Crossing Barriers to Victory

Who has barriers in your way today? We all do if we are honest. Mark Batterson has written an awesome book called, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day”. He brings to life in many of our lives the life of Benaiah. As I was reading this verse, I thought of barriers he had to cross that day as well as barriers we all must cross each day. “There was also Benaiah (son of Jehoiada), a heroic soldier from Kabzeel. Benaiah killed two giants, sons of Ariel of Moab. Another time he went down into a pit and, despite the slippery snow on the ground, took on a lion that was caught there and killed it.” (2 Samuel 23:20 TLB) If you are like me, when it snows I want to be at home just watching it come down. This soldier was not sitting in his tent watching it snow. He was ready for what was in his way to victory. This verse lists barriers in Benaiah’s way. Despite the barriers he took on a lion. He did not look at the past in his life and how the snow had hindered him before. No, he stepped on the snow and moved forward. We looked at the past difficulties and think there is no way I am moving forward. We let unforgiveness or bitterness keep up from moving forward in life. Failures in the past often bring fears in the present. We allow failures in relationships keep us in the tent. We look at the past problems and move the hurt feelings to other people. Benaiah was not thinking of the past only the present.

Benaiah had snow that was slippery that day. The snow had frozen and was easy to slide on. He could have thought about falling and getting hurt before he even made it to the lion. Instead he charged out into the snow and ice and was going to take on what was in his path. We look at our present situation and are afraid of what might happen if we say this or do this. What will they think? How will they react. We are afraid of failing again.  We let what hindered us in the past hinder us in the present. There have been many times I have slid on ice in a car and on my feet. Instead of staying in when I need to go out, I am careful of my surrounding and just move forward. In relationships there are failures and difficulties. Moving forward gives us victories in the midst of failures.

Benaiah had barriers in front of him. He could have let his barriers defeat him in his mind before he even went out. He chose to step on his barriers and move forward. If he fell, he would just get up. If he got hurt, he would just deal with it and move on. He had a lion waiting on him. The snow and ice were nothing compared to the lion. God had given him a victory. He had to cross the barriers to get to the victory. The past could not stop him unless he let it. The present could not stop him unless he let it. His future had victory.

God has given us a victory. We have barriers to cross. There are barriers in our past that could get in the way of our future victory. We must cross them and move on. We have barriers in our present. Are you going to step across the barriers and move to the lion? Our lion and victory are waiting so don’t bog down in the barriers. Choose to move pass the barriers to your victory.





Introduction-It’s All About The Mother-in-law Bible Study by Lynn Autry

jpeg cover of bible study

It’s All About the


  Bible Study

A biblical and personal journey through the land of in-laws

Lynn Autry

Author & Teacher



When you hear the word mother-in-law, what is the first thought that comes into your mind? Is it nice or not so nice thought? Most of you probably thought of a controlling, nagging and meddling old woman. Okay, I found out a several years ago I was going to be a mother-in-law. Something started happening in my relationship with my son when he got serious about a girl. In conversations with him, I was being excluded in decisions. I started finding out I needed to consider her opinion and what she wanted as well as my son. I was adding another person into my family.  Many things started to change in my family and my life.

So, what is a mother-in-law? A mother-in-law is defined as the mother of one’s spouse. She is the female parent of one’s spouse. In-laws are family partners connected by circumstances and law. I never realized how hard it was to be a mother-in-law until I became one. In-laws are expected to immediately get along beautifully even though the husband, wife and parents come with our own history, needs, set ways, baggage and customs into the new family relationship.

My mother-in-law was the one God knew I needed. She made the position of being a mother-in-law look easy; however, I quickly realized it was not easy. The loving relationship I have enjoyed with my in-laws over the past 40 years didn’t happen overnight. We all made a real effort to have an awesome relationship. There was little out there to help me through the mother-mother-in-law transition. Being a mother-in-law has been described as being a blind person in an unfamiliar room. When you bump against things, you don’t know why and what you have bumped into.[i]

In the United States, more than 51% of the adult population is married and living with a spouse. This means that about 120 million people in the United States will probably have in-laws at any given time. Most newly married couples have parents who are alive and involved in their lives. This means that there are around 9.6 million new in-law relationships created every year and 75 percent of couples’ report that they have some problems with at least one in-law. [ii] The group that forms when a couples get married includes the married couple and the parents of each one in the couple. There could be at least six people in a marriage.

Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships are still one of the most talked about relationships for most married women. The topic of in-laws is like a lightning rod filled with hurt and anger in the relationship.  I seemed to be changing in people’s eyes from a loving mother who wanted what was best for her children to a wicked mother-in-law. So, what happened?

Why do mothers-in-law get such a bad rap?  “American journalist Walter Lippman coined the word stereotype and defined it as an ‘a picture in our head’.” He said, “Whether right or wrong, imagination is shaped by the pictures seen. These pictures lead to stereotypes that are hard to shake.”[iii] Mother-in-law is a stereotype that has a negative image around the world such as divisive and meddlesome. When you use stereotypes, you may make a lot of assumptions based on very little evidence. When something is said, or done that make us upset, we may revert to our stereotype of what a mother-in-law is.[iv] The eighteenth-century English novelist Henry Fielding said, “The word mother-in-law has a terrible sound.”[v] Daughters-in-law and sons-in-law do not realize when they get married how in-laws will affect many of their day-to-day decisions. The needs of in-laws can stake a large claim on family decisions.

A recent book by a British relationship expert, Dr. Terri Apter, suggests that even if a wife or future wife wanted to like her in-law she already has an expectation that they won’t get along. More than 200 people, including 49 couples, were interviewed for the book. Three out of four couples said they experienced conflict with their in-laws.[vi] The book suggests that the “mutual unease may have less to do with actual attitudes and far more to do with persistent female stereotypes that few of us manage to shake off completely.” She added, “Both mother and wife are struggling to achieve the same position in the family-primary woman.”[vii] Humor and jokes about one’s mother-in-law are widespread on television and movies. For example, in the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond” the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law relationship is portrayed as very tense. It can be hard to get pass this stereotype.  Daughters-in-law may lock their mothers-in-law into the negative stereotype and everything her mother-in-law does is seen through this stereotype. A web search of the word “mother-in-law,” will return a huge amount of results for a bad mother-in-law. There are many demeaning web sites that depict mothers-in-law as monsters, apes etc. There is even a houseplant with razor-sharp leaves called a mother-in-law’s tongue. There are many jokes, stories, songs, skits and movies that are dehumanizing and cruel to mothers-in-law. Stereotypes claim each person in a certain group shares similar characteristics. Since each person is different from each other than stereotypes are not a logical possibility for mothers-in-law.

Couples are often unprepared to manage the impact of an overlapping family. Marriage is not just simply between two people, but marriage unites two existing families and a new forming family. The relationship between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law can be one of the biggest challenges of married life. “According to researchers at Utah State University, nearly 60 percent of all marriages suffer from tension with mothers-in-law, normally between the daughter-in-law and her husband’s mother.”[viii]

So why are there so many misunderstandings? There are several reasons. Women may resent mothers-in-law who stop by or call often.  Resentment can occur with family gatherings. Your own family will likely mean more to you than your in-laws so when you fail to negotiate time with both it can lead to in-law conflict. The mother may have a tough time letting go especially if it is her first son to get married. Mothers-in-law may also have a tough time with not giving advice. Lack of concern for differences in each person can cause hurt. Neither in-law may use kindness in resolving issues with the other person. The insecurities of each woman from underlying issues from the past can affect conflict that neither can win. The relationship is made difficult because the two women are strangers with differing generations.

