A New Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 conclusionfor blog

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.”

Knowing, Learning, and Life-Changing

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

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

Amazing like God

So this past Sunday was Mother’s Day and as a mom and bonus mom, it was a great day.  My kids showered me with lots of hugs, kisses, and “I love yous”. My youngest son still holds a bit of a soft spot in my heart because he is still at that age where I don’t embarrass him.  He loves for me to hug him and hold his hand in public, say prayers and tuck him in at night, and write notes on his napkin in his lunch box.  He drew me a special card that spelled out the letters in my name and described me.  The very last letter of my name is ‘A’ and he wrote about me: “A is for amazing like God”.  Other things were “nice as a flower” and “cute as a dog” but wow! “Amazing like God”.  It got me thinking about the example I am to my son and my children.  Those are some really big shoes to fill!

Webster’s definition of amazing: amazement, great wonder and surprise.  The definition of God:  the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe;  a person or thing of supreme value.  To me, my son thinks that as a mom, I bring wonder and amazement to his life as someone who is in authority with wisdom and goodness in his life. Proverbs 31: 28,29 NLT   “Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her.  There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”  

Heavenly Father, how do I ‘surpass them all’?   How do I set that example of how a Godly mother should be?  How can I truly be amazing as a mom?  And God seemed to speak to my heart.  It is by teaching him the commands of God about ‘loving thy neighbor’, ‘honoring thy father and mother’, and ‘putting God first in everything’.  It is by tucking him in at night and praying with him.  It is showing him my love with those hugs and kisses.  It is leaving those little notes on his napkin in his lunchbox.  It is by doing those things we do as moms that can make us amazing and wise and good in the eyes of our children. 

Take it a step further and extend that to your bonus sons and daughters.  Try to show them love, affection, wisdom and goodness.  Be an example of what a Godly christian woman, wife, and mother should be in your home so that you can strive to be “Amazing like God” to your hand-picked God-given precious family!  Deuteronomy 6:6,7 NLT “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children.  Talk about them when you are at home and on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”Image


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.”

The grass really isn’t always greener!

Bloom

It’s fall and it’s beautiful out there!  We are fortunate enough to live fairly close to beautiful fall color so we took the kids to a state park for a picnic and hiking for the day recently.  In today’s world, on today’s income, money is very tight so we have always tried to do day trips and things that are low cost or my personal favorite, free.  The kids love it.  When I was first divorced and when we first got married, it would really bother me because the other parent would buy so much and take the kids on expensive trips.  (Ouch! I know I just hit a nerve!)  Yes admit it!  You have probably even been more than bothered, you may have even been a little jealous of some of the things the ex was doing and buying!  (Ouch! I said jealous, haha!) After my little “moments”, however I would realize there is not a thing I could do about it other than be the best parent I could be.  I would think of ideas that I or we could do with the kids to make memories.  When I was a single mom with my two kids, I took my kids in the middle of February to the beach for the night.  During the winter, alot of hotels offer very low rates at the beach so I was able to get a room with a queen bed and bunk beds as well as an indoor pool!  At the time teen was 8 and lil man was 3.  They were in awe!  I took them swimming that evening and to the aquarium the next day before going home.  Do you know my kids to this day still talk about that trip!  Another time the same year my husband and I were married we took the kids about 4 hours away to a theme park and stayed for one night.  I had gotten discounts on the room and the tickets.  My husband was just starting college and we again did not have much money but wanted to do something fun before school started back.  We had an amazing time, the five of us!  All the kids, again to this day, still talk about it and beg to go back.  Between my single mom days up until now, a couple of our kids have been given costly gifts and taken on expensive trips with the other parent, but here is something that surprised me…..they never really talked about it that much, or seemed to be as impressed as I thought they would be!  They talk more about the little things that we have done than anything else.  So here is the absolute best advice I could ever give from one blendermom to another: If you really want to impress your kids give them your TIME.  I know you have heard that before but I can’t emphasize enough just how true it is.  When you find yourself focusing on what the other parent or ex is doing, spending, etc….stop right there and start thinking about what you can do to give of yourself, your time to your kids.  It’s not about what the other parent is doing or buying its about you loving the kids and making memories.  We have watched the movie “Flubber” and then made flubber.  We made pudding art with painting chocolate pudding all over waxed paper.  We have got the kids up to watch a meteor shower or see a gigantic full moon rising while singing the moon song.  We have been to countless parks and tried new walking trails.  We have turned off all the lights, especially in the summer evenings, opened all the blinds, and watched a lightening storm.  We have on numerous occasions when the weather was bad, gone to a local bookstore and had coffee (for us) and hot chocolate.  Then the kids would each get a new book and we would come home and read them to the kids.  The list goes on and on but you get the idea.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to be grand.  Whenever you think the grass is greener, that’s when you need to water your own.  For other ideas, read my blog http://blendermom.me/153194395.  I would love to get comments and messages on what you have done to water your own grass and make memories. info@blendermom.me

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.

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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