I have news for you! I’m excited to share a little bit about a new book and a new TV show in the works, as well as some of the highs and lows I have dealt with personally for the last year….Read More
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
Some of us reading this have raw knees from the crawling. It’s tempting to find a corner, rock back on our haunches, and allow the obstacles we face to loom over us like formidable centurions who block our path of progress.
This morning, we may very well have a multitude of reasons to quit this whole shabang.
Quit on ourselves.
Our messy homes.
Sometimes, the triggers become so flagrantly in our face that we want to give up. We cry with the Psalmist, "How long Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever?"
I have wanted to throw in the towel too. But, God.
He comes to me in these desperate, angry, helpless moments and He tells me tenderly that it will take AS LONG AS IT TAKES.
And then He lovingly asks ME the pointed question:
"Are YOU willing to persevere?"
"As long as it takes?"
He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He is a very present help in trouble. He will provide a way of escape from temptation. He will do a new thing....
Friends, are we willing to tarry along with our kids, our spouses, our ministries, etc. as long as it takes?
Will we walk when we cannot run? Crawl when we cannot walk? Perhaps, allow God to carry us when all else fails within?
Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Let us not grow weary, for God never ever gives up on any one of us.
This post contains an affiliate link which means that any time you purchase a product through the link, Amazon gives me a few cents to help support my ministry at no extra cost to you! Thank you!
YOUR TURN! Are you running, walking, crawling, or being carried today? How can I pray for you?
It's time to review my top 10 posts from 2015!
I LOVE reading and reviewing all the top posts from my favorite bloggers and writers! It's also a blessing for me to go back and see how God used this blog to encourage readers. I'm learning so much as a wife, mother, friend, and Christ-follower so it's amazing to me that the areas where I see God working on me are often areas of growth for you too! Iron sharpening iron, right?
Thank you all for hanging with me through a very sporadic writing year and for your kind encouragement to me in my vulnerable moments!
Without further ado, here are the top posts from Mother Of Knights for 2015! And here's to many more (And more consistency too!) in 2016!
7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict--This post went viral and for good reason! If you want to have peace in your home and learn how to help transform your kids into obedient children, read on! Then check in and let me know: Are you a reactionary parent or a proactive parent?
Why This Christian Won't Protest 50 Shades of Gray (And You Shouldn't Either)--Another viral post! I knew this one would probably put me in the crosshairs of hot debate and boy, did it ever! Thankfully, most people championed what I had to say, even though it was controversial. I think the topic applies to any kind of protests/bans that Christians may want to stand for--this post will make you think twice.
When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong--This one went viral too! I wish I had known this stuff when I first had kids! Personally, this may be one of my favorite posts from the year. Wake up and read this one in the morning to prepare your heart for parenting the kids that "challenge" you! The message here will bless every mom...and dad!
Is There Room In Your Marriage For One More? How My Intimacy Idol Almost Ruined Us--Oh, man. This one hits me right between the eyes every time. Maybe your marriage isn't the ideal you imagined it would be? You aren't sure where to turn or how to make it better? I get it. Read this one, ASAP. I hope you can avoid my mistakes......
When Your In-Law's Don't Respect You--The words here can help us with any difficult relationship, truly. I'm betting that some of us are feeling bruised and battered from time with difficult family members over the holidays. Maybe this will help towards healing!
10 Bible Passages For Exhausted Parents--Yawn....if anything or everyone is keeping you up at night, this is for you! This one comes from a place of complete and total sleep deprivation. Pass it on to your tired friends!
When Sibling Rivalry and Messy Rooms Threaten To Push You Over The Edge This Summer--This is a foundational way of thinking to keep your sanity over clutter and chaos! Here's why our anger is actually a gift and what anger is NOT meant to do. If anger is an issue for you, I hope this post will reframe your thinking and give you hope!
The Key To Stop Yelling In Anger At Your Kids-And Why Anger Is NOT A Sign Of Unforgiveness--This one is a vlog! If you have ever wrestled with anger and yelling, today can be the last day! Take the time to watch my message in the video and find freedom from guilt and anger. I recorded it in the aftermath of a migraine, straight from a long flight from the airport-I felt THAT compelled to record and share it, disheveled state aside! And if you have ever wondered why it feels like you simply can't get past deep anger and hurt from someone who has harmed you in any way, this will bring FREEDOM to you too!
