Ever Asked Yourself What is God’s Purpose for Me?

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How often have you pondered over the question What is God’s will or purpose for my life? or What does God want me to be? I have spent much time pouring over the same questions and honestly the answer seems to change often. I have all sorts of ideas that pop into my head that I want to do or accomplish for the sake of His glory.

I will wake up and have something on my heart and think to myself, yes that’s a great idea God. I’m going to do that! However, the next day my feelings have totally changed or I have an even better idea or plan.Or I feel that maybe my idea from yesterday is just not possible.

During my prayer time the other day, I ran across a verse that has opened my eyes and given me insight to God’s plan and will for me.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise, the simple.   ~Psalm 19:7

There are 3 very important truths in this verse about God’s plan for us

What God wants of me is good and perfect for me.

Doubt can be one of my biggest enemies. But this verse reassures us that God made me with a plan that is uplifting to my soul and refreshing to my spirit. It’s not going to make me feel weighted down and burdened. Jesus says My yoke is easy and my burden light.

I can trust Him.

I can have complete faith knowing that God loves me. He is for me. And His plans are best for me.

God’s plan is simple, wise and uncomplicated.

It’s me who make it complicated. If you are trying to do something that is very complicated and you continually are running into closed doors and road blocks, then that may not be what God wants you to do or maybe it’s not something He wants you to do right now. I’m not saying that some things we are called to do are not hard but God opens doors and makes the way for us.

In the book, Design for Discipleship, Dwight Pentecost says “The word of God claims absolute authority over your life.” And the bible tells us everything we need to know about who God is and who we are in Christ. He wants whats best for you. You can trust Him. It’s just that simple. Look around and think what is the most simple, easy thing I can do where I’m at in life right now. He has placed you there….on purpose.

 

 

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Crazy Blended Family Holidays: What’s a Stepmom to Do?

huff-po-christmaIn nuclear families, Christmas can be very hectic. There’s grandparents and extended family to visit and gatherings galore. If you have a blended family, let’s face it. Holidays can all out suck. The delicate schedule gets out of whack. The kids get shuffled and shuttled back and forth more than normal. Even parents can become selfish and accusing. Can you say cray cray?

Often times, stepmoms can get caught up in the middle of the whirlwind. But, hey, relax. The good news is there are still some things you can focus on to keep the season merry and bright without losing your jingle bells.

Focus on the season rather than the day. So much emphasis is placed upon the magical December 24th and 25th. However, if you’re like us, our Christmas is celebrated every other year on December 26th and the world does not end. The season of the holidays is a whole month so get out and enjoy it with the kids whenever you get the chance.

Don’t obsess with when but focus more on how. How to make it memorable. How to make it special for your family. With social media, it is easier than ever to find cool events and seasonal happenings. Last year, we took the boys to a woodworking toy making shop where we learned the entire process of how a limb off of a tree becomes a toy.

Focus on giving to others. For several years, my daughter and I have gotten involved with our local church to assist families in need. Gifts are donated through angel trees and we help them shop, wrap and load up their gifts to take home to their family on a designated night.

Last year, I took the money we set aside for my gifts and donated it to a soldier and his family through Vet Tix. “Vet Tix provides tickets to events which reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories and encourage service members and veterans to stay engaged with local communities and American life.” My husband wrapped the receipt as my gift, placed it under the tree and when we opened presents, I shared the story of the soldier we were helping. There is nothing better to take the focus off of the stress and ourselves like giving to others.

Focus on making new traditions unique to your family. Since we’ve moved into our neighborhood, we’ve tried to make little gifts for our close neighbors and friends and we give them out as a family every year.

For instance, one year I wrapped a can of soda and bag of microwave popcorn in a gift bag and attached a little message card to it that said Pop pop fizz fizz oh what a good neighbor you is. Last year, we decided to make homemade healthy baked dog treats and give them to our neighborhood dog owners.

Instead of having to decorate the tree on a specific day, we always wait and decorate the tree together. Each of our kids has special ornaments that they love to hang on the tree themselves. That way, now matter how the schedule falls, they still feel a part of the celebration of the season.

Focus on the reason for the season. The holidays can mean different things to different families. Christmas for us is a time to reflect on what we value and what we hold most dear and a time to remember the love born on Christmas. What ever makes this season special for your family is what’s important.

We have a special snow white stocking that hangs over the fireplace in front of the rest. All during the season, we write down special things and place it inside its soft shimmery folds. We write things that we are thankful for in each other or maybe something we have seen the other do and we are proud of them, or something that has touched our heart. When we celebrate our Christmas, we read them and try to guess who wrote it or who it’s about. It is one of my favorite times we have together!

I’ve shared about some of our holiday fun and ideas on how to keep the crazy to a minimum. However, there is one thing that should not be the focus. Don’t focus on the negative.  It’s toxic and unhealthy. The holidays with stepfamilies are already complicated so don’t poison it by focusing on the Grinches who would love to steal your Christmas. Reflect on what you value and what you hold most dear, the love that you have for each other.

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.