One of the problems in relationships is expectations. We all come into an in-law relationship with expectations. We believe strongly at times that a person will act a certain way in the relationship. A daughter-in-law expects that her husband’s parents will welcome her into the family and will accept her as herself. A mother-in-law expects her daughter-in-law will love, respect, and accept her as the mother of her husband. A father-in-law expects his position to be respected. A son-in-law looks for respect and support for what he can bring into this new family. When our expectations are not met, we are left wondering what to do. Our disappointment can color our view of the person who has disappointed us. Michael Bender said, “Disappointing people’s expectations is inevitable. Just do it at a rate they can tolerate.”  A fact of life is we are going to disappoint people and people will disappoint us. Do we have to do it all at once I wonder? With disappointment sometimes comes the change God is introducing into our life. Expectation, change and disappointment sometimes hit us all at once. When that happens, we are hurt. Expectations are a part of life but how we handle them does not have to be. That is where God comes in. God guides us through our emotions and helps us get beyond the expectations and changes.

In the book “Toxic In-Laws,” Dr. Susan Forward says there are several common in-law conflict traps. Some of them are:  1. Getting caught up in the victim mentality. This can create a sense of hopelessness. 2. Overreacting. It may take the form of explosion, a tantrum, yelling, angry silence, or any form of behavior in which the intensity of the response is way out of proportion. 3. Underreacting- which has its roots in fear. The longer you suppress your anger and upsets, the greater chance sooner or later what you have suppressed will blow if you do not forgive. 4. Having unrealistic expectations of yourself. An in-law convinces herself that anyone who has got it together as well as she does can handle any in-law problem. 5. Having unrealistic expectations of your in-laws. An in-law may expect her in-laws to be parents she always wanted.[ix]

The most common pattern of conflict is between the mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and the son and husband who most often doesn’t even know a battle is going on. The mother-in-law has experienced a big change and loss. The daughter-in-law wants to be supported, left alone and the most important person in her husband’s life. These two women are decades apart wanting the love of the same man.[x]

Dr. Forward also says we have “In-Law myths” that are wishful thinking and not grounded in reality. The in-law myths are between the daughter-in-law and her husband’s parents or the son-in-law and the wife’s parents. I believe some of these myths can be used also for the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law or the son-in-law to the father-in-law. Some of these are 1. Things will get better after we’re married. This may happen with little effort but the effort made before the wedding could end if they do not see a need to try.  2. Things will get better after they get to know me. Time and familiarity alone do not knit together relationships. 3. Things will get better once there are grandchildren. Conflict can increase with grandchildren. All parties have their own opinions on parenting.  4. If I do what they want, they’ll have to like me. When we try to please at all costs, we lose part of ourselves. It becomes all about us trying to please and not about God’s spirit working through us in love, grace, patience, submission etc. 5. They’re not my children, so how much can they bother me? If they disapprove of you, it will affect you. Hurts will build up without forgiveness. 6. They live in another state, so we won’t have to deal with them very much. If you want a close relationship with your child and his/her spouse, avoidance is not the answer. Relationships are built with love and respect not distance and silence.[xi]

Terri Apter in the book “What Do You Want from Me” says in primary relationships we struggle to get things right and preserve love. Apter says she has found four uncomfortable truths about the context of in-laws. Many people in dealing with their in-laws have a tendency toward bias and resentment that does not show elsewhere in their behavior. Second, she has found that such behavior leads to long-term distress and to deterioration of a marriage. Next, she has found how in-law conflict is embedded within kinship structures and family systems. Finally, she has listened to people plead for help in understanding these relationships and resolving in-law conflict.[xii]

In many a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law relationship, there is a sense of rivalry. “’A woman and her mother-in-law are in a triangular relationship with the same man, says Dr. Judith Sills. “The daughter-in-law’s gain is frequently the mother-in-law’s loss and when another woman has caused you a loss, no matter how intellectually understandable it is, it’s hard to take.”’[xiii] A fear of losing a son or daughter and wanting to maintain a loving relationship are some of the most common sources of in-law conflicts. Fear can cause responsibility to be replaced with confusion and suspicion. A mother-in law does lose life as she knew it with her son or daughter when they become involved in a serious relationship. “An effective strategy for dealing with competitive feelings is to realize that part of your mother-in-law’s possessiveness is natural as part of being a mother. Mothers are willing to give up everything for their children but they also have a need to be connected. Your mother-in-law may never stop feeling it’s her job to be a caretaker to your husband. Asking her to give up control completely and let you be the only influential woman in your husband’s life is asking the impossible.”[xiv] Each mother is naturally biased to her own children. Some women may never understand until they become a mother-in-law, how it may hurt just to not see your son or daughter as much after the wedding as before.

