Have you heard about the FREE Blended and Blessed Event?

Hello fellow stepmoms!

I am so excited to tell you about a unique event coming THIS WEEKEND that you can live stream from your home. For the past three years, my husband and I have been volunteers with a ministry called FamilyLife. You may have heard of their amazing WeekendToRemember marriage seminars. This ministry is not one to shy away from the complexity of divorce, remarriage and blended families. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you more about this free event specifically designed for the Blended Family, called Blended & Blessed. I’ve got more information about the event below and I do hope you’ll join me this Saturday. To register for a livestream code, see viewing details or find someone hosting the event in your area visit: http://bit.ly/2jpMSTf

What: Blended & Blessed Livestream Conference

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:30-4:00 PM CST *you can start later and pause the stream*

Where: To find locations near you streaming the event Click HERE! 

Here’s some information directly from FamilyLife’s website:

Blended & Blessed™ is a FREE one-day live event and livestream for stepfamily couples, single parents, dating couples with kids, and those who care about blended families.

Join hundreds of sites around the globe as we unpack five keys that are crucial to healthy stepfamily marriages. With some of today’s most trusted and respected experts, Blended & Blessed will challenge, inspire, and encourage you.

You can sign up today to host the Blended & Blessed livestream in your church or your community, or find a location near you to attend. You can even host an event in your home with your small group or friends, bringing together couples for one incredible day of teaching, music, and humor! Did we mention it’s FREE!

Happy 2015!!

Every year I say I’m not going to get behind on the blog. I was doing so well throughout the fall that I actually thought I was going to break my streak! I even told you we’d have a series!! And then the holidays happened along with a dose of illness…ugh!  Sometimes our best laid plans and good intentions still leave us stranded on the side of the road, but eventually we find the missing part, fill the tank back up with gas and we’re rolling again. And rolling again for me means I’m back at my computer with a cup of coffee and my laptop open wishing you a very happy new year.

I want to thank so many of you for your emails these last couple of months as I have been diligently trying to nail down the marriage series. There are so many different combinations of stepfamliies it is honestly hard to know where to begin. My husband and I have spent hours talking about all the different topics we could address and thanks to your comments and suggestions we are seeing it begin to take shape. Part of what is taking so long on this series is that I am working with my husband to have sort of an interview style podcast for you – to give you something to listen to and let’s be honest, if I had my husband type out all of his responses we’d be waiting awhile. We’ll be able to start recording next week and I’m hoping to have the first part of the series up at the beginning of February.

Now for the good stuff…Everyone keeps asking me what 2015 holds. No doubt you’ve been asking yourself that too! The honest answer is I don’t know. I know that we’ll be at a lot of baseball games, marching band competitions, visiting colleges with my oldest stepson and crying through his senior year, but as for what’s in store for me personally I really don’t know. My husband and I spent 2014 traveling around the country promoting our music, playing shows, visiting radio stations, building a dream and all was going well until I fell ill in late august with a lower abdominal pain that just seemed to intensify with each passing week. I pushed through and finished out the tour, but losing momnetum was inevitable and with each month I kept feeling worse and worse and the doctors still have not figured out exactly what’s going on. So instead of releasing another song and gearing up for festival tours, we’re spending the first part of this year resting and waiting for some results of a surgery to hopefully shed some light on why I’m experiencing so much pain. Not the way I was planning on starting out my year and I have been experiencing quite a bit of disappointment because of it. I appreciate your prayers during this time, and please keep my husband and stepkids in your prayers as well because I am usually the one pushing them and now I’m down for the count.

This leads me to what I want to talk about today – it’s not just about being a stepmom this time but rather being human. What do we do when we feel like God is not providing direction or blessing in our lives? I’ll be honest I have been quite frustrated and even angry these last few months. Why would we be brought out to the wilderness to die? Haven’t I been following His will? When everything was pointing to step out on faith didn’t I follow? All these questions lead to the ultimate feeling of “Where is God?” Deep down, when I look through the lens of eternity I know God has not left me and He has not forsaken me, but here in this temporal existence where the desires of the flesh are so intense it is easy to feel lost and out of His sight. I know I am being held, but not in the gentle and soft way that I desire but instead it feels like I am being held in a cold cell alone and asked to wait until someone comes and opens the door. I’m not even sure what I’m waiting on – I want to run and yet everything around me is slowing me down. In times like these all I know is to cling to the truth in His word despite feeling abandonded. I think of all the Psalms that speak to waiting, cling to the story of Abraham and Sarah waiting on their promise from the Lord, and remember the beloved verse in Jeremiah that claims the Lord knows His plans for me.

