A Special Place-Teen Room Makeovers For Our Kids

When my husband and I got married back in 2008, we were living in the house I had been in since 1998. It was a small 1000 sq ft home with one bathroom and when we combined our families, the five of us were a bit crowded. We both wanted to move and start fresh and after a lot of hard work and nearly a year of searching and trying to sell my house, we moved into what we hope will be our forever home in July of 2010.

I love our house! Growing up as a preacher’s kid, we moved a lot to plant or rebuild churches. I never got to put down roots, so it was my dream to give my children what I didn’t have, raising them in a nice suburban country neighborhood where they could ride their bikes and have other kids to play with and we have been so blessed. In fact, our yard has typically become the gathering place for the neighborhood boys.

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We have slowly made our house a home. Over the summer, we decided to surprise and redo all of our children’s bedrooms while they were gone on summer vacation with their other parent! Keep in mind, I am not one of those brilliant decorating bloggers whose home looks like the completed project at the end of a HGTV episode. However, I wanted to share what we did.

merediths-room

Our daughter, Meredith, was the first to go on vacation with her dad and his family. She is starting her senior year and is also duel enrolled in college. She spends a lot of time doing homework and studying in her room. Her walls were already a pale aqua and comforter set was yellow and gray.

I got my inspiration and ideas for the canopy from Cottage Instincts. We took the bed that I had since childhood and painted it black to match her tall dresser. I found a black TV stand on Craigslist for $10 and made a cushion for it. We turned her desk in to a dressing table (she never used it, preferring to study on her bed), added a little wall art and a lamp and we were done (at least for now).

 

Our youngest son was next to go on summer vacation with his dad. I have written about Luke often and his brain condition, Chiari Malformation. Because of his condition as well as the fact that I homeschool him, he spends a lot of time in his room. He is really into college basketball and his favorite team is NC State, so we decided to give him a red, black and white Wolfpack room.

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I want to give a BIG shout out to my amazing husband. He made the trophy case, painted Luke’s old desk, and the stripes on the walls. The inspiration for the trophy case came from Shanty 2 Chic. We changed out the antique brass handles for modern ones on his long dresser and framed his posters and certificates/awards.

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Our oldest son was the last to go on vacation with his mom. He will be turning 14 soon and loves duck camo. The boys once shared a room and we hung their beds from the ceiling to give them more floor space and he wanted to keep his bed that way. We painted three of his walls a camo khaki color and the 4th wall, a deep burnt orange.

We took my old dresser that went with the bed frame from Meredith’s room, gave it a fresh coat of black paint and added new drawer pulls. We covered his bed and corner shelf with duck blind netting. We framed some awards and photos that were special to him. I found this poem, tweaked it and took one of his favorite photos from our trip to the mountains, had it printed and framed.

 

ethans-room

lb-graphicsHowever, the biggest highlight of his room was totally inspired by this awesome blog post on Make Them Wonder. Our wonderful neighbors, Brande and Lee, have a fantastic vinyl decal business L & B Graphic and can make anything! (In fact they made this scripture Joshua 24:15 that has been on the wall in our family room since 2010.) I sent her a picture of the shadow duck hunter and they turned out perfectly. We added reed fencing and LED lights.

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I have read so much about making room in your heart and life for your blended family but I believe it is equally important to make a special place for them in the home. A place, inspired by who they are, where they can relax and be themselves. My husband and I felt that there have been some major changes going on in each of their lives for the past couple of years. We wanted to make a space for them that was stable, comfortable no matter what was going on outside of our home in their lives, a true haven.

It doesn’t have to be a complete makeover like we did. Not everyone has enough space to give each of their kids their own room but you can make a special area for them with pillows, special bedding, pictures, etc… The most special, most wonderful part was the look on their precious faces when they got back and walked into their new rooms for the first time. PRICELESS!!

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.

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Stepfamilies and The Dad

Dad blog

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!

Dad blog

House Rules

House RulesRe-marriage is a really big deal to a child! It can be traumatic. I’m a firm believer that the more straight forward you are in a blended family the better. Our children would go to their other homes and things would be very different for them. Things were not spelled out as clearly there and they would get in trouble and not really know why. They even told us they would just do whatever because they felt they would get in trouble no matter what they did. So, right after we got married, we sat all the children down for a family meeting. Here are some things we defined that really helped create peace in the midst of newly blended chaos.

1. We defined our roles in our home. We explained that although we are the mom and dad of the house. However, we assured them that we would never try to take the place of their real mom or dad in their lives. We wanted them to know that it is okay to love their other parent even in our home.

2. We defined the rules of the house. We wrote down our house rules on a large poster. We wrote the basics about disobedience, lying, and disrespect. Then we let the kids come up with what they felt should be house rules. This was a really good thing for them. It created less confusion and more order and helped them feel that they played an important part within this new family.