God Sees The Heart

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I have been going through some difficult times lately. The decisions I am facing do not just impact myself but deeply impact my family. Sometimes, when I am overwhelmed with such trials, I find it hard to write. The emotions are too strong and as I fight to stay in control of them, I clamp down. I’m left with all the struggles, worry, and stress trapped in my head but not allowing them to show. This only increases this weight of the burdens I am carrying.

Adding to it is I can be my own worst critic. Because I am overwhelmed and worried, I beat myself up for being,well, overwhelmed and worried. This leaves me feeling weak and even inferior comparing myself to others that either seem so confident and strong or supremely happy.

A few weeks ago, as I was having my morning coffee and prayer time, I came across some verses and a prayer I had written back in January and it really spoke to my heart. I felt God nudging me to share it, however I have been reluctant to do so.

Sharing that I am struggling requires me to feel vulnerable and although I have a wonderful supportive husband and family, sadly no matter how hard I try to give, share, and love others, there are still those that glory in my struggle. But, maybe I am not alone. My prayer is that in sharing, that it will encourage someone who needs it.

January 5, 2016

  • James 1:5 Ask God for His wisdom and He will give it to you.
  • James 1:16-18 God does not change like a shifting shadow-He gives the good stuff!
  • James 1:22-24 Follow through with what God’s word tells you to do. Don’t forget the new creation you are in Christ. Don’t forget who you are!

Heavenly Father,

I’m asking for Your wisdom to see the situation through Your eyes, so that my heart and my will are aligned with Yours. You do not change. You give the good stuff. I know that with acceptance of Your will, I will find peace. Help me to realize the creation I am in Your image. Father, help me realize my place in Your kingdom. Bind satan from the oppression and inferiority placed in my heart that I seem to wrestle with daily.

It never ceases to amaze me the goodness of God and the perfection of His timing. When I finally decided to share this post, I went back to my prayer journal and found these two verses at the bottom of my entry for that January day.

Proverbs 16:2 The Lord sees your motives. 1Thessalonians 2:4Seek to please God not people for God judges the heart.

Reminding me that it does not matter what others think and even if some revel in my pain, there is nothing He does not see. God sees the heart!

 

How a Coke Revealed to Me What Was Important in my Marriage

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

My husband and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I found a clean white envelope on the kitchen counter simply addressed to my angel. Later, as I placed the sweet card on my desk that he had given me, I noticed a Coke can sitting there. I remembered the day he gave that to me as well.

It had been one of those days. I had come home from work unusually stressed and tired. Trying to scramble to get dinner ready while snapping at my husband who was trying to help me, as he often did. As I was getting the plates and silverware, he 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?
Later, my heart felt heavy with guilt as I lovingly rinsed out that soda can and placed it among my special treasures on my desk. 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 such 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?

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

It has been a long and difficult journey thru heartbreak and divorce to finding my way to my husband and the same for him. Our dynamic is different because we each have children that we must prioritize. We may not have the luxury for just the two of us to go off on an exotic getaway. The children’s medical bills, braces, college and family vacations come first. However, I can show him he means so much to me, not in the elaborate but in the every day. I can give him my best, my encouragement and support. Set aside a small part of my day just for him.

I want to be my husband’s true mate, a real partner in life and I was reminded of that by a soda can. I pray that I will always be continually reminded. Reminded that showing my husband everyday in some small way that he truly is the one that my soul loves.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post and South Africa’s All4Women

 

What Huffington Post Left Out

Weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised when the editor of Huffington Post Divorce contacted me and asked if they could feature our family for their blended family Friday feature story. I had recently had two pieces published on the Huff Post blog, but this was truly an honor. It was a rare chance to share who we really are with so many. I know that it is not a Christian news outlet. However, I am who I am and in the interview I did not hide how much our faith has been the center of our family.

When the email finally landed in my inbox to let me know they were running our feature this past Friday, I could barely sit still for days. All morning on the big day, I kept checking the site, waiting for it to go live. When it did, mouth dry, I nervously clicked on the link. (You can read the feature here.)

As I began to read, confusion began to swirl and then disappointment settled in my spirit. Although it had several elements of what I had said, sadly, every part about our faith, the essence of who we really are as a family and how we deal with stress and difficulties was edited out completely. (Particularly question #5). Also in vowing to spread awareness, the things I shared about my son’s Chiari had been cut as well. But I want others to know us, see God in us, so I am posting my original interview.

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Our family journey has been filled with change, disappointments, victories, worry and joy. Our faith has been there through it all. Divorce and re-marriage is still an issue where we are looked down on and judged by some within the Christian community. I have a passion to reach out and spiritually encourage other moms like me who may feel judged or shamed so I started my blog www.familiesunbroken.com and it’s kind of evolved from there. As a writer, it only takes one moment, one thought, one written idea to change someone’s life. I don’t have all the answers but I share my heart and hope that it resonates with other families like ours.

1. How many family members do you have? Ages? 

My daughter is 17 years old, my son is 12 this month and Daniel’s son is 13 years old. And we have a furbaby named Brady that just turned 5 years old that is the most spoiled in the house.

2. How long have you and your spouse been together?
Daniel and I have been together nearly 9 years and will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary in a few weeks.

