Chapter 6
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In-Laws or Out-Laws

“And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law,

‘Go, return each of you to her mother’s house.

 May the LORD deal kindly with you

As you have dealt with the dead and with me.”

—Ruth 1:8

 

 

She Hugged Me!

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, my former mother-in-law called me. It was a surprise, as before that, we had spoken only a few times since my former husband and I had parted. She said that she would like for us to be friends! I was so awed by how suddenly God worked!

Before our meeting, I was plagued with anxious thoughts. On the day we were supposed to meet, I was on leave from work and so, I was able to go to church for the lunchtime Mass, followed by a quiet time of Bible reading. Praise God! I also asked Jesus to go with me to meet my former mother-in-law. Earlier that morning, I had asked my guardian angel to speak with her guardian angel to protect us, and not let there be any words said that should not be said.

As I left the church, I noticed that one of my friends had called me. I rang her back and she said she hadn’t called me. It was her mobile that had accidentally rung me! God sent her as encouragement for me!

When I finally met my former mother-in-law, she was already seated at the café. It was so natural, the way we just started talking to each other. She is a very kind lady, and she has always made me feel welcome in her family. I've always loved her, and been so thankful for her. We had such a wonderful time talking, and catching up on our lives. She told me that she had been very happy with me as her daughter-in-law, and she had told others so.

She said that up till now, she did not know what had gone wrong. I shared a little with her, saying that it was entirely my fault, and that she should not blame my former husband at all. It was as if God had held up a mirror and showed me everything that I had done wrong. I told her that I was not sorry that things had happened the way they had, because there was a blessing in it—I am able to spend much time with my parents! She said that she was sure I would find someone nice! I agreed (her son!).

We talked for nearly two hours! And at the end, I was able to tell her that life is good! She asked whether it was for me. I said yes, but also for you too! She smiled. She suggested meeting for dinner one night, or anything else. I was so happy! We agreed that she would call me when she returns from an overseas trip.

And you know what else? She hugged me, just before we parted ways! I know it was all God!!

I thank the Lord for this tremendous blessing of restoring my relationship with my former mother-in-law. He did more than I imagined or asked for!

Noelle* in Singapore

 

There is no Husband like the Lord!

 

When my spouse left in May of 2003, I lost all contact with his family. Other than a couple of God sent chance encounters, which were extremely rare, I had not had contact with his family.

God had to change me and prepare me for when I would speak to my in-laws again. In the flesh, it seemed impossible that I would ever be accepted again. I had lots of refining to go through, and I had to learn who was first in my life.

God changed my situation over a long course of time as I began trusting Him more, and placing Him closer and closer to first place in my life. I began ministering to other women, which was encouragement to myself also. God always has a way of sending the right lady to you at the right time to encourage in the same area of which you need encouragement.

When I couldn't pick myself up, He would pick me up by looking for scripture to help another lady. I began writing a series of columns that the Lord laid upon my heart. It wasn't until the fourth one, that it hit me that He was not only speaking the ladies in the ministry, I was also to blame. This pushed me miles closer to the Lord and was the final snap that I needed to place Him first.

God taught me through this trial that He is in control of everything. He may not cause the trial, but when it happens, it is because He has allowed it for a reason. When that happens, instead of sitting in pity, I should seek why the trial has occurred and learn from it. I have also learned that God has to be first in your life. There is a difference in saying it, and having it in your heart.

While I had no contact with my in-laws, I always felt left out when the kids would go with their dad to visit them. I wanted so much to see them and feel part again. But I needed to let that go. I needed to be content in the situation I was in.

The turning point in my restoration was when I decided that God was my husband for this season. I called Glenda after writing the column on searching your heart for the separated group. I told her that for months God had been speaking to me to join the singleness group and that I had resisted, but that now I wanted to be faithful for I realized in denying Him that one thing, I was not putting Him first.

After a wait of about two weeks while we got the separated group realigned and positioned for me to join Glenda in the leadership team, I contacted Glenda and at approximately midnight on the evening of the 26th going into the 27th of September, we ceremoniously changed my status. It was such a weight off of my shoulders.

On the 27th of September, which happens to be my spouse’s birthday and his sisters as well, my husband contacted me on my way home from work. He said he was leaving work early to relax for his birthday and asked that I have the kids contact his sister to wish her a happy birthday. When I got into the house, in submission, I went to the phone, dialed the number and handed the phone to the girls instructing them to wish their aunt a happy birthday.

