Tag Archives: Family

No Halfs or Steps About It

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Sister Meets Sister

I met my younger sister Janet when I was 17.

I remember being nervous as I got out of the car and looked up at this beautiful, vivacious 15 year old. What do you say in such an auspicious meeting? Would there be tears or resentment? Would we even like each other?

Janet and me in our first meeting.

I think I said “Hi.”

She didn’t skip a beat. “Hi! Ooh, I like your nail color!”

I looked down at my purple frosted toe nails. Then I noticed her nail color in a similar hue. “I like yours, too.”

We both smiled. We hugged. We visited for hours.

I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, but we agreed we wanted to be in each other’s lives. I was happy to have another sister, and—as it turns out—Janet had always wanted an older sister. (Go figure!)

Thankfully, someone took photos of our visit that day. It’s amazing to see us standing the same way, sitting the same way, and laughing the same way. There was simply no denying that we were sisters.

 

Mom Meets Sister

Janet and I share the same father but have different mothers. And though my mother is full of grace, accepting your ex’s daughter into your family is a bit of a stretch for anyone. Would Mom be okay with me hanging out with Janet? Would it be best to not talk about Janet in front of Mom? I was in uncharted territory, and there didn’t seem to be any good answers.

Not long after I met Janet, we were all together at some sort of family function. I can’t even remember what the occasion was, but I do remember the outcome: Mom turned to me and, with some emotion in her voice, said of Janet, “How could I not love her? She reminds me so much of you.”

My mother’s compassion and love for me is not limited to me alone; it extends to those I love. From the day Mom opened her arms to Janet, our entire family has embraced her, and now we welcome her husband and children (which makes me an aunt!). We also welcome other relatives who aren’t really related to us at all, from the families of in-laws and step-parents to just great friends. That’s because Mom has set a standard that the rest of our family follows. We don’t say “half-sister” or “step-father;” we’re just family, no halfs or steps about it.

 

Redeemed Meets Redeemer

Acceptance—true acceptance, filled with love and genuine affection—is a hard thing to find. It makes me think of the time I rededicated my life to the Lord.

I imagine the day my spirit stood before God, the darkness of my sins and rebellion replaced with the brightness of the Holy Spirit in me and the robe of righteousness covering me. I imagine the Father turning to the Son and saying, with great emotion, “How could I not love her? She reminds me so much of You.”

That’s how salvation works. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we are made alive. And as we live for God, His brightness in us testifies to others that we are His. There’s simply no denying our relationship with Him.

As if that weren’t enough, God then welcomes us into His family, not as interlopers—not as “the girl who doesn’t belong” or “the guy who doesn’t deserve to be here”—but as full-fledged members of God’s eternal, holy family.

We are more than redeemed; we are accepted, and we are loved!

Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? Then rejoice that you belong in God’s eternal family…no halfs or steps about it!

 

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Don’t Mess with Mama!

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While visiting over Easter, my family began to commiserate over funny stories. All of them garnered a laugh, but the one about Mama and the Jehovah’s Witnesses took the cake. In fact, it’s so funny that I decided to share it here with you. Besides, encouragement isn’t always a lofty saying or even a Scripture reference; sometimes, it’s just a good laugh.


 

When I was a teenager, our family lived in a big neighborhood. It was really nice, but it often attracted solicitors, from the Schwan’s truck to Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW). Now, Mom wasn’t opposed to a Schwan’s frozen pizza every now and then, but she was not about to convert to JW—which should have been obvious given that the following Scripture was painted above our door post:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15b NAS).

The guys from the local JW must have had us on their list, though, because they kept coming by the house on Saturday mornings. Each time, Mom pointed to the Scripture above the door as she declined their offer, nicely but firmly.

One Saturday morning, she answered the door, and the same two men from the JW started in again with their spiel. But this time, they began to move closer and closer to her. Mom knew these guys were persistent, but they had never been aggressive.

Suddenly, one of them pointed to the ground behind him and said, “Um, Ma’am, there’s a snake trying to get in your house!” Sure enough, a black snake had curled up next to a pot in the portico, trying to avoid the hot summer sun. Only now it was pinning the JWs against Mom and the front door—and it was obvious the guys would rather barge through the door than walk around that snake!

Now totally frustrated with the JWs and the snake, Mom walked right through the two men, bent down, picked up the snake, walked across the driveway, and threw the snake into the yard, all the while explaining, “I just can’t keep these snakes from coming up to the door!”

When Mom turned back around, she realized that the JWs’ van was parked in our driveway—and that it was full of men, all with their mouths wide open!

The two guys at the door made an excuse and left in a hurry. We always wondered what they said to their friends in the van about the crazy woman who threw snakes at them. I guess they crossed us off their list as holy rollers or something, though, because they never came back to our house.

