4 Things to Curb Worry When the Kids are With the Other Parent

I remember years ago, sitting in my car at a neutral location, waiting for the visitation exchange with my daughter. I came to realize with time that we were not the only ones to use this particular parking lot. I saw others waiting in their cars. Oh we never acknowledged each other but still I felt connected to them. It was as if we were all proverbial ghosts drifting along at the same place but in our own little world, seeing yet not seeing each other.

Some of you reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about. Still other parents go and pick up their kids for their parenting time and drop them back off when it’s over like my husband does with my stepson. Or maybe you are the parent who gets your son or daughter ready and packed up to go when the other parent arrives like I do with my son.

No matter how you do it, this time, this situation seems to stir up worry. We sometimes worry about issues that may come back with our child. Or we worry if they will have a good time? Will they be upset? How long will it take for them to decompress and settle?

Let’s face it, honestly it is natural to worry when your children aren’t with you. Don’t beat yourself up. For me, the worrying went to another level after my son’s brain surgery, and even now my anxiety creeps up because of it. However, several months ago, during my prayer time, God spoke to me on 4 simple things that have helped me in overcoming my worry and anxiety when my children aren’t with me.

1. Remember the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal should be to make sure the children in the middle get time to cultivate a lasting healthy loving relationship by spending quality time with their other parent. When you keep your eyes focused on that end goal it makes it a little easier to not sweat the small stuff such as how they don’t do the same things you do in your home the way you think they should be done.

2. Focus on the positives and focus on you. Instead of letting your mind obsess over what might be going wrong, try to focus on memories they are making with their dad or mom. Also, this is a time you can be completely selfish. This is a time to go shopping and buy something just for you, or put your feet up and enjoy an UNINTERRUPTED movie (cause you know that don’t happen when the kids are there). If you are dipping your toes back in the dating pool, this time is a great time to go out on a date and get to know someone new.

3. Pray. It is simple but “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. We pray over so many things in our lives. Why not pray for our children and their dad that God will bless that relationship, give their mom wisdom, and a hedge of protection around them. Prayer is a wonderful thing because it isn’t a menial task or list of wishes. The attitude shouldn’t be well all I can do is pray. It should be an attitude of gratefulness that we have such a powerful tool, to go before the Creator of the universe on behalf of our children in the face of our worry.

4. Remember that they are never alone. This one truth is the most important and has brought so much comfort to me when I just could not shake the worry. God is always there and goes where you cannot! You never send them to the other house alone. There is nothing going on over there that God doesn’t know about.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

And let’s just go there for a minute. You may be reading this and saying how he or she treats the kids when they are there or how they bad mouth you or all the bad stuff that I honestly know goes on in some homes sometimes. GOD. SEES. THAT. TOO.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you. Psalm 139:7-12 (MSG)

Being divorced with kids is very hard and yes we are going to worry like crazy sometimes. But it’s important to remember that just because you are no longer together you still have the same end in mind as when you first had children and that is they grow up to be happy, healthy, productive individuals. So do what you can and let God handle the rest.

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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.

SOS blog 2

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!

 

 

Time Is Ticking Away

pool blog picWe are on a two week vacation at the home of my husband’s family. I’ve never been on vacation for more than a week before but I am loving it…for the most part. “For the most part” because even though we have a week left I can’t help but dread the moment when our time here will run out and we will have to say goodbye and head home. I just know these seven days will fly by so quickly that I can’t even relax and enjoy this time as much as I should, giving adage to the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”.

I’m watching mpool boysy boys giggle and laugh as they play and splash in the pool while the last drops of sun mingle with the twilight that is creeping into the corners of the yard. They have been in the water more than they have been out since our arrival. I’m enjoying their playing now but will not when I hear their groans and protests as I tell them it’s time to come in and settle down for the night.

 

Time is ticking away. It is not just time with family we haven’t been able to visit since 2010. It’s time off from work. It’s time with my husband. But most of all, it’s extended time with our children. Summer for blended families is, well, different, for lack of a better word. In our situation this particular summer, it can be a very precious gift of extra quality time before school starts. For other stepfamilies, it is a fight for extra time or a big ordeal of working with the other parent to organize time. My heart breaks for the latter.

