Category: Blended Family

Freedom Road

 

I am trying to decide if this July week was better than the same one this time last year. That is most likely not what you would think a mother  grieving her son would write. I am a bit confused myself, to be honest. It is a confusing concept to find a bit of relief in my week when most would think I am hiding under my covers and crying myself to sleep each night.

Let me explain that a bit, by sharing last July at this time.

Last July this week was an up and down battle, an anxiety attack for any mother and father. A blended family nightmare. It started with a phone call. The father of my children gave me a late night call. “Your boy is in trouble he said.” “What”?  I am confused. He was to go home and spend time with his girlfriend and work the next day.

A simple plan and a chance for independence.

My Mr. and I along with our blended family of ten had spent the week at my sisters on the other side of the state. All should go well with my far away family in town. That is what you would think; it is all I had hoped in my naive parent heart. That all of my teenage kids and two that scream not just there at under twelve would be one big happy family celebrating the stars and stripes with Grandpa and Grandpa and Aunts and uncles. The hot, warm sun and lazy river we floated down would be enough for our kids.

The poolside laughter and potluck dinners the very icing on the cake to have them see the good life they live each day.

That same week on the other side of the state even brought the first visit to the school my blond haired boy of seventeen would ultimately choose for his college education. The dreams I had for him that day. As we toured with the other families. Looking at the dorm, we would sign him up for, thinking of the business man he would one day be. Thoughts they drift for a mom like me. I often dream of life for my babies, even now that they are teens.

 

My dreams all made up in my mama’s head differed from my teenage child that week.  Our oldest boy at seventeen and a half had other plans. With his Dad on the east of the state and close to home we agreed to let our oldest boy drive the ninety minutes in his car and head home to his dad’s house for the night. His dad would not be home, near but not in the house. Our boy would stay alone that night.

He left our family celebration, and with a kiss and hug and assurance, he would behave. I watched him drive away.

Why I let him go, I do not know. I think because I had learned that a few of my friends had successfully left their teens on their own. Also, I think because I remember the days of seventeen when I wanted to be free pretending independence was complete. Maybe too, the fact that he was soon to be eighteen. One more school year and he would be off to college and dorm life. The time now to start to grow up and prove some independence.

He had been doing great, working hard and no issues of late.

Moms know that sinking feeling in the pit of your heart that says something is not right. When the phone rang, it was not a shock.  My boy’s dad said our boy had been caught with friends that differed from the original plan we were told. The other boy had snuck away; his parents came across the lies that were all behind our back. Worst yet was the light. The light from the parked car they found our kids in as they drove by. That light was the scent of sorrow. The drug that some think should be legal. I think not.

Our boy, who had been given a chance at freedom was caught in a lie, where and who he had been with and the reason why.

Some will say big deal; my kid too has done these things. Others will question, why I let him leave a family gathering. What kind of parent chooses to let their child go? The sides will be torn and it does not matter what is said in the end my child is not here this Fourth of July Weekend.

Last July was the start of our decline.

It was embarrassing at the time. The choices my boy made. I was humbled by the mistake I had made as well. Letting him go that hot July day.

My family knew of my boy’s antics as they overheard the late night call. My husband who still has children young enough to not deal with teenage things just yet, listened quietly as I had hashed things out and came up with a plan with the man I was married before. The patience of a saint my Mr. of now, as he listened often to the husband of before and I figure out our first born. We did not raise our boy to lie and hide. Why would he do this?  I wanted to trust him.

Now he turns our week of family time into turmoil and deceit.

 

The next week was our annual Up North Family camping trip. We were all together. No tricks to separate. That week was hard. I am writing this post in the very same campground just one year, and one week ago my party of ten camped …our blended family vacation.

 My oldest boys’ demons set in.

 

There is no space or time for him to be alone when your home for a week is a pop-up camper.  He would ask to run to the store; he would take long walks to get away. I get that, the need for solitary space. To think, to read, to write to just be. That part of my boy is just like me. His dad too always needed that place of escape. So when my boy of almost eighteen leaves for a walk after a rough past week I let him go. I keep a close watch, but I try and let him heal his demons with space.

I made a poor choice my heart pain reminds me. Letting him be.

He hated this vacation one year ago. I know he tried to make the best of it, but it was there, the dislike of our company. His mood was down I could see. His girlfriend had just broken off their new found relationship. It came to an end much faster than he had hoped. He was hurting. I could see. How do you know as a mother where to step in? He has to learn real life somehow someway.

Today, my heart wants to cut off the world and protect him once again.

