If you you are a Baby Boomer you probably remember the original Dating Game show with host Jim Lange which ran from 1965-1973. Younger folks may be familiar as well since it ran as reruns in syndication into the year 2000.
I loved this show as a kid and watched it everyday during the summer when school was out. I learned a lot from the show about things I was too young to understand and perhaps should not have been exposed to, if you get my drift. Such shows intrigued me.
I had an intense desire to know how to get a guy to love me for a lifetime. So I also watched the Newlywed game. This show ran from 1966 to 1974 originally and then several times thereafter. Bob Eubanks hosted for the majority of the runs.
I enjoyed these shows but also watched to glean as much information as possible. I’d note which things worked and which did not.
Perhaps you find yourself in the “Dating Game” of life? How’s it going? Are you finding good results or spinning your wheels in the same old rut?
As a teenager I focussed on outward appearance. My own and whoever I happened to be interested in at the time. Ah youth and its follies. Of course I learned I needed to become a well-rounded person on the inside as well as the outside. That can take a lifetime for some of us. So what to do in the meantime?
Let’s explore this in the next few posts and see where it takes us. Join me if you need to find a date, a mate or are just curious.
Loneliness is no joke. It’s one of the biggest problems facing people today. If you are lonely, ironically you are not alone. BUT don’t accept loneliness as your lot in life. We were created for relationship. (See Genesis 2:18)
To begin, ask God to help you see yourself as He does, lovingly but realistically. Pray for that everyday until we meet back here next time.
“Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head.” Ephesians 4:15 Contemporary English Version
“. . . that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:15 English Standard Version
Female customer pulls up to my booth and exclaims,
“You’re the first person ever to wish me a Happy day,” I said.
“That’s a shame.” she looked truly shocked and disappointed.
I wondered after she left what kind of actuality constructed her everyday existence? A world where people naturally treat each other with respect and kindness. A reality where you expect good and glorious things to be happening for yourself as well as for everyone you meet. I don’t know about your world but mine is not nearly as positive as this woman’s seemed to be. If there is such a place, sign me up please!
I learned in the sixth grade that no such place existed in our present world. We were assigned some short stories to read that year and among them was a story based on a utopian society. Everything seemed perfect in this fictitious short story world until the author allowed you to see the motivations of the characters. Not exactly pure or lovely. Needless to say it did not have a happy ending.
So I felt a tad bit of envy for my customer’s attitude that day even if I secretly suspected her to be delusional. Then the thought occurred to me that if my surroundings are negative, dark or even somewhat dystopic, this may be my big opportunity to SHINE! What better way to make Christ known to those around me who are slogging through the grind of everyday?
Isn’t that what He wants us to do? To experience Him and be so transformed by His Holy Spirit that we instinctively rise above the ugliness that has invaded our world to the point where we are not affected by the negative? We see it and are saddened by it but we can prevent it from attaching to our mindset. His grace gives us the power to do this if we ask for it. This rising above is what sets us apart.
We are to be caring for and loving those in our sphere of influence. In this way we shine for Him and because of Him daily. I am committed to endeavor to let my light shine to a dark and dreary heart that may be passing by me. Sign me up! How about you?
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 English Standard Version
As we said in Part I, to FLURISH on a daily basis, we need to enjoy our work. God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a substantial part of that.
Do you know your purpose and are you enjoying it? Huge CONGRATS if you can say yes to both! Share some of your tips on self discovery and why you like your job. For the rest of us, read on:
If you are not in that blessed situation, where are you today as far as your job and purpose are concerned?
Are you unemployed and scared?
Or perhaps seeking a job better suited for you and your purpose?
Do you view work as a gift from God ? That He gives you specific skills to use your gift? Our attitude is an important part of being successful in our purpose and our ability to enjoy work. A good attitude frees us more than we may realize.
If you’re currently unemployed and scared I want to encourage you not to give up hope and realize God already sees you and your need. El Roi is the Hebrew phrase for the “God Who Sees Me”, it’s one of God’s names you can pray when asking Him to help you in your situation. (Read the story of Hagar in Genesis 16) He will help you find a job that fulfills your purpose and bring fulfillment to your heart. However, you may have to do some things in preparation for that future position:
Some work requires skilled labor. Natural skill and learned skills alike. Do you know what your skills are? And don’t say you don’t have any skills, because God gives them to all of us. Some are easier to recognize than others, but God does provide skills naturally in us.
