Dear Future Daughter-in-Law

Yesterday was  Liam’s 6th birthday. SIXTH! I feel that I should launch a complaint against Father Time for being so sneaky with the whole slipping-calendar-years-past-me-without-notice bit. Due to some scheduling craziness, I didn’t see him until right before his party last night and while looking at one of those “on this day” type apps for my Facebook account, I was reminded of this article. I wrote it for our church’s women’s ministry newsletter several years ago and it seemed the appropriate time to share it here.

I tweaked this letter a bit from the original because in the passing years, my thoughts on the topic of marriage have changed. It’s less black and white than I once believed it to be… we are humans, each with different personalities and what works for my marriage may not work for someone else’s. But the main point I hope to get across that although there are differences, they should be cause for celebration, not comparison.

To my future daughter-in-law

Though I do not yet know you, I know that God does. I know that He is right now shaping you into the woman you will be for my son. Right now, he is my sweet, precious little baby but someday, he will be your husband. I am doing my best to raise him to be a godly young man for you; to train him to be the best he can be. 

I pray for you as you grow up. I pray that you have a deep love for God and for people. I pray you love my son more than life itself. I pray that some one somewhere teaches you how to be a godly, feminine woman. 

I want you to know that being a godly wife and mother isn’t about your personality; it’s about your heart. I have spent years struggling with my feelings on how to go about being a godly woman since I have such a strong, independent personality. I honestly believe that God uses a spirit like mine if I am willing to let Him. Just because I am independent doesn’t mean that I have to be in charge. If you are like this submitting to your husband will be the greatest challenge in your marriage, but also the most rewarding one. 

We live in a world where the successes in marriage and family are not applauded as much as being a “strong, independent, conquering” woman. You don’t have to be a feminist to be an individual woman, but you also don’t have to be a wimp to be feminine. Don’t ever allow someone to tell you that you are wasting your life by wanting to stay at home with your children. If you chose to work outside the home, then cherish those moments you have with your husband and your children, and don’t allow someone to say you aren’t enough. Don’t spend your free time being busy just because everyone else says you have to be.

In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel outlines what an excellent wife looks like. She’s tender, not weak. She knows how to manage her home, but she isn’t bossy or overbearing. The woman being described is one who has learned to balance the management of a household and family gracefully. Her children know that she disciplines out of love, not control. She has learned to be a supportive wife and a caring mother. Did you catch that? She has learned. She didn’t walk up the wedding aisle and was instantly perfect and a role model. It takes time to learn how to be “excellent”, but it’s not out of reach.

The road to being a godly wife and mother can be long. It takes experience and discipline to reach your goal. It’s a challenge worth taking everyday. I pray that as you read this letter you know how much I love you and welcome you into my family.

Faithfulness on Friday

On this Friday morning, I’m sitting outside while the breeze blows my devotional off the table repeatedly and the kids play. It’s going to be another hot one today and I have to laugh at the times I thought that for sure I’d be able to survive without the air on until July. Ha. The best laid plans, right?image

I ordered the Study on the book of Hosea from Kristen and so far have really enjoyed it. When I’m done with that, I’ll start the one from She Reads Truth on Hosea. What can I say? When I find something I’m interested in, I tend to soak up every word on the topic.

This morning as I put laundry in the washer, I was thinking about my life in the last 10 years. I’ve had to repeatedly filled out health history forms recently and so I’ve had plenty of time to review decisions and choices and simple products of time. And as we have nailed now causes for why my body is on a suicide mission, I’ve considered how we often ignore other ways we destroy ourselves.

Sure. There disease is everywhere we look. It’s in bodies as the result of irresponsiblity and the result of genetics. It comes because we cannot prevent every possible interaction of bacteria or viruses. Disease is just a part of living. But we so often forget the diseases of our souls.

This morning, I couldn’t help but think back over the last 10 years and realize that while my body has not improved, the diseases of comparison and inferiority and insecurity and bitterness have been treated and healed in my life. And while my physical symptoms have lately caused me to spend more days than I care to admit laying on the couch, exhausted and ill, bitterness has not reared it’s ugly head.

Perhaps, it’s because I’ve learned more about the sovereignty of God. Perhaps, I’ve accepted that I live in a fallen world and sometimes, that nature just does it’s own thing. Perhaps, I’ve finally realized how loved we are and that if we can just accept the love offered, we can spend our time celebrating the 1,000+ blessings in our life inspite of the hardships.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; GREAT is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Maybe you already know this. Maybe accepting that you are loved and even when things are horrid, He is still good, is not a challenge… or one you can easily usurp. Perhaps, I’m just slow in this realization. Regardless, as I thought over my life and where I am right now, I couldn’t help but feel so grateful. Grateful that in spite of how I feel, I know He. Is. Good.

The quiet of Tuesday

On Tuesdays, I am alone. Matt works late and I purposely choose to keep my Tuesdays empty. I rarely answer my phone and the kids and I hunker down in the quiet. Tuesdays call for quiet in my opinion.

For our family, Wednesday is typically the busiest day of the week, with Thursday following shortly behind. Tuesday has become my fortress. We read and create and play. I skip the laundry and don’t cook. Tuesday is for me.

I rearranged the dining room this afternoon. It’s summer and I want to face the yard while I sew. There are baby quilts to be made and Christmas gifts to begin. I know. It’s June. But when the Fall comes and I start school up again in full force, I won’t have the time to sit and sew for hours. I learned that lesson last year as I frantically scrambled to finish those last few stitches. 