The phone passed to each of the girls, and then with amazement in their eyes, the phone was handed to me. It was still on! I was hesitant, but answered. It was my sister-in-law wanting to know how I was doing! I told her I was great, and she told me that she still thought of me as the godmother of her children and wanted to know if my husband had given me the pictures she sent me of her daughter's first communion.

I told her that I had and then she asked if I wanted to talk to her girls! I said of course, and tears were flowing from my eyes in amazement and happiness. Each of the three little girls, whom I hadn't spoken to in just short of three years, fought over the phone to talk to me. They were so sweet! Then they just kept saying in unison over and over, "I love you!" It was the most awesome feeling!

My sister-in-law took the phone back and talked to me a while longer and then before hanging up told me that I could contact her any time to talk. God is so amazing! Although I won't be personally contacting her, out of respect for my spouse, I know that our paths will be crossing again soon. It may have been my husband and his sister's birthday, but I was the one that recieved the best gift!

To God be the glory, the best husband in the universe!

Tonya in Ohio

 


Chapter 7                   |

|Siblings

“And it came about when they were in the field,

 that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”

—Genesis 4:8

 

 

Running to Keep Up!

When the ministry changes started taking place, Erin had written that she felt the Lord had bigger plans and would perform many miracles in our lives. She said families and relationships would be restored before marriages, as in restoring mothers and children, fathers and children, sibling to sibling, etc. Walls that the enemy had been allowed to build would be destroyed. (He can do this for you regardless of which group you are in!!) Little did I know as I read her words that the Lord was about to breakdown a wall that had been in place for a good number of years in my own life?

For those of you who have the support of your family in believing with you that God can and will restore your marriage, “Praise His Name!!! No one in my family supported me, (or so the enemy had deceived me into believing). My mother works part time for a tour service, she’s retired and loves to travel, so the Lord has blessed her with this position, which she does only occasionally.

Late last year when the catalog listing for the trips of 2005 was published there was one that caught my attention. It wasn’t one of parks and rides and tourist attractions, but one that had live performances, relating to books of the Bible, namely the story of Ruth. After praying about it, for I knew I didn’t have the funds to do this, I mentioned to my mother during a conversation, I would certainly like to see this one.

No, I wasn’t asking her to help in this, but having been led to read in the book of Ruth, so many times, there was just a hunger to see it. God was opening a door. Mama’s reply was, “I don’t know if I’ll be the tour guide for this particular trip, but if I am, you can stay in my room with me and all you’ll have to have to pay for is the tickets to the show and your meals.”

Answered prayer, thank you Lord!! The Lord was working and moving and was in no way finished here. During a later conversation between my mother and older sister, my older sister expressed a desire to go on the trip also. I was somewhat uncomfortable about being in such close proximity with the two of them for 4 days (only afterwards was I reminded of Lazarus) already going over in my mind the grueling questions that would be coming. (God had already put the plan in place, but was I willing to let Him do what He wanted to do?)

The room had (2) double beds so we (my sister and myself) decided that we would share one bed and Mom could have the other. We had shared a room and bed growing up. All at once it was like we were young sisters again, lying in the bed at night, giggling and talking just as we had as children, (it would throw us into howls of laughter when Mama would ask “What are you two up to over there?”) but the Lord was still moving. The next morning on the tour bus my sister very softly asked me about my husband, how was he doing? Did I hear from him? (Oh, the dreaded questions that I just knew would come, were coming.)

She hadn’t asked in a tone that said she was prying, but in a sweet and gentle way of expressing concern. I briefly said, “He’s doing alright and we talk often, usually every week or so.” (Thank you Lord for this blessing from You which I can share!!) Trying to remain discreet (I have guarded this whole situation so close to my heart) I turned my head away.

My precious sister placed her arm around me and tenderly held my hand and whispered in my ear, “The good Lord knows what He’s placed in your heart. You wait on the Lord.” Ladies, I was in awe!! I struggled to take my next breath. The Lord had moved so suddenly here. She asked no more questions, actually she changed the topic and steered the conversation elsewhere. (Has the Lord moved suddenly like this for you? and you are so genuinely humbled that the only words that you can utter are “Thank You, Father?”)

For the rest of the trip the subject of “our situation” wasn’t approached. We returned to our respective homes and I just thanked the Lord for the many, many blessings that He had bestowed on me, but there is still more to share on what He was doing.

On Tuesday, after returning from the trip, my sister called me. She was so excited about the time we’d spent together, that she had prayed asking the Lord’s guidance for a desire in her heart. Her entire family (her husband, daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren) had made reservations to go to the beach. She was babbling so quickly I was catching words every now and then.

