The Mother In Law



NeeNee and Caleb in March. We do need to take more pictures with you Linda. πŸ˜•πŸ˜‰

I just spent the last week with my mother in law, Linda. Sadly, some wives cringe at that thought. I mean I get it. We’re deeply flawed human beings and the dynamics of this relationship can be complicated. But ours has never been. All praise and glory to God and many, many thanks to Linda. πŸ™‚

When I was just shy of 16 years old and meeting Linda for the first time she warmly welcomed me into her home and life. At the time I was the only one who “knew” Jason was my future husband. πŸ˜‰ To everyone else though I was just a girlfriend. As we got more and more serious Linda treated me more and more like a daughter. I have always felt loved and supported by her. I’ve never felt like we were competing for her sons affections. She was the one who helped him pick out gifts for me on special occasions and set up the best engagement surprise ever. I always, always have felt like she wanted me as her daughter in law. And when she talks about mine and Jason’s marriage, and how much love she observes that is exchanged between us…..how much he loves me….Or when she tells me what good parents we are…. what a good mommy I am….. and she means it….. She is proud and this means so much to me. I realize this is a rare and wonderful thing that we have.

After many long wonderful talks this week I realize that she has a special way of speaking truth and sharing wisdom and yet being affirming of not only mine and Jason’s relationship but decisions we make as a couple and for our family. She encourages us, prays for us, and trusts that we are seeking God and are “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” She knows we aren’t perfect and that we may even have to make a few mistakes along the way but I have never felt judged or looked down on by her. And trust me, there’s plenty of opportunities there!!πŸ˜‚

I can’t even express how grateful I am that God has allowed her to be my mother in law and that she is the way she is with me. She is so incredibly kind, gracious, giving, genuine, patient, and loving. I am grateful for her example, her relationship with the Lord, her faithfulness in her marriage and her love for her family, even those annoying dogs! 😜 Linda is the glue in the Graham family and I know her super strength comes from our merciful Father in Heaven. I love her so much and I am thankful she has shown me what it can look like to be the mother in law.❀️

Caleb is 5 years old

Dear Caleb,

Today you turn five. This past year you graciously gave up your position of being the baby of the family. Little ones have come in and out of our home and for the most part you’ve done well with sharing. Sharing your room, your toys, your sisters, your daddy and your mommy. Since you were born you have been the center of attention. We probably definitely are guilty of over indulging you at many points. So it has been very neat to watch you become less self-centered and more others centered. You have become more aware of how you can serve and be helpful, not only to the smaller children but to the rest of us as well. You also have grown in your independence. Which is a relief because I thought you might end up taking Ryann and Micaila to college or something. In March it was your responsibility to be the sign bearer at Uncle Michael and Aunt Jessica’s wedding. You had to walk the aisle alone. Rarely do you ever do anything apart from me or your sisters but you owned this role and executed it with perfection.

This past year you also experimented with lying. This resulted in loss of privilege playing the playstation. Which is like dying for you because you are a serious gamer. Indeed you are becoming familiar with good and bad choices, consequences, and most importantly confession. I pray your daddy and I can lead you in the path of true repentance, pointing you to the One Who paid the penalty for our sin, and that in Him you will find life, freedom and joy.

Caleb you are still all boy. All super heros, all fight, all wrestle, all dirt and noise and big, loud trucks. You are fascinated with Luke Skywalker and love running around in your halloween costume fighting the Dark Side. When Daddy comes home from work you immediately go into wrestling mode. You maaaay need to work on your receiving of punches or water squirting or nerf dart shooting but you sure love dishing it out.

You have a sharp mind, Caleb. By memory you counted every day for 14 days how long we had till it was time to go to the beach. Without a calendar! Maybe I’m easily impresed but I can hardly keep my days straight! You remember things from years past that I have a hard time recalling. Like getting your finger stuck in the door at church when you were 3 or that bad storm at the beach last year or that time Jesus held you when you were a baby…..????? Not sure where that last memory came from but you seem to enjoy recalling it. You came home from VBS quoting the scripture and songs you learned. You LOVED VBS. That made my heart so full. And speaking of songs you are much like your sister, Ryann, and are always singing. Never stop making that joyful noise to the Lord buddy.

This coming school year we have decided to enroll you at a private Christian school. I’m so excited for you to experience learning outside of our home, making new friends and adoring your teacher. I think you are going to love it and grow in so many areas as we explore a new territory. And of course I’ll likely cry because you are growing way too fast. But growth and the passing of time with you are things I’m so thankful for. I’m grateful God has entrusted you to us and for every single second we have with you.

One of my favorite prayers is Psalm 119:33-37. I pray it’ll be your prayer throughout your life.

β€œTeach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

Dear Baby C

You’ve been with us almost six months and soon you’ll be going home to your mommy. I haven’t written much about you, not because there isn’t anything worth sharing but because the last six months have been unusually eventful for us. You have gotten to be apart of many of those events and I’m so thankful that your mommy trusted us, even requested us, to travel with you. Your mommy loves you and has been so thoughtful toward what’s in your best interest.

