Loving My Mother-in-Law

by Louise Tucker Jones

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.                                                              Ruth 1:16 NASB

On March 4, 1966, my late husband, Carl and I were married in a little Army chapel, just hours before he was deployed. It was nearly a year and half before we saw each other again. Not having grown up together, I barely knew his parents and contemplated waiting until Carl returned home before trying to build a relationship with them, being as I was away at college most of the time.

But thankfully, the Lord nudged me to visit their home on weekends. Carl’s mother was as lonely as I was. We baked cookies and made fudge to send overseas, then we popped popcorn and watched the late movie on TV. We looked through photo albums and talked for hours on end about the person we both loved most—my husband and her son. One night she explained the illness that had been slowly robbing her of life since she was a young adult.

Growing up in a small, coal-mining town, Etta Mae developed severe emphysema and was advised to never have children.  She did anyway—just one. Doctors told her she would never see that child grow up, but Etta Mae had a secret weapon. She trusted a powerful God and had long ago asked Him to allow her to live long enough to raise her son. We talked about it at length. She needed new lungs and in 1966 there were none to be had.

I had only that year with Etta Mae. In the summer of 1967, Carl was called home on an emergency leave as his mother made her way to heaven. I am so thankful I did not put off building a relationship with her. It never would have happened. I’m glad God plopped me in the middle of a lonely mother’s prayers. I flourished under her love before she ever put words to it as she lay in a hospital bed and whispered, “I couldn’t love you more if you were my own daughter.”

My mother-in-law’s faith and tenacity taught me much about God’s promises and loving others. I truly believe that as she sat in that little Army chapel and witnessed Carl and me exchange vows, she whispered to the Lord, “Mission accomplished!” Then she went about teaching me how to love a daughter by marriage with the days she had left, just as Naomi did for her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

I have now been a mother-in-law for twenty-five years and I’m forever grateful for the godly wisdom Etta Mae modeled for me. I’m also thankful that I listened to God’s gentle whisper to build that relationship, even when it was hard. I realize it can be scary to make that first move. To love someone who is different from you or someone you don’t know well. But the Lord has a way of putting people together who need each other.

Whether you are the mom-in-law or daughter-in-love, you both already love the same person and that’s a beginning. Like Ruth and Naomi in the verse above, God has purposed wonderful blessings in our relationships with our in-laws. He’s not just putting people together at random. He’s building a family!

God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:6 NIV

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Loving My Mother-in-Law – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Has God blessed you with a special relationship in your family?

Beaver Ponds and Golden Bowls

by Sheri Schofield

Lady’s slippers, wild iris, and delicate violets decorate our artesian spring’s pathway in the summer months, providing beauty and delight along the watercourse. The spring chuckles as it bubbles down to join a creek in the valley below.

Along that creek lives a family of beavers who have built a series of dams to hold back the water. Animals drink from them. Tiny trout have hatched in the pools. In the latter days of summer, in the fields below the small dams, the grass is green and lush, with fallen trees soaking in the water to provide food for the beaver babies and their parents. If it had not been stored, the water would have dried up during those hot summer days.

Our prayers are like the beaver ponds. They hold reserves of refreshment and nourishment for dry times in the future. The Bible tells us that our prayers are like incense. Aaron was told to offer up the incense for the generations to come. (Exodus 30:7) John tells us that God stores our prayers in golden bowls that are lifted up to Him. The angles mix our prayers with incense that lifts a fragrant perfume before the Lord, and this will become a powerful force on earth one day. (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-5)

Our prayers are not simply for ourselves, though we may think they are. They also store up blessings for our future descendants, like beaver ponds store up water for future needs. Our prayers are gifts to our children, our grandchildren, and beyond.

I remember my grandmother rocking me to sleep when I was a toddler, singing hymns to the Lord over me. Grandma has been with Jesus since I was a child. Yet, the songs and prayers she sang over me still bless my life. I sang those same songs and prayed over my own babies. These songs and prayers are my gift to them, a gift that has shaped their hearts and lives. It is their richest inheritance.

The beaver ponds in the meadow are frozen in places now. Soon they will be solid ice. The beavers yawn and move around more slowly while winter descends on the meadow. The beavers are prepared for winter, too. The water they have stored has produced more trees on which they can nibble. Their dens along the creek are cozy when the beaver family cuddles up together for long, winter naps, secure in their food supply.

In the same way, God stores up our prayers and prepares to pour out answers . . . in His time . . . and nourishes us through difficult days with His answers. He gives these precious gifts when we least expect them.

With Christmas just around the corner, I will write some of my prayers out and store them in my own golden bowl, reminding me of those which hold my prayers in heaven. Someday, when another generation finds the bowl, they will see the gifts I have stored away just for them, and will know that I loved them before they were even born. They will see with new eyes the blessings God has showered on their lives, and they will be filled with wonder and delight!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matthew 6:19-20, NIV

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Beaver Ponds and Golden Bowls – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: What treasures are you storing up with your prayers? What gifts will you put away in God’s golden bowls, saved to bless future generations?