Sunday night, facing the last week in Birmingham. Aw! But yay! -sigh-

As I look around the house, piled high with boxes, I must take a moment to thank my in-laws. They had three of my kids all week last week, and it was a tremendous help. There’s no way I could have accomplished all this without them.

As a matter of fact, the truth is, there is much we couldn’t have accomplished over the years without them. I think, I hope, they know how much I appreciate them, but in case they don’t, I am going to embarass them, and brag on my blog. I can’t help it- I am a big believer in public displays of affection!

I have the best mother-in-law in the world. I really do. It’s the little things (and the big, but I’ll get to those in a minute) that add up. When she reads an interesting article in the newspaper that reminds her of us, she sends it in the mail. When she sees some amazing buy that she can’t pass up at Hudson’s, she gets one for me, too. When we go to her house to visit, there are Hornsby’s in the fridge, because she knows we like them. She is the most thoughtful person I know, and I mean that. She thinks of you when you’re not there, and she shows you. Those little expressions say more than words ever could.

I’ve learned about hospitality from her- I’ve learned about making my home warm and inviting to other people. She’s the one I call for recipes and advice on how to get a stain out of my carpet. She’s the one who inspires me to have a guest room one day, to set extra places at the table.

I’ve learned about patience and helpfulness– I’ve watched her take care of her parents and her husband’s family and extended elderly relatives- doing things for them that take great love and service. She is always helping someone decorate for their wedding, or hosting a baby shower, or keeping nursery or teaching Sunday school. She has a calendar filled with birthdays and anniversaries– and you better believe her cards and gifts are on time.

She does these things, consistently and tirelessly, and often without any acknowledgement or thank-you’s.

As for being her daughter-in-law, she has always handled that relationship with great care. She is considerate and helpful, but not overbearing at all. She welcomed me into her home without a blink, she let me be wife to her son with all the grace that you can imagine. Our love for King Pen isn’t a competition- it’s a special bond we share. It’s nice to know someone else can truly appreciate those quirky, lovable traits of his. But it’s not just that- she is always happy to see us both, and she never makes me feel bad when it’s time to leave. What a gift.

All this I learned well before we had children. But once the grandkids came along, I was blessed all the more. She is a terrific grandmother. She will take them for a week at a time (or more, if I would let ’em!)- and I never have to worry a moment. They play hard, eat well, sing songs on the porch swing, color pictures, go to church, even get haircuts if they need them. She does this not only with my kids, but all her grandkids– all fourteen, all the time. I don’t know how she has the stamina for it, but she does. She is amazing.

And as for the big things- she’s been there for us countless times over the years. Ya know, those times when you wonder how in the world you’re gonna pull through? What in the world can you possibly do when you can’t possibly do anything? She’s been there- both of his parents have. They’ve bailed us out of some really tough jams, and I will never, ever forget that.

When it’s all said and done, when I am somebody’s mother-in-law and grandmother and neighbor and Sunday school teacher, I want somebody to feel the way about me that I do about her. I want to inspire those emotions in someone- because I’ll know that it means I’m doing something right.

I’m not leaving my father-in-law out by any means– he is always there, steadfast in his love and support. He has created a home in which his wife thrives and touches all these people– so you know he’s doing his job right, too. He has excelled in his husbandry of the home, and that is admirable. It’s one of the reasons I married King Pen in confidence- knowing that he was the son of a good man. I knew what it meant down the road. And I have not been disappointed- King Pen is the kind of man that a father can be proud of.

Anyway… I didn’t mean to go on and on, but I just wanted to shine the light on them a moment, and point to one of the really good things in my life.

I am blessed to share their last name, and I wanted everyone to know it.