I hated the hurt he felt. It was a pain that in most kids at this age would give him experience and then would go on to other things. Not this boy. He thought hard and deep and was critical of himself and others that were not like him.

His sulky ways and overwhelmed head made it difficult for him to enjoy anything we did that week. This boy of mine, deeper than most. His head works like a faucet with a constant drip of remembering; he cannot shut things out. He cannot turn the faucet off.

Normal teen experiences were a trigger to something darker we can now see.

 

It was hard to even like him those days if you want to know. He was short with me, soon came the walking on eggshells to keep things smooth. There are ten of us after all. Seven more kids who want to have fun. Three of them my step kids, whom we have limited time, only summers and holidays to enjoy. I went back to some old habits to keep things even. Letting him get his way with his mood to keep things cool. He was sometimes mean to his brothers, Moody, up and down, high and low. It was a rollercoaster that changed all of our moods. It was tiring for us all. If you have a child with anxiety and depression than you know the crumbly road of crunchy shells I walked those days just being a mom.

In that moment, I still was not sure if this was normal teenage behavior or something more.

 

When the rain came in droves, we packed our family camp trip up and shipped him on the road home. I was so thankful that day, to pack up our kids and get off the eggshell road of camping with my son. I felt a freedom and some rest on the drive back. He in the other car and us in the van of peace.

The regrets are there. Today, sitting in the same space as a year ago.

I wish it back again. I’d take the eggshell road and stomp my way through that mess to love on my boy just for a moment again.

I would sit in the rain as ten, huddled in one pop up camper playing cards and listening to bickering kids just to touch my first born boy’s shoulder again, to simply remind him he was loved.

I would give anything to teach him hope.

 

This year, this week of celebrating time, my other four…oh so hard to say, when it should be five. They are with their dad this year. I am glad. A new place to visit to keep things different. Time with family and not a reminder of here. A reminder of the sand and water play, a reminder of dinners on summer nights around a campfire. Change in space to escape the horror of our boy’s death. I am glad my four are with their dad, sunning themselves and boating on the big Great Lake.

 

I am filled with gratitude that this week there is no Parade of eggshells on the street for my far north three. Eggshells are no walk for the other kids.

So little time I get to be stepmom in their day. Only the summer and vacations from school. Never enough to be complete. So this week, the eggshells are swept away. We ride our bikes to this summer town for fun. We paddle boats in the Hidden Lake. Pancakes and bacon outside with the birds chirping above. Sandy beaches and Mackinaw Fudge. New memories to make.

 

Regrets, yes. Looking back is hard when you start to see the beginning of the end. The tears still come. Almost every day at some point. Most often when I am alone or late at night. Daytime brings our new normal. My oldest boy is not the only one. There are seven more to love each day and our adopted adult that lives in her own home with the support of staff. That does not take it away, the sorrow we hold. It makes it impossible to not go on. Seven more kids, three this week in a place that once held so much distress, it is more predictable than last July. We work towards each new step. Looking forward to the hope God brings. Praying our boy has found freedom from all of his pain.

We picture our angel walking the path of light with Christ not the eggshell road of depression and anxiety.

 

The smell of bacon and coffee run through my quiet site sneaking over from the tents to our right. I take in the sounds of this place. The quiet chatter of people waking. The nature sounds of outside that make me think of Heaven. The rest are still asleep. I pray often that God hears my cry to help us heal from this pain. The heart hurt that is a constant beat. The last months my mama bear fight to not curl up in my den all day and sleep if I could not save my first born bear than maybe this is not the job for me, I wonder late at night when no one sees my tears and my internal head heart fight.

A little blond girl walks out the camper door. She needs step mama closeness this morning. The chill and dampness are still in the air. She looks up with freckles I did not create and her far away north mama’s face.

I am overcome with hope for all we already have. Once again I am reminded I am gifted a chance to raise up children even if for a short time. That my day is a choice, how I choose to live it will serve or take. Although, I never imagined stepmom as my name. Never dreamed my other four on a separate vacation. Wishing more than anything I could change our reservations in life back to a party of ten, not the five we are now today. I am warmed in my heart to the very core by God’s grace when my stepdaughter sits close and needs me just a bit. Enough to remind me to get out of my mama bear cave and do the job God created for me.

No, this July is no better than the years before. It is different. I know more. Hurting deeper. Now, seeing things with a slow awakening of purpose.  This July makes me want Freedom. Freedom for the kids like my son, the ones fighting the hopeless war. The ones that battle depression and mental illness. This year the fireworks shine a light on our boy’s absence, a brilliant glare and searing bang that make me realize we do not have our son but we have his story.

