Stepfamily Rx seminar – Taking things personally.

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One of the issues that was discussed and that the stepmoms had difficulty with is taking things personally. Especially in regards to our relationship with the stepchildren. Let’s unpack this a bit. Women are nurturers, lovers, God created us to be helpmates, we are sensitive, we are loyal…we can become momma bears if you get too close to our children! God created us to hold and carry seeds of humanity, His mighty hand works within us to form our precious babies. In Jeremiah 1:5 NIV) “…Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” and from Psalm 139:14 (NIV) “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are well made, I know that full well.”  We women who love and worship God realize the task at hand with children. Fathers are crucial for leadership, protection, security, guidance, a firm and loving hand in discipline and boundaries.  Women hold things in, we embrace emotions because that is quite simply, how we are built.  Our challenge, then, is to learn how not to allow our emotions to run our lives. Oh yeah, ding ding ding….but how do we do that?

 Jan Silvious, Women of Faith speaker and author, in her book “Big Girls Don’t Whine”, gives a pearl of wisdom: “Until you take responsibility for yourself, you cannot become all God hopes you will be.” I love her book and it was one of the stepping stones that helped me understand that I have the power to control all of me…every inch of me.  I can control my thoughts, actions, words. I can choose to feel, I can choose to let things go.  You know what my measurement for “Do I go for it or do I let it go?” I ask myself, “Am I or someone going to die or get sick as a result of this?” “No?” Then, I let it go. I used to take so many things personally, let the memory run wild in my “personal recorder”…that part of my brain that plays and replays over and over and over what happened…. what I should have done, what should I have said, what I maybe should do!! Oh help me!!!  And that was a big part of my recovery out of getting myself dragged into emotional drama and turmoil…. I cried out to God, “Help me.”  And, of course, He did.

I regret some things that happened between my husband, stepdaughter and I over the years. I have repented and God has forgiven me and I’ve forgiven myself.  Today, much less bothers me, much less is running rampant in my “personal recorder”, and much less is taken personally, therefore, much less stress.  I have an enjoyable relationship with my stepdaughter and I continue to seek peace and harmony with her.  I agree, the years when stepchildren are woven tightly into the daily living of a home, it can be overwhelming. Jesus understands. Other stepmoms understand.

Practice seeking to understand, being full of gratitude, model the love of Christ. Teens especially have so much going on in their body, much less a life they did not choose (divorce or remarriage). Let things roll away…little things that want to annoy you…let them go. It’s not worth the battle. If you need to vent, call a friend who is a godly woman and holds you accountable. My friends do.  They love me and accept me and listen compassionately when I am hurting….but they would not allow me to whine mercilessly about trivial unimportant things.  They listen and they correct me when I need it. They are so important to me!

One day I was folding my husband’s work laundry from the dryer. Why in the world he cannot turn his shirts right side out when he takes them off is beyond me. So, I think to myself…if he doesn’t care, why should I? I began folding the t-shirts one after another. Suddenly, I was brought to an abrupt stop. In my mind a thought settled…. “What if Jesus were standing next to me?”  I quickly realized my husband doesn’t do this t-shirt thing to upset me…it’s just the way he takes the shirts off.  Why was I taking it personally? Well, friends…I now do laundry, cooking, studying, sales…..all those womanly things….for Jesus. Focusing on Him in my life and my efforts in His Name has helped me grow and gain wisdom.  When you feel left out, disappointed, disrespected, sad….take a moment and ask God if the situation is serious (“someone’s going to die or get sick”…figuratively speaking). Ladies, I believe if you consciously choose to take a step out of the emotion, don’t allow the drama, you can view it for what it really is and let it go.

I pray today’s post helps you.  God bless you.

