Problems with Happiness?






Problems with Happiness
Does problems determine your happiness? To be truthful, I have let problems determine my emotions. We all have problems. We all lose loved ones. We all deal with illness at some point in our life. Some of us share problems with children, finances, jobs and church. I could go on and on about problems we share. How can we be happy in the midst of our problems? How are other people happy with all the problems they have? Several years ago, I allowed problems to drive me into depression. I was trying to handle them all by myself. Which is the enemy’s plan by the way. It was not until I realized that God was my only hope to pull me out of the pit I was in that things started to change. When I realized that I needed Him and His Word to survive then and only then did God begin to heal my heart. When healing started, forgiveness and freedom followed. Between 2001-2003, I learned how to be happy in the midst of my problems. God was the key. God is always the key. He unlocked my mess and opened up happiness in the midst of my problems. Problems didn’t disappear but ugly parts of me did. A trade from God.

The Deserted Feeling


The Deserted Feeling by Lynn Autry


Do you feel deserted sometimes? Paul did. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:15, “You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.” Paul felt deserted. Paul was suffering for the cause of Christ. He had worked hard and now he felt deserted. Desertion is a feeling we have as parents sometimes. For whatever reason or excuse, relationships sometimes become distant with one or more of our children. We may try to be close but the other person in the relationship is not willing to make the effort to improve the relationship. As a parent, we can feel abandoned by an adult child. The “after all I have done for you” pity party creeps in.

When this happens, remember that everyone has not deserted you. Paul had not been deserted by everyone. He later sends greetings to friends in the same region. Most importantly, God has not deserted you. Whatever happens good or bad with our family, God is always there to hold your hand and comfort you. He has not abandoned or deserted you. In Psalms 73: 23, God says, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” How awesome is that? Whatever happens with our children and family, God is always there. If your children call you or not. God is always with you. If your children see you are not, God is always there. If your children acknowledge you on Mother’s Day, God is always there. You get picture. When you feel deserted, God is always there. You are not deserted, feel his closeness today with the other people in your life.

When this happens, remember that everyone has not deserted you. Paul had not been deserted by everyone. He later sends greetings to friends in the same region. Most importantly, God has not deserted you. Whatever happens good or bad with our family, God is always there to hold your hand and comfort you. He has not abandoned or deserted you. In Psalms 73: 23, God says, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” How awesome is that? Whatever happens with our children and family, God is always there. If your children call you or not. God is always with you. If your children see you are not, God is always there. If your children acknowledge you on Mother’s Day, God is always there. You get picture. When you feel deserted, God is always there. You are not deserted, feel his closeness today with the other people in your life.


God will not abandon

Stuck in the Middle by Lynn Autry


stuck in the middle




Stuck in the Middle

Who likes being in the middle? Middle children complain about being in the middle. We definitely do not want to be in the middle of arguments or fights. We tend to like the beginnings and endings. We tend to want to rush through the middle of a good book to get to the end.

In the story of Mary and Martha in John 11, these two women found themselves stuck in the middle. They started their day with just a sick brother as they carried out their day. They had the normal cooking, cleaning, washing and caring for a sick brother. When Lazarus became progressively worst, it was time to call for Jesus. He did make house calls. Jesus made the decision to wait and then Lazarus died. These women found themselves struck in the middle. Their day had began like a normal day with their brother and now he was dead. Jesus had not came to change their circumstances. They were in the middle.

We have relationships that seem to start out great and then one day bam. The relationship will seemingly take a turn for the worst. Something will happen or not happen to make the relationship stall out. We find ourselves stuck in the middle. The middle is when doubts pour in and we want to hear a word from God to carry on. The middle is when a relationship with a daughter-in-law is put on hold. The middle is when someone close quits talking and you don’t know why. The middle is when a loved one is told she has cancer or a child rebels against God.  Mary and Martha did not know anything to do but continue through their day and wait.  When we are in the middle of relationships that have stalled out, we have to continue our normal activity and wait.

In John 11:14-15, “Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”(The Message) The relationship now is dead but keep looking around the corner. Christ is going to give you new grounds for believing while you are in the middle. It is easy to stall out emotionally in the middle. Thomas told Jesus for them to  go and die with him. When relationships look bleak, it is easy to throw in the towel and quit. As Thomas said, “we might as well die with him.” It is easy to want to just quit and let the relationship die. Jesus says in the middle is when I give you new belief. How awesome is that. Mary and Martha were in the middle but Jesus was going to give them new belief.

