jacob returned home. No legal contract had ever been drawn up – and, as such, Laban considered who they were and all they had his.

A healthy boundary situation did not exist until Jacob started the journey to return to his own family community, which really symbolized stepping into the leadership role of not only his family but his community.

Three days after Jacob left with his family, Laban chased down him in the desert. He was mad. He considered Jacob’s wives still his property, albeit his daughters. Laban knew there was no letting-go contract. He knew.

 “Laban answered Jacob, ‘The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne?'” (Genesis 31:43)

Jacob stood up to him, became the man his wives needed him to be. 20 years later, Jacob found himself in the desert creating healthy boundaries with his father-in-law. The marriage journey needed those boundaries, letting the bride become fully her husband’s – a covenant bride.

Laban, Leah, Rachel and Jacob knew it was time to set healthy boundaries for their marriage.

 There was a lot of letting go in the desert that day. A lot of healthy boundaries being set.

“It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other”(Genesis 31:49.) If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me”(Genesis 31:50). This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me” (Genesis 31:52). Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home” (Genesis 31:55.)

20 years after Jacob entered Laban’s community, in a caravan packed with all sorts of dysfunctions, some hidden, some out in the open,  healthy boundaries were established. Rachel and Leah legally no longer belonged to their family community; they now helped define their husband’s family community.

Would Rachel’s story been different if it had happened sooner?  Would Leah’s story been different? Did they miss out on something better because of delayed boundary setting? Would the dance turned into a more graceful marriage dance?

and the bride Leah, stepped from under the canopy
back into her father’s community
Bought a night with her husband
With mandrakes her son collected
Wanting  her husband’s love,
one way or another
And found God’s
Left her father’s house 20 years later
with faith packed
into her soul
she joined her husband on the road
To his reclaim his community
Where the son born of her faith,
Judah, for whom she praised the Lord
through the line of his family community
would the world be saved
A blending of two families
Into one

Join me next Wednesday for “The Mother-in-Law Chronicles III: Threads in the Tapestry

  • The Mother-in-Law Chronicles: Under the Canopy and into the Community, click here
  • Prayer for My Son’s Wife, click here
  • Gasp! The Mother-in-Law – What to Do With Her, click here

Read Full Post »

This is the first post in a series on the relationship between mother-in-laws and their daughter-in-laws as shown through the bible. While some stopping by might not have the MIL/DIL relationship  as described biblically, I encourage you in faith to claim these relationships as God describes and one reach at a time, find fulfillment and blessing in those relationships.

At exercise, one mom of sons said, “UUuugghhh! My MIL is coming.”
“Do you have sons,” I asked?
“Yes – 2” she answered. They were still little guys.
“Do you want your future DILs to talk like that about you?” I countered.
You could see her processing this – that shoe on the other foot.

I’ve also had the following phrase bandied about in family circles all my life, “A son’s a son Till he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter All her life.” Every time we had a son, someone would pop that phrase out – and, well, it’s not only a curse; it’s not biblical.

Please journey with me through the scripture to see exactly what the scripture has to say about a mother and her sons, about a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. Hopefully, you will find it a beautiful, hopeful journey, stepping stones to blessing.

Before the bride ever stepped beneath the canopy of the marriage ceremony, she had already legally left the community of her mother and father.

and the bride Sarah stepped under the canopy
into her husband’s community
to live a life rife with dysfunction
and the amazing blessing of God
who would send angels to sit at their table
in the midst of their dysfunction
where sometimes, Abraham would cook
for God and where Sarah learned God loved her,
was faithful to His promises even
though she laughed at the impossibility of God’s plans
plans that gave her a son to love, to raise
to find fulfillment

and the bride Rebekah stepped first
into the tent of her mother-in-law, Sarah
before she ever first stepped under the canopy
of her husband because that is the first place
he took the woman who had already legally left her family
to join his, to meet his mother, that he loved
before he met his wife under his canopy
to live a life rife with parenting dysfunction and faith
faith enough for him to pray for his wife
to conceive in her barrenness
because He knew God had sat at the table with his Father
and because of her husband’s faithfulness and belief
she was doubly blessed with twin sons

Twenty-Nine years ago Monday, I stepped under that figurative canopy, married my husband, left my community and moved into my husband’s community over an hour away. Three things happened. First, because his family was closer, by default we spent more time – and by spending more time, reaching out to embrace, to learn his family who had different traditions, different ways of doing things, because I reached, I learned about unconditional love. I learned my heart is big enough to love as many people as I choose to love. Second, I learned that I honored my husband by choosing to build that relationship with his family. Because he loved them, I needed to love them, too. Lastly, honoring your father and mother means honoring his mother and father as you would yours.