We are walking the slow going Freedom road this July.

 

I cannot see it all just yet.  The good that will come of our hurt. The purpose that will come from the pain that plagued my son.  My hope is there. My faith in one who created all. A love so great.

 

 

Romans 8:24

For in this hope we were saved. Now Hope that is seen is not hope. For Who Hopes for what he sees? However, if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love means saying goodbye to Pride

 

You would think that Love is easy, life and experience have shown me something different.

I know I am not perfect, flawed and in need of growing. So I search….to gain more in who I am, to give more to those around me. Searching, for me, is in God’s word. It (God’s word)  is my school of mom and wife growth.

When I started to study love, I knew there was greater opportunity for challenges in our blended family life. I wanted to make sure that this marriage worked. That our family worked. That we were not a statistic of second marriage failure as I had become a first marriage failure already. I never wanted my kids or self to go through that pain again.

None of this study was done overnight, In fact, it took some mistakes and ongoing challenges to even realize that LOVE needed to be explored in my life.

Love Is the Greatest

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and angels but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I did not love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance

If you have read any previous blended family posts, you will see that I have a passion for encouraging those in a blended family, those in remarriages. God put it on my heart long ago to write about what a biblical second marriage might look like.

Ethan taking his life confuses that a bit. At the moment he, our other children and our grief process are the priority of our minds and hearts. The lessons connect though.

The lessons on love remain the same whether in death or life, stepfamilies or grief. God’s love is the same.

Today I write about pride, In his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul reminds us Love is not proud. Proud or Pride meaning showing excessive self-esteem, defined by the dictionary, Strong’s Concordance uses the word Haughtiness to define huperephania the Greek word for pride. ” I am not better than you” is what I think Paul could be saying. So in blended family life what does the loss of a child look like? How can pride come into play?

Loss of a child, young or old takes you to a place no one wants to go.

Standing in my ex-husband’s yard watching the medical examiner drive away with my beautiful boy left me feeling lost, empty, searing with grief. It was all too much to process in the cold, windy day. The tears of my children stained the road where they used to ride their bikes. The cries of their dad as he wept and fell to the ground tore at my heart; I felt his pain. We are living our worst nightmare. The death of our child. The grief too great.

There we stood all together, my husband, my children, their father and his fiancé along with her littles. We stood in the late April wind as the sun set trying to figure out how to take a step forward, how to even walk toward the house.

I am thankful that day that our pastor came quickly, he arrived before everyone else.

He and a favorite neighbor were the ones who knew what to do. They soothed and calmed us and held us as the police asked a million questions. They made sure Nolan was safe at the moment when the police separated us. They held me up when I thought I would pass out from shock, crying so hard I could not think.

Before my husband, the rest of the kids and their dad arrived; the police offered me alone time with my Ethan. I lay over him weeping and praying, begging God to give him back. When I knew it was too late for life, I prayed for God to keep him close in Heaven. I asked for hope because in the minute I was swallowed up in a loss so profound I could not see out of it.

 Our pastor sat down next to me, and with wisdom and clarity he prayed over my Ethan and asked for something different than I had. He prayed for Unity.

 

Later, in the blur of the night as we stood together in the house. This place I   raised my kids in for years. This is the home my children share time. Half here with their dad where he stayed after our divorce and half in our home in town. This home though, different than mine had a lifetime of memories with their brother. Not just for them but me also. This address, this street, this house had more at the moment than our home of five years for my family.

This is the home where I stayed all day as a young mother, the home I lived in when Ethan learned to read. This is the place where I rocked him to sleep. The bedroom here where is crib once stood. The place where I prayed with him.

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

 I prayed this prayer along with the Lord ’s Prayer lying in bed with his tiny little hands folded just as my mother had once said them with me.

 
This is the home where all barriers came down, and a family was united in our grief.

Love in the Bible is not proud.

There was not I am better than you in the moments of loss. There was no “my way is right, and yours is not”. I let go of any notion of doing things my way, the organized, controlled way of my past. Anything I thought I might have wanted was buried in sorrow and chaos.

 

Ami, my kid’s one-day stepmom opened her heart to love me like a friend at that moment. She treated me with respect and care. She took over in all areas I had no energy to spare. My husband took on new roles as well, caring for the kids and taking on burdens at work and home all the while he was focused on me and his mom. During this process, she was in the midst of cancer surgery.

Way too much going on for any one family to bear.