Women are aware of the power and control that they have over their husbands and visits with in-laws. Mary Kassian in “Conversation Peace” says, “A gate of control is erected when we seek to manipulate, trap, or coerce others into agreeing with our perspective. We have to recognize that all knowledge, strength, greatness and the right to rule belong to God and not to any in-law however in control they think they are.”[xv] A mother-in-law is very aware of the power a daughter-in-law has to edge her out of her son’s life. If we want to tear down a control issue, we must relinquish our claim to superiority and the right to rule others by coercion, manipulation or force. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, we are told to boast in who God is not in our control. Great in-law relationships are built on caring and love not on power and control.

In close relationships, we must accept different qualities and different feelings. We begin this acceptance as a baby, when we love our parents but we are also angry with them when they do not satisfy us or cannot protect us from all illnesses. We continue this emotional integration with our siblings whom we love and resent as rivals. We planned to continue integrating mixed feeling when we marry. When it comes to in-laws, we may lack the strong emotional bond that integrates mixed feelings with other family members. We can learn how to manage these relationships, to improve them and mature what is good in them.[xvi]

In a book about in-laws, the author says that when couples get married the husband’s parents go through an Adjustment Stage in which they let go of their grown son, so he can transfer loyalty from his parents to his wife. The author says it is impossible for her to like her in-laws while they are in the Adjustment Stage. This statement is based on how loyal her husband is to his parents and his parents to him.[xvii] How sad that the author has written in a book for thousands of women to read that it is impossible for her to like her in-laws in the adjustment stage. We do not ever need to decide a relationship is impossible. What is impossible with us is possible with God. When we decide that in-laws must act a certain way for us to like them or our husband must act a certain way to his parents for us to like our in-laws, we have set ourselves up as the judge and jury of deciding who is right and wrong. In Romans 15:7, Paul says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Praise God, I did not have to act a certain way for God to like me or love me. When I was in the Adjustment Stage of transferring my loyalty to Him, He liked and loved me anyway and by the way it is a continual process of transferring my loyalty to Him. As an in-law, it is a continual process of transferring my loyalty from everything in my life to totally Jesus. I am to accept my in-laws just as Christ accepted me to bring praise to God. Christ showed me the example of accepting me so I could accept others. When I like, and love my in-laws, I am bringing praise to the one who ultimately accepted me. Praise Jesus, He accepts me just as I am.

When there are “in-law” clashes, ultimately it takes a toll on the family. Spouses and children may feel like a “middle man” and forced to take sides. Family gatherings can be strained. “’Mother-in-law battles can poison family life,’ Dr. Sills, a family counselor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a special interest in the role of in-laws said. ‘It may start out as a feud between you and your mother-in-law but before you know it, your husband, kids, father-in-law and other relatives are also drawn into the conflict.’”[xviii] The in-laws we have are a part of the lives of the people we love. They want the assurance of enjoying continuing the family bonds with their children and grandchildren. A wife may not be best friends with her mother-in-law but it is important to have a good relationship with her.

However, when problems arise, setting aside a time to talk in a relaxed and stress-free setting is helpful. This is essential because, we tend to get hurt, angry and bitter by not being willing to talk the problem out in the relationship. We tend to believe that the problem will just go away or get better if we just say nothing. When we fail to clean out the lint screen on a clothes dryer, the lint becomes like a fire starter.  A fire is waiting to happen. When we allow unresolved hurts to fester, they can burn to the ground an in-law relationship. Dealing with hurt relationships can be a way not to destroying a relationship. Remember, bad news does not get better with time.

