Blended—> Challenging & Beautiful 

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 

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Giving in—>NOT giving up!

I am giving in on a certain area of my life. I have come to a point and I realize I just need to let go of certain expectations, unrealistic expectations I continually place on myself. I feel like I have been in a constant battle with myself that I keep losing and this only leads to feeling frustrated and disappointed. Day after day I have this unrealistic idea that I am going to magically put this 30-60 minutes in my day where I might get this incredible quiet time and I can sit down and spend time in God’s word and have personal prayer time. Every time I plan for this to happen and it doesn’t happen I become discouraged and frustrated. It feels like this magic window of time doesn’t happen…. EVER and if it does I am so completely and utterly exhausted that my mind shuts down after just a few moments and while my heart desires the quiet time my brain fails and I end up falling asleep.

This is what I have come to terms with…. This is my season of BUSY

So while I am going through this season of busy I just need to accept that I won’t have extended periods of quiet time to feel close to God. BUT THIS IS OK! I have discovered that I don’t need extended periods of quiet time to feel close to Him! I have learned that can still feel close to God and still have time with Him even on the busiest of busy days! I just need to be creative in centering my day on Him and make sure I am keeping Him as the focus and not the opposite and not just ‘fitting Him’ into my day.

  
This is my season of busy, our children our young and my husband and I work full time, we are blessed with 6 children, we have my mother living with us and I am still keeping up with breastfeeding the youngest exclusively and we are active at church and play sports and we exercise regularly and frequently bottom line is —>we are a BUSY family. One day later in my life when I am in a season when things are not so busy and when our sweet little ones are no longer at home I know I will look back and miss these moments so I need to stop with my unrealistic expectations of sitting down for structured quiet time and regroup with a more realistic game plan.

After some careful reflection and consideration on my last few months I feel like overall I have done a pretty good job of balancing the busy and maintaining my spiritual time as a whole. Some days are better than others and they are moments spread through each day but I do feel like I have improved and can sit back and reflectively observe where I can do better.

There is ALWAYS going to be room to improve and grow. Now I am far from having this figured out but I feel like I am moving in the right direction and I am walking closer the Lord each day.

So far these are the areas where I have improved and feel I have made progress-

-devotions with the children, especially in the mornings, I have tried several things the last few years, making them read scripture out loud, having them read our family devotional and however I approached it seemed to at one point cause argument, conflict and grumbling and after a hectic morning to get everyone in the car this was very discouraging to me so what I have been doing is not making any of them read anything, when we stop in the morning before anyone gets out I take up our family devotional and I read it to them, no arguing or complaining, if they listen and get something from it GREAT! If not then that is their choice, and most days I am walking away with something from the devotion we read. They have even started asking questions on occasion and actually seem to be enjoying this, since I stepped back and made it less forced and gave them the choice to listen and participate it is going much better. Now there are days that we are running late or time just does not allow and we don’t read but more mornings than not we are doing this—>making progress!

 

-Weekly scripture- I have been selecting a verse each week for my own personal study and memorization, I write it in my journal, put it in scripture typer and put it on note cards and post it notes to help. I have not been completely faithful each week with memorizing but have been studying them, but I have memorized more scripture this year than I have in the past, I really feel like the methods I have been using have been helping me bury God’s word in my heart —>making progress!

-when I do find that have a few moments instead of instantly opening my Facebook app to see what is going on in social media I have been opening my bible app, scripture typer, devotionals and christian books.  I have actually finished reading a couple of books this year which I find a HUGE accomplishment for me.  Being more intentional and purposeful with these golden spare moments through my day has definately helped me keep my heart, mind and focus on the Lord—> making progress!

– one of the things I have started including in my daily journal is a praise and specific thank You lifted up to the Lord for something in my day.  So that even on the days when I don’t have time to write as many of my prayers and thoughts as I would like I have been dedicated in journaling thanksgiving.  It is already so awesome to go back and remember exactly the way my heart felt in these moments.  It has helped my heart to be more thankful each day—> making progress!

 

2016—>So as days turn to weeks and weeks to months I am making progress and maximizing my spiritual growth even in the busiest of busy days when I feel like my head is spinning and I want to submit to being completely overwhlemed.  I am working on keeping my mind, heart and focus on the Lord.  Some days I stumble and start to lose focus but we have such an Awesome and Forgiving God who shows such AMAZING GRACE!

So I am not rolling over and submitting to the busy, I’m not giving up, far from it, in giving in and moving forward with this wonderfully blessed season of busy.  Determined to continue to grow in my relationship with Christ and to be the best witness I can for our children and those around us.  

Thank You Father for this season of BUSY, for blessing us abundantly!