 

The funeral planned by the four of us. A team united in preparing a time for family and friends to say their goodbyes. My ex-husband opened his home each day, to all of our friends and relatives. Never once did we not feel welcome. I wandered aimlessly around the home I had once called my own. Touching, feeling each of my son’s things that sat in this home of my before.

Memories flooded in and out, laughter and toddler play, reminders flashed at me in pictures on the shelf. The kids, their four parents, and family united in our sorrow. We sat and looked at pictures many long hours, we ate together, nourished by the food friends sent to help us out.

 

When one was weak the other would take over, most of those hours it was Ami who did the most. Humility is part of the process of grief. You have to let others in; grief cannot be done alone.

In my ex-husband’s future wife, I found support and comfort.

Pride, I admit maybe something I have offered up before. I believe there have been times when I thought my way was right. Divorce does ugly things to your head. Satan uses that to his advantage. The kid’s dad too, let go of any issues that may have attacked our past. Prayers for unity. God shut out our pride when our pastor prayed over my son.

With that simple prayer, he let us Love our child together all the way to Heaven.

 

After the funeral that spring Saturday just 12 days ago we lunched and visited with family. Our extended families joined again after years of not seeing each other. When the day was done, and the cars were thinning out it was time for us to go.   I hugged Ami’ and said, “I love you”. I went on to her future husband and did the same. I said those words from my heart. I love them as the parents of my children, I love them because of the good that they shared. I love because they are my neighbor, the ones God calls us to love and care for.

When you love as God calls us too, he opens our hearts, our souls, we are able to let go of the negatives that get in the way, and focus on what counts. God lets us see things Paul teaches to that messy church in Corinth.

He reminds us that life can be forgiven, that if we do not have LOVE in our hearts…then we have nothing at all.

I do not need to hang out at the house anymore. Seventeen days in we are back on schedule as far as the kids go.  Ami is a gift to my children and their dad. My husband too is sent by God. The four of us will not hang out on Friday nights; there is no reason for us to chat unless it entails the children or we are dealing with our loss of Ethan. There are sure to be times we will have differences in opinion, to that I am not naive. We stand strong for our children. That is our priority.

We are grateful for the love we received, the open arms and opportunity for unity. At the Harris House we push out pride and simply do our best to love like Jesus AND give thanks for the blessings we have.

 

 

 

6 Tips to Handle Transition Time with Stepkids – Visitation Dread | Read Ahead

Find out how we deal with the dread of arrival time at the Harris House. Transition time can be a challenge in a blended family. Read on for 6 Tips on Transitions Time with your stepkids.

Do you dread your stepkids coming to visit?

I did.

Don’t judge me. If you have read any previous post, you already know I love my stepchildren and have a heart full of love. Really I do.

That does not mean I ENJOY every aspect of when my stepkids come. The reality is, there are moments I do not embrace when ANY of our kids walk in the door.

You might wonder why a mom of many would DREAD her three innocent kids coming for a visit. Why the thought of her own sweet blessings returning home after a week at their dads brought about the need to pray for patience and grace in welcoming them back. In their time away all I had done was miss them after all.

One  Simple reason for this Dread-

TRANSISITION TIMES ARE CHALLENGING IN A BLENDED FAMILY  HOME!

When my step kids would come, everything was different. For them and us. Sometimes even awkward. We were trying to please and entertain, and they felt like they were walking into a place they did not belong. When my kids came home from their dads, it was a bit easier as they come a week on week off, but still, there was that time of adjustment.

Transition times in a blended family are hard. Hard for the kids and the adults.

Each time our kiddos arrive, whether gone for months or even a just a week they can bring with them some undesirable behaviors and routines.

Over time and some painful mistakes, we have learned a few tricks that help ease the AWKWARD for the kids and SANITY for the adults during transition times in our house.

1. Be warm and welcoming but Don’t overdo it-

When our kids arrive, I wait for them to get past the door. THEN,  I warmly hug them and greet them with a smile.  I move on to doing something normal. I am available and approachable but not hyper-focused on them as they get in the door and get settled. In the past, my greetings may have been a bit overwhelming.  I would squeal with delight at seeing them, and blurt out a million questions. “What do you want for dinner? How is School? What do you want to do this weekend”? All of this without taking a breath. I was OVERWHELMING THEM with my enthusiasm.