You are a beautiful, smiley girl. Yes, at times, I think you smile out of nervousness, but still, everyone is so drawn to you. Everywhere we go people say how beautiful you are. And that baby chunk, oh my….. it looks good on you. πŸ˜‰ You do have quite the set of lungs though. Maybe you’ll be a singer. You came to us screaming out of confusion and fear. You’ve grown comfortable with us now and I’m happy to say that when you scream it’s typically like any normal healthy toddler just trying to be heard. And one look from daddy J and, as they say around here, you “dry it up”. I need to learn that look. πŸ˜‰ Baby C you are incredibly smart. I mean yeah you’re only one but seriously, you are sharp aaaaand you’ve got a little bit of sass. Most girls do though, right? This enables you to push the boundaries and test certain waters. I’ve already caught you, after being corrected or redirected, laying on the floor face down and peeking your eyes up to see if anyone will react. Oh boy, I hope your mommas will is stronger than yours. I think it is. She has shown great strength and determination to get you home. You have so much potential baby C. I hope you will always know that God made you and he loves you. You may not remember it but you have already been disappointed by people. Even me. People are not perfect, we make mistakes, and we all disappoint each other. But God is perfect and God not only will not disappoint us but He can redeem all that has. No matter what happens in your future, our greatest hope for you is that you will trust Jesus with everything.

Baby C you have tickled us with your laughter, dazzled us with your smile, pierced our ears a time or two, but most importantly, you’ve taught us another level of how to love. That is something I am truly grateful for. It wasn’t always easy, but it has been so worth it. We love you and will always be praying for you.

Jason Johnson Blog

I promise…… I will write something of my own soon 😜

I am sharing this particular article today because as a foster parent I want people to understand why Jason and I are doing this. I want people to understand our thought process and the things God has revealed to us. And often times someone else articulates it better than I can. Jason Johnsons website has truly been an invaluable resource to me. If you know someone who has fostered or adopted I believe this may help you better understand their decisions. And with greater understanding comes greater support, encouragement and prayer, which we definitely need. πŸ™‚

http://jasonjohnsonblog.com/blog/counting-the-costs-of-fostering-or-adopting

The Children, The Chicken, And The Chores

It has been awhile since I have written anything on our farm animals or gardening or anything of that sort. Must of been the trauma of losing our goat Ramsey. Ha! That’d be a lie. Truthfully things have been pretty low key around here. We managed to keep the majority of our chickens alive so I was ecstatic to say “nope” every time we came across baby chicks for sale. It only took purchasing like twenty five chicks to keep six alive. Practice makes perfect people. Six is plenty for us though as we can not eat enough eggs to keep up with the production here. I’ve given several dozen away and HAD to have an egg hunt just to make use of two dozen or so.

Wanna be my neighbor?

I want to take a moment though and introduce you to Tiny. Tiny was from last springs batch of chicks. Not sure if I wrote anything on the challenges of introducing old and new flocks but let’s just say, there will be blood. The chickens were mostly living in harmony when one day during a coop cleaning we set everything off kilter. An older hen, who my children innocently and ironically named Queen Bee, severely bullied Tiny and bloodied her up pretty bad. After getting her cleaned and assessing her wounds I was really hesitant to put her back with the flock so I stuck her with the ducks where she could recover. Well it’s been like six months and according to the girls the ducks, Sunny and Webster, have adopted her. Tiny is truly a free range chicken and she is living it up! She gets dinner scraps at the back door, she comes when you call her, she follows the girls everywhere and she’s eats dill pickle sunflower seeds.

I mean does it get any better for a chicken??

The kids have really taken ownership of the animals and ensure that everyone has food, clean water, and a clean environment. Jason has started giving them an allowance and I have been super proud of Micaila and Ryann as they, on their own accord, tithe off it every Sunday. Caleb on the other hand asked me the other day when he will have a million dollars. We calculated his 2 dollars a week and figured it would take roughly 9,616 years for him to get to a million but hey, there is always an opportunity to move up around here. πŸ˜‰

The girls continue to have riding lessons with Duet. She has been such a great horse. I love watching the girls do ground work with her on their own or just go out and brush her. They have gained so much independence this last year and it’s bittersweet for this momma.

Jason has already planted the garden and last year I did try a few pickling recipes that were a big hit so, looks like it’s a requirement this year. That is, if we grow anything….πŸ˜³πŸ˜‰

Zippys Birthday

I’ve written before about my children and their love for stuffed animals. I would say it’s a problem……storing them is a problem for me…. but more than any other toy they have their stuffed animals have always been the favorites. Once again I’m reminded that the delight these fuzzy friends bring is completely worth the inconvenience of a floor that can’t be walked on. πŸ˜¬πŸ˜‰

Today was Zippys birthday. Zippy is a little TY Beanie Boo I bought for Caleb when Jason and I were in Gulf Shores. Just like the Beanie Babies each Boo has a given name and birthdate. This is not the first stuffed animal party my kids have thrown. They are pretty much professionals with a party planning committee and everything.
This afternoon Micaila whipped together cupcakes out of pancake mix and some kind of Oreo filling frosting while Ryann decorated and rounded up all the guests.
I was downstairs when Caleb and Zippy made their way up to the party. All of a sudden I hear “SURPRISE!!!” and the three of them in unison singing happy birthday to Zippy.

There is something about hearing my children play, use their imaginations, and enjoy stuffed animals and each other that just compels me to give thanks to God for His grace and goodness. His mercy in my life is mysterious. And this I do not want any of us to forget. πŸ™‚

I also dont want to forget that “the animals are having a sleepover” which is why they cant be cleaned up yet. πŸ€”πŸ˜‚

Well played.