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
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.
Respect & Marriage Boundaries & Freaks
I’ve talked a lot about marriage, respect, and the marital wheel of bliss in previous blogs and it’s about respecting your husband and your marriage. I don’t even begin to pretend I am a marriage expert but I have learned from my numerous mistakes! Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about others respecting the marriage boundaries. I was speaking with a friend the other day and she was telling me about her ex husband. She related to me that they were having a lot of problems and that as they were trying to work it out, he began receiving texts from a couple of single gals he worked with. She felt that was highly inappropriate for a married man. There may be some who will disagree but I think it is inappropriate too. I feel that if you have close friendships with the opposite sex it opens a door for trouble ESPECIALLY if you are having problems in your marriage.
Moving on, it got me to thinking about the single girls doing the texting. It feels as if the enemy is attacking marriages. Look at the statistics about broken homes, divorce, and remarriage. Remarriages have a much lower chance of surviving so I personally think there has to be strong boundaries set around your marriage. Why does it seem that when ladies see a wedding ring on a guy’s finger they see it more of a challenge and not an “off limits” sign? Does it make them feel better about themselves that they can get a supposedly committed man away from his commitment? Does it make them feel powerful to get a married man to flirt with them? It may say a lot about the man involved but it screams a lot about the woman to me. At any rate, my husband and I had a situation that arose a few years ago from a single gal and I’m going to share the story and how I handled it.
My husband received a message on facebook from a girl he had went to high school with and knew only as an acquaintance. She was asking him about another girl he had dated. He showed me the message and we decided he would msg her back and ask why she was asking. This gal proceeded to respond with how she had a huge crush on my husband back in high school. How this other girl had gone behind her back and went out with him because she herself wanted him. She talked about how gorgeous she thought he was then and then went on and on about how gorgeous he was now. I read the msg and it pissed me off! This crazy freak lived several states away and it wasn’t like I was worried in any way but if you are on our facebook page you can easily see that my husband is a family man with pictures of me and our kids plastered all over the page. Yet, instead of commenting for all to see, she wants to send him private messages of how she is still crushing on him. He said he would immediately delete her from his friends in which I agreed but I told him to wait first. I decided to send her a msg on his behalf and this is what I sent. (note that I did not act like a jealous freak or cuss her out; a fact at which I am prod of seeing as to how angry I was.)
“Why in the world would you say some thing like that to a married man and especially to a married man with children?
Don’t get me wrong! This is not about me being worried about my marriage or anything, it’s just that it is very
inappropriate on your part.
Obviously your lack of respect for marriage and family values would lead me to the conclusion
that you are also lacking in character.”
I signed my name and hit the send button. (Hehehe!) I still chuckle about it a little bit. I can only imagine her face when she read it and surprisingly (I’m being sarcastic) we never received a reply from her! What could she say really?
I share this to say protect your marriage period! 1Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”
Fight and Flight…my thoughts on marital conflict
My husband and I recently had a huge fight. It was the biggest fight we have had since we married 5 years ago. I’m not saying we don’t ever fight but we typically are over it very quickly and get on with the making up part. (blush blush) The trouble had been brewing for a short while now but it came to a head and exploded over $30 water bottles. (crazy! right?) This is the kind of argument that you can’t see your way past your anger and the kind that last a few days and when you’re done you feel exhausted and maybe even a little numb. Teen in the midst of this came home and feeling the oppressive tension asked me if we were going to get a divorce. I’m pretty sure that when parents fight that all kids ask that but I feel it is asked on a deeper level by a kid that has already gone through a divorce and remarriage with a parent. It got me thinking. There’s such a high percentage of subsequent marriages that don’t last. Why is that? My guess is that after going through divorce it is no longer this huge wall that you have never seen what’s on the other side. It is no longer an unknown. Most people when facing something big would rather face the known rather than the unknown, at least I would. In those heated moments when you want to shake them and make them understand, when your inner self is wanting to be “one up” and the winner, you tend to think very irrationally. (duh!) Be very honest….how many times have you thought or said or had your partner say, “Well there’s the door if you want to leave!” During times of stress and fear, scientists say we have a fight or flight response. We decide to stay and fight or we rapidly run away. I think in a remarriage/blended family relationship it’s more like fight AND flight. You get to fighting and decide “I’m strong and independent. I’ve taken myself out of a bad situation, started over, and I certainly can do it again!” So you remove yourself from the situation or think about removing yourself from the situation. In other words, you think about leaving.