2. Time to adjust is a must-

The first years we were together my Mr, and I would find ourselves waiting in anticipation for his kid’s arrival. In our excitement we would have the night planned out, dinner at their favorite restaurant, a fun activity if not too late. One day my then 11-year-old stepson said: “can we just stay in?” It seems that all along that is what they wanted. They yearned to just relax. Wanting to arrive and play with their toys and just settle in. The same holds true when my kids show up for my scheduled week. They prefer to unpack the few things that travel back and forth with and set things up for the week ahead. They do not want entertainment, they want normalcy.

3. Quizzes and questions-

Avoid quizzing the kids on where they have been and whom they have spent time. Asking too many questions leaves our kids feeling guarded. We have one question we ask “how have you been”? We leave it at that. In time our littles open up. That is when we extend the conversation with another simple question, “tell me more about it”? In a blended family, kids are often protective of the house or parent they have just come. On occasion, a parent may even have warned them to keep things to themselves. We have found it best to be at ease with not hounding them with questions. When the conversation does open up in their time frame, we find it to be way more productive and enjoyable than if we would have questioned away from the beginning.

4. Stepparent stepdown –

When my kids arrive home after a week at their dad’s they are LOUD, my word they are so Loud! It is a family trait from their father’s side. I won’t mention the traits from my side just yet… Music is louder, voices higher and it feels obnoxious in comparison to the quiet week my husband and I have had. The Mr. and I look forward to the kids coming home, but their arrival brings kid chaos and LOUDNESS. Sometimes there are habits from their dad’s they bring. Eating in the living room for one and sometimes cutting each other down. When the Mr.’s kids arrive they too pack a few things we are not accustomed to. A different set of manners and habits, TV shows, phrases and sometimes even attitudes.

We find there is less conflict if the step parent “steps down” in our house during times of transition. When the loudness is too much on that first day, my Mr. gives them grace and walks away. I too have to step down when my step kids arrive and let them work on our ways. I hold my tongue on eating habits and don’t correct what they say. When overwhelmed with the changes my hubby and I give each other time to take a break from the chaos. Grace and patience have led to smoother transitions. Depending on the length of stay we may have to remind the kids of our house rules, for the most part, we try to avoid that on the first day.

5. Anticipate feeling left out-

You may find when the kids come to visit they need the special time with their birth parent.  I encourage my Mr. to watch a movie alone with his children, he, in turn, gives me space to sit with my girls and hash teenage things out. There have been plenty of times I  wanted time alone with my husband but waited patiently until the kids were in bed. I know this is the case for my MR as well. Weeknights filled with plenty to do when my people are here. My Mr. silently waits until things quiet down for the night to share time with me.

It may seem like we are left out, but the truth is we are focusing on our kid’s needs at the moment so we can have quality time when the kid stuff settles down. Patience and anticipation eliminate the tug of war that sometimes accompanies blended families. We know from the start that there will be times we are left out. Knowing this makes the transition easier for all when there is no envy involved.  When the kids are all here for extended stays, we make sure we plan date nights to spend time as husband and wife. In the chaos of every day, we encourage and lift one another up each other in front of our kids.

6. Stick with a routine-

Children need to know what to expect, even our teens. We try to keep things the same. We are a busy family, so there is normal family life going on. However, the Mr and I work diligently at giving the kids all a time to process our plans or changes. I have heard over and over again how my kids hate to find things out at the last minute. For us, that is sending a text or a call to our teens to let them know well ahead of House changes or weeke6.nd plans. For the younger ones, we may share things via a call or Skype. We make sure that we do not spring crazy things on them before they arrive. Working hard a normalcy is key to transactions at our house.

 

I could not end this post without mentioning the most important Tip of all.

 To pray.

 

I pray for grace when I am feeling like a not so perfect stepmom; I pray our kids will find peace and joy in our home.

I ask for forgiveness for my mistakes. I GIVE THANKS FOR ALL I HAVE.

It is not easy blending a family. It is hard to watch your kids struggle when they come and go. Even with all of the challenges, I am so very grateful the gift of our family and happy to say in the moment,  no dread involved.

 

 

Do you ever have a feeling of DREAD when thinking of transition times? Comment below -What works in your house when it comes to Transition times?

 

Be blessed in your weekend –

Steph

Love is not Boastful

Love is not Boastful is what the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud.

In a blended family, it is easy to take what we have always done, our habits, culture, traditions and direct them to ourselves. It is easy in a blended family to want things done our way, on our terms and to assume that is the best way for everyone.

When you are combining two households into one, you are blending two ways of doing things. Especially when dealing with holidays, traditions, finances and parenting. It is often easy to want things our way, the way we have always done them. There have been so many times in the last few years that I have been guilty of this. Christmas for one.