“. . . and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze. . . He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn. . .”
Exodus 35:31, 32, 35 New International Version
We need to proactively discover and develop whatever skills we find within us. Whether its crafting something, communicating people skills or a service type skill, each one is important and needed in God’s scheme of things. He created so many unique individuals each with their own set of distinctive abilities.
Our heavenly Father eagerly desires to join us in taking the adventurous journey into uncovering what He’s creatively placed inside us. If you haven’t taken this trip yet begin talking to Him about it and wait for his direction. Then follow His lead!
Some jobs require furthering our education. Ask God for financial resources IF He leads you back to school. Or if you’re young and continuing to study in preparation to enter the work force, ask Him for guidance on what schools to attend, classes, every detail. Pray about everything!
Our God promises to supply all our needs including employment opportunities. As always MJT! Must Just Trust!
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 New Living Translation
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 New International Version
I recently spoke to a woman who’s struggling in her current employment. She asked for prayer. She enjoyed her former job immensely. Said she felt coworkers were more like a family than staff. But the company folded without warning and now she found herself in this new employment position simply so she could survive financially.
I also have a precious family member who’s been down this same traumatizing road of surprise job loss multiple times over the course of the last 15 years. The struggle is real and intense for many.
Perhaps you can relate or you know someone who can?
American workers normally spend 40 plus hours a week working at the same job. In the United Kingdom workers are considered full time after as little as 30 hours in some cases. German workers have 6 hour work days! The UK also has a ‘working time directive’ law limiting how many hours one can work in a certain time frame. Not a bad idea.
Africans can work up to 45 hours a week by law but not more. Australians typically have a 38 hour work week. In China, the hours for businessmen and women parallel the US and the UK, but the Chinese factory workers are less fortunate. It’s not unusual for them to work 16 or 17 hours each day 6 days a week!
In 2014 U.S. News reported German workers worked the least and Mexican workers labored the most during that calendar year. The U.S. fell somewhere in the middle. But as of this writing most countries are falling in line with the 40 hour work week standard with any hours beyond that considered overtime.
Work and the time spent traveling to and from make up the largest percentage of our waking hours for the longest chunk of our lives. It’s estimated that over 90,000 hours comprise the average workers time spent on the job during a lifetime. Add in travel time and roughly a third of our lives is devoted to work.
Let that sink in. Work is one third of our life!
Do we see the need to enjoy our work? God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a part of that. We cannot FLURISH if we never enjoy our work.
Note Genesis 2:15, here God gives the care taking work of the garden to Adam. It is PRIOR to the Fall of Man. Work was NOT part of the curse. Work was designed to help fulfill us and enrich us. Work is actually a gift God gave us.
Does your work strike you as a gift?
Are you between jobs?
Or are you like the woman in the introduction who is now struggling to survive in a job she hates?
We will explore these questions and more next time. Until then ponder what your work means to you.
“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6 New Living Translation
My husband has this little idiom he uses quite often when I am prattling on about something or someone. . . he’ll matter of factly ask, “To what end?” My agitation soars. My impulsive mind doesn’t usually entertain this question especially in the middle of some frustrating diatribe. But it’s certainly worth considering now that I’m calm enough to give it some real thought. My mind turn to this verse:
“Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.” II Timothy 2:16 New Living Translation
TO WHAT END? Such a small phrase with humongous implications! How often do we consider the end of a matter? Do we even have an end in sight? Do we just talk to hear our own voices? Do we fall into a merry-go-round of fussing and fuming or perhaps gossiping? Yikes!
I know there are times when my mouth just rolls because I can’t seem to let go of something. And it always seems to be something negative. When’s the last time you rattled on about something good? Something Philippians 4:8 good? Like meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, the beautiful ?—- The Message paraphrased
Why is that?
Aren’t we to be edifying and encouraging each other regularly? Building each others faith with the good things of God? Telling good stories, lovely memories, strengthening verses, recalling His love in our everyday lives?
Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep a positive focus in this current era of history.
The world where we abide is moving faster and faster away from God and His ways. It’s a dangerous place to live. But it’s all happened before. . .