I may not know what’s next, and it is likely that you don’t either. Let’s do this together. Let’s encourage each other to wait on the Lord and to remember His promises even when it is hard. I pray blessing for you and your family at the start of this new year. We don’t know what it is going to hold but we can meet here and encourage each other.

Let’s Talk About Being Married

Yesterday my husband and I had an 18 hour car drive from Nashville, TN to Denver, CO. I absolutely love our time in the car, because it seems like we always have our best conversations there. We talked a lot about some of the emails and comments you all leave here on the blog and it stirred my heart to do a short series on what married life looks like in a blended family. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of my biggest struggles being a second wife and stepmom AND (here’s my favorite part) my husband has agreed to share some of his struggles as a divorced and remarried dad. I am so excited about this series because I truly believe that marriages in blended families have more than the typical husband/wife struggles and if I’m honest, I’m really excited about hearing my husband talk about his FEELINGS!!!  In a blended marriage you have two people experiencing family life in compltely different ways and when communication breaks down it is a recipe for disaster. If you would like to join in this conversation, share some of your own stories, or have specific questions for me or my husband, please email me directly at christianstepmom@gmail.com!

In the meantime,  I want to share a series of sermons from one of my favorite pastors to listen to, Andy Stanley. My husband and I listened to his “Staying in Love” series during our drive yesterday and I would encourage you to listen and/or watch these episodes as they are a great resource. Here is a link to the first episode: Love Is a Verb. You can also listen to these via itunes or the YourMove app on your smartphone!

Praying for you and can’t wait to walk more of this journey with you!

Stones of Remembrance

Over the last few months, I have had two people encourage me on different occasions to always keep “stones of remembrance” through both joyous seasons and trials. One person who told me this was my dearest girlfriend who, despite experiencing the intense heartache of losing a child, always has a smile on her face and peace in her heart and time for coffee with me when I’m at my worst!  The other person who advised me to keep a physical record of what the Lord has done in my life was my pastor. Different people, different backgrounds, different occasions, but still the same advice.

Earlier this week, I began seeking out what the Lord had to say about these so called stones of remembrance and found myself studying the book of Joshua – particularly the 4th chapter. In this chapter Joshua has come to cross the Jordan river with the ark of the covenant in tow. Generations earlier, the Israelites along with Moses saw the Red Sea parted so that they could pass easily across it in their time of need, but this time the Lord commands Joshua to have his men step into the water, which is quite high, and He will provide a way for them to pass. The Lord, not one to break promises, causes a miraculous drying of the river instantly and the water does not return until the last Israelite and the ark of the covenant has crossed to the other side. The Lord commands Joshua to take stones from the dry riverbed and erect a memorial in Gilgal so that fathers can tell the future generations what miraculous things happened in that place due to the faithfulness of the Lord.

As I started researching more about this passage, I found myself hearing a similar message about these stones. J. Vernon McGee said in his sermon about Joshua 4 that, “…the business of parents is to give their children the gospel.” Over and over as I studied different pastors and commentaries, I found this same thought echoed. Stones of remembrance are not only for the ones who experience the mighty hand of God working in their lives, but are also a memorial to be used a teaching tool for younger generations.

The past year and a half we have had many moments that should have been memorialized but we breezed right past them and unless you’re looking through my facebook feed backwards, it might seem like it never even happened because the ordinary mundane tasks of life have a way of overshadowing the miraculous somehow. My two stepsons, who did not grow up in church or reading the bible both gave their life to Christ this last year. My oldest stepson, who has been the most adamant about hating church and God, served for the first time on our worship team last Sunday. On our mantel sits a framed bible verse our kids gave us for Christmas last year – it was the first scripture they had memorized. So much has changed (besides being taller than me now) since I came into these young boys (now young men) lives 6 years ago, and yet, I forget to truly set up a stones of remembrance- not just for me or my husband to look on during the hard days of our second trip through adolescence and highschool, but also for the kids to look back on when they are older and may be questioning their faith or need help remembering why they believe what they say they believe even though they face persecution.