  

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭

Finding my way to prosper during this season of BUSY

Since the kids started their football and cheer practice at the end of the summer right before school started our family has been busy day in and day out, it feels like we are constantly on the go and always running to get somewhere. In the peak or our busy and chaos there are moments when I can feel completely overwhelmed with the feeling that I will never have enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done, EVER. Between working full time, church activities, kids sports, household responsibilities, exercising, there will never be enough time in a day, and I will never get everything done, but that is ok.

Instead of waiting for things to slow down…which realistically with 5 children in our home (we pray to be blessed one day with a 6th:) it is not likely to happen for the next 15+ years, I have come to terms to accept this as my season of busy. This is the time in my life I am going to be on the go, full of activities surrounding the kids and our family. Instead of getting overwhelmed and frustrated with the busy, constantly waiting for the season to change or slow down, I need to enjoy all the blessings God has packed into this season of busy. I need to remind myself that I am not here by accident; God built me and equipped me to handle my season of busy. How AWESOME that He entrusted me and my husband with raising these 5 amazing children. Then when I have reached my season of slow, our little ones are grown and on their own I can look back on the season of busy and know that I was able to enjoy and cherish the many blessings of busy to the fullest.

So many blessings keeping us busy,
-loving marriage honoring God
– 5 amazing children
– 2 working parents, we are blessed with security in our careers
– Amazing church home and family
-kids that are motivated to be active, social and play sports
-beautiful home to take care of
-pets to love and cherish
In every area of our life we are blessed, THANK YOU LORD for all you have given us!

Isaiah 41:10
‘Don’t be afraid for I am with you, don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will hold you up with my victorious right hand’

As I embrace being blessed with this season of busy in our lives I am tasked to keep God at the center of our lives. Keep Him front and center in all we do is essential and key to being successful, successful in obedience to Him and successful in what we set out to do. Being busy day in and day out is for pointless and insignificant unless we keep our eyes, hearts and focus on our Amazing and Awesome Lord. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He is intimately involved and cares about every detail of our lives, every detail of our lives should involve Him.

For this past month I know we could have done better, we are not perfect there will always be room for improvement but overall I am very pleased with some of the progress we have made as a family to work on keeping God our focus. Here are some of the highlights where I can really feel our focus has remained on God.

—–>Scripture to go; during the week the older kids ride in the car with me to school which is a good 25 minute car ride, after we drop the youngest our 3 year old off at preschool and each of the older children take turns reading scripture. We started at the beginning in Genesis; they are required to read a minimum of 3 verses each, some days they choose to do more some days they read their minimum. This has been a great start to the day, not each day has been perfect but they are starting each school day reading and listening to scripture. HOW AWESOME! They are pretty excited about the idea of reading the bible cover to cover eventually if we keep this up. At the end of the week if they have done well all week we get a treat on the way to school, breakfast sandwiches and a drink at Wawa. They think this is great 🙂

—–>Wednesday evenings before going to church for Teamkid and youth group, we have made it a point to set aside an hour to sit down and have dinner together and hold a family meeting and devotion time. In order to make this work we do frozen pizzas and salad, which require little prep and clean up allowing us more time in the middle of our crazy busy week. Kids love routine and do so well when they know what to expect every Wednesday. They are each allowed time to talk about anything they want to, any concerns or praises. The family devotion each week varies. Wednesdays are not always a complete success, we have 5 kids sometimes their silly behavior gets carried away but overall this has been awesome and effective for all of us.

—–>Sundays after church we go home and make lunch. Over lunch we have discussion and questions about the sermon. We ask the kids different things to see what they picked up in the sermon and discuss the message and review the commandments and verses.
—–>My incredible husband Matt and I have made it an effort to add onto our devotions together, we had been getting up early and starting each day with scripture and prayer, we are not always successful in this as some mornings we are so tired and hit snooze one too many times but we don’t’ beat ourselves up over a missed morning or two. We have added on scripture in the evenings while kids are getting ready for bed, we make it a point to sit at the kitchen table and read scripture together so they can see up doing this and making this a priority, we are trying to set an example for them.

Psalm 16:8
‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’

Psalm 18:30
‘As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

Proverbs 16:3
‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.’

“Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for Your many blessings. We are so undeserving and yet you still show us unconditional love, mercy and grace. Thank You for answer prayers. Thank You for the honor and blessing of being a parent. Please guide us and strengthen us, give us wisdom to triumph through this season of busy. I pray to keep our focus and hearts on You Lord, that You will always be center of our home. I pray that we can be an example of You to our children and those around us. Our children are a gift from You, daily we need Your strength and wisdom to train them in the way they should go. Give us patience and a joyful heart. Forgive us when we are too busy to listen to Your voice, help us to take a breath and experience Your presence and so we can hear what You have to say.
In Jesus name I pray~ Amen”
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