Mothers also like to be needed by their children even if just for a little bit.  A daughter-in-law may insinuate by her actions, “He doesn’t need you anymore; I can take care of all his needs now.” This situation leaves a mother trying to figure out just what her relationship is with her son. It is in the nature of a mother to want to help her children but now what she attempts to do is met by, “He doesn’t need this; I will take care of him.” A son needs to reassure his mother that he wants to continue a good relationship with her. A son can be loyal to his wife and be a good son.  A mother has to find a new relationship with her son.

How do we change all this mutual unease and damaged relationship? The Bible presents a prime example with the life of Naomi. The mother-in-law in the Bible who, like us, did not always get it right but was miraculously included in God’s plan for the lineage of Christ. Through many mistakes, God made it clear to me that I needed to study the biblical view of a mother-in-law. As we look at in-law relationships, it would not be complete without wisdom from God’s Word, God’s love and grace experienced in the book of Ruth. In the pages of Ruth, we have a beautiful example of faithful love between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law.

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[i] Apter, Terri, What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2009), p. 119.

[ii] Ibid. p. 9.

[iii] Dr. Olivia Slaughter and Dr. Jean Kubelun, Life as a Mother-in-law (Thousand Oaks: Sansevieria Press, 2008), p. 7.

[iv] Apter, Terry, What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2009), p. 56.

[v] Ibid. p.113.

[vi] Apter, Terri, What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,2009), p. 13.

[vii] Apter, Terri. What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2009)

[viii] Becky Sweat, How to Make Peace with Your Mother-in-law (Virtual Christian Magazine, 1997, accessed 8/20/09); available from http;//; Internet.

[ix] Forward, Ph.D, Susan, Toxic In-Laws (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001), p. 154.

[x] Ibid. p.17.

[xi] Forward, Ph.D, Susan, Toxic In-Laws (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001), p. 5-8.

[xii] Apter, Terri, What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009), p. XII.

[xiii] Judith Sills, quoted in Becky Sweat, How to Make Peace with Your Mother-in-law (Virtual Christian Magazine, 1997, accessed 8/20/09); available from http;//; Internet.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Kassian, Mary, Conversation Peace, (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2001), p. 78.

[xvi] Apter, Terri, What Do You Want From Me? (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2009), p. XVI.

[xvii] Barry, Jenna, A Wife’s Guide to In-Laws (Lexington: Lulu Publishing, 2008), p. 3.

[xviii] Judith Sills, quoted in Becky Sweat, How to Make Peace with Your Mother-in-law (Virtual Christian Magazine, 1997, accessed 8/20/09); available from http;//; Internet.


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How to Handle the Holidays with In-laws

How do we handle any of the holidays with In-laws? As each holiday is approaching, we think of so many different things. Who is going to come? Are we eating at home or are we eating out? What will be the schedule? It is probably almost comical to God that I am even writing this article. This mother-in-law has had a hard time with the holiday issue.

For many years in my married life, we tried to share the holidays with both families. We would eat Thanksgiving Dinner with the Autry’s on Thanksgiving Eve and with the Bennett’s on Thanksgiving. We would have Christmas Eve with the Autry’s and Christmas Day with the Bennett’s. When we lived long distances away, we would drive after Christmas to both families to have Christmas. For me, it was just natural that the time was shared. I took those thoughts into the in-law relationships after I became a mother-in-law. Which in the end, caused a huge struggle in my life. Did I say huge? I really mean Huge.