You may wonder how this correlates to “Love is not Boastful.” How does any of this have to do with the way God wants us to love?

The Greek translation for boastful is “to point to oneself.”

Arrogance is what I call it. Honestly, Until I started to dig deep into this scripture, Praying  God would open my eyes to the kind of Love he wanted me to have in my second marriage I had no idea how guilty of arrogance I was.

Then it was Christmas, Christmas traditions I love so well. The morning breakfast, the stockings filled, how many gifts to give, whom to invite and when and even what to wear. I love “my” Christmas celebrations of past. The laughter, the joy, the beautiful decorations.

I found myself telling my stepkids of our traditions. The fun things “I” have come up with.  I took pictures of my holiday table. Adorned with garland, glass vases with bulbs, and pine cones. Facebook saw “my” yearly post on the beauty of “my” delightfully decorated Christmas tree. The way we read scripture the night before Christmas and talked about the real Christmas story was on my terms as well.

 I love pointing out “myself” it seems.

So where does this go with a blended family? The very first year we were all together my husband pulled out his Christmas box. His three littles hovered around to watch him pull out his Hallmark ornaments and a few simple decorations. Down below deep inside was a Country Craft Christmas Tree skirt, a red motorcycle, and small train.

“My” bookshelves already held “my” nativity scene. It housed my garland and Christmas Candles. The coffee table was full too with “my” advent wreath. The kids looked around the room and tried to find an opening to house their holiday things.

Everything pointed to me. Nowhere was there space to let my stepkids traditions and decorations in. Not a place for a train or toy motorcycle could be found.

I had arrogantly pointed my favorite holiday right to me. It went on you should know. My arrogance and boastful greed.

I did display their box of Christmas goods but not with a giving heart as I should. No, I did not really like their stuff. It did not match my own. I found no fond memories in their hallmark ornaments. I felt removed from the stories they told. A toy motorcycle?” What does that have to do with Christmas anyway?”I remarked under my breath and tucked it to the side of the shelf.

“Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him, deeds are weighed.

1 Samuel 2:3

 

I spouted out all of “my” perfect ways, celebrating the Birth of Christ without the kind of Love his whole life was about.

I planned and Pinterested, Snapped pictures and boasted of all of my traditions but nowhere did I Love like Christ. Nowhere did I Love my new family the way God calls me to.

There are so many ways in a blended family we boast or toot our own horn. It may not be in your Holiday, but in the way, you speak of your stepchild’s mom. Maybe it is in the way we believe with all of our hearts that the way that we parent is superior to that of the other parent involved. Have you ever said, “I cannot believe he would do that!” Possibly it once was a passing thought? Have you ever, like me, said out loud to a friend something derogatory about your stepchild or their mother, as if your ways were better than theirs? How about that frustrating ex-husband who crushed your heart with condescending words. Do you ever brag to your friends how good you have it now?

I want to be like the Apostle Paul. He started off with sin in his life but once he knew Christ, serving and glorifying became who he was.

He understood the way to LOVE and spent the rest of his life teaching others to LIVE is Christ and to die is GAIN. There was nothing about the Apostle Paul that put any light on himself. He knew the death of the old ways would only bring him more.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 2:5

Paul knew humility. He could comprehend that our amazing creator LOVED us enough to make his son a man, to let him die on the cross to give us life and here I sat thinking of myself. Living life pointing to “my” ways and not HIS.

Christmas now a bit simplified. Each year we say goodbye to traditions of yesteryear replaced with ones of our own. Enough years have gone by; we now have our memories stored. Blended family traditions are how Christmas is done now. A bit unique and always changing. Each year we give of something and find in turn we gain more.

God calls us to LOVE; we took on this sacred covenant in remarried life. I find myself wanting more than ever to let go of myself and Live for HIM.

In blended family life, more than our life before, more than anything in this earthly life I want to simply let go of anything of me and let life be about serving my King.

The Christmas box came out last year. I could not wait to hear the stories of the hallmark ornaments. It seems after five years they do live in my heart after all. The red motorcycle and Christmas train have gained a place on the shelf. I no longer boast of my ways at Christmas time.

  Temptation is the boastful thought of how great my life is these days. A gift unexpected, too precious to keep inside. Still, I refrain with all of my self-control to brag about “my” life.

I have pulled away from friends who love to complain of the exes, no more talk of my step kids mom.

I yearn to LOVE like Christ and learn from the Apostle Paul.

Love does not Boast. This life is not about me; it is about serving others and loving the way I should.