“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. . . Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” Genesis 6:5 & 11 New International Version
These verses occur just before God informs Noah of the coming flood that will wipe out and clean the earth of every wicked thing. Only Noah and his family and a set of every kind of animal would be saved.
In His Word, God our loving Father warns us over and over that wickedness is again increasing.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:10-12 New International Version
Read the following passages to get the full scope.
Daniel 12:4, II Thessalonians 2:9-11, II Timothy 3:1-5, Matt 24:21-22 Jude 1:18-19
We must help each other now and in the future to get through these increasing times of wickedness, to uphold righteousness in a world going mad. Here in the U. S. we see it escalating now as we are torn apart as a nation over idiotic things to the point of irrationality and violence. This divisive hatred has not been seen since the days of the Civil War and it will only get worse as the passages above foretell.
“This is why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 Contemporary English Version
Our great God is trying to warn us. Stand up. Encourage each other to be strong so we can be a safe haven for those who have not yet found salvation in Christ and the hope that we have for the future.
“. . . while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:13 New Living Translation
What is more uplifting than to be reminded of the great hope of Christ’s return and eternity with Him? It’s the ultimate GOOD END and it’s forever.
That’s what I want my END to be—- writing and speaking words of an uplifting nature, encouraging anyone who will listen. In this temporary existence I choose to use sweet words toward others and beyond that, strong, loving words of beseeching, if necessary, so they will see the coming Kingdom and be saved while there still is time.
So now you’ve heard the many sides of our story. But what is your story? Are you a step-mom, dad or child? Are you considering becoming involved in a step-family relationship? Share your experiences in the comment section.
I must tell you as I wrap up this series that I was blessed to have a dear man and sweet girl to blend into my life. I remember early on when I first met Cortney that her heart held innocence and compassion and I didn’t want that spoiled. If ever there was a child I could nurture, she would be the one. It was an extraordinary honor to help parent her.
I thank God for the precious gifts of Cortney and Dwight. He used them to teach and mold me into more of the likeness of Jesus. It challenged, scared and frustrated me many times but oh now to look back, it was worth it all!
Unfortunately, this is far from the norm. Wicked step-children do exist. We know of one family where the daughter detested her step-mother so much that she put something caustic in the step-mother’s face cream. The results were disastrous both physically and emotionally.
Another incident involved a boy who wanted people to know he hated his step-father. He carved permanent vulgarities and hateful messages concerning his step-father into walls and doors of the home. So much pain in both cases and so many other stories out there remain hidden.
Likewise, wicked step-parents also exist and I wish I could say they do not. It’s difficult for some people to love children who are not their own flesh and blood. Anger and resentment are evils that run amuck and develop into all sorts of abuses if not covered by the grace, healing and mercy of Christ.
I felt like a wicked step-mother in my heart early on because I didn’t want to share my new husband with anyone, even his young daughter. I knew this was selfish and I tried to fight it. I prayed Cortney never noticed or felt the sting of my sin. The last thing I wanted was to hurt her or Dwight and risk a failed marriage.
The enemy used shame often to discourage me telling me I was an unloving mother, a selfish wife and a failure. But Jesus’ strength through the Holy Spirit was my rock so I wouldn’t give up. HE was my gentle guide, helping me overcome the discouragement and immaturity the enemy kept throwing in my face.
In time by the grace of God I learned to rejoice over special dates when Daddy and Daughter got together on their own. God replaced my selfish possessiveness and insecurity with wholeness and generosity so Dwight and Cortney could be free to love each other and me. I am so grateful the Lord was patient while I learned!
“HE won’t brush aside the bruised and hurt reed and HE won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but HE’LL steadily and firmly set things right.” Isaiah 42:3 The Message
A little over three years ago we gained a new member in our family. Someday maybe I’ll tell you more about this precious young man.
In conclusion, if you are contemplating getting involved in a step-family relationship, please count the cost first. It’s a complicated and difficult endeavor.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” Luke 14:28 New Living Translation
If you’re already in a step-family and desire to succeed:
Keep focussed on Christ and encourage family members to do the same: you can’t do it without Him.
Talk as a family often and in openness.
Pray together as a family.
Remember, you’re not alone even if you feel like it. You’re surrounded by a world filled with blended family members. Find some healthy ones and support each other.
