The Mother In Law



NeeNee and Caleb in March. We do need to take more pictures with you Linda. 😕😉

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. 🙂

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. 😉 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!!😂

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.❤️

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11 Years!

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, there all pretty blog worthy because I want to remember, “Where was I at and what was I thinking during that time?” And yet you can only write so much. What do I highlight? Focus on? How do I balance the good with the downright ugly times? We’re celebrating 11 years of marriage and while I value transparency I don’t want to come off cynical.

We certainly do not have this marriage thing figured out. I mean I almost did not want Jason to seat me at his brothers wedding because we were at serious odds a few hours prior. I know, I’m so extreme. Listen, I love hard and fight hard. I’m intensely devoted and can be easily wounded. And yet this picture.

Oh how deceiving photos can be. Granted we had signed a peace treaty till we could get down to the nitty gritty of our conflict…. “smile!” #perfectcouple #happyfamily I don’t even have social media but my mom does and I’d bet a hundred million dollars that pic was on her page. 😜

I digress. What to share after 11 years of marriage???

Thinking…………..

And more thinking……

I can not change my husband. And he can not change me. And we can not change “for each other”. Only God can change us. (And praise Him for how much He has already!) Only His Holy Spirit can move on our hearts to pursue holiness and be the godly spouses He desires us to be. This happens through prayer and reading His Word. And we have to pursue this on our own. I love how Roy Hession writes in the Calvary Road, “We shall have to see that the thing in us that reacts so sharply to another’s selfishness and pride is simply our own selfishness and pride, which we are unwilling to sacrifice. We shall have to except another’s ways and doings as God’s will for us and meekly bend the neck to all God’s providences……” And in regards to confession and pursuing Gods mercy in relationships, “‘We cannot say, I was wrong, but you were wrong too. You must come as well!’ No, you must go alone, saying, “I’m wrong.” God will work in the other more through your brokenness than through anything else you can do or say.” God will work through my being humble and broken before Him, more than my being demanding and insisting my way. Well yeah. But it’s so much harder to live out! I’m so thankful for the people in my life spurring me on to do what’s right, what’s Biblical. Not necessarily what makes me feel good at the time.

Okay you know that’s funny.

But seriously, Jason was made for me. I know that our all knowing Father was thinking of me when he was knitting Jason together. “He’s going to be steady and strong, yet easy going. That will balance out her wide range of intense passionate emotions.” BUT he doesn’t complete me. And God made it that way because if Jason completed me I wouldn’t pursue God. My God is jealous for me, he wants deep relationship with me, and won’t allow me to feel completed by anyone else. (Deuteronomy 4:23-24) Sometimes I forget this though and I look to Jason. “Fix me!! Make me happy. Make me whole.” He can’t. At least not in those deep deep places. Only Christ can. We both know it. (Just so we’re clear Jason does make me very happy on many other levels.) But it is our Father, our Savior, the Spirit, that meets our deepest needs. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬ How quickly I forget these precious promises.

I love being married to Jason. He is so hardworking, constantly trying to think about the future and do what’s in the best interest of our family. He is 99% of the time gracious and tender with me and my fluctuating emotions. He is supportive and encouraging of my role as a stay-at-home-homeschool-foster-mom. When I’m sad or down, even though he can’t fix me, he sure as heck tries. He makes me laugh, he makes me try new things, he sees gifts and strengths in me before I do and pushes me towards them even when I’m dragging my feet. Oh how patient he is. And such a good dad. It’s amazing how writing this stuff down opens my eyes to the man he is and how I forget these special qualities when I’m so caught up in my self.

So there’s some advice for ya. Pursue Christ, his Word, and pray, pray, pray. Be broken and humble. Look to Christ to complete you. And make lists, often, of all the things you love about your man. That’s all she wrote! 😉

Nerf Wars

I admit that as a parent I am not necessarily the “playful” type. This has always been Jason’s strength and I’m grateful for that. Somehow he can even involve our kids in projects around the house like painting and building and make it fun. That’s a gift if you ask me! My attempts to play with our children usually feel tired, forced and mechanical. I guess I left my imagination back in middle school when I used to pretend I was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy playing and having fun,… mostly with Jason and other adults. With my children I lean towards the serious, structured, caregiving side. Somebody’s gotta do it. 😉 Jason on the other hand is naturally playful and being married to him is helping develop more of that spirit in me. 🙂 It’s so neat to see how God uses our differences to help strengthen each other’s weaknesses.

Back to becoming a more playful mommy because I recognize its importance. I heard this said, in regards to parenting teens, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” We begin forming a certain kind of relationship with our kids long before the teen years. I see my weak areas and honestly, it terrifies me to consider the possible negative effects my flaws could have on my children. Being a parent is a seriously scary responsibility. Am I the only one who ever considers “What if I totally mess my kids up?” Having confessed that though….. I also have Jesus. 🙂 I know He can change me as I acknowledge my need for Him.

Philippians 1:4-6 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Can I get an Amen?!

So to the fun part! Our girls were given nerf guns for Christmas. Also- I have discovered the toy that brings ol’ Buffy out to play with the kiddos. Enter the crossbow and darts; this is so totally on! We have been having so much fun with these things that Jason decided it was necessary for him to purchase a few more. I mean, it’s for quality time’s sake. 🙂 Last week, after buying our new weapons, Jason devised a surprise attack for when the girls came home from school. To say it was awesome is an understatement. If you have older kids you need to get some nerf wars going. Actually, if you have no kids you should get some nerf wars going. I recommend having dinner already made though because you will play for hours and probably lose track of time and then be hungry from all the energy you just expelled. And yes, people will most likely get shot in the face and that’s why you wear sunglasses. Caleb shot me point blank in the forehead. Traitor.