The Lord had led her to approach her husband first, then the rest of the family before asking me. Her entire family, her words “unanimously voted” and they were inviting (I prefer the Lord was opening the door wider) both me and my son to join them. “We want both of you with us!!” God just kept on moving! I thanked her and said,”I’ll get back with you, once I get with him.” The Lord was moving so quickly I was running to keep up!! I was so excited and thankful for what God was doing in my life!!

A few weeks later came an early morning call that just dropped me to my knees. This same sister had been taken to the emergency rooms with chest pains. I knew instantly to run to His throne and all I could do was pray. “Lord, in your love and compassion, you have restored her to me. Please Father, take control of this situation.”

Praise the Lord, it wasn’t her heart, but it was still another complication, very serious. She needed surgery, but the enzymes in her body were so high, the doctors wouldn’t risk the surgery. Without surgery the outcome didn’t look good. So many prayers being lifted, seeking His intervention.

On Monday I received a call at work that the doctors couldn’t delay any longer, she would have to have the surgery that day. (Oh, I need to share this was the 4th day of her hospital stay—God keeps reminding me of Lazarus) I asked at work if I could leave an hour early since her surgery was late in the day. When I arrived to the hospital she had already been taken to surgery and the family was in the waiting room.

I hadn’t been there but about 15 minutes when the surgeon came in. (By the way this surgeon was an ordained minister—Yeah God!) His first words were, “the surgery went great and right before she was to be placed on the anesthesia her enzyme levels suddenly dropped to within the normal range. She’s going to need to rest to gain back her strength, but I feel she’s out of the critical stage.” Again, I was in awe of how suddenly God moved and all I could do was thank Him, but my heart was so filled with praises to Him!!

The next afternoon I stopped by to see her, stopping by to encourage her and visit with her. The room was always full. Her family had camped at the hospital, and at no time was she without at least one of them. I asked if I could stay with her at night, offering to give them a chance to get a night’s rest, but her immediate family wouldn’t hear of it.

Her husband would stay at night, and then go to work the next morning when one of their grown daughters would come to stay. I thanked the Lord so much for blessing her with a family that loved her and wanted to care for her. Within a few days she was released to go home. I called daily just to check on her and it was during one of our phone calls that she said, “I need to tell you something.” I heard the catch in her voice and I knew she was crying.

Her words, “Yesterday while I was lying here I thanked the Lord for bringing you back to me. I have missed you so much for so many years and I am so thankful to have my sister back in my life again.” I had spoken these same words to the Father in the same heartfelt gratitude, so I knew exactly what the Lord had done, not only for me, but for her as well.

I know this may be seem somewhat lengthy, but there is still more to what the Lord wanted to do and additional things He knew I needed to hear. Her healing progressed rapidly and we were blessed to all go to the beach together. At night it became routine for us to sit on the porch and just talk. Not over anything particular, just enjoying the time we were together.

One night we were sitting there just enjoying the tranquility of the moment, (there were 12 of us at the beach together, tranquil moments were few) and she asked if she could share something with me. Not knowing where she was going I was prepared to listen. She then began to share that several months after my husband had left; her own marriage was plagued with serious trouble. Things had really gotten bad. (She has been married for 34 years and I always thought “a marriage made in heaven”).

She didn’t really disclose details, but made the statement to me, “I knew I had the Lord, but I wanted to reach out to you. I had watched you go from broken to being able to smile again and I just couldn’t make myself dump on you what was going on with me, but I needed you. (Ladies, don’t be so caught up in your own troubles, that you aren’t sensitive to the needs of others. When the enemy was attacking our marriage, I was so caught up in it that I couldn’t see she was going through difficulties herself.)

She continued, “There are things that only sisters can share and the Lord has mended and healed the trials that my marriage was going through and He has healed us. He’s brought you and I back to each other. Allow the Lord to finish what He has started.” What did I learn here? The Lord showed me that all this time when I thought no one in my family understood what He had placed in my heart, this sister did.

He took both of us to a place that our hearts knew we needed Him, but He also had to get us to a place where we needed each other. What a journey!! As we all prepared to return home from our trip to the beach, one of my sisters’ daughters, came me to me with tears in her eyes. When I saw the tears my first concern was something was wrong. She hugged me ever so tightly and with a voice so choked she could barely speak came words so filled with love.