At the least, I’m sure you have friends or family in step-family situations. Do me a favor and pray for them. Being a successful step or blended family is not easy, it’s hard work. It can be discouraging and at times, destructive. But when it works it can be a thing of beauty shining glory on our great God whose love conquers all!
So, you’ve heard the step-mother and step-child’s perspective on the challenging experience that we will call family blending. There is however, another perspective that is missing in this story. Who could we possibly need to hear from yet, in this compelling step family saga? I’m glad you asked. . . that would be me, Bio dad, (a.k.a. daddy, Honey, and “that guy. . .”). Yes, I’m the biological parent in this series. Not only am I a biological parent, I’m a recovering a step-parent, and I’ve been a single parent as well. . . I know, don’t ask.
While my perspective may be somewhat unique, I certainly don’t have all the answers. Any advice I share with you, will primarily come from my mistakes rather than my successes, unless otherwise noted. In other words, “this is what I did, and it didn’t work, SO DON’T DO THAT”! (Sorry, didn’t mean to yell.)
I mentioned I was a step-parent. In retrospect, my first foray into the role of step-parenting was more a rescue mission, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Twenty-six years ago, I “stepped” into this world rather naively, with visions of Mike and Carol Brady dancing in my head. This was my mission and I chose to accept it. (I know, I watched way too much TV as a kid). This child needs a father and by golly, I’m going to be THAT father.
My idyllic visions of how this was going to work soon hit the proverbial brick wall. There was fighting, manipulation, thinly veiled threats, and outright rebellion. And all this from a step-child under the age of six. How could this be I thought, I’m only trying to help. The bio father was gone and they needed me. Many times, I felt like the odd man out. It was me against them. Frequently, I was just the “guy my mom married”. Let me tell ya, there was nothing sit-com worthy going on in that home. Reality TV, maybe, but we’re talking early 90’s here, so that wasn’t even on the horizon yet.
So fast forward thirteen years, the marriage has ended. My youngest daughter and I are now alone, and to her chagrin, I meet someone. That someone is the author of this series, parts 1 – 4 and 7, and my daughter wrote part five. How about that?
I’m now the bio parent bringing a new woman, a step-parent into my daughter’s life. I would love to say I gained volumes of wisdom from all the mistakes made from the first go around but alas, God had more for me to learn.
Read part 5 if you haven’t done so. (Actually, read the entire series). You will see my daughter initially struggled with the “other woman”, but I moved forward seemingly oblivious to the depth of her struggles. I did, however, notice she was more withdrawn and angry, but I reasoned that his was due to the divorce and her age. She was after all, a young pre-teen. I could at times, sense the tension between my daughter and my new wife. I mean, I’m not a complete blockhead. I just didn’t know what to do about it. I was pulled in two directions and I didn’t always handle it correctly. I had two women to keep happy. Think about that fellas!
As my daughter said, in her post, we should have all sat down together and had a rap session. [Rap: To talk or chat . . . and no not with Kanye or 50 Cent]. That’s an old 70’s term for sitting down and talking. I should have been more open with her. Explained to her what was going on and tried to reassure her that I still loved her and was not looking to replace her. In reality I wanted to enhance her life with a Godly female influence. I knew she needed that as she matured, and I couldn’t provide that for her, for obvious reasons.
On a positive note, at my wife’s insistence, we did go to a counselor as a family. My daughter initially resisted but, she has always been teachable and went along even though it was hard for her. It made us aware of what we were facing. Through that experience, we learned principles that helped us grow together. Family blending is something that should always be approached with eyes wide open.
So, what made the difference between the first and second step-family situation? There is a Biblical principle that tells us to count the cost before we do anything, found in the 14th chapter of Luke. James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask for it. Proverbs 3:5 & 6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. . .These aren’t just do’s and don’ts God puts out there because He can. No, they are there because He can see things we can’t. He can see the heartache, the pain, and destruction that awaits by going down certain paths.
Before embarking on the second experience, we indeed counted the cost as much as possible by seeking wise Biblical counsel, together and separately. We were as open as we knew how to be with each other as to what our family values were and what we expected from the marriage and family experience.
Another strategy suggested to us by a dear friend and counselor was to extend our engagement for no less than one year. In doing this, we could all see how we would each function over an extended period, through holidays, change of seasons, extended family relationships etc. Seems trivial but, we have seen first-hand, this notion of “love at first sight”, and quick engagements and marriages, is nothing more than romantic fantasy, better left for Hollywood screenwriters, that generally never works long term.
