Guest Post: A Golden Rule for Divorced Parents

meter-106419_640I first heard about Tim Lemire and his efforts a few months ago when he contacted me about an article about divorced dads I had published on The Huffington Post. You can read that here.

For the past year, Tim has been working to push legislators and the General Assembly in his home state of Rhode Island to adopt an initiative to require divorce and coparenting education for divorcing parents in the family court system. This, no doubt, is a steep uphill battle and I applaud his brave efforts to bring about precious positive change for the sake of the children.

He has written a very thoughtful piece about coparenting and I wanted to share it!

Here is what Tim has to say….

We grown-ups are aware that from time to time, we imitate our parents — and not always voluntarily.

If we are also parents, we want our own children to imitate us … but only in good ways. We do our best, therefore, to model good behavior for them.

If we are divorced parents, we can do this by repeating to ourselves the following: The way I treat my former spouse is how I want my children to treat me.

That doesn’t mean that on your ex’s next birthday, you need to send flowers or a candygram. It doesn’t mean you need to erase your mind’s every negative thought about your ex because that’s what you want your kids to do with you.

Here’s what it does mean:

  • When you badmouth your ex, you teach your children, “It’s OK to call a parent names and to talk about them critically and negatively.”
  • When your children hear you assigning bad motives to your ex, you teach your children to be cynical and suspicious of a parent.
  • When you use Family Court not to resolve disagreements constructively but rather to bully, intimidate, and bankrupt your ex, you are teaching your children that lawsuits are how to resolve disagreements with a parent.
  • When you shut your ex out of your children’s lives — not because your ex poses any threat to your children’s safety, but because you wish to punish your ex — you are teaching your kids, “It’s perfectly OK to cut a parent out of your life.

    If you do any or all of the above, don’t be surprised one day at how critical, cold of heart, or distant your children have become toward you.”

    You are the one who taught them.

    Children learn from both parents, which is why it’s important for both members of a divorced couple to be civil, respectful, fair, and cooperative.

    This golden rule may be the one thing you and your ex can agree on.

    It may not be easy. It may, in fact, be quite hard. But how you handle challenging situations is also something your children are to looking to you, to your example, to learn from.

    If your children become adults who are compassionate and kind, cooperative and collaborative, patient and understanding, would you like them to say they learned all that from you — or from anyone but you?

    Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” — James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes from a Native Son (1961)

    TIM LEMIRE is a writer and visual artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. He is currently working to reform family law in his home state. You can hear more from him on This I Believe.

 

3 Simple Things to Pray Over Sex in Your Marriage and Why

new blog picI am super excited about this post. I have long admired Sheila Gregoire and her site To Love Honor and Vacuum. I think the issue of sex and intimacy in Christian marriage is not talked about enough, but Sheila has been changing that for 9 years. I had the privilege of writing and sharing 3 things that I pray over sex in my marriage and she has published it today her on her blog.

Here is a sneak peak at it and you can click the link to read the rest:

For most who will be honest, if you have a rocky marriage, sex is the last thing on your mind. Therefore, whether your marital problems started with sex or not, it becomes a big issue or rather the “not having it” becomes the issue adding to marital turmoil.

In my past, I was mistreated and told that a true woman pleases her man sexually no matter how depraved his request may be. There have also been times when I was that woman that used sex as punishment or reward. I’ve also been through the deep pain of divorce. I am happily remarried now. I want to learn from my past and not make the same mistakes. I want to change unhealthy attitudes I have had about intimacy. I also have a very strong belief in the absolute power of prayer. I thought I would share three simple things that I pray over sex in my marriage.

To find out the 3 things I pray over sex in my marriage and why, visit 3 Key Things to Pray Over Your Sex Life.

 

A Devotional Thought for the Stepmom Dealing With Some Difficult Feelings

a-new-heartAre you a stepmom that is having a hard time right now because of some difficulties you are facing? We have all been there. I wrote this short devotional post three years ago but feel it is still a hot topic for struggling stepmoms.

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. ~Ezekiel 36:26

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 or brokenness that God thinks less of you or doesn’t want your family to succeed! Remember that Jesus lived in a blended family…

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

Hey Stepmom, You Are Not Alone!

SOS blog post

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.

SOS blog 2

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

Having A Hard Time Because Of Someone’s Actions?

Letting goDuring the service last Sunday, I was reminded of the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery because they were jealous. But it wasn’t what they did that gripped my heart. It was his reaction when he was reunited with them years later!

Genesis 45:4-8 “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

Have you been going through a really hard time because of someone’s actions? Having trouble trying to see the good in something painful? I have had trouble, especially in the past, of forgiving and letting go. I’ve wanted them to know what it’s like to hurt as they had hurt me or mistreated my family.

I’ve had conversations in my head that went a little like this:

Me: “But Lord, they hurt me so deeply and those I care most about! They can’t get away with that!”

God whispers: “Forgive them.”

Me: “But why Lord? They don’t deserve it! If I forgive they will think I’m ok with what they did.”

God whispers: “Extend grace to them.”

Me: “But why Father when they have not shown it to me; to my loved ones.”

Again He whispers: “They hurt Me when they hurt you, but you must forgive them as I have forgiven you. You must extend grace to them as I have extended grace to you. With their actions and in the pain you may have lost little but as My child, you have and will be given much.”Letting go

Joseph had every right and opportunity to have his revenge but he saw through the pain and instead extended grace and forgiveness because he knew that God had a plan for his life and God most certainly has a plan for us. Lamentations 3:37 “Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission?”

If I am holding onto the pain and anger placed there by others then my hands are too full to take hold of the beautiful blessings that God is trying to give me. Sometimes, He allows things to happen to empty our hands of all that mess, all that pain, all that bitterness so that he can fill them to overflowing with His goodness!

Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
I encourage you to let go of the mess placed there by the ex. Let go of the mess placed there by a family member. Let go of the mess placed there by a friend. Drop it and embrace all the good things God has planned for you.

Letting go

 

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.

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.”

 

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!

A New Heart

Image

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.