All this planning and worrying over time has got me to thinking how we have so many opportunities of precious time such as weekend time, summer time, night time, afternoon and so on with our kids, our spouse, our families but let other things excuse away that time. My husband and I work very hard to spend one on one quality time with our kids. There have been times where that priority took a back seat because of work etc… So as it has gotten more difficult we have tried to be more deliberate in our efforts. I found this quote and it really does remind me that time is precious. It’s also time for me to wrap this up and time for my boys to get out of the pool.

“My family is the most important part of my life; I could not imagine my life without any of them, yet too often I find myself saying, ‘Not now,’ and then realizing much too much later that later is too late.” ~Marie Leslie

From the Blendermom Archives: Amazing Like God

This was a blog post I wrote last year after mother’s day but it still touches my heart.  I thought I would share it again……

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


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.

The Other Mothers

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I don’t typically write about the “other mothers”. I feel strongly about sharing things about our blended family but there is a fine line between sharing my heart and gossip/slander. Yes there has been times where I have wanted to vent out my frustrations in my posts but other than making me feel better, how would that truly help the situation? However, I am going to share some thoughts on the subject and maybe give advice to other “blendermoms” who are stepmoms, biomoms, or like me, both. Be mindful that I am only speaking from a place where both parents are active in all 3 of my children’s lives.

1. Respect the biomom for who she is regardless of what you may personally think of her.

I know this may hit a nerve with some stepmoms because stepmoms are often not treated with kindness, courtesy, or respect. However, if the biomom is in the child’s life there is no one that can or should take her place.

I do not have a relationship with my son’s stepmom. When she was first introduced to my son, he was told to call her “Miss” and by her first name but 5 months later when his dad married her, they immediately started on a campaign to force him to call her mom because she was pregnant.

To read the rest of this article go to http://familyfusioncommunity.com/2014/01/30/the-other-mothers/ and let me know your thoughts on the “other mothers” in your life.

Our Blended Life..The Musical

DSC_2377I have many drafts of posts for my blog but not any that I feel God leading me to publish just yet.  I haven’t posted in a really long time because I’ve been busy writing for other family publications.  I wanted to share an experience I had with my son tonight.

I have been playing the piano “by ear” since I was around four and had to reach up to reach the keys.  I bought a used piano recently and it’s good therapy for me just to sit and play and sing some of the old songs I loved as a kid such as “Sweet Hour of Prayer”, “Rise Again”, and “He Was There all the Time”. 

After dinner tonight I sat down and started playing.  My youngest son who is nine came up and sat down beside me.  After a few times of singing the song he chimed in with his sweet boy voice.  Ya know, the sweet voice that doesn’t know all the perfect notes of the song and hits every few off key but catches back on quickly.

After that, I started playing an old song my parents used to sing called “Remind Me Dear Lord”, a song I have sung to him since he was very little.  A song he loves.  He suddenly said, “Mama I want to play that song!”  It never occurred to him that it might take a lot of time for me just to teach him the chords.  Any way, I told him that we should start by learning a C chord.  He quickly picked up on that and I showed him the key progression of C which the C, F, and G chords.  After trying, however, he because frustrated that he could not play the music like I played so I started playing a song I learned as a child:  “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  A very simple song to play in the key of C.  He caught on quickly and was soon playing a long with me, so I showed him how to put a little more into the rhythm by using his left hand.  That proved to be too difficult for him and becoming quite agitated our music lesson came to a frustrated end.

Later I started thinking about that sweet moment and how thankful I was that God had given me the ability to play so if nothing else I could teach my son about Him through playing and music and to make lasting memories.  How often do we have those precious opportunities with our children in our lives;  to share our gifts and talents at unexpected moments.  It wasn’t a perfect moment.  It wasn’t flawless.  However, that’s life and that’s how life is, isn’t it?  It is our blended family heartsong; those everyday teaching moments that shape us and make us who we are.  Sometimes it’s spontaneous.  Sometimes it’s off-key.  Sometimes it’s difficult, but it is in those precious God-given moments that gives our heartsong a melody!

Colossians 3:16 ESV “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

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!