“This has been the best vacation. Not because of anything we’ve done, but because of you and mom. Seeing you and mama together has been my vacation. Mama has missed you for a long time and your being here made it so special for her and because it was special for her it was for all of us. I know how much I love my sisters and can’t imagine not being with them. It has been wonderful having you and mama together being sisters. We have to do this again.” When I looked around there were many tear streaked faces and no one could say a word, just lots of head nodding and smiling. I was filled and surrounded by His love. So full that I certainly felt my heart would explode!!

In our marriage we were blessed with 4 boys, no girls, so without saying, I was the baseball, football, golf, fishing, helpmeet and mom, doing the guy stuff. (But I enjoyed every moment of it.) Deep inside I had always had a secret desire for daughters. Now that my sister and I are restored, the Lord has blessed me with daughters. They are not daughters of my flesh, but daughters of my heart, (my nieces), I love these girls as if they were my own.

So often they call and say, “We’re going shopping for such and such, come with us. Just us girls, please go with us.” (An additional blessing, fashion tips!!) We have also been blessed with grandchildren, (3 of them).

The oldest son is in the military, and they’ve resided all over the world. Currently he, his wife and children are stationed in Missouri. (Yes, I am praying for the opportunity to go there and perhaps be able to visit with Erin and other members in the area.) With them being 12-13 hours away, the visits aren’t frequent and when they are here, there are so many family members wanting to spend time with them. So getting to be the cookie baking, telling stories, snuggling and loving on these “babies” grandmother is something I only get to do a couple of times each year, in the flesh.

But when the Lord restored my sister to me, not only did I gain daughters and sons-in-laws, I received more babies. The Lord brought her grandchildren into my life to help fill the void while ours’ are far away. The Lord just keeps blessing me and blessing me!!

Who would have thought that when I fell in love with His word (when He planted the seed) especially for the book of Ruth, He would use my love for it to open doors in the manner He has?

How does what I’ve written relate to you? God is not a respecter of persons; what He does for one, He will do for all.” Is there one (keeping in mind the principals) who the Lord periodically brings to your heart and mind? Is there a member of your family that a wall has been built between you? Who cares whether you built the wall or they built the wall?

Get on your knees and talk to the Lord about it. Does the Lord want you to take that first step in breaching the wall? Has the Lord planted a desire in your heart that you’ve shied away from because you think it’s impossible? Take heart and believe “That nothing is too hard for God.”

This praise report, actually I felt led to share it and thought the Lord wanted me to use it as the weekly column, has been resting in my computer for several days waiting on how He would have me finish it. What a finish He has given me to share!! Two years ago I let go of my FH’s family. (I actually let go of them before I did my FH.) It broke my heart, but I knew that I had to allow the Lord to change me first.

(It wasn’t that I was hiding out from my extended family, but “He was hiding me while He was transforming me.” He knew there were many, many sins in me that He had to remove before He would shine in me.) I have cried out and prayed to God on many occasions that He would touch their hearts and they would forgive me. I love and miss each one of them, but was just waiting on the Lord’s timing.

Earlier this week I specifically talked to the Lord about one particular sister-in law. I ask Him to tell her I loved her and would like the opportunity to spend some time with her. Ladies, when I opened the mailbox today, there was one single envelope and it was from this “special” sister-in-law. On the back of it were written 3 words. ‘I love you.” I just sat in my vehicle with tears flowing down my face for what the Lord had done.

I was hesitant at first to open it (the enemy was trying to steal my joy) but I had prayed for contact and the Lord had answered. When I opened it, there was an invitation to a baby shower for her first grandchild. (Another baby for this grandma!) At first I was teetering on what to do, but God has been hiding me and transforming me for two years and He is just opening another door in restoring my family. How can I not walk through it?

Don’t let the enemy destroy your family. So many times I have prayed the words from the book of Esther 8:6, “For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?” God had blessed me so abundantly with my immediate and extended family. I could not just sit back and do nothing, so I began to fight on my knees in prayer.

There is no better way to fight this battle than taking it to the Lord. He created the heavens and the earth and all that is within it and nothing, not one thing is too hard for God.. When He truly knows that your heart is His and you are depending solely on Him, He will not turn away. It’s what He wanted all along—for you to acknowledge and love Him for Who He is—not just for what He gives you, but for what He can do in you and through you.. To God be the glory

The process has not occurred as quickly as I wanted, but as Erin wrote, “God’s delays are not denials.” We just need to continue praying, seeking and crying out to God. Early on in my walk with the Lord, He gave me a promise and I feel now that His promise to me is being fulfilled.” You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”, declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord “and bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jer 29:13-14)

Teresa in North Carolina