But not every night can be a nerf war night. I feel it necessary to paint a more accurate picture. Some nights we are tired,…. okay me…. like every night. There’s math to be done and we’re wishing we had a homework pass. Dinner needs to be made and honestly I don’t love to cook. Some evenings Caleb is a hot mess working toward a hot bottom. Other nights the girls are having their attitude adjusted by privileges being revoked.

It’s not always one way or the other. Some days are joyful, sweet and fun, other days are long, tough and weary. Then there are those days that just pass. God is always at work and is always good even if I’m not “feeling it”.

I just love what Paul says in Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

And there you have it. 🙂

To tear down or build up……That is the question.

Being a godly wife means a lot of things. I committed to love my husband not as the world loves but as God loves. I won’t do this perfectly but at every opportunity I should be striving for God’s standard; laying down my own rights and desires so that my husband can see an extravagant love that only comes through relationship with Christ. One of the areas I know I can love my husband better in is supporting and encouraging him in his work.

I’m not even going to pretend. Since Jason started working for the Honda dealership I have had a pretty depressive attitude the majority of the time. I know I have made his challenging job even more difficult by not being encouraging and supportive.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

Our words and attitudes can make our husbands feel either purposeful or discouraged in their job. This potentially can bleed over into other areas of life. We have to be careful not to tear down our own home. We have to make every effort to speak life and encouragement to our men.

I have struggled with this. At points I have convinced myself that I must voice all of my thoughts to Jason. Good, bad, and paranoid. My attitude and prayers have not been,
“Lord I trust where you have my husband working. I trust that you know how this job affects our family. I trust Your sovereignty, that You can take him somewhere else, if that’s what You need to do for Your bigger story. I believe you have us here for a purpose, that you want to use Jason and our family to reach people for Your glory.”

No, my attitude has been more along the lines of,
“Lord, please give Jason another job. This job stinks! The hours are awful, we never see him. This job is so worldly. You couldn’t possibly want Jason here. How can we glorify you by him selling cars and being gone all the time?”

And you better believe what I tell the Lord I tell Jason too! So he was not feeling the support he should from his wifey.

It’s been 4 months since he started. He’s still there and it is not for lack of trying to get another job. I think I am finally accepting that God has him there for a reason. People need Jesus. People in the car business need Jesus. People buying cars need Jesus. I always knew this. I just haven’t wanted to embrace the idea that God wants Jason and our family to introduce Jesus to these people. I know, I’m a pretty challenged Christian. It’s a perfect example of wanting Jesus and wanting to share about Him but on my terms that work for me. I have been fighting the idea that God might actually keep Jason in the car business, maybe even for the rest of his working life, because he is calling us to this mission field. He has work for us to do.

One thing that I see a lot of within the dealership is broken families. There is a lot of unfaithfulness, divorce and remarriage. Family doesn’t seem to be of great value and certainly not the “for worse” parts. When we don’t have relationship with Christ we don’t value what He values. But God created us FOR relationship with him, so people continue in search of what can only be found in Him. We think marriage and kids will make us happy or fulfilled and to a certain degree they do. They can also be a great source of frustration and discouragement and without Christ most of the time people give up and start the search over. This is rampant within Jason’s work.

Read this analogy taken from the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.
“The only real claim to fame in a forest full of trees is being seven hundred years old. As far as pure aesthetics go, you couldn’t even see the very top of this particular tree in the Washington Forest. From where we stood, it was just a straight and enormously wide trunk, covered with spider webs. We were walking in a forest filled with trees, but the National Parks Service put a sign in front of this tree for one reason, and for one reason alone: It had survived for seven centuries. It had simply gone the distance, and in so doing it commanded attention.”
“In a society where relationships are discarded with a frightening regularity, Christians can command attention simply by staying married. And when asked why, we can offer the platform of God’s message of reconciliation, followed by an invitation: “Would you like to hear more about that good news of reconciliation?””

Jason and I are about to come up on our nine year wedding anniversary. It is completely 100% entirely because of Jesus Christ. Not only is it rare for people to stay married that long but I think because of our age it’s even more surprising for people to hear. To further shock them they can’t believe we have three children who are, with the exception of Caleb, well-mannered and obedient. Hey two out of three isn’t bad right? God has to keep us humble! 😉 Whatever good qualities you see, in our marriage or parenting, are a result of obeying how the Bible teaches and commands us to live out those roles. That and the magnificent undeserved grace of God. My point being; It is not us, it is all Him. And I really feel like that is part of the testimony he wants us to take to Jason’s work.

Satan will try to trap us with thinking too much about our past or possible future knowing that our effectiveness is in the present. God is sovereign and it’s time to embrace where he so clearly has us RIGHT NOW. God doesn’t need us to accomplish his purpose but he has invited us to join him and not waste a single moment. I don’t want to look back on this time as wasted. I would rather look back on this time and think “Look at what God has done.”

Everyone loves a rainbow

Y’all I really hope to write soon. It’s been a little while since I’ve posted and I just miss it! But tonight is not the night. However I have 2 things I couldn’t not post. Gods goodness and faithfulness is so present in these two things that I have to etch them here on this blog. If not for my wonderful readers 😉 for my memory. I pray everyone recognizes God’s grace in their life and finds [10,000] reasons to offer him thanks this Thursday. Myself included. 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I mean,…. just totally breath taking. Not one but two rainbows, from our front porch. My goodness. Lord you speak to us in ways that are so appropriate and personal. Sometimes we just need a rainbow. God you are great and good and wonderful among other adjectives and I love you. 🙂

Okay, 2nd thing. You must watch this. If you need to hear “It is Well….” go let this speak to your soul. It Is Well: Kristen Demarco Bethel Church

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!