3. We defined consequences if the rules were broken. After we created the house rules, we discussed consequences for not following the rules. The children also came up with some of their own consequences for some as well. This really aided in the kids feeling more stable when here with us because they knew what was expected.With divorce and remarriage, they have no control whatsoever so by us giving them a little decision making power in the home really helped them to develop their identity within this new family and feel like some things are in their control.

We have learned that the best thing you can do for a new blended family is organize, define and create expectations in the beginning to create more order and less confusion! Proverbs 1:3 NLT “Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.”

A Candle For Jack

Jack is a wonderfully gifted, inquisitive, articulate 9 year old boy with a beautiful, sweet warmth about him.  His strong determined mom is a blogger friend of mine and for the past year or so I’ve been following her powerful emotional story of co-parenting (if you can even call it that) with a narcissist.  For years she has struggled to move mountains to get the help and encouragement for this highly gifted child with an IQ in the 98th percentile. When Jack was 7, because of her efforts of trying to get him enrolled in the Gifted Academy, she lost custody of her son through a very broken court system. A court system that felt it was better to not look to experts in the field of gifted children but rather to the squeaky wheel that was screaming for grease.  Her parenting time has now been reduced to 8 days a month!

Since the custody change, Jack’s anxiety has increased to an all time high.  He has shared with his mom after crying uncontrollably for the first hour of most visits with her that his father is abusing him mentally, emotionally, and physically and since the courts are not monitoring him and this man has complete control, the abuse has escalated to an alarming level.  One small example of this is that Jack is afraid of heights so his father held him by his leg and suspended him over the railing of the deck 20 feet off the ground to teach him not to be afraid!  Countless times he has been called a baby, stupid, and an idiot.  He is not allowed to cry.  I could go on with many other examples.

I was deeply moved by this brave mom’s post, her message of hope that she has received from God through her son and her anxious fear as she goes to the court of appeals on April 15 to plead with them to overturn the custody ruling.  This is the link to this post and I encourage you to please read it!  You will be so inspired by this amazing little boy.

http://scatteredsmotheredandcovered.com/2014/04/07/one-word-365-submit-to-hope/

Today we had a prayer service at church.  A time where we can be prayed over, take communion,light candles and also literally carry our burdens and nail them to a wooden cross.  My daughter and I solemnly lit a candle for Jack.  And we prayed.  Prayer changes things and so I asked God would surround this situation with His almighty power.  I prayed that Jack and his mom would feel that power and strength in such a way that they would know a peace that they have never known in the midst of this raging storm.  I am asking that everyone will join me on April 15, in the middle of working, business of life, tax deadlines, etc…to stop just a moment and pray for this hearing.  Pray for this dedicated mom.  Pray for Jack.

I have been thinking and meditating on Psalms 10 which is such a powerful chapter.  Here are a few verses that really speak to me.  Psalms 10:10-11 ESVThe helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”  Verses 14, 17-18  “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.  O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

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Pray for Jack.
   

What’s So Great About 4?

Earlier this summer, I was driving down the road on the way to the grocery store, listening to the radio when the overly zealous radio DJ announces that if you are the 10th caller your name will be entered in a drawing to win a family 4-pack of tickets to go see an upcoming show at the local coliseum. I get to the store and begin my grocery shopping.  I head for the meat department to check out the sales.  I notice that there are packs of fresh ground meat hamburgers all conveniently made into large patties in packs of 4.  I chug home after finishing the task of grocery shopping, put things away and finally sit down and grab my laptop.  Although we had already had an amazing beach vacation at the beginning of the summer, I wanted to look up some prices for a possible trip toward the end of the summer.  I go to the various websites and search the packages and specials.  There is countless, and I do mean countless deals on theme park tickets, food, and  lodging for (you guessed it) a family of 4. Deciding that we did not have enough money I started looking into alternative options for the summer.  A local  water park at a lake 20 minutes from our home was running a special for a summer pass at an amazing deal for a FAMILY OF 4!  After this happened for the 4th time (pun intended) that day I started to ask myself, is society trying to tell us something?  There are so many deals and so many specials geared toward the family and every single one of them for family is limited to 4!  It seems there are so many differences of opinion out there about families and the ones that society seems to want to force upon us is referred to as being politically correct.  Is it that perhaps if you are a family of 4 you are politically correct and the ones that have less than or in my case, more than 4 are politically incorrect?  I can’t help but ask the obvious question here;  what’s so great about 4?  Is that society’s way of reminding us at every turn “ok you have 2 children, you’re done now”?!  Maybe, if you are a family of 3, well I guess it might not be too bad, you can bring a friend.DSC_2164

I asked my husband how he felt about the subject with all the family deals, coupons, or specials are geared toward families of 4.  He said that society certainly seems to be biased toward families that have 2 kids.  He says he feels like it is inconsiderate to the larger families and I am going to have to agree.  Wouldn’t it seem that if you have more than 2 kids would you not need the discount and specials that much more because you have more mouths to feed?  Seriously what are these companies thinking?  “sorry but we only have 4 passes kids so pick a number between 1 and 10  to see which one of you has to sit this one out”!  It seems that we are seeing more and more blended and expanded families these days.  I think it’s time we changed the standard! Who’s with me?? 