The first thing that will help you and me during the holidays is to accept the time you have or don’t have with your children, spouses and grandchildren at the holidays. This has been a long rode for me. I wanted the shared time with my children that we did during the holidays with our parents.  I wasn’t asking to be the favorite parent just to share in the time. My husband has told me many times, “do not expect anything and then you will be pleasantly surprised if something happens.” The expectations were there for me.  It was very important for me to have all the family to be together at Christmas. As children were married, I worked hard to have all the family together. At points this door was slammed before I could get my toe out of the way. The acceptance was a long rode for me and many years it was not there. I would cry from a broken heart. I worked to get everyone together.  I would plead and ask God for us all to be together just once at Christmas. Last year, it was just to be together once during the year. With the many no’s, came God’s comfort and assurance. He was going to be there regardless if all the children were or not. He would give me the peace I needed and heal my broken heart. If you want to handle the holidays well, lower your expectations with others and raise your expectations with God. Throw out the feelings of rejection and put in God’s comfort and peace. Accept the time you have or don’t have and enjoy God’s peace within.  “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)



The second thing that will help you and me in the holidays is to never go nuclear. When we do throw down the gauntlet, it is hard to recover and go forward in the relationship. There are many things that make it hard in in-law relationships. Deception and lies not only hurt but are hard to deal with. At points there is not another word to describe another’s behavior except meanness. I understand it hurts worst when someone in your family is being mean-spirited to you but just smile and nod with God’s love. I do realize there are issues of physical and sexual abuse that you do have to take a serious stand on. During family times concentrate on what you are responsible for. In the end, you are not responsible for the other persons actions, they are. You are to practice restraint and respond in kindness.  When we get into a heated argument, little is usually accomplished in relationships.  In Psalms 103, God tells us what are actions are to look like. “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him.” God models for us how we are to respond. It is very easy to respond in anger when we are mistreated and attacked verbally. God does not easily get angered. For us to be able to remain calm and respond in love takes a lot of prayer especially for me.  This means pray in the morning, in the noontime and all throughout the day. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve but as we do not deserve. We are to treat family with love even at times we feel they may not actually deserve it. I am so glad God doesn’t treat me the way I deserve sometimes. There are times when I am very ugly but God treats me with love anyway. When we look at relationships with our responsibility and God’s treatment of us, it makes it easier to smile, bite our tongue and walk away.




The third thing that will help you and me during the holidays is to remember that everything cycles. Relationships tend to cycle. The relationship that we thought was hard at the beginning may be easier several years later. The relationship you thought would never be a problem, may be the one five years later is a difficult relationship. Relationships take many different turns. Why? The easy answer is relationships are made up of imperfect people. Relationships are a work in progress that include many challenges along the way.  When relationships start many different things come into play past and present. This affects how a relationship start. As time goes along different people in the relationship work through the challenges and a relationship grows and molds together. This only happens when the relationship is not given up on. Relationships that tend to not have as many challenges in the beginning may develop challenges as the years go by through life events, unforgiveness and hidden things that arise. The challenges happen in any relationship but we often are surprised at when they happen or what it is over. Challenges can be talked through but that does not always work.  Sometimes what you want in a relationship has to be put on hold while you give the relationship some space. As you pray and accept the way the relationship is at that time then sometimes the relationship starts to have a little growth. When I was in tears over a relationship, my husband as assured me that everything cycles. As you are going through the holidays remember that the relationship that may be like walking through a mine field  may not always be that way.  Have hope and do not give up.

relationship work in progress

The fourth thing that will help you and me during the holidays with in-laws is don’t sweat the small stuff. There are plenty of big stuff that we may have to deal with during the holidays so don’t get hung up on the little things. This is coming from a woman who has made big deals out of little deals a plenty. In 2 Cor. 12:9, Paul says he boosts gladly about his weaknesses because of what God has done in his life. I can share with you about my failures because of what God has taught me in the midst of them. Just recently we were to be all together on Thanksgiving day. This was also a great time for a family picture, I thought. I asked my daughter about what the dress would be or what the colors would be. She replied, “Mom, just be thankful we are all going to be together. Don’t add to this.” Instead of sweating that the colors wouldn’t match or the dress would be all different, I was just thankful we were all together for a picture. To not get hung up on the little things take a thankful heart of the big and little things that happen. It is easy to get hung up on meals, schedules and people instead of being thankful for what is happening. There have been plenty of times I have been hung up on the number of people present instead of being thankful for the ones that were present.  Mother Teresa tells us, “We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love.” We need to realize that a lot of things are actually small and showing love through all the small things is huge in our life. We cannot change the past or predict the future. We can choose to make a difference in the here and now with a loving thankful heart on the small and big things that happen in the holidays with our family.