All parts of this plan helped us present a united front to each other. Without that, the divide between all blended family members will deepen to the point it becomes irreparable. Thus, the sad marriage statistics listed in part 3 of this series.
At the time of my first ill-fated journey into family blending, I was living a very different kind of life. One completely devoid of any reliance on Jesus and His Word. Instead, I relied on my own flawed understanding and skewed thinking. I failed to implement any part of the plan listed in the subsequent paragraphs. As a result, all involved are now statistics and damaged goods on some level. Oh, that I had looked to the Lord to direct my paths.
Thankfully, God has promised, according to Joel 2:25 to restore the years the locusts have eaten. This is a promise we have stood on throughout the last 13 years. He has been faithful to us and has rewarded our faith in Him immeasurably. I’m also eternally grateful for my wife and my daughter’s unconditional love for and patience with me. What a long and fulfilling trip it’s been. (There’s kind of a song in there somewhere, isn’t there?).
And now to hear another side of the Step-Family saga. From the child’s point of view; our daughter, Cortney:
“Being a child with divorced parents, having to go back forth every other weekend wasn’t easy. Reflecting back to that time I never understood until now (at 24 years old) how much it affected me. On one hand I had my dad’s house where there was structure, responsibility, and a Godly influence. Then I’d go to my mom’s house which mostly was a free for all. I could do whatever I wanted basically whenever I wanted. Having to make that mental switch every other weekend can really make it confusing for a child.
Then you throw a step-parent into the mix and it inevitably becomes more complicated! I’ve ALWAYS been a “Daddy’s Girl’ and when my dad met Karan, my step-mom, it turned my world upside down! I had to not only learn how to deal with my dad having another woman in his life but also where she’d fit into mine.
Those first couple of years were difficult. I had begun to build up a wall with dad and Karan because to be honest, I was angry inside! I felt like my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter. Still trying to deal with the fact that my parents were no longer together and the going back and forth, I now had to learn to deal with having a step-parent!!!
At that age I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling so what do most kids do. . . they act out. Now, I wouldn’t kick, scream, and throw a temper tantrum. My way of “acting out” was I would cop such a disgusted, leave me alone, do I really have to be here attitude! Ha. It’s funny looking back now at some old pictures I can see that attitude written all over my face. But when you’re a kid a lot of times you don’t know how to express your feelings.
If you’re a step-kid it may seem as though things will never be OK or normal but surprisingly one day you may realize that you can’t imagine your life without your step-parent, in my case my step-mom. I couldn’t have gotten through those awkward teenage years without her. I couldn’t have ever gone to half of the places I’ve been to without her nudging me to push through my fear and discomfort, and most of all I would have never had the most beautiful wedding a girl could dream of without her!
She’s filled those holes in my life my own mom just couldn’t/still can’t fill. She’s been like a mother and a best friend all rolled into one. When I need advice she’s there! When I just need to have a good venting session she’s there to listen! Yeah, it was tough in the beginning as you can tell from everything I wrote previously but my step-mom has been a HUGE blessing in my life. Honestly, I hate the term “step-mom”— BONUS mom is a better way to say it.”
Blended families. What sort of picture does that phrase create in your mind?
The Brady Bunch?
Cartoonish characters stuffed into a food processing machine?
A mismatched unhappy family pretending to be happy?
Or something else?
I will say that my experience as a blended family member turned out to be much better than I thought at the beginning. However, each family has its own set of variables. I was never good at math equations but even I know that the more variables in a given group the more complicated the equation. This is so true of blended families. Then throw in some unknowns and a few loose cannons into the mix and you got a real challenge.
If you read Part III of this series you may remember the staggering and sobering statistics concerning the failure rate for second and third marriages. With each marriage outside the original there is a possibility of multiple children from each parent and for sure there will be ex-spouses. Now multiply that times the number of re-marriages on each side. Its an explosion of personalities and drama.
All that to say that less is more. LESS marriages involved, MORE chance for success in the marriage you’re considering. Guess that’s why God hates divorce. HE knows all the pain involved and pain extrapolated into the future by remarriage. So please proceed with caution and much prayer.
