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… 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.❤️


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???


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! 😉

Foster parenting and your marriage

We are not seasoned foster parents. We may have done this once before but we are still newbies. So we don’t really have a lot of wisdom yet. But I would like to share some of our experiences thus far for other newbies or for those considering foster parenting.

Prepare to be unprepared.

We can plan, read, receive counsel and training until the cows come home but when you enter into a new season with unfamiliar dynamics there will absolutely be things that catch you off guard. Just like marriage or having your own children when the unexpected arises you might be tempted to wonder if you were “ready for this”. Satan would be the one whispering that lie to you. God called you to this, he is sovereign, you didn’t make a mistake, and he will equip you for every good work.

One thing that surprised me when the boys came to us is it really threw Jason and I off kilter. Obviously I expected that to happen to some degree with us all, more so with our kids. But for two weeks I felt like he and I were on two different planets. He was doing his thing, I was doing mine and I began having thoughts like “Umm, I thought we were doing this foster parenting thing together?” Jason’s always worked very hard, usually owning his own business, which allows me to stay home with our children. Naturally with me staying home I do a lot of the “leg work” within the home; cooking, cleaning, teaching, correcting, bathing, reminding, directing, etc. That is how it’s always been with our children and it’s always worked. But taking in two babies to make a total of five was a huge adjustment for me and I needed help. At first I tried to maintain all the order on my own. This only led to resentment and exhaustion. I started breaking down. I tried making it about Jason knowing what I needed from him. Isn’t it obvious?? Maybe. But God had something else in mind. After a few emotional conversations I finally realized that I needed to be humble enough to ask for help in whatever specific areas I needed it and also inquire about Jason’s needs as well. Now the doors of communication are open. The Lord has been gentle, faithful and definitely working on both mine and Jason’s heart.

For any other newbies out there: Be patient, be humble, and be open with your spouse about each other’s needs. Jason helps me by doing the bulk of grocery shopping or helping clean house. Since he’s not much of a newborn kind of dad you won’t see him doing night time feedings. But he will do breakfast with the other kiddos so I can possibly sleep an extra hour if I need it. He’s also great at taking the kids on car rides or to play outside just to give me some quiet time. We also try to make it a point to connect with each other on a more intimate level 2-3 nights a week. This is crucial! We are better parents when we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically connecting with each other. Every family will have different dynamics. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you aren’t on the same sheet of music yet. It may take some time to figure out new schedules, roles and responsibilities but keep communicating and openly discussing what works and doesn’t work for each of you.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What I’ve Learned in Ten Years of Marriage

I have said before that God knew exactly what he was doing when he united Jason and me in marriage. Jason isn’t perfect but he is perfect for me. He doesn’t “complete me” but God uses him and our marriage to draw me to Himself, the one Who does “complete” me. I was going to do ten things but I have come up with eight. So here we go.

What I’ve Learned in Ten Years of Marriage

Stop comparing
It’s hard to not get sucked in to comparing your marriage and your man to other people’s. I have gone no where fast when I’ve made this a habit. It’s one thing to have goals and to desire a more godly marriage, but lay all of that at the feet of Jesus and allow His Spirit to transform you, your spouse and your marriage.

Appreciate each other’s differences
Sometimes we view others differences as negative; they don’t do it like us and that’s bad. I’d be lying if I said I never thought that in my marriage. But it’s also true for me to say that those differences are exactly what I need. Even those things I find so frustrating at points, give me a day (or ten years) and I realize “yeah I needed that from Jason.” God knows this, too.

Make Love not War
And yes I do mean sex. I have experienced first hand the damaging effects of infrequent physical intimacy. I used to think only guys “needed” sex and “he better meet my emotional needs….” but after ten years and God challenging me in my role as a godly wife I have experienced the blessing of making love often. I could probably write a separate post on this topic because God truly has worked tremendously in this area but I will suggest three things if you find yourself struggling here.
1.) Pray about it. Your heart, his heart, Gods Will.
2.) Pursue your man. Don’t just make him come after you, this communicates it’s some sort of duty. Be confident and go after him! Guys want to be wanted, too.
3.) Talk about what y’all like. No seriously. Yeah that seems awkward and at first it is, but it is incredibly important and breeds not only a pleasurable experience but openness, honesty, and trust.