Our society actually focuses on esteeming every single event in our lives so much that I think we actually lessen the impact of a true memorial. For instance, we post pictures of our food or our daily adventures on facebook or Instagram and share them with anyone and everyone.  We buy cheap souvenirs from expensive vacations to remember our time away.  We take pictures of every accomplishment our kids achieve, save every outgrown article of school spirit-wear, purchase every DVD of every concert, but can still fail to hide in our hearts the more impactful moments – like the first time you hear your child pray or tell you they KNOW God is speaking to them. Don’t get me wrong, we should actively engage in the activities our kids are a part of, but those accomplishments should pale in comparison to the way we esteem the active hand of God working in their lives if we want to raise men and women who can change the world through the power of Christ that resides in them.

I want to challenge you as I challenge myself to set up stones of remembrance for your children (biological or blended) and their walk with Christ – not just for them but also for you. It is so easy to miss big changes when we see someone day after day. Keep a journal of things they tell you, wear a necklace with birthstones of the month they were baptized, pray with them, but more than anything, help them to remember where they came from (even if they are not saved right now). Obviously, I was not around for the physical birth of my two stepsons (that would be weird, huh?), but I was fortunate enough to be the first one each of them confessed their acceptance of Christ to. I am human. I get frustrated with my blended family and the unique struggles that being a stepmom brings, however I can look back on this path and KNOW that the Lord has been working and will continue to work and I am certain that setting up a special remembrance for the sweet times only further helps us through the difficult ones and helps us see the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the Lord.

20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:20-24 NIV

Where Do You Keep the Batteries

It  was just another ordinary day at the Carson’s yesterday. I spent the morning in a co-writing session with my husband and another good songwriting buddy of ours. A songwriters, we get the unique opportunity to sit in a room and contemplate how to put the essence of this human experience into a short little 3 minute dialogue mixed with poerty and harmony. After our “day at the office” we came home, and I taught a voice lesson while my husband started clearing the never ending pile of leaves out of the driveway. I picked up the house, did some laundry, changed burnt-out light bulbs outside all while feeling a sense of accomplishment. I enjoyed raking up leaves with my husband and throwing them down the hill. I’m not a highly domesticated woman, so I find a strange sense of satisfaction when I have a good day around the house. After finishing my chores, I went to the mailbox and got the mail – most of it was junk, but there it was the one bill I knew was coming. I had been dreading this moment of truth. We switched our health insurance earlier this year, and, for the first time since the switch, I went to the doctor for bloodwork and some other testing. I timidly opened the bill wondering what the damage would be, and immediately I started panicking at the amount. The accomplishments of the day were surpassed by what appeared to be a dark cloud. The questions started flooding in, “How will we pay for this? Should I cancel my follow up visits? What about Christmas coming? What about the bills we already owe? What about the upcoming baseball season fees and winter drum line fees?” The list of quetions piled up faster and higher than the leaves falling outside.

Over the last few months, I have been coming to grips with the fact that I have been suffering from anxiety and it has started to take a toll on my body not only mentally but physically as well. This was confirmed in the results from the series of doctor’s visits I’m just now getting the bill for. I was sure we would find something in the bloodwork that was causing some of my chronic pain, mood swings, and exhaustion, but instead the bloodwork only proved what my doctor and husband expected –  that I am quite healthy and my body is simply trying to relieve the stress I keep putting on it. The last two months have been a process of slowing down and making sure I am in the Word and taking time to stop and wait on the Lord – not simply racing ahead with my plans and then asking the Lord to bless it. I’ve been focused on spending time in prayer and waiting on Him. Last night, amidst my instant worry, I remembered that I truly wanted to react differently in situations like this. I stopped what I was doing and went to pray. The Lord brought to mind Philippians 4:13. I opened up my Bible and read Paul’s words “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I was comforted by this, and I decided to read the verses leading up to this passage and was confronted with these words:

