Hey Stepmom, You Are Not Alone!

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We all need people. That need for fellowship with another has been placed there by the Creator since our beginning. For me, that has always been true. In fact, after my second divorce (yes you read that right), I remember praying in earnest and begging God to please take that desire away from me.

It wasn’t that I just wanted to be IN a relationship, I craved relationship. I felt so lonely. I wanted companionship and friendship, and to be able to connect and talk with others who understood. And satan was there to remind me constantly of how unworthy I was, of how I had failed miserably in not one but two marriages, and how I had dragged two children through the whole gauntlet of my messed up life. One day I confided in a church leader and he reminded me that “It’s not good for man to be alone.”  He told me to stop asking for something that God Himself had placed in my heart.

It helped me realize that it was okay for me to long for relationship and companionship but to seek only those that would bring me closer to Him, not farther away. And I have been blessed to have a husband who does just that. But I have continued to long for friendship and connection with other moms like me that are trying to navigate the difficulties of a blended family.

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The SOS retreat I attended was held at the beautiful Winshape Retreat center.

Recently, God gave me the opportunity to connect and begin lasting friendships with many wonderful ladies who all share a common bond. We are all stepmoms. I did so by attending a Sisterhood of Stepmoms weekend retreat. I honestly was worried at first that I would not find others who were in the same situation but I could not have been more wrong. There were moms of all situations such as blendermoms, childless stepmoms, stepmoms because they had married a widower, etc… We spent the weekend being ministered to, prayed over, and listening to messages of hope, encouragement and wisdom.

If loneliness and yearning for fellowship is something that you have struggled with or are currently struggling with, you are not alone! There is a sisterhood out there. Sisters that know what stepfamily daily life is like. Sisters who are riding the roller coaster of hills and valleys. Sisters who understand the sheer joy from a stepchild’s smile and the deep hurt of being unappreciated or misunderstood.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I encourage you to check out the links to the Sisterhood of Stepmoms and sign up for their upcoming SOS retreat this fall!

 

 

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Hands Are For Holding

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Our hands are never empty if we are holding on to each other.

One year ago yesterday my son’s life changed after having decompression brain surgery for Chiari malformation. Well that is not exactly true. My life changed as well with so many blessings sprinkled with set backs and difficulties. One year ago hardly seems real. It feels like it really was just yesterday.

Just yesterday that I sat by his bed, holding his boyish hand in mine, while a heaviness of

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Holding my son’s hand after brain surgery a year ago.

worry and the faith that God the Father would take care of him wrestled for first place in my heart.  Thinking over how God had given me the honor of being his mom and the privilege of being there for so many moments in his life from the very first time he wrapped his tiny hand around my finger.

Then there really was yesterday. Yesterday I was actually sitting next to a hospital bed with the heaviness of worry once again wrestling with my faith. This time, it was my sweet dad. And I found myself holding his hand in mine thinking over how God blessed me with the privilege of being his daughter and how he has been there for me since

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Holding my dad’s yesterday before surgery.

the very first time I wrapped my tiny hand around his finger.

And it made me realize that in my family our hands are never empty because we hold onto each other. And in them I have learned how to encourage, support, and walk beside those that I love so much. Most importantly of all, I learned to place my whole life in the hand of the Lord Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what your family looks like or whether it’s considered normal, whether it’s blended or not, whether you have the word “step” in front of mom or not. What matters is holding onto each other. Making memories every chance you get and deciding that no matter what you’ll never let go.

Thank you daddy for teaching me how to hold on to the gift of family with one hand and our Heavenly Father with the other.

A Mom’s Prayer For The New Year

2 Kings 25:29-30

29 “So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.”

Last year we celebrated the rolling in of a new year with our children. We laughed. We drank sparkling grape juice (both red and white). We did sparklers and fireworks in our back yard. And when midnight came, we knelt in our family room and prayed together. And God blessed us so much this past year. It was not without many difficult times. It was not without many happy overflowing moments either.new blog picOur celebration was much the same and completely different! It was just my husband and I together. We got delicious take out from Outback. Snuggled and watched a movie. Made a few fireworks of our own. But when midnight came, we knelt in our family room and prayed together. We prayed for each other. We prayed for our three wonderful children, calling each by name. And we prayed and claimed the verses that I shared, for God to give us just what we need each and every day. Simple. Powerful. Believing.

This is my prayer for you and me in this new year. May it be Simple. May it be Powerful. May it be filled with Believing. Believing that the Lord Jesus gives us just what we need for each new day!