What To Do When Your Child Says, "I Hate You!"--Dreaded words, but it happens! It can send a parent into a frenzy but it doesn't have to! Here are some practical tips for when your child speaks to you in anger.
The Christmas Stocking That Exposed My Shaky Marriage--So many spouses can relate to this one. It's another of my personal favorites because it's something I need to keep working on and remembering! If you have ever been disappointed by your spouse, this post will speak straight to your heart!
There you have it! My top 10 posts from 2015! I am continually praying that God uses this blog to impact the Kingdom! Thank you, again, for taking the time to read and be a part of my blogging family! I love you guys!
YOUR TURN: I would love to write more on the topics that interest you so please, let me know in the comments if there are any topics you would like me to write about! Which of these posts resonated with you--I'd love any feedback you have for me! Do you know someone who would be encouraged by one of these posts? It would bless me if you shared it with them!
It was our first Christmas together as a married couple and we had agreed not to go crazy on gifts. My husband’s birthday is in early December, and mine is the day after Christmas! Instead, we chose to give each other Stockings filled with little presents.
I spent months finding the perfect trinkets that my husband would love-all his favorite things in small packages. A high quality utility knife, top of the line socks, his favorite cologne. I told him to open one of his gifts first and I joyfully watched as he tore open the paper, revealing my thoughtful choices.
And then I opened mine, my heart filled with excitement to see what my new husband had lovingly chosen for ME.
I pulled out a pink feather boa. And some silly plastic glasses with a mustache. Then, a pair of crazy fuzzy socks and a roll of mints. (I hate mints.) My husband grinned and I kept digging to the bottom, thinking a set of pearls or a gift certificate must be in there somewhere.
I looked up at him in disappointment—and disbelief.
“What?!” he asked, as his smile faded. He really didn’t know.
In his mind, stockings were for funny gag gifts, a time to be goofy and whimsical. In my mind, they were meant to confirm the idea that good things come in small packages—preferably with brand name labels attached and lots of pricey sparkle. More than that, stockings were meant to communicate that the giver really knew you—knew the things you preferred and enjoyed.
We had miscommunicated and made assumptions about one another’s intentions and plans for what a Christmas stocking should hold. It was a lesson to us that we had a ways to go as husband and wife and learning to communicate and manage expectations, but it also revealed to me that I had a long way to go in learning contentment.
That was just one of many rude awakenings for me that first year together as husband and wife. I allowed my disappointment to hurl me into a downward spiral of discontent, questioning if my deepest longing—to be known and loved—would ever really be a part of my marriage. I became sad, then hurt, then angry, then bitter. It wasn’t just the awkward exchange of gifts. I knew that was an honest mistake, but it left me feeling disillusioned, because I let it. In my mind, I rehearsed all the other shortcomings of my life, besides the challenges of being a newlywed.
There were plenty of other areas of day-to-day living that simply were not measuring up to my ideals. I had been skipping along the treacherous line of thinking that because I had been a “good” Christian, my long awaited for blissful marriage, cooperative children, 4-bedroom house, and selfless BFF should materialize and bring me my heart’s desires. When that didn’t happen, I got angry. Not rage against the machine angry, but a quiet simmering of discontent that infected my heart and clouded my perspective.
I snapped at my kids. Bickered with my husband. Coveted my neighbor.
I guess I wasn’t such a “good” Christian after all.
Over time, I realized that my anger issues were rooted in discontent, which was rooted in pride. The Holy Spirit began to convict me. All my efforts to change my circumstances weren’t working. I needed a heart transplant, STAT.
Linda Dillow, in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, quotes Henry Kissinger: “To Americans, usually tragedy is wanting something very badly and not getting it.” That was me. The ideal and tranquil life was something I felt I deserved and instead of counting my blessings, I turned my desires into idols.
An idol is anything we value more than we value God and His plan for our lives. I had plenty of those. Had I yielded to this notion sooner, I could have avoided a lot of heartache. I’m still not there, 10 years later, but I’m not where I was either. The truth is, yielding our will is no easy thing, but it is the freeing thing.