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

I was convicted because, in that moment, I certainly didn’t feel content. I felt concerned and to be honest I felt justified in my concern. As I went to sleep, I began planning my checklist for Tuesday (email so and so, schedule appointments, work out class, etc) and I realized I was quickly falling into old habits. I really just needed to take the day and rest in the Word. So this afternoon, I came to my favortie coffee shop, spent time in prayer, discovered this great new study tool called the BlueLetterBible.Org (check it out!!), and found a peace even though there is chaos around me. As I was wrapping up my date with the Lord, a man came into the coffee shop and came right up to me and said “Where do you keep the batteries?” He was a much older gentleman, so I thought maybe he was confused as to where he was and I told him I wasn’t quite sure what he meant. He repeated his question and then laughed and pointed to my wedding ring and said “You must have batteries in there to keep it shining so bright.” It was a beautiful thought that made me smile and certainly caught me by surprise and got me to thinking yet again about the passage in Philippians I had been studying today. Paul talks about contentment in this life despite the circumstances – whether we abase or abound. That contentment does not come out of our own strength or mental willpower, but instead, ONLY comes from Christ living inside of us doing his gracious and beautiful work. As a Christian, a wife, a stepmom, a daughter, a friend, a songwriter (really any label you want to put on me) I can do nothing good out of my own will but I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

I pray whatever circumstance you are facing in this moment today – whether it’s financial or you’re struggling with your stepchildren or maybe you’re facing a legal battle or your marriage is suffering, I pray that you understand that you can have the same peace that Paul found. This peace only comes from contstant communication and dialogue with the creator. When someone sees you and the struggles you are facing, I hope they see your peace and ask you where you keep the batteries. Oh that we could tell them the answer lies in a deep never-ending well that’s abiding in our hearts.

Let’s Go Mountainclimbing

Over the last few weeks I have been praying about what to share on the Christian Stepmom blog. We’re in such a great season with my stepsons lately – they are turning into fine young men and we’re experiencing all the joys and struggles that high school brings. It has been somewhat surreal to watch them grow and change, it seems like just yesterday I was helping with basic math problems and fighting our way through vegetables, but the seasons have changed. I find myself having more and more actual conversations with the boys and can’t believe our oldest will be a senior next year. I say all of this, because I realize so much of what I have blogged about here has been focused on the struggles of the blended family life. I have used our challenges to spur conversation on the site and have been somewhat at a loss for words when it comes to peaceful times, but in that I have found a season of resting in the Lord and my walk with Him is constantly changing.

Today, as I was driving, a sermon came on the radio by Dr. Adrian Rogers. During his lifetime, Dr. Rogers was a well-known evangelistic southern Baptist preacher from the state of TN. I grew up in a southern Bapstist church, but normally, I can only take the passionate preaching for a few minutes before I’m shaking my head and saying, “Shhh…you don’t have to be so loud”, but today the message completely struck a chord with my heart and I was so mesmerized at the timeliness of Dr. Rogers words that the zeal of his preaching resonated with me, and I knew I wanted to share the message with you here. During his sermon titled, Give Me this Mountain, Dr. Rogers takes us through the passage of Joshua 14: 6-12 where we find the Lord’s servant Caleb boldly proclaiming the promise of the Lord as he begins to take the mountain that was promised to him by Moses. While I was listening to this message, I couldn’t help but think of how often we women, even as believers, only see giants in front of us and obstacles that keep us from truly experiencing the promises of the Lord in all their fullness. We let ourselves believe we are missing the proverbial “something” that will one day make us happy, but day after day we go on being defeated and hoping we simply feel better when we wake up. This simple message from Dr. Rogers was my wake up call. Instead of seeing my frustrations or disappointments from my perspective I should instead follow Caleb’s example and focus on how great and big my God is to overcome them all and recognize the trials are the very thing which makes me stronger in my walk with the Lord. The “something” I’m missing is absolute surrender to Christ Jesus who lives in me.