 

 

Are You Having A Moment?

This Christmas was filled with lots of moments for our blended family, wonderful boring moments and I couldn’t be happier with that. Yes you read that right. I did say boring and I did say happy. This Christmas was very mellow. We carried out our yearly traditions. Made memories and visited a few new places together to make new ones. We even managed to sneak in a “pajama day” at the request of my sweet stepson just a few days before Christmas. We celebrated with family and shared lots of laughter. The darkness, the worry cloud that sat on my shoulder last year was gone. So like I said, boring, and grateful for it.

Luke ChristmasLast year, as many know, just before Christmas, we learned that our youngest son was going to have brain surgery for Chiari Malformation at the first of the year. So the holidays were consumed with big moments, such as staying strong and not letting him see how utterly scared I was. Moments like hiding how worried I was that this might, just might, be our last Christmas with Luke. Lost in thought of how there is no cure and what if something goes wrong during the surgery and he isn’t the same. Moments while among all the holiday gift shopping, I was searching for pajamas to fit a ten year old that buttoned down the front. And when finally finding some complete with a star wars theme, a moment when I could barely see my way to the cashier for the tears as I imagined when he would have to wear them while having to deal with doctors, nurses, medications, pain, and anxiety.  However, in those moments surrounded by all three kids, wonderful family, our amazing church and supportive friends and community God chose last Christmas to be one of the best we have ever had!

And from last Christmas to this Christmas God has felt so close. His perfect peace was truly a key to surviving all the moments we faced. Life has been rapid, busy for me this year. Writing, homeschooling, volunteering and Bible study classes have consumed me. In fact I’ve realized that the only thing I haven’t done much of is take a moment for me. blog post 3

It got me to thinking how moms like me give so much to every one else. A few months ago I had the privilege of writing a book endorsement for a fellow “blendermom”, Kristie Carpenter, and it was published in her latest devotional book Blended Mom Moments.

It is filled with weekly scriptural devotions interspersed with stories and nuggets of wisdom. I am really looking forward to diving into this book and spending some time with God. He really wants to spend time with you, minister to you, shepherd you and speak to your heart. I’m reminded of the words of the song What Do I Know Of Holy, by Addison Road, “I tried to hear from Heaven but I talked the whole time…” Sometimes we just need to stop talking in order to hear God speak to us.

Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

This new year I encourage you to stop. Put your feet up, savor a nice cup of coffee and have a moment. Have a moment of quiet, a moment of prayer, a moment of renewal. It will strengthen you during life’s big moments!

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

blog post 2*You can purchase a copy of “Blended Mom Moments” Signed Copy Here and Amazon here. I have also had the privilege of getting to know Tara Furman, founder of Knowing God Ministries. I purchased her “Intimacy with God” which truly changed my prayer time years ago. Click the link and go to resources to learn more.

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Stepfamilies and The Dad

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I have written numerous posts about stepfamilies, stepmoms, and biomoms. However recently, I have been thinking about the dads and how they feel in this whole blended/stepfamily thing. When I was a new stepmom, I scoured the internet for posts, articles, etc on stepfamilies and being a stepmom. During that time, I saw comments and posts from stepmoms who complained about how their stepchildren created so much conflict in their marriage. Some shared how they felt alone and isolated while their husband seemed oblivious. Some shared that their husband’s children could do no wrong in his eyes. Does any of this sound familiar?

I know that as a mom in a blended family, it can be filled with emotion. You can feel alone and invisible which is why I wrote about Hagar, in this post Dear Discouraged Stepmom and her role in the story of Abraham and his dysfunctional blended family.

But have you ever stopped and wondered, how does the dad really feel in all of this? Genesis 21:10-11,”and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’  The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.” Abraham was in agony because he was caught in the middle over his son. His heart was burdened. His wife wanted no part in sharing with a son that he fathered with another woman, whom nowadays would be considered his ex. He wanted his wife happy but he also felt, naturally, a strong loving and loyal bond towards his other son.

I know when we are hurt and frustrated it is hard to see past our own emotions, but are we truly treating our husbands with kindness? OR do you harbor resentment and allow it to bubble up and spill over in the relationship you have with his children?

I recently did an interview The Stepmom Series with Our Blended Home about being a stepmom. I shared that I made the commitment to love my stepson when I made the commitment to love and marry my husband. God has richly blessed us and just as I feel for my own children, I miss him when he is at his other home. Just as my own, I talk about him with my husband and we laugh about the cute funny things he says and does. I worry about him. I pray for him.