Do not underestimate the evil forces working against you and your marriage
I can’t stress this enough. Satan HATES love, unity, peace, purity and godliness. (And that’s not an exhaustive list) He will try to undermine all things good and godly by any means possible. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:8‬‬‬

Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word and prayer
Commit to soak (bathe if you will) yourself in the scriptures everyday. They are purifying, refreshing, and necessary.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians‬ ‭3:12‬
I highly recommend the book, “The Power of the Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. It taught me how to pray for my husband and I’ve seen God work powerfully through those prayers.

In ALL things walk humbly
This is a difficult one. Jason is further along with this than me. 😉
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:2‬‬‬
And my favorite quote from whom I am unsure, “Seek to understand, not to be understood.” Harder than you think but I promise it brings about mutual understanding.

Seek to be a God pleaser
The world is bombarding us with messages of “please yourself” and “do what makes YOU happy”. This may be one of the hardest things we come up against in marriage. Dying to self.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Just scale that verse back a bit and instead of laying down one’s life lets say to “lay down one’s rights.” In marriage you will have to lay down your rights and it will be a great act of love. My sister in law reminded me of this recently. In a nutshell “Your response is not about how you feel, it’s about what will be most pleasing to God.”
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:19‬

Reminiscence on sweet moments and why you came to love your man
I’ve found this especially helpful when we’re at odds. Sometimes I’ll write those things down. This softens my heart and stirs my affections for Jason.

I am so grateful for Gods grace in our ten years of marriage. We don’t know it all, we definitely are still a mess but we certainly have learned a lot, the greatest thing being surrender to Christ. You can implement all sorts of plans, methods, date nights, but your heart must be surrendered to the King to experience the satisfaction He longs for you to have in your marriage.

Here’s to ten years! And to wrap this up I can’t resist but link our wedding song. I played it this morning while we flipped through our wedding book. A Page Has Turned by Bebo Norman

The Rebellious Wife

Late Saturday evening my husband and I were doing what we often do; sitting on our porch rocking, chatting, and listening to music. The kids have gone in after all their night time adventures and this is our alone time. We catch up, we dream, we aspire, we come back to reality, and on occasion we argue.

It’s interesting to me how a quarrel takes place. I don’t know if you’ve had this happen but we’ll be talking, fine and dandy, and all of a sudden Beef Stroganoff gets brought up and I have boxing gloves on. What we really got on the topic of was dinners. We both were expressing things we were tired of eating and Jason began making helpful suggestions. Quickly I saw them not as helpful but critical and demanding. Suddenly I felt a need to defend my cooking, my family, my families cooking, (family always has to come up right?) why I do the things I do and how I HATE beef stroganoff and refuse to make it. You can see where this is going right? At first it wasn’t all that heated. I used subtle sarcasm (a dangerous tool) to cover up my defensiveness. “If beef stroganoff was good it’d be in your mothers cookbook.” (a valid point if you ask me, that woman knows how to cook.) While I felt like my cooking was under attack Jason felt I was being unwilling to do something simply out of love for him.

By the time our argument peaked I was brewing with anger. I tried to justify why it was okay for me to maintain my position. “I have never loved cooking why are you trying to make me love it? This is who I am! Can’t you just be happy I make dinner?” Boy had I missed the mark.

The truth is I do have insecurities with being confident in “who I am”, even in the kitchen. I have so many women in my life who LOVE to cook and I can’t understand why I don’t but I don’t. The fact is though, my response to my husband last night was sinful. It was unloving, rebellious, prideful, and completely unnecessary. (Seriously, just cook the stroganoff, he never said you had to eat it!)