3. What are some of the biggest challenges of blended family life?
I think it is the same as in many blended families. It is trying to find balance between home and work while coordinating schedules, parenting time, school and other events.
What’s one specific problem you’ve faced time and time again and how have you sought to address it?
Daniel is the “every other weekend and one night a week” parent so we have to cram family time as well as one on one parenting time into a very limited space. Because of this, he feels he never sees his son enough. What we have found that works is we deliberately set aside one on one quality time with him and we plan it before his parenting weekend. Sometimes it’s going to breakfast on Saturday mornings or mountain biking on Sunday afternoons, etc… As a family, we try to simply do activities to make memories. We do a lot of day trips. I think I have a talent for finding activities to do or places to visit that are out of the ordinary (lol). Daniel tells me all the time how much he loves me for that. His son appreciates that we respect the short time he has with his dad and it has helped us to appreciate the family time we do have together and the memories we are able to make.
4. What’s the best thing about being part of a blended family?
I feel that it’s learning to love each other coming in from the outside. More of an effort goes into learning our children’s individual uniqueness and as we have grown more as a family, the effect is that we love and appreciate each other all the more for that effort.5. How do you deal with stress in your household?
We have a very strong faith that is rooted in grace, acceptance and forgiveness. During times of stress in our home we have tried to teach and practice extending grace to each other. We try to accept each other, that we are not the same and each of us has our own thoughts and feelings, as well as reactions. We are not robots. We then try to forgive each other, learn from it and move forward.
As far as handling the internal and emotional stress that comes with being blended, prayer helps us a lot. Daniel works out at the gym several times a week. He calls it his therapy, and I love to write.

6. What makes you proudest of your family?
What makes me most proud of our family are delicious ordinary moments. It’s those moments when we are not a blended family, we are just family. Moments where we are at the dinner table eating together, laughing hysterically at inside jokes and sharing about our day. Those moments where we are riding together in the car singing and dancing to the radio, playing at the park, or camped out on the living room floor watching a movie. It is those moments where we are not a blended family around the dinner table, we are just a family around the dinner table. We are not a blended family having fun, we are just a family having fun. I really am proud to say over the years we have shared countless moments like that.
7. What advice do you have for other blended families who feel like a peaceful family dynamic is out of reach? The best advice I can give is only what has seemed to work for us with a lot of time and patience. First, throw your preconceived ideas out the window. It will never be what you expect. Accept that there will be tears, yelling, confusion, and adjustment. Second, make your marriage a priority. That doesn’t mean your children are less, but because your children deserve more, and don’t need to go through another divorce. The kids will learn to appreciate the stability of a healthy family home. Finally, learn to be selfless not selfish. Focus on making memories instead of what you can’t control.
I also want to share just over a year ago, my son was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and underwent brain decompression surgery. It was an emotional eye-opening experience for both his father and me, but from that came better communication, patience and appreciation for each other as his parents. It affected every one in both families. It helped to solidify in our hearts that at the end of the day, what truly is important, is each other.
I would like to sincerely thank Huffington Post for everything, especially the wonderful opportunity to share with so many that otherwise would not be possible to reach. I want to say thank you for including a link to my blog so that I could write this post and share what was left out. Allow me to share more of a part of who I am, who we are.
But most of all, I want to thank God for opportunities to allow me to share Him and how he truly has helped make something new out of our brokenness.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
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You may have started out broken but God heals and restores to unbroken.

 

Blue Blessings

WP_20160319_21_25_43_ProThere are moments that happen in our lives that I like to refer to as blue blessings. They happen when we are really down and heavyhearted. They seem to come out of the blue and whisper that it’s going to be okay. Surprise us with their simplicity to touch our hearts and encourage us to keep going, and that somehow what we face has purpose and meaning.

It’s been just over a year since my son, Luke, had brain surgery for Chiari malformation. He has come so far and I think it’s given him a love and compassion for others in ways that continues to surprise me. I have had so many tell me how special he is and inspiring to them.

Recently, I learned that a coworker who had battled cancer before and beat it had recently found out it had returned. My heart broke for her. Luke decided to make a large card for her. He spent hours on it, drawing and coloring. He would not let me help in any way.

When he was done, we packaged it up and also sent with it, a prayer bear. I included a note explaining how Luke and I had prayed over it and when she hugged it close, we prayed she would feel our love and prayers of healing and comfort for her.

Lately, I have been discouraged. Luke has had some health issues come up that have burdened my heart with worry. Because he has an incurable brain condition, he will never have just a normal headache or just a typical stomach ache. As his mom, it will always cause me to wonder if it is something more. It will cause me to question if I am doing the right thing, making the right decision for him on how to treat it or what doctor we see.

So the sweet card that we received this past week from my coworker came out of the blue and the words she wrote at the end brought tears to my eyes and to my little guy’s as well. Sometimes we just need to know that there is a reason and purpose for the bad times we face. We need to be reminded that we make a difference, that we matter. Sometimes it comes to us as blue blessings.

Barbara note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Stepmom, You Are Not Alone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hands Are For Holding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Holding my dad’s yesterday before surgery.

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

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

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

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