I am trying to put my trust in God. This is what I am trying to do during those times. There is a marriage page on FB by DaveWillis.org. It’s an awesome site. I found a picture on his page that sums it up.
It may seem easy on paper but it is so very hard to do! Be compassionate, have sympathy toward your spouse, love them without condition, and show humility if at all possible! 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” Wow! In researching and praying as I write this post I am so convicted! How often have I not practiced this verse towards my friends, my family, and most importantly my husband! If you are reading this right now will you stop and pray for me and my husband. Pray that I will remember this verse when our marriage faces difficulties. Pray that I will be mindful to put my trust in God because He loves me, He loves my husband and my children, and because He wants us to succeed. Pray that I will remember He has it all figured out.
My husband and I drove down to the dead end of our street where we could have privacy and worked it out that afternoon. We started with arguing but ended with really listening to each other. We then went back to the house and had a family meeting. We explained to the kids that it was no secret we had been arguing that day but that no one is perfect. We are all human, we get angry and emotional at times, we don’t always agree and our farts smell sometimes. (Rec’d giggles from them over that last part). We explained that we love each other very much and that we are not divorcing or splitting up. We re-assured them of how much we love them and asked if there was anything they wanted to say or any questions they may have. You could see the worry and tension leave their faces and a peace settled in our home. (Thank you Father God for that amazing peace!)
All of this has made me sure of what I want and don’t want. I don’t want the fight and flight response! I just want the FIGHT! I want to fight for my marriage. I want to fight for my family. I want to fight to ensure that our blended home is a happy home. I want to fight satan and defeat him and not let him have yet another marriage that will destroy lives! As I hit the publish button, I am praying for you reading this. I am praying for you to show forgiveness and grace in your marriage and I am praying for that peace that passes all understanding that only comes from God.
Broken & Blessed
I can’t believe that this week I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage with my wonderful husband. It seems like it was only yesterday we were married and yet we have been through so incredibly much! I remember in a previous marriage I was married for 7 years and yet it felt more like 20 years. I’ve written about that experience in a few previous blogs but you can read this one to get an idea https://blendermom3.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/abuse-is-abuse/. Obviously it was a very dark time for me. I learned so much about myself as a Christian woman, mother, and wife after I got away from that situation and started to heal. I felt like I had fallen into a deep dark hole. I felt like I was made wrong. I felt inadequate. I felt broken in my soul. I could say that it was all in God’s plan but I honestly do not think it was His Will for me to marry that man. However, guess what? God takes our mistakes and what little we give him and uses them for His purpose anyway! I heard this in a sermon by Bishop T. D. Jakes. In Mark 6:41 NLT “Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share.” Rev. Jakes revealed in that scripture that God broke it. Then, God blessed what was less than enough. Lastly, God multiplied what was broken. Wow!! Take a minute to let the Reverend’s words sink in! God broke it. God blessed it. God multiplied it. Through all the pain and brokenness God took what little I gave him and blessed me and gave me a heart to share these experiences in hopes it might touch others. He gave me three beautiful children to teach them about God’s amazing love and he gave me a sweet loving husband that I can serve right along side and together to try and be an example of that amazing love is to our children. Read that scripture and think on those words. Try and think on even in those darkest times when it’s hard to see it that there is a blessing waiting. When you feel like you are broken in your soul like I did, God will still bless what is not enough and make it more than enough.
This was my very first post on this blog back in June 2012. It was on my heart today and I felt it needed to be re-written and re-posted. Thanks so much to all my readers and comments. It has meant so much to me!