Meanwhile I’ve been reading a book called The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. And let me tell you I went to bed last night infuriated with that Martha. I had just violated every Biblical standard she outlined for me in being an Excellent Wife. I did NOT want to pick that book up again. Can you sense the spiritual warfare going on here? When I woke up this morning, after letting the sun go down on my anger, I knew I needed a word but not from Martha. (Though I do agree with most of what she offers in her book.) I needed the LIVING Word. I knew that God, his Word, and the Holy Spirit, would be the only thing my rebellious spirit would yield itself to. You see when you expose yourself to God’s Word, its active power will penetrate the most stubborn strongholds. I was convicted, I needed repentance, and I needed God’s undeniable truth to cut through my prideful heart.

First I prayed. I acknowledged my ugly sin. I prayed for God to soften my heart and speak the necessary Truths. I picked up my study Bible and looked up the words pride (prideful) and rebel (rebellious, rebellion). Here’s what I got and boy did it humble me.

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever heeds instruction prospers and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 15:31 He who listens to a life giving rebuke will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom and humility comes before honor.

1 Samuel 15:22-23 Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
*note from study Bible* Samuel does not suggest that sacrifice is unimportant but that its acceptable only when brought with an attitude of obedience and devotion to the Lord.

Romans 13:2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
*Under God our husband is our authority and as Martha Peace has pointed out in her book this is for our protection among other things. This is not always an easy principle to embrace, as you can clearly see by my behavior last night. But it is Biblical Truth.*

The beautiful result of seeking the Lord and his Word is he is faithful, gracious, and just. He will change your heart and align it with his. There was one key thing that needed to happen though for me to be rightly restored back to not only my husband but God and for my attitude of rebellion and pride to be totally demolished. I had to humble myself before Jason, take responsibility for all my sin, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Here is the real test. I could still feel bits of pride wanting to resurface. But I want to fight for what is right and godly. I approached Jason sheepishly and proceeded to apologize. And later I thanked God for such a gracious forgiving husband. He could have held a grudge but he didn’t.

And in light of Father’s Day this reminded me of how gracious, forgiving, and loving our heavenly Father is with us. I am thankful for God’s example, given to us in his Word, and for the men in my life, Jason and my dad in particular, who are striving to become more like Jesus every day. May we all seek to be a reflection of Him. 🙂

9 years, no joke! ;-)


I do like this photo. And it’s our anniversary today so I’m feeling celebratory over this momentous occasion of 9 years in marriage. Because lets be real, marriage is hard! This photo is so totally one sided. I mean, where is the picture of me stewing in my quiet place, writing out all my marriage woes and asking the Lord “How am I supposed to love this man?!” Yeah we don’t tend to take those pictures. If I can be totally blunt with you let me just share that I have, in moments of conflict, thought to myself “Wow. This sucks.” But let me also share that following those thoughts I also think to myself “But what would be worse: Being alone. Not having my 3 children. Not having Jason to help me raise them because the Lord knows I’m better equipped to parent alongside him. Not having someone so close to me to sharpen me as a Christian.” Just to name a few. God knows me better than I know myself and he joined me to this man with purpose. And if you are married he has done the same for you. And yes, it’s hard. Harder, even, for some than others. It requires a whole lot of dying to self which personally speaking I’m not very good at. It doesn’t come naturally. But I love how Gary Thomas points out in Sacred Marriage the very real possibility that God designed marriage to make us holy (in holiness we reflect God) not necessarily happy. Though we can rejoice and delight in those times of happiness, let’s not depend on them. Happiness fluctuates, God is always the same. Happiness is a feeling, holiness is a characteristic. We must depend on the ever consistency of God. For better or for worse, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part.

Preaching to myself here. 😉

I wanted to do something different to remember this anniversary by. So I’ve been working on a poem. Now, when you start giggling just remind yourself that I am not a poet. But I do like the challenge of expressing myself in rhyming poetic fashion. Plus it’s just fun! Enjoy! And pray for someone’s (or everyone’s) marriage today. 🙂 🙂

God knew all along, my earthly rock you were meant to be.
I had no idea how suited you were for the challenge of upholding me.

I love your quiet confidence that calms my anxious heart.
You wrap me with arms of assurance in moments that are dark.

