My son Jackson told me a few weeks ago after reading an old blog post that he's thankful I write this stuff down here, in case anyone ever wants to read it. (Tip for my kids: find more posts like this one kinda-mostly organized over here. You're welcome. Sorry it's a bit of a mess but, well… you know me.) 🙂 If you're here only for the deals, scoot on past to the next penny pinched post. ❤️
My sweet mother-in-law passed away early yesterday morning in the midst of Amazon Prime Day madness, Co-vid craziness, and my-kid-just-had-bigger-than-I-expected-surgery overwhelm. It made me take a step back and pause for a moment, and take a much needed deep breath.
I met James's mom Jennie when I was just nineteen, and she was one of so very many kind gifts God's shared with me. She taught me a few of the best things any mother-in-law could ever teach, so I'm writing them here, hoping I'll remember them myself one day. 🙂
Jennie showed me how to paint a wall, the best way to re-upholster dining room chairs and how to plan a big Thanksgiving meal.
This was Jennie fluffing up her hearth a few years ago. We had so much fun decorating together!
She showed us how to make the absolute best turkey dressing, deviled eggs, and strawberry pie.
(She actually taught my hubby how to make those things, which was way better than teaching me.)
She helped me wallpaper, designed and built the most lovely cornice boards so our tiny ranch “felt” fancy, and spent a whopping seven hours straight cleaning out my mess of an oven right after my youngest kiddo was born.
She even taught James how to be a seriously gifted landscaper, and for that I will always be grateful. 🙂
As my husband and I were talking today, there are so very many things she taught us along the way, but these were a few of my favorite lessons she shared.
1. Learn to paint.
I can't even count how many rooms Don and Jennie helped us paint as we were fixer-upper-ing our first few homes. We painted brown-paneled walls in our first family room (she showed me KILZ worked best on stubborn-bleed-through-paint stains), wallpapered the dining room, and we spent hours and hours poring over Waverly patterns at Hancock's of Paducah searching for just the right yard of fabric on a penny-pinched budget.
(Those were my favorite Saturday mornings. James and his dad would take care of our small kids, and Jennie and I spent hours walking up and down aisles of the most perfect fabric dreaming up pretty window coverings. Then we'd hustle to Hobby Lobby for a quick….ish? trip, and head home before lunch. Her best tip? A cornice board looked fancy but took hardly any fabric at all, so it was a great way to fake expensive looking design on a frugal family's dime.) 🙂
She showed me to make “W's” in the paint with a roller as I painted, taught me that the length of almost any paint roller can be extended by spinning it into a broom handle, and that when you make two “L's” out of your thumb and forefinger, hold them “just so” to make a square and step back a smidge, you can envision what a new paint color will look like on your wall.
She also showed me that true white is on the back of every paint chip, so always compare to that when picking out paint. And you should ALWAYS paint trim white. And ALWAYS go lighter on paint, because when it gets on the walls it'll alllll feel darker. Thank you Jennie for that!
2. Splurge on the important stuff.
Jennie in most ways was pretty frugal, but she splurged on the important stuff.
One day we were talking about mashed potatoes, and she was pretty much convinced you couldn't whip up a bowl of mashed potatoes without a Kitchenaid. (As a girl who'd never even seen a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer in real life until she was twenty, I was pretty sure mashed potatoes worked just fine with a regular $7-hand-held Sunbeam. But, it sure felt better when her Kitchenaid did all the work.)
She aways had the right cleaning supplies, the best cookware, the cleanest Pyrex, and the most perfect stainless I'd ever seen.
She shined her silver every Thanksgiving, then tucked it carefully into pretty blue bags a few days after the family feast.
She had her table linens laundered at her local dry cleaner (to support them of course!), then rolled onto a big cardboard roll to save them from wrinkling.
(Seriously the most genius idea ever. I've tried to find a local dry cleaner now to support as a happy gift to myself, but sadly folks don't do that often these days!)
3. Be a Mary.
If you've hung out at PPP long at all, you've maybe figured out that I'm a much better Martha than I'll ever be a Mary. (Not sure who Mary and Martha are? Read Luke 10:38-42.)
Jennie was simply a lovely Mary. When her kids or family or friends (or even a solicitor selling a vacuum . . . ) stopped at her door, she immediately stopped everything to simply be present with the person there.
As a true Martha at heart, it sometimes aggravated me (my nature often thought “goodness Jennie… can't you see there's work to do?”) But when anyone walked in her home, Jennie dropped all the work, the cooking, the cleaning, and the dishes ~ to care simply for those around her well.
This Martha needs to follow her lead a little more each day.
Jennie lived as a cheerleader. (I'm so thankful that my hubby James has that gift too).
She always said her kids, grandkids and husband were simply amazing.
She rarely criticized them.
She bragged on her family, spoke it right out loud, both for me and all those she loved.
More than anything else though, Jennie taught me the precious gift of making others truly feel valuable, worthy and included, something I sure hope to pass on to my own bunch one day. (This one's not easy for me to do naturally, but for her it simply came from the inside).