My personal least favorite ride on the step-parent train was the weekly drive to and from the ex-wife to drop off and pick up our daughter for a visit. The ride could be unpleasant and saturated with anxiety. Dwight and I tried to do this together as much as possible to regularly strengthen our united front. And of course we never knew if we’d have to face any drama with the ex.
It’s extremely helpful to have a peaceful and cooperative relationship between the biological parents (IF at all possible) so important issues can be discussed and resolved for the child’s welfare. However, communication often is difficult between ex’s but your child is worth the effort. Any issues where both households can agree to be on the same page will greatly benefit your childs’ stability.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 New International Version
Usually the two households involved in any split marriage are diametrically opposed and our situation was no exception. I had to brace myself every time we picked Cortney up especially after a weekend visit. There was always this adjustment period. Being in a different environment for several days definitely affected her attitude and who knows what else? I was just learning.
I was always glad when ‘our’ Cortney returned and acted the way we were accustomed to and it usually took a day or two to get to that sweet spot again. I wonder how bouncing back and forth between households has affected Cortney and countless others over the course of their young lives?
It definitely ‘Ain’t No Fairy Tale” for the children.
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’ ”
Ruth 1:16 English Standard Version
Children are completely at the mercy of whatever their parents decide. If their biological parents divorce, the child/children is always deeply wounded and has no way to protect themselves from the pain. Even in the most amicable divorces there is pain, trauma and transition for all involved, especially the children.
If one of both of the parents decide to remarry, the child is placed in yet another precarious tangle of emotions and transitions. Because of this, Step-Moms need to be aware that it can take up to two years for a child to adjust in the most positive scenarios. More time is needed depending on the character variables involved and the age of the child/children.
Be sensitive. Be patient. Time is needed. Understanding and gentleness are needed. As a Step-Mom you have to be the bigger person in stature as well as in character and maturity. Realize that the children are reacting out of this hurt and pain and it is not a personal attack on you. Let God’s grace soothe and strengthen you. It can be a time of tremendous opportunity for your growth and positive influence on these children.
And by all means REMEMBER that your husband is caught in the crossfire between wife, ex-wife and children. His stress levels are off the charts trying to juggle responsibilities, expectations and keep the peace. Told ya this AIN’T NO FAIRY TALE!
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 English Standard Version
Being a successful Step-Mom is hard work. The odds are unevenly stacked against us in most cases. If you are not yet married and an official Step-Mom, count the cost carefully. Do not enter into this role of Step-Mom lightly. Truly it AIN’T NO FAIRY TALE!
Being a good Step-Mother is definitely a calling. You’re only fooling yourself if you think you can do it without the help of God. Don’t even try it on your own, there’s too much at stake. Consider these staggering statistics from the US Bureau of Census:
The average marriage in America lasts only 7 years.
One out of two marriages end in divorce.
75% remarry (creating new stepfamilies)
Over 50% of US families are remarried or recoupled.
2100 new stepfamilies form everyday
Divorce rate for second marriages when only one parent has children is 65%
When both partners have children divorce rate rises to 70%
Divorce rate for third marriages is 73%
The good news is with God ALL things are possible! (Matthew 19:26) I found myself in the 73% chance of divorce category. The Lord kept impressing on my heart not to be afraid of Cortney or of being her Step-Mom. And so I stepped out in faith to Step-Mothering.
That was 12 years ago and Cortney is grown and married now. I thought you may like to hear things from her side so stay tuned. . .
“Your WORD is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 New Living Translation
Fear and Selfishness were my constant adversarial companions as I contemplated what I saw ahead of me. At this juncture I found myself genuinely head over heels in-love with a man, BUT he had an 11 year old daughter. Marriage was a package deal, my brain shouted at me as it ran ahead into the future. I could not get permanently involved without considering this precious child.
First thing was to get over my fear by submitting it to the Holy Spirit every time it tried to whisper sweet frightenings into my ears. I had to trust Him to guide me through the anxiety, the doubt, the second guessing, worries etc.,
Every time I took an attacking thought captive, the Holy Spirit strengthened my resolve and shed light on the correct path before me. Progress was moment by moment, painstakingly slow but the results were durably enduring.
