Dear Discouraged Stepmom

Dear Stepmom BlogI was thinking today how I have been a stepmom for nearly seven years. In some ways it has seemed that time has flown by and in other ways, it has been a slow meticulous process of blending our family. I have received so many blessings and moments filled with happy memories, sweet unexpected hugs, deep intimate connection with my husband, and wonderfully precious family time with our children.

However, I must admit that their have been times when I have also felt discouraged in this process. In one of my previous post for Family Fusion Community, I wrote “Stepmoms do not have an easy job. They are caught somewhere in the middle of all the emotion and tend to receive the brunt of negativity and spitefulness because they are not a biological parent. Often, they are a dumping ground for all the hurt, frustration, anger, confusion, and sadness that comes with divorce from all involved including the biological parents, children, and even extended families.”  (You can read the entire post here: http://familyfusioncommunity.com/2014/01/30/the-other-mothers/)

Stepmoms can also feel invisible, as if no one sees them for who they really are. They feel unseen for their choice to love anyway, for their good intentions, and for their kind hearts. Or, their love and kindness is twisted and turned into negativity through bad mouthing or false accusations. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

During my prayer time several months ago, I came across a very important prominent family in the bible that was not only blended, but dysfunctional as well. I am talking about Abraham. A little background of this story, found in Genesis 16 and Genesis 21, is Sarah, because she had not become pregnant, gave her servant Hagar to her husband Abraham so that he might have children. Hagar became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Ishmael. Thirteen years later, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac. So now if you haven’t caught on, this is a blended family (maybe not traditional) but blended just the same. I look at Hagar as like a stepmom because she has no legal rights and is completely at the mercy of Abraham and Sarah. And feeling so overwhelmed, Hagar runs away.

There are some verses that create a picture of this blended family, especially in chapter 21 where I found 3 very interesting facts. First, the two sons had conflict between each other. Second, there was conflict between the two moms, and third, the father was caught in the middle. And I will be writing on each of these. However, I am only focusing on Hagar’s story to say this directly to you, discouraged Stepmom. God hears you, He hears the deep cries of your heart and most importantly God sees you. You are not invisible.

Genesis 16:9-11; Genesis 16:13-14

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,  for the Lord has HEARD of your misery.

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”

What a beautiful picture of a God whose love is so compassionate that He would seek out a servant girl and let her know He hears her; He sees her and is going to bless her. She is so deeply moved that she gives God the name, “El Roi” which translates “The God Who sees me.” I encourage you dear Stepmom;  the next time you are feeling discouraged, disheartened, and overlooked to call out the name of God. Because those verses have been such a comfort to me and during those times of discouragement I have prayed and called the name of God “El Roi” because I am not discounted. I am not invisible. I am loved. I am blessed. God hears. God lovingly and graciously sees me!

Dear Stepmom Blog

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When You are So Overwhelmed, There are No Words

rock blog photo 2I haven’t posted in a while. My emotions have been so overwhelming that I literally have had no words to describe them. Which I’m pretty sure is bad for a writer. Words, for me, have always been an emotional outlet; expressing and processing my feelings; a way to scream while remaining silent. Lately I’ve been drowning in fear, worry, shock, determination, and focus with no way to get an extra breath except…….One.

Romans 8:26 “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT)

It is so much comfort to me that as a child of God, I don’t have to find the words. I don’t have to articulate the storm inside my heart, the raging in my mind. My Heavenly Father knows.

He is my comforter. 2 Corinthians 1:3 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.”

He is my strength and my help. Psalms 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

He is my hope. Psalms 71:5 “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.”

He is my rock. 1 Samuel 2:2 “No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

My previous post was about my son. The tests results have come in and we met with the neurosurgeon last week and my little guy will be having decompression brain surgery at the end of January for his chiari malformation. As I have said before, I am so grateful that this has been found while he is young and has not had to suffer, but I have also, as a mom grieved for my son. My heart has ached for what he is facing. I have cried out of fear of the horrible spiral of “what ifs” that could happen.

I don’t want him to go through this. I am scared about so many things but it has been during this time that I have felt God’s closeness more than ever before; His presence touching every aspect of our life; our Comforter, our Strength, our Help, our Hope, our Rock.

rock blog photo 2

It Is Well: How God is Teaching Me About His Glory Through My Son

It is Well My family and I have been going through a very scary time with my youngest son. He has had some medical symptoms that have seemed to get worse. We were told a year ago he needed rest and hydration when he would wake up so weak he could barely lift a cup or spoon. The “spells” would only last a day or so and then he would go months without another. In between these times he has had headaches and dizziness but these too have been sporadic.