She never-ever-never once made me feel intimidated, which was such a gift since I'm pretty much intimidated by everyone. (WHEW.)
So thank you Jennie, for being the sweetest mother-in-law this wee-bit-lost-nineteen-year-old girl could have ever asked for. From the moment we met, you welcomed me with open arms, and for that I am so very grateful.
Thank you for always cheering me on, graciously inviting me into your home and your family, and maybe most of all for all those hours you spent hanging out with me and a can of fresh paint. 🙂
(And goodness. Thank you for teaching me that a big ole' bowl of mashed potatoes absolutely DO require a Kitchenaid.)
“Teach me to feel another's woe, to hide the faults I see.
That mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.”
Thank you truly for modeling a beautiful life so very generously ~ I am forever thankful. ❤️
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This sounds like a rare relationship with a mother in law and a gift from God. Sweet that you enjoy the memories!
She sounds like a lovely woman. You were truly blessed by having her as a MIL. I offer my condolences to your family.
Beautiful. Prayers for all of you.
I am so very sorry for your family’s loss. I could tell by your post she was good to you as a Mother in law and now when your children get married you have an amazing example to follow. God bless you all and I pray you will find comfort in your memories.
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted Matthew 5:4
I too was blessed with the best MIL, although she did not care for me at first, we had a great friendship soon after! She was just like yours! My deepest sympathy to you and yr family! Hold them precious memories close to yr heart!
I’m so sorry for your loss. Your mother in law sounds like she was an amazing person! I’m sure she will be greatly missed.
Margaret Slaughter says
So sorry for your lose of your Mother In Law. She sounded like a very blessed woman.
Maria Aleman says
So sorry for your loss, my condolences for your family.
So sorry for your loss. You’re mother in law seemed like an amazing woman.
Thank you so much!
What an amazing woman and mother-in-law she seems to have been…a true blessing who all who knew her. Prayers for your family.
Trish Swierenga says
So sorry to hear of your sweet Mother in Law’s passing. She sounds lovely. Praying God presence and comfort your family.
Cyndie Bradtke says
So sorry for the loss of a beautiful, caring, and loving mother in law. Please tell JamesIm sorry for the loss of his mom . Its very hard to lose a parent but she sounds like an angel on earth. What a fantastic person she sounds like and your family was so luckyto have her. Now you have all the gifts she taught you and all the memories you shared. And they are good ones so when you think of her you will find yourselves smiling. Will be praying for your family.
I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful woman and had such a big impact on your life. I lost my dad a few months ago and it was really hard because we were in the height of the pandemic-no visitation at the hospital. I’m praying for you and your family.
Wendy Smith says
What beautiful cherished memories you have to share. Blessings and prayers to your family at this difficult time.
Carol Catto says
I am so sorry for your loss. Your tribute is beautiful. She sounds like a beautiful woman inside and out. Prayers for your family.
Suzanne Ferenczy says
Dear Laurie and family,
I am challenged to be more like your mil… I am the kind of person that can be critical in my heart and it affects my relationships. To be a cheerleader? Wow, that’s such a foreign concept but I can see how beautiful it is when you explain her life so well. I too have a wonderful wonderful mother in law… it’s time to tell her how precious she is to me even tho she might know it.
I’m so sorry to hear this. She was truly a priceless gift. Unfortunately, I do not have such a warm and welcoming relationship with my mother in law. May you cherish all the memories and all she taught you and your family. Praying for all of you.
Such beautiful words to honor her memory! It also says a lot about you. 🙂 We lost both of my husband’s parents this year. February and April. They lived next door to us. His condition made it difficult to “find time to grieve” after she passed, and he passed away during the initial height of the pandemic. No visitation or public service for him. Churches were not meeting. Schools were closed. Zero normal. Not having regular interaction with our extended family and church family nearly halted our healing completely. Things have come around in the last few months. We’ve learned so much this year and have been reminded over and over that God surely does have a plan for everything and He is still in control. Please make a conscious effort to see your friends, talk when you need to, and don’t be the hero for your sweet family. You are important too! Prayers and love to you all! God bless.
Crystal Burks says
So sorry for your family’s loss. Beautiful tribute.
Tania Cowling says
You wrote a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing. My condolences to your family.
Debbie Silvas says
So sorry for your loss prayers for the family and your husband
Love and prayers for you and the family at this time of loss. Let the Lord carry you at this time as you grieve. Remember all of us here on this end are thinking of you and praying for your family.
She sounds like an incredible person! Prayers for you and your family
I am praying for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute you have written about your mother-in-law. She sounds like an amazing woman. (It sounds like we could all learn from her how to be a “Mary”). May you and your family feel God’s presence and grace in the coming days. Thank you for sharing.
What a sweet woman. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing such a lovely, kind, positive message about this amazing woman in your family. Sending lots of love. She left a mark.
Amy Standifer says
Laurie, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a special relationship to treasure with wonderful memories made together!
Praying that the Lord will wrap his arms around you like a warm blanket and that you will experience His peace…that surpasses all understanding.
