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!

Advertisements

When You Try to Help Someone And They Won’t Let You

19973Last Sunday night, myself, my teen daughter, and my youngest son stopped to do the grocery shopping for the week. My husband and I both hate grocery shopping and I guess we both tend to procrastinate about it. So, anxious to get it done, I ushered the kids inside. It was crazy busy. I guess the whole community had procrastinated as well. We went from aisle to aisle from vegetables to toilet paper and everything in between. Finally we were finished and I eagerly pushed the heavy cart toward the check out lane. My children worked diligently on helping me load the groceries on the conveyor belt with surprisingly little bickering (which to me was an added perk).

Halfway through the cashier ringing up our goods, I noticed the old man waiting behind us in line. He had a frozen pizza, a peppermint patty and a green pepper that were half hidden behind my mounds of groceries still left on the conveyor belt. I looked at his patient face and felt convicted that in my rush and self-absorption, I had not let him go in front of me while we were unloading our items. As the cashier bagged the last few items, I felt God speak to my heart nudging me to pay for his groceries and so I spoke up and asked the cashier to please add them onto my bill.

The man looked at me and emphatically refused, almost seemed insulted. “Ma’am I’m not going to let you do that! I have enough money to pay for my own food.” Oh wow! That’s not the response I expected. Blushing and trying to recover, I said, “Of course sir and so do I, although barely sometimes week to week but I saw you standing so patiently waiting for her to finish my full cart and I’m so sorry I didn’t even offer to let you go ahead. The least I can do is pay for your pizza!” His face softened and thanking me several times, he continued to deny me the pleasure of paying for his groceries. So, I finished my transaction and began to leave. The cashier kept telling me how kind and sweet it was for me to offer with a rather shocked expression. Somewhat embarrassed, I grabbed my full cart, gathered my kids and headed for the door.19973

Walking to the car, I felt dejected and regretful for even offering. This was actually not the first time I had offered to help at this store and turned down. I could not stop thinking how in this day and age, people seem to have become so wrapped up in themselves or so unaccustomed to genuine love and care that we can no longer carry out simple acts of kindness!

We loaded the car and got in. As I reached for the ignition, my daughter grabbed my hand and with misty eyes said, “I am so so glad that God picked you to be my mom!” This coming from my teen who at every turn I seem to embarrass. It warmed my heart beyond words.

As I contemplated later on these things, it came to mind that I was focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on the man and felt a bit put off that God would have me offer knowing I would be rejected. I didn’t think about what kind of example I was showing for all the rest around me. It really opened my eyes to such a greater picture of God’s amazing plan. My obedience to the Lord might not have been for the old gentleman, but rather a witness of God’s love to my children and to the cashier and others of which I might not even be aware.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

A friend of mine recently reminded me of these words: “To love is to serve.” God’s great commandment is to love one another and to show that by serving others. It is sometimes so hard to do when we are rejected or don’t understand why God is asking us to do certain things for Him. As the scripture said, we must trust Him that he has a plan even when we don’t understand, even when we are rejected. Love and serve anyway. There is no better place to start than in your family and those closest to you.19973

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.

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.

photo

 

 

Redemption and Reasons

deep bloom oceanA friend of mine shared the above quote on Instagram and it really touched my soul. I have been feeling discouraged lately. Maybe I should give up on writing. I have this soul deep need to share with others who have gone through divorce, others who may have been abused, others who are trying to put the post-divorce pieces of life back together in the form of a blended family that there is hope in God the Father. His Son didn’t just die for the “perfect family” that has a mom and dad who never divorced and kids that attend church every Sunday and have memorized all the books of the Bible. But maybe no one wants or needs to hear that. This has been the vicious thought spiral swirling around in my head.

Sometimes the judgement and ridicule that has been thrown at me mostly by other Christians for being divorced twice brings on acute feelings of shame and defeat. I find myself questioning am I willing to endure these prejudices, comments and whispers by those that believe a divorced woman shouldn’t be used or called by God?

Every single time I start thinking I might quit, God thinks differently. He reveals this in so many ways that it is astounding, dazzlingly so to me. He reminds my heart that I am who I am for a reason. He reminds me that I need only be obedient and share honestly what He has done in my life. Psalms 107:2 NLT “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.”

I want you to know if you have been discouraged, defeated, or ashamed it is not what God wants for you. He puts us at different places in our lives for a purpose.

Thank you for your redemption Heavenly Father. Thank you for your endless grace. Thank you for Your guidance. And most importantly, thank you that for every reason I have to want to quit sharing what You have done for me in my life, You give me twice as many reasons not to. Psalms 32:2,8 “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,whose lives are lived in complete honesty! The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.I will advise you and watch over you.”

 

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.”

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?