In the midst of this new belief that is right pass the middle, Jesus intends to show us who He is. Jesus told Martha, “I am, the resurrection and the life. The middle is not just about ending or pain. It is about believing in Jesus and looking to him for what He is going to teach us. Mary and Martha had already decided to believe in Jesus so in the middle of their pain and death, they could wait on their belief that Jesus was coming. Jesus was coming to give them the assurance that if they believed in Him they would live and have eternal life. He was coming to show them the glory of God. He was coming  for their faith to flourish. Jesus comes to us in the middle to give us life and belief in the middle.

Instead of looking at the middle negatively, which is easy to do. Look for the new ground for believing that God is giving you. Look for who He is and watch the glory unfold in your life. Being stuck in the middle is not all bad. There is a ending that you do not want to miss. There will be a day with no more middles, pain and tears. God has the perfect ending to every middle we have. Just hang in there through the middle, there is more believing for you.

Yes, No or Maybe




Yes, No, Maybe. I heard a direct sales person say that in sales, we have people that says yes, no and maybe. He said the “maybes” expend so much energy from us. We work so hard at trying to turn the maybes into yes. I think we become exhausted trying to turn our maybes into yes. No, I am not a good mother-in-law today. No, you are not a good mother-in-law. Yes, I am a good mother-in-law today. Yes, you are a good mother-in-law. Maybe, I am a good mother-in-law today. Maybe, you are a good mother-in-law. We spend so much energy trying to turn our maybes into yes. We want to please and have a good relationship with our daughter-in-law and son-in-law.

We need to realize that on every day left to ourselves we are not going to succeed in this role of mother-in-law. We will make mistakes. Are they mistakes? I don’t think it matters. Some will be and some will not be. Some will even be sin. If the other person in the relationships believes them to be mistakes. They are in their eyes. So no, we are not a good mother-in-law.

How do we move from a no to a yes? Through God’s grace.  God makes us good. He takes our sins and makes them white as snow. He takes our no and makes it into a yes. He moves us from rags to cleanliness. You see all the goodness that is in us is all because of Him. The only way I am ever a good mother-in-law is just because of Him. I can stay a no. I can stay defeated or try to be exhausted in the middle with a maybe or I can realize that He turns me into a good mother-in-law.

I have been the mother-in-law that went through the exhaustion of “Am I good mother-in-law today or am I a bad mother-in-law today?”. Many days I have wondered how to turn my No into a maybe or even a Yes for the day. When we realize that whatever role we have on our shoulders, God turns us into good. When He sees us as good, then that is what really matters.  When we know that God has taken us and washed us and made us acceptable to Him then that is a Yes. Instead of being exhausted over trying to make me a maybe or a yes in the eyes of in-laws, I will take knowing that God has made be a Yes, I am good in His eyes. He has washed me, forgiven me, cleaned me up and made me a Yes.


Isaiah 1 18

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 few 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. One of the earliest sayings about in-laws shows a poor view of a mother-in-law. According to this sixteenth-century saying found in the Oxford English Dictionary, “Mothers-in-lawes beare [sic] a stepmother’s hate unto their daughters-in-lawes,[sic]. 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 33+ 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 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 by definition each person is different from each other then 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 hard time letting go especially if it is her first son to get married. Mothers-in-law may also have a hard 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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Where Do I Go To Quit by Lynn Autry



looking unto Jesus




Do you have those days that you are ready to quit? I have those days. Days when you do not meet the expectations of others or they do not meet yours. The pressures get heavy. Nothing seems to be running smoothly. Quitting is looking pretty good. In Hebrews 12, the writer says we are to ” run with endurance the race that lies before us”. On difficult days, my mind says “run, I can’t even crawl right now”. So what is running anyway? Running is to move beyond where you are. It is to escape. It is to go steadily by spring steps so that both feet leave the ground. When we move, something happens. The Bible says we start enduring. We are then able to withstand the hardships in our life. We move and then we endure.

So how do I start to move to what is before me? The next verse is the key. The writer of Hebrews says, “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” We have to look to Jesus. It is easy to look at what is not right in our life. This can be very demanding of our time. The writer says to take our eyes off of what is wrong in our life and look to what is right. Jesus is the perfect in our life. He is the author of our faith. He is the author of the plan of our life. When we have many holes in our life, Christ fills our holes. He fulfills us.

We can look to Jesus who took on the battle of sin for us and endured the pain of the cross. There is nothing we will face that will compare to what Christ did for us. We can have joy and feel joy on a day you want to quit by looking to Jesus. He kept His eyes on the Father’s plan for Him. He moved toward the cross. When His life got hard, He endure the cross for us. This is what moves us forward when quitting looks really good. This is what gives us joy.