We work so hard as moms and stepmoms to love and care for every one around us but sometimes we fall short in extending grace to the closest person here on earth that we have:  our husbands. I know that I have the power to hurt my husband very deeply through not only, of course, how I treat him but how I treat his son.

Proverbs 31:12, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”   That means loving him and loving his family!

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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

I liked the movie God’s Not Dead…well, sort of (A Christian’s perspective)

Very good read to remind us that we are to share His love.
“As Christians, it’s our job to plant seeds. We may be fortunate enough to water those seeds, but then again, we might not. But that’s okay. We love people. That’s it. Holy Spirit takes it from there.” ~Chris Martin

Chris Martin Writes

Let’s be honest. People tend to get a little crazy when it comes to Christian movies. Big example: Noah. People were up in arms because the story wasn’t accurate with the Biblical version. We rented it the other night, and I was highly disappointed. And not because it wasn’t in alignment with Scripture. The movie was horrible. I was expecting Gladiator meets Genesis, and we ended up with 2.5 hours of boredom. I almost dozed off a couple of times. The special effects were pretty cool in a couple parts, but overall, it was a sleep fest.

With Hollywood so completely saturated with filth, I have to admit it is refreshing when something labeled as “Christian” catapults onto the big screen. It’s rare these days that we can take our children to see something clean, void of the normal cursing and violence.

When God’s Not Dead arrived, I was very…

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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

Soulmates and Soda Cans

Song of Solomon 3:4a “Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go.”

The other day, I came home from work unusually stressed and tired. Trying to scramble to get dinner ready and snapping at my husband who was trying to help me as he often does. As I was getting the plates and silverware, my husband gingerly came up to me holding a can of soda. I looked up and it was one of the new “share a Coke” cans and on the side it had the word “Soulmate”. Eagerly he said, “I want to share this with you over dinner.” Immediately I felt all the tension of the day leave my spirit. Isn’t it amazing how one act, one word can change everything?

I was convicted as I lovingly rinsed out that soda can and placed it among my special treasures. How often does my husband get the back seat in our life or after our children for that matter? How often does he get my leftovers? I would never treat others, such as my boss with disrespect. I know the answer is because at home, I am most comfortable. I feel safe among my precious loved ones enough to let my guard down. But does that make it more excusable?

I have also become disgusted with how mass media tends to portray husbands as stupid, bumbling idiots with the wife being smart, powerful, and controlling. There is no partnership in that. There is no companionship or mutual respect when one is controlling or dominating the other. Yet a lot of ladies grow up thinking that is how it should be and they set up house with that kind of dynamic. It is the world’s way, the world’s view but it is not God’s way. Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

It has been a long and difficult journey finding my way to my husband and the same for him. I want to be his true mate; his partner in life, not his boss. My prayer is that God will continue to remind me of this. Remind me that showing my husband everyday in some small way that he truly is the one that my soul loves.

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House Rules

House RulesRe-marriage is a really big deal to a child! It can be traumatic. I’m a firm believer that the more straight forward you are in a blended family the better. Our children would go to their other homes and things would be very different for them. Things were not spelled out as clearly there and they would get in trouble and not really know why. They even told us they would just do whatever because they felt they would get in trouble no matter what they did. So, right after we got married, we sat all the children down for a family meeting. Here are some things we defined that really helped create peace in the midst of newly blended chaos.

1. We defined our roles in our home. We explained that although we are the mom and dad of the house. However, we assured them that we would never try to take the place of their real mom or dad in their lives. We wanted them to know that it is okay to love their other parent even in our home.

2. We defined the rules of the house. We wrote down our house rules on a large poster. We wrote the basics about disobedience, lying, and disrespect. Then we let the kids come up with what they felt should be house rules. This was a really good thing for them. It created less confusion and more order and helped them feel that they played an important part within this new family.

3. We defined consequences if the rules were broken. After we created the house rules, we discussed consequences for not following the rules. The children also came up with some of their own consequences for some as well. This really aided in the kids feeling more stable when here with us because they knew what was expected.With divorce and remarriage, they have no control whatsoever so by us giving them a little decision making power in the home really helped them to develop their identity within this new family and feel like some things are in their control.

We have learned that the best thing you can do for a new blended family is organize, define and create expectations in the beginning to create more order and less confusion! Proverbs 1:3 NLT “Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.”