When anyone first clicks on my blog, there is a picture right there on the home page staring right at the viewer. It is shot of our family that we took this past Thanksgiving right before we carved the turkey. Several readers who have learned about our sons and their antics in the articles but do not know our family personally have subscribed to the blog and have inquired through e-mail as to which son is which in the picture. To clear up any confusion, the son on the far left is Matt  (who we call Matty) , the son in the middle of the picture and directly to my right is our middle son Ben, and our oldest son who is a pastor and who I recently wrote about in the article entitled “The Boy That I knew is not the Man That I Know” is seated at the far right as one looks at the picture. They are all young men that my husband and I are thankful for and very proud of. Our daughter Kasey is the beautiful brunette that is on the floor in front of the rest of us and to my husband and I, she is delight of our lives.

 

Today however, I will not be focusing on any of our four children but on the three precious daughters-in-law that have joined our crazy family. Heather, Stephanie, and Lindsay are all sitting on their husbands’ laps in the photo. Countless folks have remarked to us that they look like sisters or at the very least related to each other in some way. We agree and realize it is uncanny how much they resemble one another in appearance. I tell folks that they are beautiful on the outside but more importantly, they are beautiful on the inside which is so much more crucial. On several occasions , people have remarked to me that we are very “lucky” to have had our sons find and marry such sweet girls. I know that folks are only good intentioned when they tell us this but each and every time they do, I am quick to respond that luck really had nothing to do with it. Prayer, however had everything to with it.

 

        As a Christian, I know that the most important decision that anyone can make next to their salvation is the mate that they will choose to spend their life with. From the time that our boys were very little, I have prayed diligently for God to bring His girl into their path in His timing. I cannot say that I prayed that prayer daily when our boys were small however I most definitely did from the day that they went off to college. I was amazed at how many times the Lord answered specific prayers regarding these girls when my sons were dating them and today I am thankful for each of them. They give peace to a mom’s heart knowing that they are being the completer and help meet to my sons in the way that God intended them to be. They each have personality traits that compliment the weaknesses and strengths of their husbands and what amazes me more than anything, is the fact that they plowed ahead and joined our crazy family even after they had a chance to know all of us!

 

Our family is direct, boisterous, loud, and very expressive. If we are all together and something is bothering one of us or if one family member says something that doesn’t hit another family member the right way, we speak up. We can have some “knock down –drag out” family discussions and arguments that could be quite overwhelming to each of these young ladies as they were dating the boys and becoming more familiar with the whole family. There have been more than a few times where opinions were being known in typical Hastings fashion where the girls simply sat and shrunk down without saying a word. I do not claim our family dynamics to be the best or right way to be, it is just who we are. Not all families operate in this manner, in fact I would say that there are more families who are quiet, reserved, and non verbal than there are ones who lay it all out on the table. It took some getting used to for each of our sons’ wives not to be overwhelmed at times with the raucous tone of our home and I applaud each of them for hanging in there like real troopers. I do not mean to paint a picture of mean spirited unleashed anger that causes rifts and deep hurts within a family, it is quite the opposite. Usually, if there is a misunderstanding or family blow up of some sort, we continue to talk it out, express our view and then forgive, forget and keep on loving one another. I share this not to hold us up as the ideal example but to perhaps be an encouragement to other large extended families out there who also encounter conflicts from time to time. We have a sign on our back porch that says “Family is precious, Protect it Always.” I just recently had this sign made but we have tried our best to practice it all along. There is just no disagreement, no difference, no problem that is worth causing a rift or a break in our family. What I love about these three precious girls that have been added to us through marriage is that they each naturally possess a calm and kind spirit that just makes it easy and sweet to be this way. They bring closeness, not division which is such an incredible gift to us. I have often told many of my friends that they put me to shame in the areas of being laid back and gentle. Any of my friends who know me well can attest to the fact that I would never be described as a very calm, cool, and collected person. On the contrary, I can be quite intense, high strung and reactive which I pray about on a daily basis to overcome. The addition of these three young ladies to my life and to our family’s life has been quite refreshing and calming at the same time. I thank our attentive and concerned Lord for so specifically answering my many years of prayers for each of them.

 

        Today was nothing more really than just sharing from my heart how grateful I am for Heather, Stephanie, and Lindsay. Knowing them, I am sure they are each somewhat embarrassed and blushing as they read today’s blog because that is just the way they are. They do not like attention drawn to them or to be publicly praised yet I felt the need and desire to honor them today in my writing. They are truly a gift and a blessing that I will never take for granted. Maybe my story of how each of them are answers to fervent prayers can also be an encouragement to other parents who are traveling down the same road desiring God’s will for their children. My daughters-in-law are not perfect, (only my grandchildren fit that label..ha) but they are most assuredly God’s perfect answer to many years on my knees. Heather, Steph, and Lindsay…thank you for who each of you are. You have made this mom a grateful and happy lady!