Our large and lively family is what is considered to be ‘blended’. This means our family is not the traditional family, my husband and I both have been married before and have had children with our ex-spouse. Before God led us into each other’s lives my husband and I both went through devastating trials as we lost our previous marriages to choices and circumstances beyond our control that left us both faced with the adventure of single parenthood.
Prior to meeting each other during the months we survived being a single parent we each went through our own transformation period, on our knees opening our hearts in complete surrender to Christ. One of the most traumatic and challenging times in my life led me to a point that my eyes and my heart were opened, I was delivered from despair as I came alive spiritually and found new hope for life. God gave me strength and carried me through every day, every challenge and every trial I was forced to face. I prayed each and every night to let it be God’s will for me to meet someone, I prayed specific details on the man I desired to be led to, and less than a year later God answered my prayers.
Psalm 102:1. —–Hear my prayer, Lord, let my cry for help come to you.
Psalm 143:1 ——Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
Our faithful and wonderful God brought Matt and I together. We quickly connected as followers of Christ and grew as friends and after dating for about a year we entered the covenant of marriage united in Christ.
We both were very aware that there would be some trials and challenges along the way as we entered into our marriage and beginning our beautiful blended family. We did not do this blindly, we kept God at the center of it all and let Him lead us. Together we did do quite a bit of research and reading of Christian authors who had been down the same path before. We went through premarital counseling and guidance with our pastor. We were bravely prepared as we began this journey over two years ago. We had ultimate faith in the Lord that He would be there with us and guide us every step of the way. God is so good and so faithful, He has been with us every step of the way. Our marriage and blending our family has truly been our greatest blessing.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
I feel like there are some misconceptions or stereotypes surrounding the ‘blended family’. Today’s society now has more blended families than traditional or intact families. The most recent statistics show that more than 50% of families are in situations where parents are remarried or recoupled. With such an increasing population of blended families it would be great if there were more resources available to help these families learn, grow and thrive especially in Christian homes. Our church has embraced and accepted us with open arms, but unfortunately I think a lot of churches are not very loving and accepting of blended families or single parents. This is very sad because it is the children and parents in these situations that desperately need the love and support of the church. Thankfully these stereotypes mean nothing to the One who matters, in God’s loving eyes there is nothing second-rate about a blended family.
It has not been an easy or effortless transition, we have had some challenges through this and still continue to have challenges. Some days are much more trying than others, but all of the good moments by far outweighs the struggles. Family and parenting challenges are not exclusive to blended families, intact and traditional families are also faced with many challenges. However there is a different dynamic and unique element to challenges seen in blended families. My husband and I have learned many things over the last two years, we have made several mistakes along the way. We are not perfect but we have a perfect Savior to carry us along the way. We have learned from our mistakes, praying constantly for wisdom courage and strength.
Here are a few of our lessons learned from our experiences of blending our family into one under Christ:
—Love is a choice. Loving your biological children comes naturally but you must choose to love your stepchildren. Love unconditionally as Christ loves us.
—Family mealtimes are golden moments of bonding, we love when we are able to have a meal with all of us at the table. We try and make this a priority, not possible daily during our busy school year but we typically pull it off a few times a week, dinner during the week, lunch or breakfast on the weekends. Getting 6 kids and 2 adults to sit still at the same time for an extended period can be challenge to say the least!
—Church as a family is a priority, not an option in our house, it’s expected that we will be at Sunday school, Sunday service and youth activities weekly. No matter what’s going on with our house or family church is a constant.
—Adults get divorced, kids don’t. A child still needs the positive involvement and contact with their biological parent that they don’t live with. We cannot force their other parents to fulfill this role appropriately however we can be there to support and help our children with their relationship with their other parent. It is vital that we never speak disparagingly about their other parent in front of the kids. This only hurts the kids and cannot be undone. This is one are that Matt and I have done very well with, we have refrained from speaking badly of any of their other biological parents in from of them. This area can be quite challenging, while you don’t want to speak badly of their other parent you cannot lie or withhold certain truths. For example if a parent fails to show up or follow through with a promise it is not ok to lie and make excuses for them. Finding the line of not speaking badly but being honest can be very very hard. Overall we have done well with this and will continue leaning on God to guide us in this area. We will work to support our children to continue their relationship with their other parents.
—Holidays, weekends and summer vacations will be forever changed, better just to accept this reality of custody and visitation schedules and be flexible and be as positive as possible, especially for the kids, unfortunately the little ones involved are the ones who get hurt and impacted by the complications involved with visitation schedules. My husband and I put a lot of effort into protecting the kids from the adult pieces of this but we cannot control what happens outside of our home and we have learned to efficiently handle damage control when needed. We have failed in maintaining joyful and positive attitudes at times but we have learned a lot and have moved on to be best example and support we can for our children. They look first to us so we must handle conflict and complications with grace and patience. Lord give us strength!
—As parents my husband and I have no power or control of what happens outside of our home, particularly in the home of the other parents. However at times what happens in the other home directly impacts our home and family. It is hard and at times impossible to accept the powerlessness of watching your child be hurt, disappointed, emotionally neglected and spiritually attacked in the other parents home. We can do nothing to stop, prevent or change this, we have to release control and trust God in these difficult and heartbreaking circumstances. This has been by far one of the biggest challenges for me as a mother to accept and learn to endure. It has been a slow learning process for me, I have been stubborn (yes Matt I am admitting to being stubborn;), angry, had an unchristian like attitude, and this has made this process for me painfully long, I have been kicking and fighting this area that God has been working on me. I’m still not where I should be but have come along way and continue making progress. As parents we need to let go of not being able to protect our kids when they are with their other parents , we cannot bubble wrap their heart from feeling rejection and hurt and we are unable to cover their eyes, ears and hearts from being exposed to ungodly and evil things of this fallen world. Thankfully what we can do is so much more POWERFUL!!!! We release them to God and rise up in PRAYER. It has been an excruciating process for me to get this but I am still learning and will continue improving in this area, thank You Lord for being patient with me.
‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.’ Romans 12:9
Blending a family takes time, it does not happen easily, without hard work, without love or overnight. It is essential to keep Christ at the center of it all. He will give us what we need and He will not let us down. When your marriage and family stay God centered amazing things happen. He is good and faithful and He loves us. He has called us to love one another as Christ loves us. Praise and glory to God!!
“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” Romans 15:17