Stepfamilies – Forgiveness the Jesus way

Good morning,

I just finished my radio interview on WHEM 91.3 here in Eau Claire and one of the topics I discussed on air and will present at my upcoming Stepfamily Rx seminar this Saturday (see details and information in an earlier post) is forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness is not a feeling or emotion, it is a decision. Our first step in understanding forgiveness is to realize and embrace the magnitude of the forgiveness Jesus has given us from the very day of our birth. No one has done to me the numerous and ongoing infractions and sinful behavior that I have done to Jesus. So when I embrace that thought, it is very humbling and causes me to think more deeply about how I live and forgive others. Many people do not even understand the correct context of forgiveness. It is not agreement with what the other person has done to me, it is not acceptance of the pain and woundedness to me, I do not need to live the life of a tortured martyr. Rather, it is the release of resentment, anger, and the power of my pain to the cross of Christ. There have been times in my life I firmly held on to unforgiveness, thinking “just wait, I hope something really BAD happens to you….I can NEVER forgive you….you’re going to PAY for what you did….maybe I’ll figure out a way to hurt you!!” That takes a lot of energy to hold all that inside. Negative, harmful, poisonous energy. I used to think my thoughts and wishes were hurting the other person! However, they were going about their life just fine with no repercussions of my thoughts and wishes for them. The bitterness that was planted and living in my heart was only hurting me. When I entered a surrendered relationship with God, I began to gain wisdom and maturity about many things; one of them forgiveness. I live more freely and lovingly now. Do people still hurt me, wound me? Yes. But now I can pray for them, ask God for help to give me the strength to forgive them, and I am able to go through each day more free, more loving, more of an example of the love of Christ. Join me in my seminar this Saturday at Peace Church to go deeper into understanding and living with a heart of forgiveness, it will be worth your time and your future! Stepliving is difficult and your marriage and family will truly benefit from a richer and deeper understanding of forgiveness. God bless you!   -dori:)

Step carefully – the kids

Lately I’ve had the issue of stepchildren cross my path in several ways. One of my most passionate reasons for this ministry is to speak with couples entering stepliving so they are not wearing emotional blinders or living in illusions or misconceptions. We believe because we are adults with experience, we have the answers and that the kids will just adjust and get used to everything. I know the issues of guilt I’ve carried over the years regarding my own sons and how I could have done things differently so that they weren’t catapulted emotionally because of what I thought was “the right thing to do” at the time. I desire to carry the message to couples from the lessons I learned, which is my saving grace….that God has chosen to use me and has bestowed gifts to me so that I am able to share, thus making those guilty feelings fade through helping others. Today’s question on my mind is when contemplating marriage that will create a stepfamily, ask yourself “why” you want to get married to this person who has children from a previous relationship or marriage.  If your only answer is that you “love and want to spend the rest of your life with this man or woman”…it isn’t enough. Children in a stepfamily need to know they are wanted, respected, accepted. The love exchange may or may not come with the children…that is an individual blessing between stepfamily members. But the display of love and affection from the adults to the children must be godly and constant. The children need examples of Christ in the people around them. Having their mom and dad torn apart by separation and divorce is devastating for them. Divorce and remarriage was not their choice. They need to know they are an important piece of the “why” you are marrying their parent. God bless you.     -dori:)

Return from vacation

I’ve been travelling. The week before Labor Day, I spent some time at the Minnesota State Fair with my 16 yr old grand-daughter, our 11th annual trip. We then went on to see my son (her dad), his wife (her stepmom), and my grandson (her half-brother). We stayed and visited and had a great time.  I was there for three days, she stayed another day and my son and her mom worked out the details of meeting to get her back home.  I was home for a few hours and then turned around and flew half-way across the country with my husband to visit with his adult daughter (my step-daughter)and her boyfriend. I reflect this morning as I type this how intricate and full of explanation I need to be in order to present the right picture to you. The time spent with both visits was a mixture of anticipation and love, as well as added doses of intimidation and stress.  I find myself monitoring my conversations for anything that might be misunderstood, misconstrued…thinking deliberately before speaking, all the while wondering if what I just said whether in serious context or being humorous… stepped on somebody’s emotional toes. It’s really very different in this stepliving life.  Within a biological family, everyone is aware of the ebb and flow of each other’s dynamics. From birth, we enter into each other’s personalities, flaws, habits, gifts, and “the way we are”, so that there are no surprises. Forgiveness is meted out regularly and without much fanfare, since we know “the way we/they are”. Siblings grow up and I’ve witnessed in many families the sad estrangement that can happen within biological families. People do change. However, within stepfamilies, there are years of unknowns. Some normal questions one might have: “What were they like before, have they always been like this, why do they take everything I do and say the wrong way, why do I feel I have to walk on pins and needles, do they like me?” And the list goes on and on for those entering and living in stepfamilies. Although it can be stressful, I’ve also embraced the additional love and relationships that stepfamilies bring. We all have choices to make…for years I let things bother me and I walked on tons of pins and needles…but not so much anymore. God and age have pruned a lot of my personal habits, reactions, and worries away. I will never be a perfect person in any of the roles I have, and I do not wish to be, learning can be so much fun. Uhhhhh, sure. But focusing on God and the type of legacy I wish to leave as footprints in people’s minds and hearts is the path I have chosen to walk. I still feel stress and intimidation, however, I don’t take things as personally as I used to…and that is one huge good component to have in a stepfamily. God bless your day!   -dori:)