This morning, I overheard Liam telling Matt that on Tuesday, we do nothing. Maybe nothing compared to other families, but our nothing today involved hours of imaginative play, the creation of a 3-d art project for my grandmother, Liam choosing books all on his own to read to us at bedtime, and my trimming the tree out front so I can see the wren box from my desk.

Tuesday is my ordinary day. As Emily Freeman says, “Tuesday gives me permission to be unremarkable.” I appreciate the ordinary. I appreciate this permission to just exist and celebrate that simple fact. For in this world where I feel the constant pressure to improve and achieve and do more, Tuesday brings comfort in the settled quiet.

Wednesday has enough for three days of activity, but for tonight, I shall curl up on my couch, watching Anne of Avonlea and sewing. Tuesdays are ordinary and Tuesdays are for me.

Graduation

My youngest brother graduated from high school on Sunday. And that morning I just couldn’t grasp the passage of time. He’s been a part of our lives for almost 17 years and yet it seems like yesterday he toddled in through our door for the very first time.

Because I’m so much older than him and having the advantage of being the sibling and not the parent, I’ve gotten to cherish his life for him and not experience the hardships like one responsible for the outcome of his development. Toddlers are hard. Elementary aged children are begging for balance between still wanting to curl up with their lovey and keep up with their peers. Preteens are dramatic. Teenagers are moody and hormonal. And if you can only focus on these hallmarks of development, it becomes difficult to cherish the moments.

Of all the advice I got prior to having children, I wish that had more prominent. I wish more people had been willing to acknowledge how difficult life is and yet how much beauty can be found in the midst of the hard. Instead, I was given endless commentaries on diapers and feeding and discipline, but no one really told me that I’d never get any of those moments back.

Watching him walk across the stage and get that diploma was one of the most special moments of my life. I wished I could have frozen that moment for a while and just soaked it up. I’m not sad the moment is over, I’m just realizing even more so how quickly life passes by.

I’m so grateful for the moments I get to experience… and my thoughts turned to his birth mother. I wished I could have shared this with her. I wish I could have told her how wonderfully he turned out. How handsome he is. I wished she could have seen his soccer accomplishments. Of course I wish these moments for the mother he and I share, but she got to see so much in the years she was alive. Birth mama only got him for 8 days. And I wonder if in those 8 days, she was able to soak up enough of him?

I came home and hugged my own babies a little tighter. The moments will pass quickly between now and the day when each one walks across the graduation stage. Until then, I plan to soak in as much as I can of not only my babies, but my brother. I can’t wait to watch their lives unfold!

On Detoxing from the Quick Yes

In the last week, I’ve been on a sugar detox. Dietary changes were needed, and by default, 90% of my sugar intake for the day was also cut. Detox is not fun. I have had all sorts of symptoms and drama stemming from this change. Nausea, shaking, irritability… I was actually embarrassed to realize how dedicated to sugar by body had become!

It’s been a week now and I feel much better overall. I’m feeling like the changes that were made are actually going to benefit my life and not just leave me a miserable shell of my hungry self. So, you know, little victories. In this week (because one challenge wasn’t enough apparently) I’ve also taken the time to begin detoxing from busy.

You know what I mean, the attitude of “Well, if I’m going to be here, I may as well be involved.” The attitude that tells you if you aren’t participating, you’re lazy. And entitled. And selfish. This attitude is soon accompanied by her sister, Guilt. She reminds you repeatedly of all the times you’ve failed your children, friends, family, etc. in the name of healthy boundaries.

And when that happens, I almost always fold. I give up on the detox and go right back to where I was. Miserable and tired and on the verge of resentment. You’d think that after years of starting and stopping this trend, I’d learn not to give up so quickly, but nope. Before 7am today, I received an email asking me for info I did not have. Usually, I’d email the correct person, wait for the response (which I wouldn’t get quickly), forward the response to the original person and play email ping pong for another series of questions and answers before getting frustrated with the situation I created and wind up stressed out.

This morning, I typed out a response saying I’d find out the information for this family before my eye caught sight of the book A Circle of Quiet. I just stopped mid-type and looked at the book. In that moment, I realized that instead of protecting the quiet I’ve been working to cultivate, I’d be ripping a big old hole in the circle! I deleted my email, forwarded on the appropriate person’s info and wished the family a lovely summer. Done and Done.

I mean. Can we just talk about this for a minute? We laud busy. We say with awe in our voices that we cannot understand how She-Who-Does-It-All does it all and still has great hair. But we don’t stop for a moment to consider that perhaps she, too, is standing on the verge of a Quick Yes Detox. We tell her we can’t imagine how she does it all as we pile another task on her plate. And when she says she can’t, we act like she just shot a puppy.

What can we do? I don’t know. I don’t know beyond practicing a Slow Response. I only know that I need to take a step back and think before I commit. Changes take time… the Quick Yes is more than a habit, it’s a lifestyle for many of us, so we cannot rely on our change to take hold within that neat 21 day period. And while we are practicing a season of Slow Response, we need to practice extending grace to not only ourselves, but those around us.

Every person you meet is in the midst of a detox. It may not be the same as yours, but they still require your grace. Just as you need someone to respect your boundaries, the mom with the perfect hair is crying out for the same. So while detox makes us all a little cranky, grace can soothe that beast. Maybe not quite as well as a bowl of ice cream, but in case you’re detoxing from Eating Your Feelings, I’ll suggest grace instead.

**There are affiliate links for the book embedded in my post. Any earnings from these links simply continue to fund my reading habits!**