As we wrap up our book group from this summer, “Making Room for Her: Biblical Wisdom for a Healthier Relationship with Your Mother-in-law or Daughter-in-law”, I want to take a moment and share a tribute to my mother-in-law, Carolyn Stephens, as I consider some of the teachings from the book.

She exemplified and lived out many of the attributes that our book group selection encouraged for mothers-in-law or those of us who may be in that role one day.

As a child who lost her father at age 12 and as the oldest of 4 children, she could have easily let that loss define her and negatively impact her life…. but she did not.

She went to work at a young age to help provide for her family and along the way learned lots of valuable information in business, journalism, and eventually human resources.  She had lots of interests, hobbies and served her local church family faithfully for 40+ years.

She was always a full-time working wife and mother who raised two very self-sufficient sons, who became godly men and helpful husbands from her prayers and influence.

She was a completely selfless person, who always put herself last, sometimes to her detriment.  She never sought her own way, never thought more highly of herself, and was very sensitive to the people in her life.

And that selfless sensitivity translated to her relationship with me and my sister-in-law. Carolyn had two sons so when two daughters entered the family, she must have been elated! She treated us respectfully, never seeking her way, never demanding anything of us.

She was equitable to a fault and showed that in how she treated us, the gifts she gave, and the time she spent with us and our children.  She loved us all very well and very equally.

You might ask, how does someone relate to others in these ways? 

You see those attributes came from her relationship with Christ.  She knew that He had loved her extravagantly, that He had served her selflessly, and that He had extended untold grace to her…. therefore, she could give all that away in her own life.

As the author of our book group selection says: “But the way of humility looks to serve the other person, whether your expectations are fulfilled. Sadly, when each woman is focused on what the other should be doing, they both lose out on getting to know each other.”

I can honestly say, she never focused on what we were not doing but celebrated the positive things in our lives.  She was consistently faithful to ask about our work, our own families and always had an open door to her home and her life.  She had that “gentle and quiet spirit” that again, only comes from a relationship with Christ.

I was blessed that we never had a disagreement, cross word, or strife in any way.  I know that is unthinkable for many people and I am so grateful for our relationship.

If you do not have that type of relationship with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, maybe you consider this question:

“How can my words help lighten her load or create a moment of safety and intimacy?

No matter your relationship with your mother-in-law, consider this:

“Your in-law was purposefully created to be the mother of your husband or the wife of your son.  It was no accident.  If you believe these things in a general sense, you must believe it about her.  After all, wouldn’t you want her to believe these things about you?” Barbara and Stacy Reaoch

In closing, let me encourage you to consider where do you need to “Make Room for Her” in your relationships?  Maybe it is a mother or daughter-in-law, maybe it’s a co-worker, neighbor, or friend? To whom do you need to extend grace, serve selflessly, or open your heart and home to, just a little, to someone who might be a little hard to love?

If your “hard to love” person is not a believer, our book group selection has an excellent chapter on “What if she is not a Christian?”

I would encourage you to pick it up soon, ask for it on your Christmas list and maybe even find a friend walking the same road and plan some coffee times together in the new year to discuss this topic together.

If this is an area you need encouragement or want to talk or pray over a particular relationship in your life, please email me at

I pray those of us with young adult children entering these years of becoming a mother-in-law, see the wonderful opportunity we have, to extend grace, serve selflessly and live in a manner that is attractive to that new daughter in our family one day.

I pray those of us who will become a daughter-in-law one day will do the same with our potential mother-in-law one day.

For those of you who are single and not sure if you will be a daughter-in-law or have a mother-in-law one day, I would encourage you to become that person now.  Become a woman who extends grace daily, serves selflessly and lives in a manner that is attractive to those around her.

Thank you to our authors of “Making Room for Her”, Barbara and Stacy Reaoch, for making us think and challenging us to be women who make room for others in our lives.

Dawn Stephens