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.


    • Trina says

      I attended Buckhead and Gwinnett Church before moving back to TX. I continue to follow not only you, but Andy, Jeff H., and now Allie Kay! Your tribute to your mother-in-law exudes class — and I expected nothing less. Thanks for your posts and sharing a part of your life with us…it’s always encouraging.

  1. Tifani Thompson says

    OH WOW! Such an amazing mother-in-law! What wise advice and encouragement she gave you! Your life has reflected it Sandra! I have to tell you that when pressures come my way, my mom ALWAYS says, “Tifani what would Sandra do?” My priorities are my family, and I’m THANKFUL for your leading example, your advice, your awesome encouragement, and ALL your wisdom!

    The finding of your kids under the bed made me laugh!! Silly grandmas!!! Your kids probably still remember that night!

    Andy’s mom was so pretty! She isn’t suffering anymore!
    Thank you for sharing about your wonderful mother-in-law.

  2. Tiffany R says

    We attend NPCC in Alpharetta and our prayers have been with your family the past 2 weeks. This is a wonderful tribute to your mother in law and a honor to Andy. We will continue to pray for all of you during this time. Tell Andy to take his time coming back to the stage, we miss him but we are surviving 😉

  3. says

    Beautiful words of love and remembrance Sandra. I don’t attend your church, but have been faithfully watching messages online each week for quite some time. You and your husband have been an amazing blessing and encouragement to me, although we have never met. I have been praying for you all over the last week or so, and will continue to lift you up before the Lord – for strength, comfort, and a sense of His closeness. May God continue to richly bless you all.

  4. says

    Such lovely words. I am so sorry for your pain and grief. And the story about the devil was hilarious. It was once quipped to me at a time of loss, “Sad is happy for deep people.” Your stories make these words all the more true. Prayers for your family during a difficult season, regardless of the hope we have in Jesus our bodies and emotions are so raw in grief.

  5. Phyllis Murdock says

    I’ve always believed that you had God given wisdom beyond your years and your tribute to Anna again reinforces my opinion. She was undoubtedly pleased with your relationship with her son and had she been well, your interaction would have been greater. She will be greatly missed but her legacy continues.

  6. Libby Dudding says

    Thank you for always being open to share your life with so many. May God continue to guard and protect your entire family.

  7. Julie Stuber Pepper says

    Have been thinking about you and Andy. Anna was such a special lady. Those who new her know how special she was. Will miss her warm heart.

  8. Cathy Hunt says

    I’m glad you posted your eulogy. Your family presented a loving tribute to Anna. I have always been sorry that I didn’t come along early enough at FBA to be able to know her. I did meet her and speak to her once at the Galleria in the early days of NPCC. Your kind loving tribute is a model for others in their relationship with their mother in law. Thank you. You are a gem !

  9. says

    I heard about your family’s loss. I didn’t know much about your MIL, Andy’s mom and Charles’ wife, but I feel like I know a little more about her powerful impact. What a great gift to have a MIL that you love/loved so deeply. I have a great MIL too and will be desperately grief-stricken when she dies (especially since my own mom past 12 years ago). Praying for your family at this holiday time and beyond, Sandra!

  10. Michelle Pritchard says

    Bless you for your beautiful tribute to Mrs. Stanley. I am sure you hear it all the time but you and your family are such an inspiration. Even in this time of heartache you are ministering to others through your kind and thoughtful words.
    I have wanted to say thank you for a long time to Andy, Northpoint, and it’s online ministries for truly changing my life. Although a Christian for more than 30 years my passion has been reignited and my hope has been solidified because of all of you folks. I thank you from the bottom of my heart! May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly.
    Michelle Pritchard
    Bloomington, Indiana

  11. says

    Your beautiful tribute to your mother in law touched me deeply. My own mother in love has been a joy and blessing to me for over 40 years. I blogged about her too in 2010 and shared how “many of the character traits that caused me to fall in love with my husband are the very traits SHE instilled in him as a young boy”. I will be forever grateful to her for the treasure of my husband.
    We now how the joy of passing this kind of love on to our own daughter in love. As we often like to say …
    “a daughter in law is the one who waters the seeds you plant in your son’s life.”
    Thank you.

  12. Belinda says

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article. I lost my father March 2015 and I still cry every single night for the loss. I know he’s in a much better place but I miss him so much.

    I love listening to Charles and Andy. God bless you and your family always.

    Your “sister-in-Christ”,


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