Psalms 127:3-5a “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Purposefully Made

“We are a product of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”  -Rick Warren  The Purpose Driven Life.

My daughter came home one day from school very upset and crying.  For several months another girl at school seemed to love to gossip and talk about her which she would just let roll off her back.  I know for a fact she had tried to make peace with this gal more than once and I was really proud of her for it because I know that with her being so much like me, it really bothered her to be talked about like that when she had tried to be decent and cordial to the girl.  However, on this particular occasion she was extremely hurt and affected by her words.  She shared with me that this gossip girl had been saying nasty things about me and the fact I had been married three times.  I knew that this day would eventually come.  I knew that at some point, my children would suffer the consequences of my mistakes and being teased or put down for it was to be expected.   This is not a situation that every child will face.  This is a situation exclusive to the families that are not considered “normal”.  This is what children face from broken homes and it breaks my heart because the situation is not their fault but they still have to suffer the consequences.  I’ve talked before about the best we can do for our kids in a blender is be as stable as we can in this “not-so-stable” situation. I talked with her and told her how sorry I was that she had to be hurt like that, that our situation, our family is what it is.  We absolutely cannot change the past but we can definitely look to God to shape our future.  I told her that I am secure in who I am today and have grown and learned so much more about who I was created to be through all the heartache and pain.  All I can do is be the best mom, wife, and christian woman I can be from here on out.  I have been honest with her about my mistakes and talked with her about making better choices when it comes to marriage and relationships.  I told her that she should never let them make her feel less or that something was wrong with her because,  most importantly,  I reminded her that God created her with a purpose in mind and she should try and strive to fulfill His purpose.  (Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”)

I was able to really talk to her about these things also, I too, have been made to feel that way.  I have been excluded, looked down on, and made to feel ashamed and less than others.  I felt like that up until I realized that not only had God forgiven me but I had to learn to forgive myself.  Please read a previous blog post about forgiveness if this is an issue you are struggling with about your past entitled “New Year Old Past”…    Don’t ever forget that God made you for a purpose too!

The Integrity of Potting Soil

ImageI have some new spring flowers to plant so I went to a brand new hardware store that just opened a few weeks ago in our community yesterday.  There were about 10 workmen working on building wooden displays just outside the store for their gardening area and in the middle of all the cords, saws, wood, and men was the display of potting soil.  I went inside and got the young sales girl to walk with me outside to help with which type I should purchase.  After deciding, I tried to pick up the bag, which was wet from the rain for the last several days as well as weighed about 40lbs.  She volunteered to carry it but she struggled more than me.  Finally she said I could go in and pay for it and then drive up closer to get my soil.  After paying and driving my car up to the curb, I walked back through the work zone, and struggling, managed to hoist the wet bag to the car.  Struggling again, I got the car door open while balancing my burden on one propped up leg and finally dropped it onto the front seat.  I literally worked up a sweat!  I became more and more angry on the drive home. There were 10 or more men working right there, some were busy and some stopped to stare even, but not a single one offered to take less than a minute of their time to put the heavy bag in my car for me.  It really got me to thinking about integrity.

Is it just me or does it seem that boys aren’t raised to have integrity these days or to be gentlemen.  We have talked with our kids, particularly our boys about having integrity.  We have explained that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.  We have done devotions and family prayer time on it as well.  I really want my boys to know that being a gentleman means conducting yourself with integrity.  We also have a young teen daughter and the things boys have said to her or around her were unimaginable in my day.  Oh I am sure that issues and topics haven’t changed all that much but it seems that there are no boundaries or respect in society today.  It’s the “it’s all about me” or “if it feels good” mentality.

Now think about what potting soil is used for…  It is to create a safe nutrient rich environment in order for plants to thrive and grow to be their best.  That is exactly what I want to do for my children.  I want to be what they need to help them flourish.  I want them to automatically do for others.  I want them to see opportunities, even those small gestures such as carrying a bag of potting soil and take them without having to think about it.  I want it to become part of who they are, not because of how others will view them on the outside but because of who they are in their heart and in their spirit.  If more parents would really focus and invest time in becoming great potting soil for their kids just how much better an environment would be created for our children so they don’t just grow up to be adults but grow up to thrive and flourish.  Proverbs 22:6 NLT “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Heavenly Father, help me as a mom and bonus mom be the soil that my children become rooted and grounded in honor, respect, and integrity so that they will bloom and flourish into what You have created them to be.

“Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.”  Dr. James Dobson