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
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
Ten minutes before the start of the Conference, I stood in the Pastor’s study as he and Dwight prayed for God to use me that night. My God-focus generated confidence and energy within me as we opened the session with Praise and Worship. The last song was one I requested and it felt like the Spirit of God was blessing our time together from the start.
The Pastors wife introduced me and I breathed a quick, “Here we Go, Lord” and walked to the podium. This time I was not flat! I could feel the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. There was excitement and expectation in the air as I began. The audience responded well to the message and participated throughout the conference.
The one screen issue forced some added exercise for the ladies to turn around every so often but perhaps that was not a bad thing? Kept everyone awake.
After the first night I had several women tell me it was an inspiring message. There were two older ladies well past retirement age who remain active in YWAM and encouraged me the most. The oldest one, an 80 year old woman told me the message and time spent together was “cleansing”. She had never been able to share and unload some parts of her life with any Christian community up until this conference. That alone was worth it all! To be a blessing in this way to a loyal saint of God still touches my heart every time I think of her.
There were several others who asked for prayer afterward. I pray all the women in attendance received one new thing the Lord revealed to them about Himself and their relationship with Him during our time together. I further pray that they continue to allow His healing in their hearts.
We ended the conference with a lovely fellowship meal. A beautiful woman named Gricelda cooked all the food for the conference. She had a squad of ladies assisting her, busy slicing fruit and preparing desserts. She and her team did a fabulous job. They made me love authentic Mexican food like I never fathomed possible for me, a Pennsylvania Dutch girl.
And so dear fellow FLURISHERS those are the highlights of the 2018 Christian Women’s Conference from Tyler, Texas. Until the Lord opens new opportunities,
“All you who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! HE is your helper and shield.” Psalm 115:11 New Living Translation
One of my favorite parts of speaking anywhere is the set-up. Each venue has different perks and choices. This particular event was being held in a large church auditorium. I could stand on the upper platform or speak from the main floor. I chose the main floor audience level to keep it more personal and casual.
l also had several options for podiums. First was the heavy traditional pulpit, then an all metal see through lectern with a small shelf. The third option was a beautiful white linen enrobed circular podium perfect for a women’s conference. But I chose the practical over the pretty and traditional. I wanted portability and a shelf for water in case I had a coughing spell or dry mouth. Always be prepared.
We (the pastors, their wives, my husband and I) set up the auditorium banquet style enhancing the intimate atmosphere. We ladies trimmed the tables with festive tropical and European destination accoutrements representing varied life journeys. We also added vases filled with colored pencils finishing off the unique centerpieces.
I set up a white board as a visual aid to draw my life’s journey for the audience to view throughout the presentation. I placed packets at the seats for each attendee that included a diagram to draw their own journey, some personal assessments and an adult coloring exercise. I encouraged the women that the self investigation started at the conference should continue afterward on their own with the Lord’s help.
I spent the early morning of the conference in a quiet beautiful spot praying and focussing on Jesus and His Word, just being silent in His presence. I wanted Him to speak through me for the conference. I knew I was prepared with my material but I needed His Holy Spirit to flow out of me into the hearts and minds of the women attending. My words would mean nothing if HE did not inhabit them.
I needed silence before Him to face the speaking challenge ahead and to conquer any enemy attacks. HE alone is my strength and shield. Being with HIM bolstered my faith and then I headed into the unknown of the day.
In the hours that followed, the beautiful Pastor’s wife blessed me with much appreciated pampering. This Guest Speaker gig was growing on me! We got manicures, did some shopping, had a lovely lunch, and went swimming. It helped me further relax. At 5 pm it was time to shower and dress for the conference.
I arrived at the church early. It was abuzz with prep in the kitchen and last minute tweaking by the tech crew. But there was a problem. We would not have dual screens for my powerpoint. A malfunctioning main screen limited the presentation for the audience. So now what? No time to fix it. Pray and MJT! (Must Just Trust—for any newbies to this blog)
I knew right away an enemy attack unleashed itself to strike fear in my heart. This in addition to two snake incidents that curiously happened earlier on this trip rattled my nerves.
I needed to learn to fight the enemy and not give in to fear, doubt and worry. I raised my shield of faith and held on to God’s truths I read earlier that morning. I had to give my qualms about speaking and any technical difficulties to Him and move forward in HIS peace. Hard as it was, I decided to believe and rest in Him.
Rewind to six days before Conference—-snake 1
The first snake incident occurred during the first half of the trip in Kansas with family. I had been endeavoring to relax and forget about my upcoming speaking engagement in Texas the following week. I would have preferred speaking the first week so I could relax the second week but God had a different plan. Isaiah 55:8 says His thoughts and ways are not my ways. He had more to teach me. MJT again.
I decided not to look at any of my conference material while we were in Kansas. I made up my mind to trust Jesus and it amazed me how He helped me unwind and enjoy all the family events without fretting. Praise His Name, that was HUGE for me!!