My 2nd marriage lasted just over 2 years. We were having problems, particularly spiritual issues.
I begged him to get pastoral counseling with me but he didn’t(and still doesn’t) think counseling is scriptural. We were still managing to stay together, however, in spite of our problems until we were told by a family member that our pastor at the time was talking about me behind my back. He said that my husband had a “tiger by the tail when he married me”. I was hurt and totally offended. I wanted my husband to defend me and be upset with me but he seemed to defend the pastor. We called the pastor immediately but he would not return our calls for a week and finally he did call. He apoligized, but tried to justify that what he meant was I wear the pants in the family by that statement. (Was that really supposed to make me feel better?) He honestly didn’t know the workings of our marriage and had not right to give his opinion to others. I was still very hurt and offended but tried to make peace with the situation. My marriage after that was never the same and 5 months later we were separated. I felt that my husband didn’t go to bat for me and placed the pastor as more important, so to speak. Why am I writing this today? I think that the dynamics of a successful blended family are somewhat different then other marriages. It is very hard to put your marriage first above your children, especially when half is your own flesh and blood but not the other half but it is all the more important that you do! You have to learn and practice loving your spouse more. Do not misinterpret what I’m saying. This does not mean your blended children get less love and “sloppy seconds”. It just means your marriage to your spouse takes higher priority. Think about it: the stronger and together your marriage is the stronger you are able to be FOR your children. If you and him are divided then it filters down to the children and does not help them in any way feel safe in this blended family. They have already been through the horrors of divorce and you can bet that they are very scared that they will have to go through another! Being strong together shows them what a healthy relationship is and gives them comfort that everything is going to be ok.
This brings me to the above example of my second marriage and the topic of forgiveness. As I sat down for my quiet time with God this morning it felt that God was saying I need to forgive. Now obviously we need to work on forgiving our ex’s, but I’m talking about forgiving that pastor. You see, all these years, I have blamed him for the downfall of my second marriage. Matthew 11:6 KJV says “Blessed are those who are not easily offended”. Another verse and a favorite is Eph 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” So in thinking about your precious blended family today, think about forgiveness. Is there a person (other than the ex) that you feel played a role in the downfall of your marriage or relationship? Open your heart up to forgiveness and letting that go. I promise it will lighten the load and make you feel more refreshed and able to give your focus and energy to your family who deserve it way more than that person who offended you!
The Control Monster
If you are re-married and have kids from a previous relationship then you have fought the control monster at one time or another! Let’s take a moment for honesty here and say you have fought the control monster and you have also been the control monster! (There! That didn’t hurt so bad, did it?) If you are currently going through a divorce right now and kids are involved then you are either fighting the control monster or being a control monster right now! I had a friend confide in me the other day about some problems they are having while going through a separation. The friend was basically driven out of the house. Whenever they try to see the kids they are magically busy and the ex denies any time with them. Whenever the friend tries to call the children, the ex will not let them talk and starts an argument about other issues. It is so bad that the children have tried to sneak calls to the friend while at neighbors houses! I would go into more detail but am afraid that I will infringe on privacy, but you get the picture. Clearly that friend’s ex has become the control monster! Another friend of mine has been fighting his ex for a few years now. He is only allowed to his children very little and the children are being brainwashed by the mom against him all in the name of control!