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, theLord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”  Joshua 14:7-14

Fearless

So most of my blogs have been pretty specific on the joys and challenges of being a stepmom and how we can use our faith to help us navigate those tricky waters. However, as I was reading through my current devotional book this morning I realized that I have created a narrow lens for us to view this role from. Too ofter we use our titles to define who we are: wife, mom, stepmom, sister, co-worker, etc. But the place we should be operating from is “child of God” first and foremost and they way we operate in those roles should flow from that true identity.

I admit in the latest season of my life, I have been trying to live out my roles via my own strength. I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good stepmom. I want to be a successful business owner. But in reality I’ve been trying to juggle the stresses and weight out of my own strength and have been dishing up plates of pride and fear while my heart has suffered some sort of anemia in my walk with the Lord.

I have had so many people in my life over the last few months point out how anxious I’ve become. My husband and I are in a trying season financially right now as we have transitioned from traditional 9 to 5 jobs to running a business as independent musicians, and as much as I feel this is the calling the Lord has for us, I have become paralyzed by fear and weighed down with pride. I find myself focusing on the struggles on this calling instead of focusing on how much the Lord has provided throughout this season and the doors that have opened. I have been grumbling in my heart and letting my worry take its toll on my body physically instead of choosing to let God work out the details and simply provide in His own way.

So often we want to do things our way all the time. Lately I have been quite verbal about that, but that is not what God has been trying to get through this thick skull of mine. We are not entitled to anything and yet have been given a life of eternity and grace through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. How prideful of me to think I deserve more than this.

I have recently been reading a book by Max Lucado, “Fearless”. Ironically it has been on my Kindle for the last two years, but I’m finally taking the time to read it. This morning I was reading a chapter in which Lucado points out that seasons are natural. In one of the later chapters he writes:

“When it comes to earth, we understand God’s management strategy. Nature needs winter to rest and spring to awaken. We don’t dash into underground shelters at the sight of spring’s tree buds. Autumn colors don’t prompt warning sirens. Earthly seasons don’t upset us. But unexpected personal ones certainly do.”

When I read those words I was immediately humbled. As my husband and I make our tour preparations for touring this fall, I find myself saying things like “Oh won’t it be so beautiful if we could see the leaves change in the Aspens. or spend some of the winter in California?” It is easy to find beauty in the changing earthly seasons. But as the seasons change in my personal life right now – the kids are both in high school and spreading their wings of independence, our finances are struggling as we follow the path the Lord has set out for us, and the feeling of disconnection from our family and church body is constantly weighing heavy on our hearts – I find myself frustrated and fearful.

I challenge you, just as I’m challenging myself today, to find the beauty in the season you are in. To see the color changes and know the harsh cold winds may start to blow, but the creator has a purpose for this very moment will bring peace if you let it. Embrace a spirit of gratitude and fall back into the arms of your Savior. Every moment of this life is preparing us for the next one. Trust Him that His plan is greater and His love for you runs deeper, and just as the winter is necessary for the spring, there is a master plan for the seasons in your personal life as well.

Look How Far We’ve Come and We’ve Only Just Begun

As I listen to the thunder and rain tonight while I take a breather from a long day, I can’t help but reflect on how much has changed since I first stepped into the role of being a stepmom. My husband and I have been married just shy of three years, but I have been involved in the kids lives for almost six. I can remember some of the early rocky roads. I used to tell my husband how I felt like such an outsider because I wasn’t part of any memories or big firsts with the kids. He used to laugh a little and say “give it time…” It’s been quite some time now, and I can honestly say we’re finally all starting to fit in this beautifully imperfect family. I certainly do have my own family memories now – first days of middle school, high school, hang gliding, learners permits and just today my oldest stepson got his driver’s license!!  I also have funny inside jokes now with the boys. For example, today, I passed by an old movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in the store that we watched with the kids awhile ago. As soon as I saw it I started laughing remembering how my youngest stepson was trying earnestly to remember the title one night and blurted out “you know the movie – one jumped over the cookie jar!”  When I heard that little voice in my mind (which has since turned into a man’s voice), I just smiled to myself standing in the aisle of Big Lots and thought about how far we’ve come.

