My Sweet Mother-in-Law

Anna's Memorial (1)-0These past two and a half weeks have been tough ones for us. Andy’s mom died last Monday after ten days in the hospital battling pneumonia and a few other health issues. Never have I been more grateful for family, friends, and our amazing church. Never have I been more keenly aware that peace and loss are not mutually exclusive. Never have I been more in love with my husband than after watching him tenderly care for, and love, and tease, and sing to his sweet, frail mom.

The term mother-in-law always seems to carry a bit of a negative connotation, but with mine, none of those typical mother-in-law things were characteristic. Anna was never nosey, or bossy, or prone to dispensing unwelcome opinions or advice. In fact, she was such a wise and gracious lady, I would have gladly received more of her guidance, had she been well enough over the years to give it.

Anna’s health issues kept her from being able to spend a lot of time with her grandchildren, but when she did, she made it count. I’ll never forget one particular night she babysat our kids. When Andy and I returned home, she told us that after reading some Bible stories she decided it was time to tell the kids about the devil. So she did. Anna left and we went upstairs to check on them. Every light and lamp were on, and all we could see of the kids were little bits of brown hair, and little bits of blonde hair sticking out of the covers of one twin bed!

One very significant connection that Anna and I shared was the role of pastor’s wife. Being a pastor’s wife is unique and can be hard. People tend to have expectations. They watch closely how you behave, what you wear, how you parent… Anna helped me understand that I didn’t need to feel responsible for everything going on in the church. I didn’t need to worry about what everyone thought about every decision I made. In many ways she freed me to make Andy and our kids my priority over ministry.

I believe this one powerful thing has significantly impacted my relationship with Andy, my relationship with my children, and my relationship with this church that I love so much.

I will be forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for the gift of Anna Johnson Stanley—my kind, generous, funny, and very wise mother-in-law.

ASK IT!

images1987 was a pretty good year, I’d say. I was a junior at Georgia Tech, minding my own business, and this “guest speaker” showed up at the weekly Bible study I attended. When he finished speaking, I sat there stunned, still absorbing the stuff he taught. It was, hands down, the best message I had ever heard.

Fast-forward to a year later, the “guest speaker” asked me to marry him. It was an easy yes! For a long time, any time Andy was invited to speak to teenagers or college students, I suggested he do that “Walking Wisely” message from Bible study night.

Finally, he put the material into book form. The Best Question Ever came out a bunch of years ago. Last week, the newly updated version, ASK IT, was released in paperback! I’m thrilled that he has republished much of the same content with additional insights he’s gained through the years.

I especially love this book for teenagers and college students, but it is certainly applicable for any and every age. In fact, your greatest regret could have been avoided had you asked this particular question and then acted on your conclusion!

ASK IT is now available on Amazon, at bookstores, and from our resource center as well. Use this link to download chapter one for free! And, certainly send the link for the free chapter to anyone you think might benefit. http://t.co/eOgmUbKvfF/s/l0XO.

If you read chapter one and decide you’d like to have a free autographed copy, just leave a comment here. I’ll be happy to have that “guest speaker” autograph five or six. I’ll wait a few days and then draw some names. Hope you like it as much as I do!

 

 

The Drift

picmonkey_imageEvery May, my parents rent a house on the beach on Hilton Head Island for family vacation. Kids and grandkids gather for a week of surf, sun, and togetherness. We love it. The water is still a little chilly in late May, but not too chilly for the 18 and under grandchildren!

It’s always interesting to watch the phenomenon of the current, or the drift. The kids start off right in front of us with their surf-boards and floats. Within a matter of minutes, they are yards down the beach. The adults are waving like maniacs to get them to exit the water and walk back up the beach before re-entering.

This isn’t just a beach phenomenon though. It happens in life. When we stop paying attention, we drift. When we stop being intentional about exercise, we find ourselves consistently NOT working out. When we stop paying attention to our spending, we’re shocked that the credit card company needed a box rather than an envelope to send the bill. When we stop being careful with our words, we find ourselves thoughtlessly hurting people’s feelings.

When we lift our feet and just let the current of society carry us, we always drift in a negative direction. Before we know it, we find ourselves in dangerous waters.

The scariest drifting of all is the drift away from intimacy with God. No one is immune. Being a pastor’s wife doesn’t make me immune from drifting. Having grown up in church doesn’t keep anyone from drifting. Even memorizing a bunch of verses doesn’t keep us from being susceptible to the drift.

Every single one of us has the potential to get outside the rails. Every single one of us has the potential to make choices we thought we’d never make.

So what causes a spiritual drift? As a wife, mom, and ministry leader, I’ve found that two main things lead to my drifting ­- busyness and pride.