I remember a particular incident early on in my relationship with my new daughter;
Dwight and I were taking her to a local festival during 4th of July week. We thought it would be fun and educational for Cortney. What a foolish thought. Cortney fought us from the gitgo by lagging far behind us in the admission line. She did not heed her father’s gentle pleading to give it a chance. She deliberately poked around and her facial expressions clearly screamed, “I Do Not Want to be Here!”
Entertaining and educational reenactments didn’t help.
Delicious food didn’t help.
Comedy shows didn’t help.
And oh my, she was too big for pony rides!
Frustrated we decided to leave after just a few hours but were not willing to give up. W e decided to take her to something she loved, a roller rink that had inline skating. Surely she would be happy there.
Dwight and I donned our old fashion roller-skates while Cortney laboriously put on her rollerblades. We skated carefully as a couple while Cortney sat sulking outside the rink. After 20 min or so she reluctantly entered the skating area. After 15 minutes she seemed to be flying around the rink enjoying herself, but later refused to admit it, of course. The little rascal!
It took half a day to pry a smile out of her and it didn’t last long but I counted it as a small seed of victory. These tiny triumphs are what step-moms need to move forward on the road to winning their child’s heart.
Practical Tips for Step-Moms:
*Build a strong union with your new spouse providing a safe, stable environment for the children.
*Never try to take the biological Mother’s place of your child/children.
*Get to know your new child/children, spend time learning about what they do and do not like.
*Be genuine, allow them to get to know you and see you realistically, flaws and all.
*Give your children choices when asking them to do something or make a decision.
*Ask God specifically for long-suffering with your children, not patience, or you will find yourself knee-deep in problems.
*Speak respectfully of your child/children’s biological parent, or say nothing.
*Let the child/children’s father lead in discipline.
I found these tips to work wonders where my relationship with Cortney was concerned. I hope they help any other struggling step-moms as well.
“These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children. . .” Titus 2:4 New Living Translation
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
One thing I NEVER EVER thought I would be was (cue drum roll), a Step Mother!
I grew up watching all the Disney animated features and the two that stuck in my brain the most were Cinderella and Snow White. These two stories each had a common villain robed in deceptive beauty, a Wicked Step-Mother.
So I kept my guard up whenever I spent time with a friend who had a step-mother. Although it was not prevalent in my childhood world of the 60s and 70s, today it’s all too common in families.
I made up my mind early in life that I could probably be open to adoption but not to step-parenting. I couldn’t bear the thought of sharing a husband’s affections with the memory of a former spouse or struggling for a spot in the heart of a child who already had a mother. Then there’s the difficult task of tiptoeing around a Daddy/Daughter relationship… LORD, help me! And HE did.
First of all I must say this became a FANTASTIC opportunity not only to grow as a person but also to nurture some spiritual fruit on my empty vine. Would I seize the opportunity or act like a spoiled child myself?
Have you ever been here? A place where you know the path will be difficult ahead but somehow good for you in the end? It’s so easy sometimes to run refusing to be stretched but I can tell you that a FLURISHING life needs times of intense stretching to become flexible like elastic. It’s much easier to maneuver through life like elastic than stiff unless you enjoy being broken over and over. Think about that until we continue the Step-Mother saga.
“Enlarge the site of your tent, stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not hold back. Lengthen your ropes and drive your stakes deep.” Isaiah 54:2 Berean Study Bible
How many of you honestly enjoy your daily life? Are you truly FLURISHING? We all have ups and downs, difficulties and challenges but underlying it all, do you feel good, do you sense the peace of God that passes ALL understanding? Do you have a private joy in the depths of your soul?
I have just come through a long depression that lasted about 5 months. It most likely was triggered by the death of my mother back on New Year’s Day. Could have been the grieving process? I may never know but it has been a difficult year. I leaned on familiar passages of scripture and continued trusting in the loving kindness of my heavenly Father. There were good days, blah days, tired days, unmotivated days and horrible days within my soul. Yet, as I kept looking to Him HE WAS EVER FAITHFUL!!!
I am here today to encourage you not to give up seeking the face of God amidst whatever you may be experiencing. This is the purpose of my blog, to remind you that HE is ever faithful and wants to be close to you and experience all of your “stuff” with you. HE wants the best life possible for you, the abundant FLURISHING life HE knows is possible for each of HIS children.
So, all that being said if you know these verses listed below, don’t just pass them by. USE them and BELIEVE them for your current situation. They may be well known but if they are not well used they will not help you.