Right after my ex left he decided that what we had agreed on was not good enough. He started talking to others and decided that we were going to trade off our son every seven days. He was still in pull ups and just over a year and half old! I felt like that would be way too difficult for him at such a young age. I told him that he could spend as much time with him during the week that he wanted but that it would be best for him to sleep in the same bed he had slept in since birth as much as possible. My ex took him and withheld him from me for 5 days. He would not let me see him or talk to him (I would typically call and sing nursery rhymes and songs to him over the phone even though he was so young. I just wanted him to hear my voice so he would know I had not left him.) Anyway, the ex also enrolled him in another daycare as well. Those were the longest five days of my life! I was forced to get an emergency court order granting me custody until our case could be heard. I remember it was Saturday when he was withheld and it was Wednesday afternoon when I got him back. When I showed up to pick him up, he jumped out the door. I scooped him up in my arms and he wrapped his chubby little arms around me and kept patting my back saying mama over and over. He literally would not let me put him down for two hours! It was like he was afraid I would leave him and not come back again. When we got to court instead of hanging my ex out to dry before a judge I decided to settle. I ended up giving him 4 nights every other weekend instead of the standard two. I decided it was best for my son to not have his parents in an all out war! I felt that revenge and hurting my ex was far less important than what was best for my son. That’s just one example of fighting the control monster.
There were also times when I was the control monster. I had my daughter’s time decreased with her father when she started school but for the longest time I would not deviate from our court order. I would not give extra time because I wanted to stay in control. Now she is old enough to say when she wants to go and so we listen to her, both of us. We work hard to communicate with each other on what’s going on with her and if she says she needs time with the other parent, we now work hard to make that happen.
So, why does the control monster come in and take over in some form or another in most cases? I think the number one reason is the ex wants to hit you where it hurts! They don’t want you to be happy or move on with someone else. If they feel they “hold the cards” then they can do whatever they want and what they want is to hurt you but what they don’t realize is they hurt those children FAR more than they hurt you! In a game of tug of war the rope in the middle is able to withstand the tugging. But if you were to tug on it constantly back and forth over a long period of time the tugged part of the rope becomes weaker, frayed and worn out. Your children are that part of the rope! They will become frayed, weak and eventually broken! If you are in this situation and the monster is trying to take over, stop and ask yourself is this the best thing for my child? Or is this just a way I can get back at the ex? Pray for wisdom to see through to the heart of the situation. Pray for peace and wisdom in this very difficult situation and then let God take care of it and give any revenge to them if needed.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Transitioning and Summer Fun
Summer time is very different for blended families! Sometimes it means you are all together for a longer extended period of time or that the house is more quiet because one or more of the kids are with the other parent. We have three different schedules for our 3 kids posted on the fridge all year long but even then I get the pick up or drop offs confused from time to time. However, having this posted, the kids know exactly when and where they are going to be and that seems to help. If you are a new blender then just letting the kids know when and where they will be helps them so much. In the beginning for us, one of the kids would cry when we picked them up but after a couple of days they were perfectly happy. Sadly, it was because the other parent would not prepare the child in any way for the transition. I think it made the other parent feel loved more if the child cried to leave and/or stay. Sound familiar? We can’t change the other parent but being the most steady and stable for your kids can help them transition and grow. The first few summers, when we did have all the kids, we did not have alot of money. Divorce, re-marriage, and attorney fees saw to that. There are however, so many low cost amazing things to do with the kids (blended family or not) that help with the family bonding experience. I thought I would share a few of the things we did to give ideas. Parks are amazing for low budget fun. We of course for an afternoon would head to a local park but we also took it a step farther and started an annual family park fun day. The week or so before school starts we start in the morning and go play at as many local parks as we can fit in a day.
The first year we went to 4 parks that dayand had a picnic lunch at their favorite. The next year we tried to beat that by going to 5 to play but only made it to 3 because one of the kids got sick (hey that’s life)! We also went on a train ride. There are train stations all over and their website lists several day trips. It cost us $50 for a family of 5 round trip and the kids still talk about it. We also had a family water balloon fight. It costs very little for balloons and water guns and we had a lot of fun chasing each other around shooting and squealing. This last suggestion may be limiting to your area but had to throw it in because it is so cool. We have a planetarium within an hour drive. Their astronomers set up their telescopes in different places one night a month for star and planet gazing and it’s completely free to take the family out and let them see through these huge telescopes and also they teach the kids about what they are seeing! These are just a few ideas but their is so many memory making things you can do! Of course, every family should do this but I think it is so important to make precious memories with your blender family! “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.” ~ Chuck Swindoll