Here’s what gives me a heads-up that I’m drifting in a dangerous direction:

  •             Three consecutive days of skipping my time alone with God
  •             Catch myself gossiping or being negative about people
  •             Easily annoyed, and quick to anger
  •             Jealous heart that leads to comparing myself to others

So what’s the solution? How do we exit the current, regroup, and right our path? For me, if the catalyst was busyness, I MUST make some schedule changes. Usually, I’ve allowed too many things that don’t represent the priorities of my life fill my calendar. If the catalyst to my drifting was pride, it’s time to confess. It’s time to celebrate others. It’s time to serve someone who doesn’t have the means to serve me back.

What is it for you? What are your drifting triggers? What are the red flags that alert you to the fact that you’ve drifted? And, how do you right your path? Spend some time in prayer, asking God to shed some light on the answers to these questions in your life. You just might find yourself better able to avoid the drift!

In This House, We Will Giggle

In-This-House-We-Will-Giggle

 

I’ll never forget the moment Andy and I loaded our first newborn into the squeaky-clean, fresh-out-of-the-box car seat that was perched in our car. We were in the parking lot of Piedmont Hospital and were in shock that the “hospital people” were letting us take him. After all, we knew very little about what we were doing. We kept eyeing the revolving doors to see if maybe a security team was on its way to stop us with a “Hey! What do you think you’re doing? You can’t leave with that baby. You don’t know enough!”

But they did let us leave, and we’re grateful. I realize now that it wasn’t just the physical stuff of taking care of a baby that concerned us. It was ALL of it. Good grief, this baby would be a high school student someday, and a college kid someday, and probably even a dad someday. What if we mess up?

Early on, Andy and I discovered that there were so many facets of parenting. Not only did we want to care for the physical needs of our kids, we wanted to help them develop understanding. We wanted to lead them to be discerning and wise. We wanted them to be in a position to honor God and honor others in their choices and decisions.

While all of that sounds a bit heavy, the lion’s share of it comes in the day-to-day living with our kids. The daily training and coaching and FUN that comes from being together. The daily modeling, encouraging, and celebrating important virtues and character traits.

The GREAT news is that Courtney DeFeo has recently written a book about this very thing! In This House, We Will Giggle is the book I wish I’d had when the Stanley three were growing up. I’m thrilled that I can use it with nieces and nephews and our sweet foster kids who are in and out.

Here are the chapter titles, because I think they’re awesome!

  • Joy: When the Reality of Life Meets a Heart of Gladness
  • Love: Letting Concern for Others Guide
  • Forgiveness: Discover the Freedom That Comes Only Through Grace
  • Faith: Planting Seeds of Trust for a Lifetime of Spiritual Growth
  • Patience: Some Things Are Worth the Wait
  • Perseverance: Pressing On Through
  • Respect: Words and Actions That Honor Others
  • Responsibility: Working Hard and Taking Ownership
  • Service: Meeting Needs with Our Hands, Feet, and Hearts
  • Humility: Giving God and Others Center Stage
  • Gratitude: So Many Reasons to Be Thankful
  • Generosity: Join in the Adventure of Giving

In This House, We Will Giggle provides parents with the motivation and practical ideas to plant these virtues deep in the hearts of their kids and have so much fun doing it. For each virtue there is a practical activity to do with your kids to make it fun. Don’t miss this! The book launches on October 7, but you can preorder your copy this week on Courtney’s website: Courtneydefeo.com. The publisher is offering a buy one get one free deal right now. If you think you might want to do this as a small group study, now’s the time to get a great price.

Comment here with which chapter you expect will be your favorite and you’ll be automatically entered to win a copy autographed by Courtney! Drawing will be on release day, October 7.

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce

ASC_3801Occasionally, when Andy and I are in Buckhead, we make our way over to Houston’s Restaurant. One of our favorite menu items is the Grilled Chicken Salad with mixed greens, jicama, honey-lime vinaigrette and peanut sauce. So, when I saw pinchofyum.com‘s Chopped Thai Chicken Salad , I knew we’d LOVE it.

Sure enough, it did not disappoint! Little warning… it’s hard to stop eating. I did make a few changes to the original recipe based on ingredients I had available and the number of servings I wanted. So, here you go. I hope you enjoy it!

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce

Salad:

  • 3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 large mango (not too ripe), chopped
  • 3/4 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup chopped peanuts

Dressing:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar or local honey
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 Cup of water, if needed

Toss all salad ingredients, except peanuts, into a mixing bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whisk together the first seven dressing ingredients. When well combined, add peanut butter and water. Again, whisk well.

Toss dressing with salad. Plate the salad then sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Garnish with a little extra cilantro.

Take a pic, and be so proud of your beautiful, healthy, and oh-so-delicious meal!