You love me at my worst, when I’m fearful, unreasonable, or angry.
You annoy me with your smirk. I crack a smile, only you know this settles me.

I need your steady temperament; it draws in my big thoughts and feelings.
But God also knew you’d need me, to reveal things you may not be seeing.

You see, he uses all our differences, our rough edges he begins to smooth.
By rubbing us together, at points, a painful thing to do.

But slowly over time we fit more and more together.
God knew we’d take a while, that’s why he command we take forever.

My love for you is still growing. Who you are now and the man you’re becoming.
I pray for strength to build you up, as his sunrises each and every morning.

We’ll mess up here and there, in grace we’re learning to love, trust, and forgive.
Nine years in our marriage, I can confidently say, there is no one I’d rather do this with.

You can hardly prepare for what is to come, when walking down from that altar.
But God’s using you to make me more like Him and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

I love you Jason Graham. God’s grace abounds. Happy Anniversary!

Supporting Role

IMG_2805BWMy dad has told me in regards to conflict in relationship “Seek to understand, not to be understood.” I wouldn’t put it past him to be so wise but he could be quoting someone there. 😉

We are in an unending process of learning. Here I thought I would “know it all” after graduating high school. How blissfully ignorant I was. Being a wife specifically is a constant reminder that I still have so much to learn. There are conflicts in my and Jason’s marriage that despite all the time spent together and all that we know about each other we still revisit now and again. One in particular is the roles we play within our marriage and family. We’ve discussed and defined our expectations at length. In short Jason works while I manage our home and care for our children. Essentially our roles have remained the same but with the changes of seasons, jobs, moves, we still have to evaluate little areas here and there so we can best support each other. Each overarching role has many responsibilities and unique challenges to accompany it. There are decisions Jason must make, loads he bears, and pressures he endures that I would implode over. Having said that, he has told me countless times that “I couldn’t do what you do every day.” Even though Jason and I are aware that we could not do what the other one does, satan still manages to trip us up on this matter. It’s easy to get shortsighted and forget how important the other persons role is and what all it entails. Satans method of attack usually begins with one or both of us thinking “I do SO much.” This thought isn’t wrong in itself. The problem for me is when:

1.) That thought turns into an attitude of entitlement. “I do so much so he should do…..”
2.) I take a victim approach. “I do so much and he doesn’t appreciate it.”
3.) I start keeping score.

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head. I’ve done all these things and more. Even in my best efforts when I try to be selfless and ignore my own pettiness, occasionally I struggle with feelings of resentment and bitterness. This morning was such a time. As I drove home from taking the girls to school I could already sense some unwanted feelings. I began to sing along with the radio, hoping the lyrics would reach into the ugly places of my heart and strengthen me through the Spirit. Needless to say music was not enough. When I got home, I immediately went to my quiet place. I had my Bible, my journal, and The Power of the Praying Wife. I meditated over several Psalms and God was gracious to impart these scriptures to me this morning.

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil. Psalm 141:3-4

When my Spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way. Psalm 142:3

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift my soul. Psalm 143:8

Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:23

There again is that word obey 😉

I would like to say that when I finished praying our morning went just swimmingly. The process of growth and change does tend to be slow. God is so good though. He did honor my prayer and “set a guard over my mouth”. Praise Jesus! If you know me, that’s nothing short of a miracle. Sometimes saying nothing is just where the Lord wants us to begin. (Key word being “begin” I do not recommend camping there long.) There is a time for godly communication and it is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Be encouraged wives! God can and will work in your marriage as you seek Him and obey Him. Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I prayed several times (once with a trusted confidant that knows just how ugly I can get!) and God began to not only soften and cleanse my heart but he was also working on Jason’s heart as well. We still have a long way to go but I praise Him for where He has brought us from.

In the book Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas writes this:
“What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness.”
“Allow your marriage relationship to stretch your love and to enlarge your capacity for love- to teach you to be a Christian.”

My prayer is this- That my marriage would drive me daily to God for grace, demonstrate his beautiful design for family and ultimately point people to Jesus. Are you with me? 🙂