The fifth thing that will help you and me is not to get hung up on comparison expectations. What do I mean by this? Before and after the wedding the spouse expects the other parents to do holidays like their parents. They expect meals to be similar. They expect the family to be noisy or quiet depending on what they are used to. They expect the gift exchange to be done similar to what they grew up with, a lot of presents or a few. Some of the tension during the holiday season is due to the comparisons. The comparisons can be overwhelming to us as we find out the expectations on us for the holidays. The person doing the comparisons can become frustrated when there are so many changes. After all the persons involved have done Christmas the same or similar for many years, change can be hard for people especially the holidays. Holidays are sacred aren’t they. What do we do with all of these comparisons? For me, having five kids can bring a lot of comparisons into the holidays. With now three daughters-in-law and one son-in-law that have been added to the mix, we have been compared to many other parents on how we do the holidays. As parents we have formed our own holiday traditions over the years, so we may be very sensitive to the comparisons that start rolling in. It is easy to let emotions run high during the holidays. There are three things that have helped me to not get hung up on the comparisons. The first is prayer. Time spent discussing all the issues with God is huge. Be careful what you discuss with family, it can come back to bite you. The second is be open to changing some during the holidays. Changes may communicate that you understand and they may not. Even small changes help you know you are trying. The third thing is concentrate on the positives and not the negatives. It is easy to get hung up on the comparison expectations and not enjoy the holidays. Please take it from someone that has realized she is very different from the mothers that she is compared to, we have to be who God wants us to be and not the other mothers we are compared to. God has made you very unique. When we please Him, we do not get lost in trying to be another person. Enjoy the holidays with the blessings God gives you and do not let the comparison expectations take the joy out of the holidays.


This article was written from hurt, tears and many struggles of mine. I hope it will be a blessing to you as you navigate through the holidays.

When Are the Wedding Photos?

Wedding collage

When Are the Wedding Photos?

With five adult children and four of the children married, I have had a little bit of experience with wedding photos. Four of my five children are boys, so I have had the experience as Mom of the Bride and Mom of the Groom and as a bride myself. My experience starts as a bride in 1977 and runs through the experience of being the Mom of the Groom in 2017. Let’s just say all the experiences are totally different.

As a couple getting married, Rodney, my mother and I were trying to plan the perfect wedding including the photos (within budget that is). Rodney and I scheduled a new photographer that was starting out in photography. He was new, good and cheap which was a great combination for us. On the day of the wedding, he took photos during the wedding and all the couple and group photos right after the wedding while our guests went on to the reception. After the honeymoon, we went and looked at the photos. We picked what we wanted and then showed the proofs to all the parents. The parents decided what they wanted to buy, and we decided what we would give as gifts to family. Everything seemed to work out perfectly.

When my children started getting married, the issue of photos took different turns. I expected everyone to know what was going to take place. That was not always the case. I expected everything with photos to work out perfectly. That was not always the case either. I have learned that many times the key to life is being flexible. This goes with weddings also. To protect everyone and to keep me from getting in too much trouble with family, I will share the experiences without names and without being in order.

One of my experiences as a Mom with photos for a wedding started with asking questions. Who is going to take pictures? When were they taking group photos? A professional wedding photographer was hired to take all the photos. Group photos would be taken at different points of the day. We were going to be given a wedding photo and could also purchase photos from the photographer. The big day arrived. I had a camera ready, so I could take some photos before and after the wedding. I do recommend taking some photos yourself or having a person take photos for you of special moments that a professional photographer may not take. With having five children and many grandchildren, the weddings are full of family. I took photos of family before and after the wedding. After the wedding some group photos were taken, I asked when our family photo would be taken by the photographer. I was told, “Later.” During the reception, the photographer was busy taking photos. I asked several times when our family photo would be taken. I was told, “Later.” Our family photo was taken at the end of the reception with the bride and groom. When pictures were taken the little ones were tired and asleep, so the photo is with sleeping preschoolers. After the wedding, we were given the photographer’s link for the wedding photos, we could purchase whatever we wanted. The earlier family photos can be taken, the better. Having both families included when family photos are taken is better for all.

