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.

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Top Step Parenting Blogs Please Vote For Me


I was floored that my blog was nominated as one of the top 50 step parenting blogs of 2014 on voiceboks.com!!  I am so completely honored to be nominated.  It would mean the world to me if you could click the link and scroll down to #8 “Blendermom” and click the “like” heart to vote for me.  There are no words for the amazing comments and encouragement you have given me so far.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

But Sunday Is Coming!!

Easter is almost here.  It’s such a special time for Christians.  It’s such a precious time for me.  Here is one of my favorite sermon excerpts from SM Lockridge.

 

1 Peter 3:18 NLT “Christ suffered]for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.”

“The devil has convinced so many people that they are worthless.
Each of us needs to stop and remember the cross—at the cross we will discover our true value—
for it is here that we discover the price God was willing to pay for us,
the depth of His love, and how much we are worth to Him.”
[Roy Lessin]

Thank you Heavenly Father that Sunday IS coming!

A New Heart

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So here is a short devotional thought for the blendermom/stepmom….

Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

During my engagement to my husband, I scoured the internet reading posts, forums, articles, etc….about blended families and being a stepmom. The relationship with my little 6 year old stepson was very important to me and I wanted to do things right. I remember reading forums, posts and articles about stepfamilies and stepmoms.

I was surprised at how many stepmoms are struggling.  There were numerous posts about how the stepmom can’t stand the stepkids, or how the stepchild tries to manipulate to get more attention from their father, or that the husband doesn’t understand.

The thing is, the father and his kids are a package deal.

Maybe you are one of those moms.  You may feel hopeless in your family situation but prayer changes things. Maybe it’s not the stepchildren, but your relationship with your husband that needs mending. God doesn’t want your family to fail. God wants your family to be strong, compassionate, and loving. And I truly believe it starts inside our own heart first.

I encourage you to pray for your husband and your children no matter how you “feel”.  Ask Him to help you see them through His eyes and ask Him to change your heart. Ezekiel 36:26 is a promise that God will change your heart if you are willing and open. Don’t think for one second that because your family was a product of divorce that God thinks less of you! Remember that Jesus lived in a blended family…

1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Let God work healing in your marriage and family.  Let Him start by giving you a new heart.

The Other Mothers

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I don’t typically write about the “other mothers”. I feel strongly about sharing things about our blended family but there is a fine line between sharing my heart and gossip/slander. Yes there has been times where I have wanted to vent out my frustrations in my posts but other than making me feel better, how would that truly help the situation? However, I am going to share some thoughts on the subject and maybe give advice to other “blendermoms” who are stepmoms, biomoms, or like me, both. Be mindful that I am only speaking from a place where both parents are active in all 3 of my children’s lives.

1. Respect the biomom for who she is regardless of what you may personally think of her.

I know this may hit a nerve with some stepmoms because stepmoms are often not treated with kindness, courtesy, or respect. However, if the biomom is in the child’s life there is no one that can or should take her place.

I do not have a relationship with my son’s stepmom. When she was first introduced to my son, he was told to call her “Miss” and by her first name but 5 months later when his dad married her, they immediately started on a campaign to force him to call her mom because she was pregnant.

To read the rest of this article go to http://familyfusioncommunity.com/2014/01/30/the-other-mothers/ and let me know your thoughts on the “other mothers” in your life.

Do You Bring Blessings or Blow Horns?

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About a week and a half ago, last Tuesday, I was driving to work.  I was talking to my mom as I often do just like any other day.  My mind was filled with memories, Christmas lists, money worries etc……    I noticed a little ways up the road, a woman coming across a bridge up ahead.  Now, because of TV movies and watching too much of the news, I began to slow down my 75mph speed as a precaution in case this was someone who thought it might be fun to throw something off the bridge onto the cars below.  It all happened in a matter of seconds.  This woman had decided that she no longer wanted to live, came over the side and jumped off of that bridge, landing in front of my car on the busy interstate!

I swerved, screaming, trying to articulate to my mom what just happened.  I pulled over a little ways from the scene just to be safe and began jogging back to this nightmare that had just unfolded in my lane in front of me!  A small group had already gathered around her and I was surprised to see that the woman had already re-gained consciousness (after seeing her land like a rag doll and unconscious).  She was trying to fight us to get up while bleeding on the pavement.  I tried to soothe her, telling her that help was coming and that she was hurt.  I asked her if there was any phone numbers I could take down and call for her but she said she did not have anybody.  The paramedics and officers arrived.  They could not believe that this woman was not run over and kept saying it.  They allowed her to sit up as they examined her injured leg and face.  She is going to be just fine with just a scraped up face and broken leg!  As I was standing with the only other witness that cared enough to stop, a kind sweet faced lady on the way to pick up her daughter, we began talking of what we saw.  She did not see the woman jump like I did, only something in the road.  As I was trying to swerve, slow down and pull over she was trying to stop traffic that just kept driving around the woman and blowing the horn.  We could not believe how many just drove by blowing the horn and kept going!