In the early days as a stepmom I was longing for a sense of belonging and acceptance. Once that was established and trusted, I began inserting some of my interests and passions into the lives and hearts of my stepchildren. I took them on volunteer service projects, checked up on their homework, helped with writing assignments all the while thinking if I could see some glimpse of “me” in them I would be satisfied. Next, I found myself wanting to be involved in their lives spiritually and teach them some of the values I had when I was growing up. It seems with every stage of growth within my wonderful little stepfamily I’m always looking for what could be improved and never fully taking time to stop and see the growth that’s happened all around me. When I saw the movie title today I thought, “Remember when all you wanted and thought you needed were memories…aren’t you glad there’s more?”

Today I find myself thinking if there were no conflict between households or struggles financially, then I would truly feel like a success as a stepmother and a true partner for my husband. Ring the buzzer! agh – wrong answer! How often do we miss the forest for the trees in our lives because we are stubbornly wanting God to do something different than what He’s doing? I consistently fail to grasp that the Lord is sovereign and knows, not only what I need, but what every member of my family needs. His wants and desires for me are beyond my capacity for understanding, and, somehow, His plan for each person in my family is better than anything I could have imagined on my own. At some point ladies we have to concede to the fact that God is not just on our side, but instead through His grace and benevolence He is “for” each person we come into contact with and loves them unconditionally.

Romans 8:28-32

28 And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

If God is for us – who is against us? The answer to that question is not an ex-wife or stepkids or any other person for that matter. The adversary, Satan, will continually try to undermine your role in your family and try to pit individuals against each other to create chaos. Through prayer and petition, satan is the one to wage war against – not the people who frustrate you. The Lord is always working things for His good. So keep your eyes and your heart open. You will see the progress in time. You will find what you are looking for if you fix your eyes on Christ and look for Him in each and every situation.

The Little Stepmom That Could

Have you noticed how our culture makes it so easy to be the victim? Watch about 5 minutes of television and you’ll see someone crying or fighting or saying, “It wasn’t my fault – he made me do it!” Or turn on the radio and you’ll hear about how some man cheated on a girl and now she’s out to make him pay. Our world makes it so easy to glorify the act of “getting even” as a virtue. Because the culture says “it’s okay” and “it’s all about you, babe” – I find it can be so tempting to engage in this modern warfare.

This past week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this subject. As a stepmom in a blended family I have to ask myself, “Do I see myself as the victim? Do I let the challenges of this role overshadow the joys of it? Do I spend more time talking about the frustrations or the beauty?”

I’ve been dating my husband for about five and half years now, and, in that time I have tried to lean on my own strength and have tried to “be perfect” – psh! whatever that means!?! The sentiment was sweet at first and everyone loved that I never rocked the boat. I didn’t want to do anything that might be construed as manipulative or needy. I didn’t want to take my husband’s attention away from his kids in any way. I didn’t want to do or say anything to upset his ex-wife. In essence, I wore myself out trying to tiptoe through the minefield. I have spent too many of they past years looking, not for what I could do, but instead boxing myself in with all the can’t dosI can remember thinking, “I can’t stand up for myself to my husband’s ex because that’s not respectful. I can’t make my dreams and desires known to my husband, because, in order to help me reach them, that might take some of his time away from his children and that would be unforgivable.”  And, what my family got from me was a timid quiet shell of a person.

And then, I woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I realized that in an effort to be perfect for everyone else, I had lost a part of my own spirit and I had let a bitter seed grow in my heart. I realized I could not and would not live any more days trapped in that cycle. Although that girl didn’t make waves, that kind of person didn’t bring her full self to her family either. The Lord has not called me to life a fear and timidity but, instead, to one of power, love and self-discipline.   I realized somewhere along the way I had bottled up every emotion and frustration and had indeed become the victim, not because of anyone else, but instead because I had been believing a lie that my family didn’t need or want the whole version of me, and that is a shame. No one else made me feel this way, I did it to myself.  I have decided its time to stop shying away from things out of fear, but instead to truly take my place in my family.

