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.

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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!

 

 

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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.

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!

 

 

Are You Having A Moment?

This Christmas was filled with lots of moments for our blended family, wonderful boring moments and I couldn’t be happier with that. Yes you read that right. I did say boring and I did say happy. This Christmas was very mellow. We carried out our yearly traditions. Made memories and visited a few new places together to make new ones. We even managed to sneak in a “pajama day” at the request of my sweet stepson just a few days before Christmas. We celebrated with family and shared lots of laughter. The darkness, the worry cloud that sat on my shoulder last year was gone. So like I said, boring, and grateful for it.

Luke ChristmasLast year, as many know, just before Christmas, we learned that our youngest son was going to have brain surgery for Chiari Malformation at the first of the year. So the holidays were consumed with big moments, such as staying strong and not letting him see how utterly scared I was. Moments like hiding how worried I was that this might, just might, be our last Christmas with Luke. Lost in thought of how there is no cure and what if something goes wrong during the surgery and he isn’t the same. Moments while among all the holiday gift shopping, I was searching for pajamas to fit a ten year old that buttoned down the front. And when finally finding some complete with a star wars theme, a moment when I could barely see my way to the cashier for the tears as I imagined when he would have to wear them while having to deal with doctors, nurses, medications, pain, and anxiety.  However, in those moments surrounded by all three kids, wonderful family, our amazing church and supportive friends and community God chose last Christmas to be one of the best we have ever had!

And from last Christmas to this Christmas God has felt so close. His perfect peace was truly a key to surviving all the moments we faced. Life has been rapid, busy for me this year. Writing, homeschooling, volunteering and Bible study classes have consumed me. In fact I’ve realized that the only thing I haven’t done much of is take a moment for me. blog post 3

It got me to thinking how moms like me give so much to every one else. A few months ago I had the privilege of writing a book endorsement for a fellow “blendermom”, Kristie Carpenter, and it was published in her latest devotional book Blended Mom Moments.

It is filled with weekly scriptural devotions interspersed with stories and nuggets of wisdom. I am really looking forward to diving into this book and spending some time with God. He really wants to spend time with you, minister to you, shepherd you and speak to your heart. I’m reminded of the words of the song What Do I Know Of Holy, by Addison Road, “I tried to hear from Heaven but I talked the whole time…” Sometimes we just need to stop talking in order to hear God speak to us.

Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

This new year I encourage you to stop. Put your feet up, savor a nice cup of coffee and have a moment. Have a moment of quiet, a moment of prayer, a moment of renewal. It will strengthen you during life’s big moments!

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

blog post 2*You can purchase a copy of “Blended Mom Moments” Signed Copy Here and Amazon here. I have also had the privilege of getting to know Tara Furman, founder of Knowing God Ministries. I purchased her “Intimacy with God” which truly changed my prayer time years ago. Click the link and go to resources to learn more.

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Stepfamilies and The Dad

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I have written numerous posts about stepfamilies, stepmoms, and biomoms. However recently, I have been thinking about the dads and how they feel in this whole blended/stepfamily thing. When I was a new stepmom, I scoured the internet for posts, articles, etc on stepfamilies and being a stepmom. During that time, I saw comments and posts from stepmoms who complained about how their stepchildren created so much conflict in their marriage. Some shared how they felt alone and isolated while their husband seemed oblivious. Some shared that their husband’s children could do no wrong in his eyes. Does any of this sound familiar?

I know that as a mom in a blended family, it can be filled with emotion. You can feel alone and invisible which is why I wrote about Hagar, in this post Dear Discouraged Stepmom and her role in the story of Abraham and his dysfunctional blended family.

But have you ever stopped and wondered, how does the dad really feel in all of this? Genesis 21:10-11,”and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’  The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.” Abraham was in agony because he was caught in the middle over his son. His heart was burdened. His wife wanted no part in sharing with a son that he fathered with another woman, whom nowadays would be considered his ex. He wanted his wife happy but he also felt, naturally, a strong loving and loyal bond towards his other son.

I know when we are hurt and frustrated it is hard to see past our own emotions, but are we truly treating our husbands with kindness? OR do you harbor resentment and allow it to bubble up and spill over in the relationship you have with his children?

I recently did an interview The Stepmom Series with Our Blended Home about being a stepmom. I shared that I made the commitment to love my stepson when I made the commitment to love and marry my husband. God has richly blessed us and just as I feel for my own children, I miss him when he is at his other home. Just as my own, I talk about him with my husband and we laugh about the cute funny things he says and does. I worry about him. I pray for him.

We work so hard as moms and stepmoms to love and care for every one around us but sometimes we fall short in extending grace to the closest person here on earth that we have:  our husbands. I know that I have the power to hurt my husband very deeply through not only, of course, how I treat him but how I treat his son.

Proverbs 31:12, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”   That means loving him and loving his family!

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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 Are You Doing With Your Little?

Photo taken at Chatlos Memorial Chapel.

Photo taken at Chatlos Memorial Chapel.

We have all gone through seasons of change; seasons of fear; seasons of testing; seasons of forgiveness; seasons of miracles. My emotions have been all over the place since going through so much with my son as well as other things that have popped up in my life. I have had to take a step back from writing and other things, pray, and regroup. I have been feeling God pulling me to venture out of my comfort zone and serve Him in different ways than I have in the past, particularly speaking publicly about some amazing truths and scriptures He has revealed to me.