On the morning of Christmas eve, my husband and I took our 3 kids to eat a late breakfast.  I mentioned that there was an elderly man eating alone and how sad that was at Christmas when the place was full of families.  Teen could not even enjoy her food because of it and wanted to go over and ask him to join us but is very shy about such things.  My husband and I wanted to as well but we made excuses such as he probably wanted to be alone or that he probably had a house full of family and wanted some time alone to enjoy his paper.  With a determined look, she went over to the man, wished him a Merry Christmas, and told him there was plenty of room at our table.  He joyfully accepted and for the next hour we were all entertained with stories of this gentleman’s life.  He introduced himself as Jim O’Neal, the “84 yr old Black Irishman”.  He insisted that he pay for our meal but my husband had gladly already paid for his.  We all left the restaurant that morning feeling happy and blessed.

These events got me to thinking about how we live our lives.  Do we stop our hectic pace and self-absorbancy and help those in need or do we just drive by and blow the horn?  Do we go the extra mile to bring a smile to someone’s face or do we make excuses to ease our conscious so we feel better about not going out of our comfort zone?

Christians, myself included, are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).  Let’s not also forget the golden rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).  There is verse after verse where we are to show Christ’s love through serving and loving others.  However, our selfish nature tends to fight with that kind of selfless love.  For this upcoming new year my prayer is that I allow God to continue to use me to bless those around me.  I pray that my children will continue to live out a life of serving God by being kind and loving others and that my husband and I can be an example of that love.  Who knows?  Maybe if we step up and go that extra mile there will be more people who don’t feel so empty and alone enough to jump off a bridge and instead end up sharing stories over a meal with new friends.

Are you someone that in this new year brings blessings or blows horns?

Our Blended Life..The Musical

DSC_2377I have many drafts of posts for my blog but not any that I feel God leading me to publish just yet.  I haven’t posted in a really long time because I’ve been busy writing for other family publications.  I wanted to share an experience I had with my son tonight.

I have been playing the piano “by ear” since I was around four and had to reach up to reach the keys.  I bought a used piano recently and it’s good therapy for me just to sit and play and sing some of the old songs I loved as a kid such as “Sweet Hour of Prayer”, “Rise Again”, and “He Was There all the Time”. 

After dinner tonight I sat down and started playing.  My youngest son who is nine came up and sat down beside me.  After a few times of singing the song he chimed in with his sweet boy voice.  Ya know, the sweet voice that doesn’t know all the perfect notes of the song and hits every few off key but catches back on quickly.

After that, I started playing an old song my parents used to sing called “Remind Me Dear Lord”, a song I have sung to him since he was very little.  A song he loves.  He suddenly said, “Mama I want to play that song!”  It never occurred to him that it might take a lot of time for me just to teach him the chords.  Any way, I told him that we should start by learning a C chord.  He quickly picked up on that and I showed him the key progression of C which the C, F, and G chords.  After trying, however, he because frustrated that he could not play the music like I played so I started playing a song I learned as a child:  “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  A very simple song to play in the key of C.  He caught on quickly and was soon playing a long with me, so I showed him how to put a little more into the rhythm by using his left hand.  That proved to be too difficult for him and becoming quite agitated our music lesson came to a frustrated end.

Later I started thinking about that sweet moment and how thankful I was that God had given me the ability to play so if nothing else I could teach my son about Him through playing and music and to make lasting memories.  How often do we have those precious opportunities with our children in our lives;  to share our gifts and talents at unexpected moments.  It wasn’t a perfect moment.  It wasn’t flawless.  However, that’s life and that’s how life is, isn’t it?  It is our blended family heartsong; those everyday teaching moments that shape us and make us who we are.  Sometimes it’s spontaneous.  Sometimes it’s off-key.  Sometimes it’s difficult, but it is in those precious God-given moments that gives our heartsong a melody!

Colossians 3:16 ESV “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

What’s So Great About 4?