His most recent spell was just over a month ago. The pediatrician did a full blood panel workup. All of his tests came back normal so she referred him to a neurologist, who ordered an MRI. The next thing I know, I get a call that my 10 year old is being referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon for evaluation of possible brain surgery. The diagnosis is chiari malformation I. Here is a link with info about this abnormality to save you the trouble of googling it: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chiari/detail_chiari.htm . He saw the neurosurgeon this past week and I will get to that later in this post.

The myriad of emotions that we all experienced during the days of waiting for that appointment are nearly indescribable. My little guy was actually relieved that there was an explanation for the way he had been feeling. For me, I was terrified of what he might have to endure and so unbelievably grateful that it was found early all at the same time! I posted, shared, text, and emailed asking; begging for prayer for my son! God created my son and my prayers was that He would press His divine knowledge into that surgeon to know what was best for him.

Everyone kept saying “I’ll be praying for him and your family”. Every time I heard that reply I would nod gratefully or post thank yous and please dos, seemingly calm but inside I was screaming! YES PRAY PRAY PRAY FOR MY SON! Don’t just say it because it is a challenging difficult time for us and you don’t know what to say. This is my son; this is my baby. This is something that has no cure. This is something he will have to live with; an invisible illness that to the outside world may seem completely made up. This is an absolute significant diagnosis that breaks my heart for him! So please please please do not carelessly fling out the most overused religious phrase known today “I’ll be praying for him” THIS IS MY LIFE, THIS IS MY SON AND I’M BEGGING YOU TO MEAN IT! PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!

During this time I would go to work and alternate between inward anxious thought spirals and outward quiet tears. I love the fact that I can listen to music while working. I would play songs of comfort and one song kept showing up in my mind, in my heart, and deeply in my spirit…. “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford. (The story behind this song is astounding.) The words began to minister to me. I added a new prayer to my initial prayerful cries to God for my son. I began praying that I would bring glory to Him even during this overwhelming, frightening experience, praying that even my fear would still bring Him glory. I Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

It is Well

It started to have an effect on me. I began to feel more at peace in the midst of fear and calm in the midst of confusion as I slowly began to accept whatever we would face with this deeply heartfelt knowledge that God really loved my sweet boy and no matter what it would be okay.

Wednesday came and I found myself staring into the kind, wise eyes of the surgeon. He said that surgery is to only restore cerebral flow if it is impeded by this condition. Based on the MRI, there seemed to be enough space for cerebral flow and surgery most likely will not be needed at this time. He ordered a spinal MRI and flow studies to be done next week to confirm this. This is so incredibly reassuring and solidifies that those prayers from all of us have already begun to work in my son. And I will say this without any hesitation what so ever and scream it: TO GOD BE THE GLORY! And yes please please please keep those prayers coming!

Stepmoms and Biomoms and Jealousy

As a biomom or stepmom, do you ever struggle with jealousy or envy. I have gotten numerous emails from struggling moms that are needing help with this issue. Some have had issues with jealousy and envy over the biomom who seemed to have it all. Others have shared with me how they struggle with jealousy over the stepchild or time that their husbands spend with their child. This is causing a lot of chaos and disorder in their homes and within the family. It causes tension between the husband and wife and it causes tension between the mom and child.

One way to deal with this issue is to seek God’s wisdom. For me, that is asking God  to allow me to have discernment to see the situation through His eyes.

James 3:16-18, “16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

If we seek God’s wisdom then it releases us from the need to compare ourselves to others and desiring what they have. It brings peace and order to chaos when we are not looking over the fence at what others are doing or obtaining. And if we seek to see the situation outside of ourselves and ask to see it through God’s eyes then we will plant seeds of peace to those around us starting with our family. Envy, selfishness, and jealousy leads to dysfunction and disorder but true wisdom that only comes from God leads to peace and goodness and helps to develop integrity.