My grandmother gave me her copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette when I married – while good manners can help people feel welcome (which is a good thing), I have learned more from the bible about how to love those God gave me to love – like my husband, my children, my family and my husband’s family.

Abraham’s servant told Rebekah’s family leadership what he needed in the daughter-in-law to Abraham, “Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left”(Genesis 24:49)

Would she embrace her husband’s family? Embrace with steadfast love and faithfulness?

“Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken” (Genesis: 24:51)

Before she stood under the marriage canopy, the legal contract was already sealed, her allegiance belonging to another community.

“I will go,” (Genesis 24:58) – Rebekah said. I think it meant more than just the action of leaving. It meant that she in the going, in the accepting of the contract, she would show steadfast love and faithfulness to her husband’s parents, to his community – if she couldn’t do that – the servant would have left without her. This was the culture, not something unusual, not an act of long-suffering self-less-ness. This was as much a part of her role as a wife as being a Proverbs 31 woman.

“So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you become
thousands of ten thousands,
and may your offspring possess
the gate of those who hate him!”(Genesis 24:58-60)
Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way”(Genesis 24:67).
Leaving her community to support her husband’s community did not diminish who Rebekah was – it enabled her to become more than she ever imagined – her family supported this, blessed her, did not hoard her to themselves.

“Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death”(Genesis 24:67)

A heart is big enough to love as many people as you choose to – Isaac loved Rebekah, loved his mother – there wasn’t a conflict there. What kind of relationship Rebekah must have had with Her mother-in-law that she could comfort her husband when his mother died? Comfort means sharing good stories, good traits, recognizing what each other saw in the life of person . I rather think she must not have been jealous of his son-love for his mother. I imagine they both grieved someone they loved – that is the only good way to comfort.

“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’”(Genesis 2:23-24)

It is a beautiful thing, a holy celebration when a son finds a wife to complete him, to make him whole. God designed us that way, incomplete alone, made whole together – I rejoice at the thought of each of my sons finding that relationship.

Scripture admonishes the husband to take good care of his wife, to develop a close relationship, to become one – I assume that means best friends, too. Legally, he didn’t have to – but this scripture inserts the importance of heart in legal things.

The definition of the husband leaving his father and mother and holding fast to his wife is not walking away from his community, though.

Biblicly, the first-born to inherit his father’s business and wealth, he works alongside his father within that community – and if the father has enough wealth stored, he provides portions to his sons. A blacksmith teaches his son the trade. A king teaches his son to rule. A carpenter’s son is trained to take over the business.

The husband sets up his own tent with his wife (really, sometimes there were multiple tents for a couple) – that is what the canopy is all about. The new couple setting up their own home, giving her gifts and traditions she brings with her a place to grow freely. Each generation of wives bringing a new thread into the tapestry of the family history – a thread by itself is beautiful but does not add dimension to a story. A thread included in a tapestry story can create a striking effect.

I imagine settling into a new community is uncomfortable – because new things are. New traditions growing with older traditions – it takes grace, reaching, making room – but I think the culture then trained women to handle that transition.

There is much talk in today’s culture about the effects of an absent father on a family. It is more than an absent father, an absent husband – it is an entire community, a heritage of provision.

A son does not grow up to become fatherless. He grows to fill his father’s shoes in the community – shoes that walk the path of leadership for the following generations.

A groom leaving his father and mother is not a “Bye – it’s been great knowing you – not an “I’m outta here” kind of leaving.

It is a setting up a tent, setting up individuality yet growing into leadership within the community that grew you.

What kind of leaving have you and your husband done since your marriage – a leaving that left empty gapes within the family community – or a leaving that has grown the community?

For the rest of this series, please click on the below articles:

Read Full Post »