My prayer for 2015 has been this, “Lord, help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else.” You see, I thought that my husband’s ability to read my mind and shower me with thoughtful gifts would make me content. I believed that a house with a white picket fence, happy kids, and relationships with like-minded friends would satisfy me. The head knowledge that only Christ can satisfy had not made it to my heart.
God took me on a roller coaster ride that pried my clenched fingers off the safety bar of my grand illusions, one white knuckle at a time.
Eventually, I discovered that the Bible that I believed was true was not just true, but true for me. In me. Nothing else really does satisfy like Jesus. I really do love Him, even if He takes everything I have ever wanted, away. I really can be satisfied loving my wild child, instead of a compliant one. I truly can find contentment in the companionship of my Savior when friends seem distant. The Holy Spirit really does give me peace that is supernatural even when my husband falls short….or I do. I really can be satisfied in a tiny apartment where I bedeck myself in a pink feather boa and crazy socks.
Our anger or bitterness may not have originated over night. Maybe, like me, your melancholy is the long brewed product of drinking the poison of discontent. Do you have an idol in your life? Is a happy marriage more important to you than living out the Fruit of the Spirit, despite the hardships? Do you keep wondering why it has to be you with the son who has ADD? Are you having a pity-party because you haven’t had a call from a girlfriend to see how you are doing since two years ago?
Perhaps today is the day you can turn the tide towards humility and contentment by saying a simple prayer, “Lord create in me a desire to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else”. And when the life you want eludes you, you will realize that the better life is not in obtaining your heart’s desire, but in receiving the heart that God desires to give you.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3-5)
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Friends, this post contains an affiliate link and when you make a purchase through this link, Amazon gives me a few cents to help my ministry at no extra cost to you! Thank you!
YOUR TURN: Can you relate to my story? Is there some seed of discontent that needs to be uprooted in your life? How can I pray for you?
Years ago, I taught my students Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. One famous line from this poem is that “Good fences make good neighbors.” Most of us realize that healthy boundaries in relationships are often necessary-there’s a reason that sage Benjamin Franklin said that “Guests, life fish, begin to smell after 3 days.” Few relationships are harder to apply boundaries too than our in-laws and for good reason.
Our parents spend decades raising us, shaping us, guiding us. It can be hard for them to release us to our spouses, necessary as it is. Some in-laws simply don’t understand how much they can either foster a healthy and supportive relationship for their child’s marriage, or bring great division and harm to the union. The stress and pressure of poor relationships with our mother or father-in laws can cause frustration, anger, and bitterness-which can easily infect our marriages, and therefore our children. And sometimes, it’s our brother or sister-in-laws that can do just as much good, or harm.
As mothers, how are we supposed to navigate these complex relationships?
When I met my mother-in-law for the first time, I knew that she wasn’t going to play the kind of role I had always dreamed of. Years before I met her, she suffered several major strokes and was wheel-chair bound, living in a home for the elderly and disabled. I knew that my husband and I would serve more like parents to her, than the other way around. Still, she's been an incredible example of faith and love to me. Even though she spends her days in bed or wheel-chair bound, I have never once heard her complain. She loves her Savior and always pours that same love out towards others. But my husband also had loving older siblings who were more like parents to him, and so in some ways, I suddenly had 4 sets of protective in-laws to navigate. Their family is a close-knit bunch of loyal Italians and they have been generous and kind to us over the years and all the cousins have great affection for one another, but it wasn’t easy for me to fit in initially.
My husband Guy and I realized early on that we needed to become a strong new unit as a couple and that we could both firmly, yet lovingly, set boundaries with our in-laws on BOTH sides. That’s never easy. I have heard from hundreds of couples on this topic over the years. Many of these couples have varying issues from overly intrusive parents, to disregarding their parenting styles and requests, to extreme favoritism over their son or daughter as opposed to their new in-law. Here's a post about what to do when someone simply just doesn't like you very much.
If we choose to respond Biblically, I believe that most cases can result in peace and unity in our families.
Here are 4 things to consider:
- As spouses, we must communicate, listen, and be united as a couple about the problem with our in-laws and choose to protect our marriages above all else.
If your spouse is suffering or struggling, as a result of conflict with extended family members that should be your main priority. God instructs us to “leave” the home and authority of our parents and “cleave” to the new relationship we are building with our spouses. If your husband is not standing with you in solidarity over any particular issue, then the first matter of business is to work on your marriage-which may very well necessitate Biblical counseling.