“True wisdom can be measured by the depth of one’s character.” ~ Dr. James L. Hayes II

What Honey Maid Got Wrong. What Honey Maid Got Right.

blog pic I had posted a photo of our family taken over our recent vacation on my instagram. Honey Maid snacks liked the photo and commented on what a beautiful family I had. (This is not the part they got  wrong.) I commented back of course with a big thank you. What adoring mom doesn’t want someone to complement her beautiful family? They proceeded to ask me if I knew about their latest mini documentary of their #NotBroken #Thisiswholesome campaign in which they were honoring blended/stepfamilies. I was directed to a link of this ad:

Another link to access ad documentary: http://mashable.com/2014/09/08/honey-maid-not-broken/

I have read the blogs and articles that have come out in reply to their ad and the opinions seem to be similar to mine. We all feel that the ad does not exemplify a realistic blended family.  Here are some thoughts that I am glad for when I see this ad. I am really glad that the boy in the ad named, Isaac, has such a wonderful understanding biomom that embraces and encourages her son to call his stepmom “mom”. I am really glad that she also allows the dad to play a very important equal role in his upbringing. I am glad that she hasn’t lied, manipulated or forced his dad to go to court to beg for more time with Isaac especially at Christmas and during the summer. I’m glad that his dad and stepmom did not force him to call his stepmom “mom” and spank him or punish him when he did not. I’m glad that his dad, although religious, doesn’t try to take away precious child hood memories such as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny. I’m glad that both families along with Isaac can sit around the camp fire singing Kum Ba Yah. No seriously, I really am glad!

In all honesty, I appreciate Honey Maid snacks at their attempt at bringing awareness to families like mine. With the statistics indicated that over 40% of families are blended that means that blended families are the new norm. Yet, rarely is any advertising directed at us and is little talked about in media. That is why I honestly applaud this attempt at shining light on this type of family dynamic which is still considered in main stream as taboo.I also applaud the fact that they included another major taboo in mainstream media and society today:  Christianity/religion. Yes they did!

They included Isaac, his dad and step family saying grace to God. This part in the ad actually means more to me than the stepfamily subject. Not only are blended families/stepfamilies looked down upon but try being a Christian stepfamily. There are a lot of prejudices within the Christian community regarding divorce and remarriage. Don’t believe me? Try visiting the church that this lonely single mom and her young daughter tried out only to learn they don’t accept divorced people in the choir. Just ask the neighbor I got behind in the carpool line this morning. The one who was the first to invite us to church when we moved in and who is now the one that no longer speaks to us including my children because of our blended family issues.

I’ve always heard you should write what you know about and this is life as I know it. I find it somewhat sad that although I feel eternally blessed with these three beautiful children and my amazing husband, my content, my muse is derived from broken homes. Don’t mistake my words. We are a living example of what Divine healing and the gathering up of those broken pieces and diligently day in and day out molding them into a work of art. But the nights laying awake worrying about how we can make this situation or that situation work or how are we going to attend this event for one child in one school and a basketball game with another child in another school and still represent family are not on display for all to see. Honey Maid tried. They tackled issues that are considered taboo to speak of. They boldly went where no snack has gone before! The problem is that in there advertising think tank, their executives lost a little reality.

Time Is Ticking Away

pool blog picWe are on a two week vacation at the home of my husband’s family. I’ve never been on vacation for more than a week before but I am loving it…for the most part. “For the most part” because even though we have a week left I can’t help but dread the moment when our time here will run out and we will have to say goodbye and head home. I just know these seven days will fly by so quickly that I can’t even relax and enjoy this time as much as I should, giving adage to the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”.

I’m watching mpool boysy boys giggle and laugh as they play and splash in the pool while the last drops of sun mingle with the twilight that is creeping into the corners of the yard. They have been in the water more than they have been out since our arrival. I’m enjoying their playing now but will not when I hear their groans and protests as I tell them it’s time to come in and settle down for the night.

 

Time is ticking away. It is not just time with family we haven’t been able to visit since 2010. It’s time off from work. It’s time with my husband. But most of all, it’s extended time with our children. Summer for blended families is, well, different, for lack of a better word. In our situation this particular summer, it can be a very precious gift of extra quality time before school starts. For other stepfamilies, it is a fight for extra time or a big ordeal of working with the other parent to organize time. My heart breaks for the latter.

All this planning and worrying over time has got me to thinking how we have so many opportunities of precious time such as weekend time, summer time, night time, afternoon and so on with our kids, our spouse, our families but let other things excuse away that time. My husband and I work very hard to spend one on one quality time with our kids. There have been times where that priority took a back seat because of work etc… So as it has gotten more difficult we have tried to be more deliberate in our efforts. I found this quote and it really does remind me that time is precious. It’s also time for me to wrap this up and time for my boys to get out of the pool.