As for the snakes…it wouldn’t be the last time Mom would have to move an ornery one from our house. But I guess those tales are for another time.

In searching for meaning in this silly story, I can think of two important lessons we should all know and follow:

1. No means no; and
2. Don’t mess with Mama.


Mother’s Day is 5/13/18. If you have funny stories involving your Mom (and who doesn’t?), consider writing them down and sharing them with family over a Mother’s Day lunch. Everyone will get a good laugh, and you’ll help ensure those funny stories aren’t lost to time.

Six Rules to a Rock-Solid Relationship

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Robby and me on our wedding day six years ago.

This year, Robby and I celebrated our Sixth Wedding Anniversary! (Hand-clap, please.) Before we were married, our friends and family shared some sage advice with us. We added that to what we had picked up along the way and, before we knew it, we had several great rules to live by.

In honor of our sixth anniversary, I’d like to share with you our top six rules for a rock-solid marriage. Some of these can also be applied to relationships with friends and family, so keep reading, even if you’re not married.

 

1. Pick ‘em Right

Robby and I had great peace when we got married because we knew God wanted us to be together. We started our marriage on rock-solid ground because we promised to keep God at the center of our relationship.

Before you say I Do, make sure he’s right for you! How? Pray earnestly and with an open heart. If He tells you to walk away, then do it, knowing that His plans for you are good. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

A rock-solid relationship has to be built on God, the one true Rock. (See Deuteronomy 32:2.) God has to be the focus of each of your lives in order for your marriage to succeed.

Marry the one you find the least annoying to be around. – Jeremy E.

2. Treat ’em Right

It’s so hard to find time to just be together, but Robby and I have learned to make it work. We don’t always answer the phone when it rings or get the dishes washed after dinner. Sometimes, we have to go out to eat to ensure we’re not distracted by the demands at home. But we do whatever it takes to carve out quality time for one another.

Your spouse is the one person on earth who has vowed to love and cherish you above all others. Don’t take that for granted.

If you’re having real marital problems, sort them out before they get too big to heal. If you’re just starting out, then treat each other with love and respect, and you’ll avoid a lot of heartache.

Just be decent to each other. – Jeremy E.

3. Watch Your Mouth

Robby is the quiet one in our relationship, and I’m more of a hothead. I’ve had to learn to guard my mouth—especially when I’m emotional or tired—so I don’t say something callous or hurtful.

The Bible says the tongue has the power of life and death, for good and evil. (See Proverbs 18:21.) Make sure the words you speak into your marriage are a blessing and not a curse. Tell the truth, but say it in love. Avoid yelling or saying ugly or demeaning things. You can’t just say, “I didn’t really mean that,” and make it go away.

Also—and this is extremely important—never, ever, ever, say “divorce.” Once you say the D word, it becomes an option. Once it’s an option, it’s much more likely to occur.

Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. – Unknown

4. Give Him Space

Robby and I are both analytical, and we need time to process our thoughts. After hanging out with friends or family, or spending time in town, we like to go to separate corners of the house to “piddle” (that’s “work on house stuff” for those of you not from the South). Sometimes, we’ll just veg in front of the TV. That allows us to be close to one another physically without draining each other mentally.

Give your spouse the space he needs. When you have room to breathe, you’ll enjoy your time together even more.

It’s a good thing that you have different hobbies, so you’re not always on top of one another. – Jeff M.

5. Mystery Alive!

Robby and I agreed early in our relationship to keep the “mystery alive.” That means we don’t do anything really gross in front of the other person, including belching, passing gas, going to the bathroom, spitting, or picking our teeth. (I still can’t understand why some people do this stuff in front of their spouse. How do they go from gross to intimate? I don’t get it.)

If you want a strong relationship, keep the gross stuff to yourself as much as possible. This isn’t about being fake but about being courteous. You’ll respect each other more, and it’ll be easier to be romantic on a daily basis.

Mystery alive! – Me

6. When in Doubt

I can honestly say I’ve never doubted Robby’s faithfulness. I know he loves me and would never do anything to hurt our relationship. In the few instances when I couldn’t reach him by phone, or he came home later than usual, it never crossed my mind that he was doing something inappropriate.

A strong marriage is built on trust. That means you should always give each other the benefit of the doubt. When he’s late and he hasn’t called yet, or when he doesn’t text you back right away, don’t assume that he’s out doing something wrong. If you really trust him, then you trust his actions when he’s not around you.

Happy couples give each other the benefit of the doubt. – Topic of several studies, books, and articles.

 

What are some rules you live by in your marriage? Please share them here to encourage others. Thanks!