Ultimately, if we feel secure and safe in our marriage and our spouse’s commitment to preserve our relationship and unique family goals and beliefs, than the anxiety of in-law pressures is greatly reduced. Sometimes, that means being grateful for your spouse and the new life you get to create together, instead of wasting time lamenting the dream of having ideal in-laws. Let go of the things you simply can't change.
- Ask yourself if YOUR PART in the equation looks like this:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
We are to offer the same respect, honor, and Godly treatment of our in-laws as we are commanded to demonstrate to all people, regardless of how they treat us or our children. If you have sin in your own life in this area, it’s time to work on your part first.
- I like to take the confusion of making choices as a parent out of the equation by following this one cardinal rule:
Never make decisions based on FEARS or PEERS.
This applies to my in-laws too. Sometimes, moms over-discipline or give in to requests they don’t feel comfortable with when they are with extended family. We have to become very self aware and confident in OUR decisions so that we don’t behave towards our children or in-laws as a result of fear of what they will think or because we feel peer pressure to do things their way.
If this is a struggle for you, prepare yourself before you meet with them so that you have a clear image in mind of how you will behave as the wife and mom in your family, and do not give in to fear or pressure. God gave you authority over your home and children, and honoring how the Lord leads you is what matters most. Be authentically you, and if they don’t accept that, it’s okay. God accepts us just as we are and following His leading is what will bring us peace, not the approval of our in-laws.
- Just as I have talked a lot on my blog about being consistent, dropping the rope of tug-of-war with our kids, and training our children with loving-kindness, we can take a lot of the fight out of our in-law relationships in much the same way.
When my child persists over an issue and I have already communicated clearly with them, I don’t have to get angry, upset, or continue to argue with them. I can simply say something like, “Son, I understand that you want to stay up late, but as your mom I know that you need sleep and it’s now bedtime. Please go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and I will help you get dressed for bed.” They may whine and complain. And again, we can empathize and repeat our same statement of expectation, following through on our standard.
When in-laws become emotional, manipulative, or threaten our boundaries, we can respond in a similar fashion to them as we do to our wayward kids. We can calmly and kindly say to our in-laws, “I appreciate that you want to spoil our kids with sugary treats because you are loving grandparents, but John and I know that their bodies can’t handle it. We can provide snacks for you to give them that are healthy but still yummy, or we can give you a list of ones we recommend if you want to shop for them yourself. Just let us know which you prefer.” If they dishonor your repeated request, then you may need to follow up by explaining that the kids simply won’t be eating at their house. You don’t need to become embroiled or pulled into an argument or crumple under manipulation.
Eventually, it may be necessary to explain that if they simply don’t respect your decisions that you may have to come up with some creative alternatives-just as we do with our children when they don’t honor our role. It may mean that you need to take some time away from the relationship altogether, or put some more secure boundaries in place, but this should always be lovingly and clearly communicated-not an act of bitter punishment or unhealthy division.
The Bible puts it like this in Romans 12:17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
As wives, we can either add pressure to our husband’s burden or we can cultivate peace with both sets of in-laws. Never underestimate the power of prayer and your own gracious spirit towards your spouse, your children, and your in-laws. Expect the Lord to prepare their hearts as much as yours, and ask God to give you wisdom. In-law relationships may very well be the biggest challenge you will face, but they don’t have to leave you in turmoil that negatively affects your kids. Keep doing the good parenting, entrust your commitment as a family to the Lord, and walk in faith that God will honor your desire for peace.
I’m not sure if my own in-law relationships on either side of my family will ever be what I dreamed of, but that’s okay. I choose to be grateful for the many ways that they have helped shape me and my husband. Seeking peace and pursuing it is the mark of a daughter of the King of Kings, and pleasing Him by our Godly responses to any conflict is the righteous thing to do and leads to blessing. When your mother or father-in-laws can’t be pleased, focus instead on pleasing your Heavenly Father, and you’ll never be disappointed.
SHARE: What stood out to you the most from this post? How can you work more towards being a peace-maker or better communicate your needs as a wife, mom, and daughter-in-law? Do you have wonderful in-laws? Tell us what makes them so great!