As Dwight and I were tooling through the Flint Hills of Kansas to the family reunion in Lawrence I decided to peek at Face Book. Our cousin Becki posted a photo of an unfriendly visitor at the very site of our reunion gathering later that day. I found it rather gruesome that she had to decapitate a full-size Copperhead with just a garden hoe! Not a comforting thought for someone afraid of snakes. Was it a fear tactic sent by satan to further rattle my trust in Christ?
I refused to let it get to me. The family reunion at the snake site turned out marvelous and refreshing especially in low humidity after the day before was sweltering. To connect with family members old and new rejuvenated our souls. AND there were no snake invasions while we were there!
Six days later after arriving in Texas, we were setting up the church late at night for the conference as I explained earlier in this post. Around 10pm the Pastor received a call from his son next door at the parsonage that his dog got bit by a Copperhead snake. Josie, a black mouth Cur began stumbling and was visibly ill. She had to be rushed to an on-call Vet’s office asap. We all prayed and waited.
This second snake incident happened on the parsonage property where we were staying and literally a stones throw from the church. It seemed strange to me that two snake incidents happened prior to the conference. Were they spiritual attacks? I won’t know ’til I get to heaven but I refused to give in to fear. Also, I am happy to announce that Josie got treatment and was back to her normal playful self in just a few days.
Fear comes in many forms but our God is all powerful and not the author of fear so trust Him rather than giving fear any room in your mind. Try trusting next time you are tempted to fear.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 New International Version
Earlier this week Dwight and I had the pleasure of jet skiing on Lake Tyler in Texas. Pastor Samuel Priddy provided us with this exciting experience along with his lovely wife, Amy. I am so grateful we had this redeeming opportunity and blessed with such good friends.
You see, this happened to be my fourth time on jet skis. A bay in Honolulu in 2001 marked my maiden voyage. I drove the jet ski myself with trepidation around the still water at first but became somewhat confident after an hour. Weaving in and out of the buoys and gaining speed. I loved it.
Second time I rode with someone at a local lake in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This was on a high power jet ski with an experienced driver. We zipped and zoomed across the water at higher velocities than I can imagine. I hung on and what an adrenaline rush!
Third time arrived during my honeymoon in St. Lucia. I wanted to share the thrill of the jet ski experience with my new groom. He loved motorcycles so I figured a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle in the water, right? I talked him into renting a jet ski at our Sandals resort. The problem arose when we discovered that the area where we rented to ride involved only the open sea! Not a bay, not a lake, not calm waters! The swells were about four foot that day.
My precious new husband Dwight did not tell me he was scared to death but bravely took me out onto the open sea. I smiled as I expected a similar experience as I encountered previously, anticipating the fun and exhilaration. Instead, both of us clung on for dear life as we plowed through the gathering waves. Thank GOD for life jackets because Dwight never learned to swim. My heart pounded fearing all sorts of sea creatures lurking below waiting to get a nibble on us if we capsized.
After that harrowing episode I promised never to ask Dwight about jets skiing again. However, the desire never left my heart to someday share a positive jet ski escapade with him. So when Pastor Sam invited us to go on Lake Tyler I was so proud of Dwight for not letting past fear stop him. This time his experience was 100% different than in St. Lucia! He loved it and tore all over the lake! We had a blast!
By the grace of God and His goodness, the positive jet ski adventure has been redeemed! (Click on below)
Are there events in your life that scared you in the past? Things you’ve been avoiding due to fearful memories? Let God redeem the experience. Don’t allow the enemy to steal your opportunity because of fear. Fight back with your shield of faith, fully trusting in the Lord’s care and help. Pray now for His courage to overcome past fears. When occasions present themselves, you’ll be ready to meet and enjoy the challenge in Jesus’ Name!
“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 34:4 New International Version
“Never trust anyone completely but God. Love people, but put your full trust in God.” —Lawrence Welk
I admit I know very little about Midwives. I did try to watch the popular tv drama “Call the Midwife” once but I was too squeamish to finish even one episode. But I do have a little story to share involving a Midwife.
Over 35 years ago I had a friend who was adamant about not wanting to have children. She never gave details as to why. She complained when women’s magazines printed articles on children and parenting. She felt they over focussed on childrearing and took personal offense. I listened but didn’t know what to say that would not offend her further. So I remained silent and let her vent whenever she felt the need.
This same friend also claimed to be an Agnostic. She believed there was not enough evidence for or against the existence of God. We had many discussions over the years about our differing belief systems.
In the late 80s she divorced her husband and later remarried. Imagine my surprise when she told me in early 1992 that she was pregnant! I couldn’t believe it! Was this the same woman who complained at length about children?
Nine months later as she gave birth in a local hospital she experienced a change of heart and mind. Seeing the birth of her daughter was proof enough to her that God does indeed exist. She adored her baby and became a loving mother at age 34.