What a beautiful tribute to a special person. May the Lord comfort you all during this time.
Wow! That was a beautiful tribute to your lovely mother-in-law. I’m so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in all the wonderful and cherished memories of her ❤
Praying for you, James and the whole family. She was obviously a one in a million mother in law and person.
What a wonderful tribute! I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother in-law. I am adding you and your family to my prayers. ❤
Tonya Bratsch says
That was so beautiful! It made me cry for your heartache. So very sorry for your loss. What a treasure she sounds like.
May God hold you tight and comfort you. You were truly Blessed with an incredible Mother in Law. I am so sorry for your loss…
Your are truly blessed to have had such a wonderful mother-in-law. What a beautiful gift she was to you.
Embrace your memories of her- write them down so you can continue to share them with her grand kids.
Watch for the God winks you receive to let you know she is watching over all of you ❣️
Thank u so such for sharing this! She sounds like she was a beautiful person. So sorry for your loss.
So sorry for your loss. She was a blessing.
I too had a wonderful mother in law who raised an amazing son. I am so sorry for the loss to your family. You wrote a wonderful loving tribute for a woman who was so important to you.
May God hold you all in the palm of His hand in the coming days.
My sweet Laurie truly sorry for your loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you n your family during this time of pain and sorrow . What a beautiful tribute you wrote in her fond memory. Blessings
Bless your heart ❤️❤️ What a beautiful tribute To your mother in law. Your story reminds me so much of my own gift from God whom I’m forever grateful for . You will always be reminded of her mentoring, her example, and her Godly character. You will want to pass along those words of wisdom, encouragement and love for others that you saw in her life-as you are now. I can’t think of a better thing to leave your loved ones than a legacy of a life lived for Christ✝️✝️ May God comfort you during this difficult time.
So sorry for your loss of part of your precious tribe ❤️ I found myself crying as I read through your tribute of Jennie’s beautiful legacy. I lost my mom in 2018 & she too was a Mary ❤️ They sounded very similar right down to the needlepoint May God bring comfort to all of you as you walk through grief
So so sorry for your loss. Read you words & pretty sure she felt as lucky to have you in her life. I have lost both parents on both sides, all Aunts & Uncles as well. I’m now considered the elder one & I can only hope my kids & their spouses see me in the way you saw her. Sending prayers & hugs.
What a beautiful lady and a gift she was to you all. My Dad was killed in a car accident 3 weeks ago . I find great joy in remembering all the great lessons my Dad taught me. Grief is hard ..God is good and will carry us through…THROUGH is my favorite word in scripture..He carries us THROUGH….
Laurie, what a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. I hope my daughter-in-love will have kind things to say about me when I am gone. Praying for your family in this time of loss.
Debbie Book says
So sorry for your loss of such a pre ious mother -in-law. She left you with so many beautiful memories that she will always be there with you.
Stephanie N says
Beautiful! So very sorry for your enormous loss! Thankful God saw you worthy of her presence and love! God’s Peace!
Cindy Howard says
What a beautiful tribute for your mother in law! Praying for your family at this time.
You were so lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law. What wonderful memories and lessons you have. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family.
Peggy Todd says
Prayers for you and your entire family including all who loved Jennie. What lovely words you have spoken of her, making me wish I had known her. I’m sorry for your great loss. May you find peace ad comfort in the coming days as your broken hearts heal. ❤️
What a beautiful tribute to her. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.
So very sorry of the loss of your dear Morher-in -Law. What you wrote about her was beautiful. Praying for you and your loved ones❤️
So sorry for your loss, Hise Family. Thank you for sharing her wisdom with your readers. What a legacy she has left for you and your children! ❤️
Prayers to you and your family! Are you going to share some of the best recipes she taught you to make??
I hope I can be like a Jennie when my boys get married
What a beautiful tribute to your MIL. She sounds like she was a wonderful, caring, helpful and loving woman. The kind we should all strive to be. So very sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family as you go through this sad time.
Praying for your heart and your family right now.
Barb Brown says
What a testimony to a life well-lived! Praying you find peace and comfort in the days ahead!
How very special to have those sweet memories. Jeanie sounds like an amazing woman. My deepest condolences to you and your family.
Karen b says
Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart today. She sounds like a truly special beautiful lady. Prayers
Beautifully written. May God hold you all close during this most difficult time.
Ronda Johnson says
She sounds like she was a gift from God to your entire family. How blessed you are to have someone so special! Prayers to your family.
Suzy Colburn says
Such beautiful words about Jennie! She was all those things and more! She was such an amazingly, talented lady that always shared her faith with me! She was always so proud of you and was so grateful that you were in the family! Praying for comfort for you and your family! ❤️
She truly was Suzy – we were all so very blessed by her (and I am forever thankful!)
Wow, you got a fantastic mother in law. I hope to be just like her when I am a mother in law
She truly was a gift to me ~ I am so thankful!
Praying for your dear family!!! ❤️
Thank you so much Elise – I’m so thankful for her!