Earlier this summer, I was driving down the road on the way to the grocery store, listening to the radio when the overly zealous radio DJ announces that if you are the 10th caller your name will be entered in a drawing to win a family 4-pack of tickets to go see an upcoming show at the local coliseum. I get to the store and begin my grocery shopping.  I head for the meat department to check out the sales.  I notice that there are packs of fresh ground meat hamburgers all conveniently made into large patties in packs of 4.  I chug home after finishing the task of grocery shopping, put things away and finally sit down and grab my laptop.  Although we had already had an amazing beach vacation at the beginning of the summer, I wanted to look up some prices for a possible trip toward the end of the summer.  I go to the various websites and search the packages and specials.  There is countless, and I do mean countless deals on theme park tickets, food, and  lodging for (you guessed it) a family of 4. Deciding that we did not have enough money I started looking into alternative options for the summer.  A local  water park at a lake 20 minutes from our home was running a special for a summer pass at an amazing deal for a FAMILY OF 4!  After this happened for the 4th time (pun intended) that day I started to ask myself, is society trying to tell us something?  There are so many deals and so many specials geared toward the family and every single one of them for family is limited to 4!  It seems there are so many differences of opinion out there about families and the ones that society seems to want to force upon us is referred to as being politically correct.  Is it that perhaps if you are a family of 4 you are politically correct and the ones that have less than or in my case, more than 4 are politically incorrect?  I can’t help but ask the obvious question here;  what’s so great about 4?  Is that society’s way of reminding us at every turn “ok you have 2 children, you’re done now”?!  Maybe, if you are a family of 3, well I guess it might not be too bad, you can bring a friend.DSC_2164

I asked my husband how he felt about the subject with all the family deals, coupons, or specials are geared toward families of 4.  He said that society certainly seems to be biased toward families that have 2 kids.  He says he feels like it is inconsiderate to the larger families and I am going to have to agree.  Wouldn’t it seem that if you have more than 2 kids would you not need the discount and specials that much more because you have more mouths to feed?  Seriously what are these companies thinking?  “sorry but we only have 4 passes kids so pick a number between 1 and 10  to see which one of you has to sit this one out”!  It seems that we are seeing more and more blended and expanded families these days.  I think it’s time we changed the standard! Who’s with me?? 

Psalms 127:3-5a “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

FLAVORFUL FRIDAY!!

I decided I am going to try a few new things for my blog.  I love pinterest and try all kinds of food recipes from my pins.  For Fridays I am going to try and post a recipe I have tried and how it turned out.  School just started in our district and again it is a time for me to come up with creative lunches for teen gal and lil man.  I had found a pin for pizza egg rolls but it did not have instructions, only pictures.  So I found another recipe and tied the two together to come up with my modified version for lunch for the kids the next day.  I would have gotten this blog posted earlier today but my husband took me out on a lunch date.  It has been a beautiful bright sunny day, cloudless sky and we have had a wonderful afternoon.  (smile smile)

Here is step by step for pizza egg rolls:

DSC_2141Here are the ingredients I used including cooking spray, string cheese sticks (I used what I had which was mozzarella and cheddar swirl), pepperoni (I used turkey because I feel it’s healthier and a lot less greasy), egg roll wrappers (found in the produce/bagged salad section of the grocery store), and butter/light olive oil (about a tablespoon each) melted together with a little garlic and onion powder and italian seasoning sprinkled in….You will need to preheat the oven at 375.

DSC_2142I got out a small cup of water and placed near my work surface.  On waxed paper (just my preference) on a wrapper a little closer to the closest corner to me I placed 3 pepperoni on the bottom, a cheese stick on top and 3 more pepperoni on top of the cheese.  I then dipped my fingers and wet all 4 corners of the egg roll wrapper.

DSC_2144I then rolled the closest corner around the mixture as snug as possible.DSC_2145I then tucked the 2 side corners as shown and rolled the rest of the way.  I then placed them on a greased baking sheet and brushed all over the top with the butter/olive oil mixture.  Bake 10-15 minutes then turn them, brush the butter mixture over the top again and bake another 10 -15 minutes until both sides are golden brown and because I didn’t have pizza sauce and I used traditional spaghetti sauce to dip it in.  DSC_2138

It was such an easy recipe the kids loved it, in particularly lil man.  I warmed the pizza egg rolls up the next morning, added a container of sauce, threw in some plain frozen strawberries in another container, a frozen “gogurt”  both thawed  by lunch and he said it was the best lunch ever! (awww I love to hear that)!  Let me know how you like it!

