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Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law – by Heather Day Gilbert

I always like a family story, especially if it has a good mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. My favorite woman in the Bible is Naomi. She is the ultimate mother-in-law role model. Ruth’s promise to her – “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.   Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. – indicates a rather staggering level of commitment. That is love.

When I read Heather Day Gilbert’s Miranda Warning, I found a new heroine in Nikki Jo Spencer, the mother-in-law of the main character. She’s amazing.  I want to BE Nikki Jo. She gets even better in Trial by Twelve! So when it was time to write about Mothers Day, I thought of Heather, and she kindly agreed to share her thoughts about mothers-in-law . Thanks, Heather!

 

Happy Mothers Day… Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law

By Heather Day Gilbert

 

Yes, you read that title right. Despite popular opinion, some mothers-in-law are indeed good.

We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes that sometimes seem eerily accurate. The controlling MIL. The imperious MIL. The _________ MIL (add your own adjective).

But I also know that good mothers-in-law exist, because I HAVE one. And I constantly ask myself how I can be a good mother-in-law someday (yes, I think about things like this and I actually keep a list of things I want to do as a MIL and grandma, although given my lack of organizational skills, I might not stumble across that list before I’m dead).

As an author, it makes sense that I write both healthy and strained mother-in-law relationships. I thought about doing a rundown of all the MILs I’ve written (Thjodhild and Runa in God’s Daughter and Forest Child), Nikki Jo in Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, and Esther Sue McClure in Out of Circulation and the upcoming Undercut, but I decided to focus on Nikki Jo Spencer, because so far, she’s my favorite.

If you’ve read my books, you know I have no “perfect” characters. Each of my characters struggle with real-life issues, and mother-in-law Nikki Jo Spencer in A Murder in the Mountains series is no different. She has her foibles—she’s a bit of a gossip and she can be nosy—but she’s also solid gold when it comes to backing up her daughter-in-law Tess, no questions asked. She’s a superior cook and one of the wealthiest women in the small town of Buckneck, West Virginia, but you’d never know it by the way she treats everyone.

But I think the thing about Nikki Jo I’d like to emulate is this: she respects Tess and she loves her like her own.

That might look like bringing Tess a meal when she’s wiped out. That might look like letting Tess (a relentless sleuth) stay with her when a serial killer has discovered where she lives. Obviously the danger level is more dramatic in a mystery series than in real life, but I do think there’s something admirable about Nikki Jo and Tess’ relationship.

Nikki Jo’s personality isn’t the same as Tess’, which I think is often the case with MIL/DIL relationships. Nikki Jo is chipper and peppy. Tess is a realist and a risk-taker. But they have things they can learn from each other. Tess knows she carries the Spencer name now, and that means something special to her. She loves the family God allowed her to marry into.

I’m not saying MIL/DIL relationships are easy. I’m not saying they’re all ABLE to be as good as Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s. Sometimes boundaries have to be set, to maintain your own sanity (whether you’re a MIL or DIL). Not everyone is a Ruth and Naomi. And let’s face it—sometimes love looks like telling the truth in love so the air can be cleared.

But if you happen to have a loving mother-in-law like Tess Spencer does, be sure to tell her so this Mother’s Day. Let her know what a blessing her love is in your family’s lives. Celebrate this extra layer of love God has wrapped around you.

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Read more about Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s good in-law relationship in  in A Murder in the Mountains Mystery series.

LIMITED TIME OFFER:

Click HERE to get Miranda Warning FREE for Kindle. The audiobook is only $1.99. That’s a super deal for audiobooks! Be sure to pick it up soon, though, because this special offer ends on Memorial Day.

 

HEATHER DAY GILBERT

Heather Day Gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” Find out more on heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

 

 

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Doesn’t Dad Deserve a Mother’s Day?

bradkids711

It’s not fair.

We all know that moms and dads are equally important in their children’s lives, but the days we set aside to honor them – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – are very different. I read online (so it must be true) that Americans spend $7 billion dollars more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. The Hallmark cards are funnier on Father’s Day. Churches treat Mother’s Day with reverence and sensitivity and Father’s Day is an opportunity for sermons one “how to do it better.”  I know it probably bugs me more than it does the men, but it does bug me, so I wrote about it in one of my books. That’s an advantage of being an author. You can spout off your opinions and attribute them to fictional characters.

In my story “Baggage Claim,” Ben Taylor goes in search of his biological father. He finds Jonah Campbell,  who is delighted to learn that he has a son and four young grandchildren – and he especially likes the children’s nanny, Agatha. This is a scene between Agatha and Jonah, getting in the car after church on Father’s Day.

It’s a work in progress, before editing. Remember:  don’t judge books by the first draft!


“So.” Agatha’s voice was challenging. “What did you think of your first Father’s Day service?”

The children had been talking about Fathers Day all week, reveling in their secrets and nearly revealing them in the process. Jonah had been surprised to find himself included in the “father” category, but he loved it.

“It was good.” He tried to think of something more to say. “It was an encouraging message,” he said. “Lots of good ideas.”

“Yes, the pastor had a lot of advice. Did you pick up one of those papers in the back? The ones listing additional resources for learning to be a good father?”

She was trying to make a point. Had he missed something? “I got one for Ben. It looked like it was directed more to the younger dads, but some of it would probably apply to me, too, with the boys.”

“It was terrible!” The words burst out of her, startling him. He’d thought it was good – an old-fashioned exhortation.

“You didn’t like it?”

“Oh, it was fine. But why today?”

“It’s Father’s Day.” It made sense to him. He buckled his seat belt and flipped up the sun visor.

Agatha gave him an exasperated look, the one she usually directed at Ben. “What kind of church service do you see on Mothers Day?”

Was it a trick question? Jonah opened his mouth to say that he didn’t usually pay attention to Mothers Day sermons, hoping to make a joke of it and diffuse her irritation, but she didn’t wait for a response.

“Mothers get nothing but praise. It’s not a lecture on how to be a better mother. Can you imagine how well it would go over if the pastor said, ‘Step up, Mothers. Scripture tells us you need to be a nurturing influence in your children’s lives. Don’t let your busy life be an excuse for failing to train them up.’ And then telling them he has a list of helpful books and websites for them?”

He choked on laughter. She didn’t stop. “And laying on a guilt trip, even telling them they need to meet their husband’s needs first. Can you imagine? No, Mothers get nothing but admiration. Fathers get jokes and lectures. It’s not fair!”

It was an insightful perspective. Jonah’s laughter died. “When Cindy and I went to church, they always made a point of including everyone. Like aunts and babysitters. They always mentioned that some women weren’t able to become pregnant, or had lost children or their mother had died.”

“Right! You don’t hear that on Father’s day.” Agatha said. She mimicked a southern preacher, “And we want to remember today that there are many men who are hurting because they are not yet fathers.”

“No, I didn’t hear that today,” Jonah said. “You’re right. But it’s good to have a sermon on fatherhood. Some of us need help.”

“Not on Fathers Day. It’s supposed to be a day to honor fathers, not nag them or make them feel guilty.”

“True!” He started the truck and entered the train exiting the church parking lot. “You should have a talk with Pastor Martin.”

“Maybe I will.”

He looked at her elegant profile. Maybe she would.


None of my guys are overly-sensitive. They would all rather have a grilled burger for Father’s Day than beautiful cards, flowers and chocolate. Too much gushiness would embarrass them and make them wonder what I’m up to. But I do want to show them respect and honor them for their dedication to loving and training up their children.

What makes your man feel valued and respected on Father’s Day?