“My family is the most important part of my life; I could not imagine my life without any of them, yet too often I find myself saying, ‘Not now,’ and then realizing much too much later that later is too late.” ~Marie Leslie

Testimony Tuesday: Accountability

Today’s post is from a beautiful woman inside and out as well as a friend. She is a private person but was kind enough to share her heart. Here are her thoughts on “Accountability”.

Melissa D post picAs a single mom for almost 4 years then remarrying and having another child, I have learned a lot about what makes me who I am. I am naturally an observer and watch people’s interactions with each other and the people around them. The most difficult people to observe, without wanting to jump in and say or do something, are the ones that affect children without even realizing.

I fully understand the effort it takes to raise a child/children and the mental toll it takes on us all. I know that tending to the constant needs, crying, tired, whining, and often interruptions, children can exhaust and unnerve the best of us. Frazzled nerves. Sleepless nights. Financial Stresses. All these add to the pressures of daily life. They may push us over the edge, as we find ourselves forgetting to mind out tongues and manners, without regard to the little eyes that are watching and the little ears that are listening. We are always seen and heard even when we think we are alone.

Even so, harsh or careless words, words spoken out of frustration, fear, or anxiety, can and do hurt. God holds us accountable for words like that. One of God’s Old Testament names, El Roi, means “the God who sees.” He sees and hears every careless word, every action spawned by angry impatience. Flippant remarks, thoughtless actions, and loveless reactions reveal a less than Christian-like attitude in us. Under duress, our guard can be diminished. Our filters disengaged. We spit out things we normally wouldn’t say. I am reminded of song lyrics that speak of a child using a 4-letter word in the back seat of the car when the father slams on brakes and causes the child to spill his drink and fries. When the father asks the child where he learned to talk like that, the child responds “I’ve been watching you dad.” (Rodney Atkins – Watching You).

These type of behaviors are a glimpse of what we are really like inside. This is the side of us that we attempt to keep hidden from God and everyone else, but these actions spill out for everyone to see. Scripture warns, “So then everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Furthermore, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). I shudder to myself as I think of all the times I have let careless words and actions slip.

I cannot correct this problem alone. I need someone to intercede on my behalf. And I have one- in Christ. Christ has made himself accountable for MY sins on Calvary’s cross. Amazing Grace!!!

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

Testimony Tuesday

I’m am so excited about a series of new posts called Testimony Tuesday.  This is where other blendermoms and stepmoms share a scripture and what God has done for them in their lives.  I am also very excited and honored that my first guest post today is by Christy Garrett.  She is the founder of upliftingfamilies.com as well as the primary writer for the site.  Here is what Christy had to say.

Life is full of twists and turns. People are going to disappoint you, things aren’t going to go your way, you won’t get the job that you have been dreaming for all your life, and the list goes on and on. In my own life, I have dealt with similar situations and I often wondered why things didn’t go my way. I could easily get mad at God but over the last several years I have had to trust in Him and his ways. I know that he has my best interest at heart and as selfish as I am, I can’t see the bigger picture. If we get made at the things God chooses not to give us, we may miss out on the blessing or something even better for you.

If you are struggling in your situation, remember what God says in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” He already knows your every need. So instead of complaining, follow and trust in His ways and he will keep you on the right path. He will make sure you have the strength to get through whatever you are going through and provide for all your needs.

After a divorce in 2003, I didn’t realize that dating and finding a loving relationship was going to be such a struggle for me. I had two children from my previous marriage and I know that it is a lot of baggage for some men to handle. It wasn’t until I gave my life and relationships to God. I let him guide and direct my paths. It wasn’t until I fully let go of my hurtful past and learn to live in joy before I finally met my amazing husband.

I am so thankful that I met a loving man who would accept me and my two children and care for them as his own. We were also blessed with a son in 2010 and I am amazed with the bond between him and his older siblings. We will be celebrating our six year anniversary at the end of the month and our marriage is filled with love. As a family we are constantly serving in our church, even my older children are involved in serving others in the church and other ministries in the church.

When life throws you a curve ball, who are you going to trust? Are you going to trust in your ways or follow God’s path and his ways?