Disclaimer: I used all of the products that were available to me in my local grocery store and did not receive any endorsements for any of the name brands pictured or named in this post.

Knowing, Learning, and Life-Changing

This summer has been very busy for all of us so I have not posted as often.  We have had trips, sports, work, and different parenting schedules.  It’s great because we really do get more extended time together with the kids as a family but it is also more chaotic because we have to figure out who is going where with which parent on this vacation or this trip or that conference.  In June, we had the most amazing vacation with my husband’s family but it was over way too quickly.  We have had a summer filled with swimming, playing, working on multiplication tables, running, volunteering, piano playing, and praying.  We have also had some unexpected conflict changes.  One of the other parents has strayed away from the court order and allowed the child to go back and forth this summer whenever they want (which has been wonderful and less stressful) and we have had another parent to take very precious time away from us causing more stress.  I am actually looking a little bit forward to school starting just to get back in a normal & hopefully stable routine which is good for all of us.  Blended family life is not easy.  It is constantly evolving.  It is hard work.  It is dedicated consistency.  It is at times disappointing.  It is at times overwhelming.  However, to me as a biomom and bonus mom it is the most life-changing love I could have ever known.  First, it is a life-changing love for my husband.  He has shown the deepest compassion and care for me like I have never had before.  He has loved my children with a quiet strength and patience that even they have noticed and responded to with equal love and respect toward him.  Watching him work hard to be a very involved loving father to his son.  Teaching him to grow into the man God created him to be and life changing for me as I support him in every way I can as he does that.  Second, it has been a life-changing love for my bonus son.  Loving him like my own and being patient to let him “catch up” and not pushing him to be part of a family that he was not born in to but to grow in to.  Loving him as he finds his place in this family as well as know that he is just as equally important as me, his dad, or the other two kids.  Third, I have this life-changing love for my children.  I have overcome the guilt of the previous destruction of my relationships to be able to forgive their fathers and forgive myself so that I let go of the “control monster” and encourage a deep loving relationship between my children and their dads.  I am of the mind that the more I encourage time and a closeness with their dad the more they develop a life-changing love for me because they don’t have to choose.  They are free to love us equally.

I have saved the best for last.  Most of all I have developed a deeper life-changing love for my Heavenly Father! He has cultivated all this life-changing love in me after putting this little family together.  Through all of the craziness of this past year I have grown closer to Him each and every day.  Having to depend on Him both emotionally and spiritually, but also physically as well.  I haven’t really shared a lot but a year ago my life was turned upside down when it was invaded with episodes of vertigo.  This spinning vertigo was short lived however it was replaced with severe motion sensitivity and MAV which basically translates to 24/7 rocking swaying dizziness that waxed and waned up numerous times a day until a few months ago.  I had to take a medical leave from my fantastic job because I had to stop driving and take balance/motion therapy to re-train my brain to compensate.  The neuro therapist explained that after the few initial attacks of spinning vertigo, my system did not re-set as most would do because of my long history of migraines.  Instead it made me super sensitive to motion pretty much making me feel like I am on a boat all the time.  With therapy I have slowly regained my balance and now the rocking is very minimal and only noticed occasionally during the day.  I also have migraine medication as well as dizzy medication to take in case of an emergency as needed.  All of this really put me in an unknown place because I have had to completely depend on others. compassion and God I have always been so independent and free spirited and that was all taken away for a long while.  I have prayed and cried out to God and through all of this I have come to know Him better.  I have come to a better understanding that beyond religion God wants me to know Him and that to know him is to love selflessly and to love selflessly is to be compassionate!  Jeremiah 22:16 NLT “He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him.  Isn’t that what it means to know me? says the Lord.”  I have been studying and loving the book of Hosea right now.  Hosea 6:6 NLT ” I want you to show love not offer sacrifices.  I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”  God wants my heart, not my religion!  The more I have come to really know God the more I have experienced life-changing love for Him!  The more I have experienced this life-changing love the more compassion He has given me for others far beyond what I have ever known.  Showing compassion to others is completely selfless because it is me doing for others with nothing expected in return other than experiencing joy in being compassionate and it has also helped me get the focus off of me.  This is why I am sharing all of this in this post.  Life is difficult, it is messy and especially so in blended family life and especially if you are also dealing with physical sickness like I have.  It is easy to get trapped in yourself, and in your circumstances.  If you are struggling with these things too I encourage you to start asking yourself how you can be compassionate and how you can demonstrate it to others.