And, if the verses are new to you, read them over and over allowing them to sink into your heart and memory so you can use them when needed. His Word is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. He is alive in these Words so USE it, that’s why HE gave it to us.
If you are FLURISHING currently, don’t forget to praise God for the blessing. Thank Him for His goodness in your life.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4 New Living Translation
If things are rough going at the moment, cry out to Him for help.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” II Corinthians 1:3 + 4 New International Version
If you are tired, burned out from exhaustion, come to Him for strength and let Him help you with your load.
“Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 New Living Translation
If you feel blah and lack motivation call on His name to renew your zeal and revive your spirit.
“But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” Isaiah 40:31 Contemporary English Version
If you are overcome by sin and guilt, talk to Him, confess your sin and depend upon His mercy which endures forever.
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9 New Living Translation
Read about His mercy in Psalm 136
“For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 New Living Translation
“You are a sinner and your sin will find you out in time, in your body, in your character, in your conscience, and ultimately in eternity.”
Dr. Billy Graham
HOW DOES THAT QUOTE GRAB YOUR HEART?
“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
Since all of us sin, we need to deal with it properly. How do you handle sin in your life? Do you recognize it as sin? Do you admit to yourself that YES, I still sin at times and am in need of a constant flow of my loving Savior’s grace and mercy? Or does pride block your view of sin in your own heart and life?
It’s oh so easy to justify whenever we sin, isn’t it? So how DO you handle sin in your life?
Whenever I sin a red flag should go up as an alert. I need to pay attention and deal with this as quickly as possible, but often I ignore my conscience and what I know to be true. Was it even sin, I question? Do I take the time to think about it, considering my motives? Not as often as I should I’m afraid. Usually I tell myself something that sounds good about why I did what I did and then just move on about my business. This practice does nothing to cleanse away my sin. It actually allows it to find room to settle and fester in my heart.
So if we want to avoid sin build-up and boldly face the truth about ourselves, we pray for courage and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and enlightenment. Sometimes our sin is easy to spot, other times it hides deep inside attitudes and loyalties. The key is to recognize sin in our heart and deal with it swiftly not allowing it to set up shop in our hearts and minds. The longer it stays the stronger it becomes. We need the Holy Spirit’s help in this process.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” I John 1:9 & 10 New King James Version
Sin separates us from God’s presence as far as closeness goes but HE remains within the hearts of His children even though we sin. We who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin do not lose our salvation when we sin but we do lose the pleasure of HIS presence while we remain unrepentant. Sin squelches our FLURISHING condition for the moment but we need only confess (admit our sin to God) and repent (remorse prompting us to turn away from that particular sin and toward God for help to overcome it) to be fully restored into His presence again. Through the whole process He loves us and wants us to come to Him for restoration.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23 & 24 New King James Version
“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15 New King James version
Today my booth is once again infiltrated with dozens of flies. Buzzing in my face, landing all over me and my stuff. They’re dirty scavengers who “gross me out to the max” (for all you late baby boomers).
I remember from junior high science that flies invert their stomachs wherever they land. It’s like throwing up on any surface and then reswallowing it to pick up food particles. Totally nasty.
I have to ask for skads of grace to get through such shifts when I am forced to share a very small space with these filthy pests. They can be so incredibly annoying.
Aren’t we often irritated by the little things in life? A pokey driver in front of us when we’re in a hurry. An annoying sound like fingernails across a chalkboard. People who cut in front of you in line. People who chew with their mouths open. Or how about when someone cuts you off in mid-sentence?
Yesterday as I drove through a convenience store parking lot very slowly, I might add—A guy strolled out in front of me across the macadam while he was texting. He never bothered to look up to see if there was oncoming traffic on his right or left. He leisurely moved in front of me with no care of oncoming cars. Even though I was not in a hurry it frustrated me.
Do things ever get to you like that?
What are some of your irritations or pet peeves?
These little seemingly harmless agitations can build up and ruin our mood if we’re not careful. We can become snappy with those around us and even those we love.
Like the little foxes that ruined the grapes, it can be the little things in life that spoil our moods. Irritations can quickly lead to burdens and touchy attitudes.
Let’s take our annoyances to Jesus. He can deal with them much better than we can! He’ll lighten our load and replace our irritation with better things.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…” Colossians 1:11 English Standard Version