393736_2824907621975_1097786626_nAuthor Bio: Christy Garrett is married to her best friend and has three children. She enjoys spending time helping others, learning about social media, spending time with her kids. When she isn’t busy with the kids, she enjoys writing and sharing her experiences with others at http://www.upliftingfamilies.com

Flavorful Friday: Bourbon Chicken….A Family Favorite

DSC_2555We are so busy all the time and when my husband has to work the night shift, I am exceptionally rushed to get home from work and get dinner on the table early.

This chicken recipe is quick, easy and delicious!  I decided to share it in a post on familyfusioncommunity.com.

Here is the article and recipe.

http://familyfusioncommunity.com/2014/05/29/bourbon-chicken-a-family-favorite/

What is a great go to recipe for you and your family?

My Ways Are Not

deep stormMy husband and I have had several big situations hit us one right after another in the past couple of months starting with a blown engine in our SUV that we had just paid off, that fit all 5 of us plus 2 friends. All of these issues have caused some stomach aches, headaches, worried/anxious thought spirals, and sleepless nights. Many nights, at some point, has ended with crawling out of bed, kneeling, and pouring our heart out to God either alone or together. 1Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

In the midst of these problems, through working in ministry, I have encountered others who are suffering with hurting hearts. My daughter and I both have a strong sense of empathy and compassion. When others hurt, we truly feel that hurt and try to help in any way we can.  Such empathy can also cause stomach and headaches, worried thought spirals, and sleepless nights spent praying for others. During this time, she found out that a classmate was really in trouble and she bravely stood up and went to the powers that be and told, getting them some help and facing a lot of ridicule for being a “snitch” and even losing a close friend in the process.

During these past months of difficulties, I have asked God why? That’s probably not the spiritual thing to do but it certainly is the most human. We all ask God why is this happening? Why won’t you fix this? I have asked that of Him, especially these last two months. Why did our vehicle blow up when we are working so hard to be debt free? Why did my brother’s house get robbed of so many valuable precious irreplaceable things such as baby photos that they will never get back? Why are there issues cropping up with our children and the other parents when we have worked so hard to build and raise our family to serve You? Why is Jack still being terrorized by an abusive father? Why was my friend’s son, who already has suffered severe trauma in his life, have to go to court over having his life threatened?  Why was he attacked at school by another student the next day and received several rib fractures?

Why?

And God answers!

Isaiah 55:8-11 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.10 The rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there without giving water to the earth. This makes plants grow on the earth, and gives seeds to the planter and bread to the eater. 11 So My Word which goes from My mouth will not return to Me empty. It will do what I want it to do, and will carry out My plan well.”

And what an answer!  I don’t think like God.  I can’t even fathom it.  His view, His perspective is “higher than the heavens”  while mine is barely visible from this pit I sometimes find myself in and peeking out over the edge of.

As I am thinking about God’s answer, I realize that I have received more blessings over these past two months than I can count. I have seen my family grow spiritually in their faith and walk in Christ. I have seen my children make that basket, bring up that grade, and make many new friends to replace the one that was lost. We now have a new car that is better for us than the old one. I could honestly go on and on.

But most of all, I have been tremendously blessed through ministry and serving others.  One of the biggest is my daughter and I helped with our church’s large special needs Easter egg hunt event. I signed up to be a hunt buddy and met an amazing family that had adopted 11 special needs children and brought 4 of them to the event. My 11 yr old bright energetic buddy and I had a blast running through all of the inflatables and games and finally went on to collect 4 bags of eggs!  (Actually I just ran around behind him toting his bags. Lol!)  His mom was able to be pampered that day in a makeshift spa our church had set up. She came back with a new hair style and a manicure. She seemed so refreshed and rejuvenated. His mom said that although he was affectionate he did not hug. At the end of the event as the family was leaving, the unprompted hug I received from my little buddy was beyond words for me. I went there that day to be a blessing but really I was the one that was truly blessed!

DSC_2854See, we don’t always have to preach Jesus at others in their face. We can lead them to Him simply by doing what He did through loving and serving. Giving them some time for themselves when they may not often have that luxury. Helping them by going into their community and washing their windows and changing light bulbs, etc….

I don’t understand. I cannot fathom the ways of God. But I have learned that when I don’t understand I need to show more compassion, love, and give more of myself. My ways are not His ways because His view is so much better of me than I have of myself. His ability to pour out His blessings is far greater than my own. My prayer is that He still uses me faults, difficulties, anxious thought spirals and all.