My husband and I heard Pastor Jimmy Evans speak a few months ago about obedience and serving God. He explained that we go through certain trials in our lives so God can see if He can trust us; to see if we are ready for bigger things. He explained it this way, “God will not give you more than you can rule over. God lets you make big mistakes in a little room before He opens the door to a bigger room.” I have always heard sermons and teachings on placing my trust in God but never really asked myself, “can God trust me?”

Matthew 25:21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “

Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

So lately I have been asking myself what kind of a servant am I and how am I growing and learning to better be the woman He created me to be? God has given me a message but am I willing to take that step of faith to share it? After giving it some thought, I called my dad. He pastors a local church and talked with him about speaking on Sunday morning. He was reluctant to do that but offered me Wednesday night. It took me back at first. Thoughts like “Lord, you’ve given me an amazing message and I am bursting to share it! Why not let me share it to a larger audience like Sunday morning? Why not open that door?”

Then I remembered the sermon and the scriptures about God giving you rule over little before He allows you to rule over big. My heart was convicted. I called my dad back and told him how honored I would be to share and speak at the Wednesday night service. So tomorrow night, I am taking that step of faith into what may seem like to some as the little room. I am going to trust Him and if only one person shows up, I will pour out my heart to that one person in obedience to the Father. Praying with each small act of my obedience to go in the direction He is guiding my heart, he will open another door. The more I am faithful;  the more I lean into God, the more He will trust me and give me more opportunities to serve Him.

So my question is what are you doing with your little as you are waiting for your big?Blog little

Soulmates and Soda Cans

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

The other day, I came home from work unusually stressed and tired. Trying to scramble to get dinner ready and snapping at my husband who was trying to help me as he often does. As I was getting the plates and silverware, my husband gingerly came up to me holding a can of soda. I looked up and it was one of the new “share a Coke” cans and on the side it had the word “Soulmate”. Eagerly he said, “I want to share this with you over dinner.” Immediately I felt all the tension of the day leave my spirit. Isn’t it amazing how one act, one word can change everything?

I was convicted as I lovingly rinsed out that soda can and placed it among my special treasures. How often does my husband get the back seat in our life or after our children for that matter? How often does he get my leftovers? I would never treat others, such as my boss with disrespect. I know the answer is because at home, I am most comfortable. I feel safe among my precious loved ones enough to let my guard down. But does that make it more excusable?

I have also become disgusted with how mass media tends to portray husbands as stupid, bumbling idiots with the wife being smart, powerful, and controlling. There is no partnership in that. There is no companionship or mutual respect when one is controlling or dominating the other. Yet a lot of ladies grow up thinking that is how it should be and they set up house with that kind of dynamic. It is the world’s way, the world’s view but it is not God’s way. Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

It has been a long and difficult journey finding my way to my husband and the same for him. I want to be his true mate; his partner in life, not his boss. My prayer is that God will continue to remind me of this. Remind me that showing my husband everyday in some small way that he truly is the one that my soul loves.

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Testimony Tuesday

I’m am so excited about a series of new posts called Testimony Tuesday.  This is where other blendermoms and stepmoms share a scripture and what God has done for them in their lives.  I am also very excited and honored that my first guest post today is by Christy Garrett.  She is the founder of upliftingfamilies.com as well as the primary writer for the site.  Here is what Christy had to say.

Life is full of twists and turns. People are going to disappoint you, things aren’t going to go your way, you won’t get the job that you have been dreaming for all your life, and the list goes on and on. In my own life, I have dealt with similar situations and I often wondered why things didn’t go my way. I could easily get mad at God but over the last several years I have had to trust in Him and his ways. I know that he has my best interest at heart and as selfish as I am, I can’t see the bigger picture. If we get made at the things God chooses not to give us, we may miss out on the blessing or something even better for you.

If you are struggling in your situation, remember what God says in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” He already knows your every need. So instead of complaining, follow and trust in His ways and he will keep you on the right path. He will make sure you have the strength to get through whatever you are going through and provide for all your needs.

After a divorce in 2003, I didn’t realize that dating and finding a loving relationship was going to be such a struggle for me. I had two children from my previous marriage and I know that it is a lot of baggage for some men to handle. It wasn’t until I gave my life and relationships to God. I let him guide and direct my paths. It wasn’t until I fully let go of my hurtful past and learn to live in joy before I finally met my amazing husband.

I am so thankful that I met a loving man who would accept me and my two children and care for them as his own. We were also blessed with a son in 2010 and I am amazed with the bond between him and his older siblings. We will be celebrating our six year anniversary at the end of the month and our marriage is filled with love. As a family we are constantly serving in our church, even my older children are involved in serving others in the church and other ministries in the church.

When life throws you a curve ball, who are you going to trust? Are you going to trust in your ways or follow God’s path and his ways?

393736_2824907621975_1097786626_nAuthor Bio: Christy Garrett is married to her best friend and has three children. She enjoys spending time helping others, learning about social media, spending time with her kids. When she isn’t busy with the kids, she enjoys writing and sharing her experiences with others at http://www.upliftingfamilies.com

Flavorful Friday: Bourbon Chicken….A Family Favorite

DSC_2555We are so busy all the time and when my husband has to work the night shift, I am exceptionally rushed to get home from work and get dinner on the table early.

This chicken recipe is quick, easy and delicious!  I decided to share it in a post on familyfusioncommunity.com.

Here is the article and recipe.

http://familyfusioncommunity.com/2014/05/29/bourbon-chicken-a-family-favorite/

What is a great go to recipe for you and your family?