Shortly after her daughter turned one, she moved several hours away to a sparsely populated area in the North. We continued to keep in touch and I visited on occasion when time afforded a road trip. I encouraged her and her budding faith as often as I could.
In 1995 she told me she would be having another child the next spring. This time she wanted a more natural child birth experience at home with a Midwife. I admired her for her courage.
Months rolled by and one day I got a frantic call from my friend. Her delivery time was approaching and her husband was out of state on a business trip. She was scared because the only Midwife in her secluded mountain area had taken a full-time job and could only assist with delivering babies on certain days during certain hours. She asked me to pray that the baby would come when the Midwife was available.
So I took her urgent request to my ladies Bible study group and asked them to join me in praying. Now I must tell you these dear women loved the Lord. They were older mentors for me and each of them had gone through childbirth themselves, some several times. I was the only one in the group who never experienced pregnancy.
So when I made my request, they snickered. One of them even said, “A baby will come when it’s good and ready.” I could tell they thought my prayer request was foolish. But I was not deterred.
I knew that our great God cared about my friend. HE cared about the fears that were trying to dampen her faith. HE cared about her struggle. I knew HE alone was in sovereign control over the exact moment that baby was to be born. So I prayed for the baby to come when the Midwife was available, believing, inspite of what the other ladies thought. I trusted in HIS best for my friend.
What do you think happened?
When her labor came and proper dilation occurred she called the Midwife. By the grace of God the Midwife had just finished her shift and was able to attend to my friend immediately. My friend successfully delivered a healthy baby boy to join her toddler daughter. Her faith was strengthened by this specific answer to prayer and so was mine!
So never let anyone discourage your faith in God’s care for you! Trust HIM above all others, even those you respect and your faith will FLURISH!
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8 New King James Bible
What do you envision when you think of the word Christmas? Are you a Scrooge who only sees it as a money stealing holiday to rob one’s pocket every 25Th of December?
Or do you have fond memories from childhood? A special gift you received one particular Christmas perhaps? Or the annual Christmas pageant you were forced to participate in at church or in school? How about all the glorious lights and colorful decorations adorning the houses and the fresh scent of Christmas trees?
Does your family have any special traditions that they continue to practice year upon year? Growing up in dysfunction left little room for any warm fuzzy traditions.
My family was distraught every year when it was time to set up the Christmas tree. My Mom would pull out the fake tree and adorn it with only two things, pink tinsel and pink satin balls. My three older brothers and my father hated the tree. I think all of them hated pink ever since the first year she set up that peptobismal tree. Pink was and still is my Mom’s signature color.
Mom would wear hot pink lipstick with every outfit and dressed in pink, carried huge pink pocketbooks and come to think of it, we even lived in a pink house. So I can’t blame the guys in our family for their aversion to pink.
I never minded pink. In fact, I love pink and sometimes I wear it in honor of my Mom. When people stare at my bright pink lipstick or clothes I have to chuckle to myself because I don’t care what they think. I’m enjoying remembering my Mom and her glory days.
This year Christmas with Mom was hard. Her dementia is increasing. She’s in pain from a weird rash,the beginnings of cellulitis and congestive heart failure that causes her to retain fluid. Normally affectionate, she’s in pain if you hug her too hard.
Her body and mind are deteriorating and I am praying for grace for her so she doesn’t suffer. She was always such a strong woman. But now she is eaten up by fear and paranoia. She cries at imaginary things and screams for no reason.
I am grateful she could come to my house to celebrate Christmas yesterday even though it was uncomfortable for her as well as for other family members at times. She told me it was “a nice party” but that she knows this will be the last time she can go out of the nursing home bar a miracle.
Mom and I have lots of stories to share with you but right now I ask that you pray for her to be at peace in her mind and be free of pain in her body. Thank you so much!
“O LORD, I give my life to You. I trust in You, my God!” Psalm 25:1 New Living Translation
What does your beginning look like? Or perhaps I should ask what brought you to Christ?
My mother taught me about Jesus from as far back as I can remember. She took me to the same church she attended as a child. I loved Sunday school and learned all the songs like Deep and Wide, Running Over, and I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy. But I only knew ABOUT Jesus, I didn’t really KNOW Him yet.
Everything surrounding Jesus was joyous and good. So I liked learning about Him. But one day The truth about His purpose on earth shattered my heart. I found out He came here to suffer and die in my place. It was hard to accept at age seven but I understood enough about the reality of Jesus to love Him and want Him in my life no matter what.
My father recognized the divine love of Christ that same year of 1970 and made a commitment to Him at a small prayer meeting. I decided if my father did it, I should too. And so I gave my heart to Jesus and began my adventure with Him. The highest praise we can give to God is to give our lives to Him!
So I ask again… what does your beginning look like? Someone may need to hear it.