Yes, I have many stories to tell. The second experience starts the same: with questions. A professional wedding photographer was decided on months before the wedding. Emails were sent with a list of the photos the photographer would be taking. The day of the wedding, my phone was ready to take photos of special family moments. The photographer had the list of photos to be taken at the wedding. Both families knew they would have group family photos after the wedding ceremony. After the wedding, a coordinator helped the photographer move people in place quicker. During the family photos, a family member became angry. Normally during wedding photos, you hope everyone will be happy during the big day. Things don’t always go according to everyone’s expectation, but people normally try to be happy through the big event. One family member caused a happy occasion to turn tense. Some people who were around the anger were hurt. The photos could not end fast enough. The day moved on and we tried to make the day a happy one. When people react to something that is beyond your control, do all you can to be Christ-like and save relationships that could be damaged. After the wedding day, flashes of the wedding photos were sent to the parents and the wedding couple. This made it easier for family members to upload photos and print. The photographer also had online access to the photos with the availability to purchase photos.

The third experience with wedding photos I am sharing is totally different than the previous experiences, of course. One of the first questions is who is doing the wedding photos. It was not clear who was doing the photos. Closer to the wedding, it went back and forth if there was a photographer or not. The month before the wedding, I was informed that yes there was a photographer for the wedding. An email was forwarded to me to include family photos that I would like taken. It was nice to be included for my thoughts of family photos. The photographer’s name had not been given to me and I was unclear if I would be allowed to purchase photos. On the big wedding day, it was not clear when group photos would be taken. My phone was active before the wedding with plenty of family moments. After the wedding, group and family photos were taken in the church. I was thankful to have all family photos done at the same time. At the end of the wedding day, I was still unclear about the name of the photographer and seeing the photos he took. Professional photographers can be understandably protective of the photos they take. The month after the wedding, a flash with all the photos taken at the wedding were sent to us. This was a special surprise. I was so thankful to be given the photos of the wedding. Each family is different. There is not always a rule book for families to go by at weddings. Working together is huge at weddings for everyone involved.

The last experience I am sharing is different from all the others. As the wedding plans progressed for this wedding, I began to ask about which professional photographer was going to be chosen. The closer we moved to the wedding, the more I realized they were not using a professional photographer. Weeks before the wedding, we were informed that a person studying photography was going to be taking the wedding photos. As I began to ask more questions about when photos were to be taken, the questions went unanswered. On the day of the wedding, the camera was ready to take photos before the wedding of our family. After the wedding, we stood around waiting for when the family photos would be taken with the wedding couple. We were not told of a time or place. We went on to the reception. After the reception, we found out that family photos were taken after the ceremony, but our family were not included. We ended up with no family photos with the wedding couple. Weeks later I attempted to buy photos from the person who took the photos through a third party. It was communicated to me that photos could not be printed and purchased. At the end of weddings, sometimes we regret of how things turn out, but we must make the most of what we are given.

Why am I sharing my four experiences with you? My experiences with wedding photos are not perfect and yours may not be either. In many family events, we have certain expectations. If you read any of my experiences, it is obvious they were not always happy. With weddings, expectations and personalities from many people come into play. To have happier wedding photos at weddings, everyone must be willing to give up some expectations. We also must use that big word a lot: “flexible”. We must be flexible with the unknown, patient with the time and bear with one another. All the one another passages come into play in a wedding like love one another, forgive one another and be at peace with one another. As we work through wedding photos, move on past the hurtful and enjoy the good. Move pass the negative and enjoy the positive. Whether you have one wedding or ten weddings, make the most of the day you have been given. Every time realizing that God is sufficient to supply every need you have for each wedding day.





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