This begs the question – what is a stepmom’s place and voice in a blended family? And better yet, do you have even have one? The answer, my friends, is yes – no matter who tries to tell you differently. I urge you, do not listen to the lies of the enemy, but instead seek out the voice of truth. The truth is, beyond all the stereotypes and the dynamics of your relationship with your stepchildren, you husband or the ex-wife, you are a person who thinks and feels and you are just as much a part of the family as anyone else. The truth is, you speak directly into the lives of your husband and your stepchildren. The truth is,  your words are powerful and with that power comes responsibility. Remember, Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 15:1 also says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

You CAN use your voice. You CAN make a difference. You CAN have a place in your family. You might feel like the little engine that could, just struggling to get up the hill, but you CAN make it. However, do not let the fact that you can give way to a place of pride.  You shouldn’t use your voice to shout, condemn or belittle those around you. You shouldn’t let the fact that you do have a place in your family cause you to swell with pride and sling mud to those who persecute you. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus heeds, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Do not use your voice as a weapon but instead as a tool of discernment and grace. There is a time for raising your voice without fear or trepidation, and what you have to say might stir frustration and growing pains (like how your muscles rebel when you work them and they’re not used to it), but you should never use your words with the intention to hurt or condemn.

No one enters a marriage or a blended family as a silent partner. You can have a voice and you can have the boldness of a lion and still be as gentle as a lamb.

Psalm 68:6

Last Sunday morning, at the beginning of our church service, our pastor read the first eight verses from Psalm 68. In the midst of these verses about the strength of the Lord and his victory in battles, there was one verse that stuck out to me and reminded me just how sweet the promises are from the Lord. The verse that caught the attention of my heart was nestled in the first line of verse 6, “God sets the solitary in families…” I immediately thought of the family He has placed me in. Before my husband and stepsons, I was just a single girl longing to be part of a unit I could call my own. Now here I am almost 5 years later since my husband and I had our first date. In the last five years, I have felt almost every emotion possible – fear, excitement, love, anger, euphoric joy, bitterness, blessing, frustration and the list goes on and on. In the beginning everything is new, the kids were so young and over time the new wears off and life sets in and it is so easy to only see the trying times.

As I began meditating on this verse, I couldn’t help but have this wonderful feeling that I am indeed in a family all my own despite the fact that it is also shared. I can say without a doubt that I belong somewhere. As I fell asleep last night, I was thinking about how much joy my stepsons bring into my life. On this site, I am usually focused on what the Lord is teaching me through my trials and struggles as a stepmom that I don’t take the time to write about the blessing of my stepsons and the family the Lord has graciously placed me in. Both of our boys are so passionate about their endeavors. Our youngest is in 8th grade making A’s and participating in every sport possible as well as taking Algebra I and a member of ModelUN. Our oldest is in his second year of high school making great grades, turning in his homework (this has been a joint effort on everyone’s part) and plays the bass drum in one of the most prestigious marching bands in Middle TN – they just took 7th in a national competition this weekend!!  He also plays the piano, guitar, saxophone, snare drum…and the kazoo! 😉

And to top it off, they are just great kids. I hear so many stories of stepmoms whose stepchildren ignore them or say mean and disrespectful things to them, but I am so blessed that both my husband and the boys’ mom have raised their children to understand that family extends beyond a blood relation. I think it is important to celebrate things like that and to say thank you.  My stepsons give me a hug and a hello every time they see me, they ask if I’ve had a bad day if I’m not myself, and they both always give me an unsolicited hug goodnight when they are with us. And they always say, “Love you, Misty” and sometimes if the mood strikes them they introduce me as “stepmomma” which just tickles me to death. They take time to play games with me – be it board games (which I am pretty sure I’m the only one in the house who still enjoys) or a mean racquetball game at the rec center (still sore from trying to keep up last weekend)!

It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses and every day activities that I forget to say thank you to the Lord for such a great relationship with my stepkids. I have never birthed a child, but because these boys have been so loving and open from day one, I have gotten a glimpse of the kind of love a momma’s heart can hold. Stepmoms, I urge you to look for those moments – no matter how brief or how small they may be – and say thank you for them. The Lord has placed you in the family you are in for a unique purpose. Embrace it.

 

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Our favorite Panther wrestler there in Maroon!

See the big bass drum - that's our favorite Marching Patriot!!

See the big bass drum – that’s our favorite Marching Patriot!!