“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 HCSB
“This wasn’t the life I envisioned for you.”
My well-meaning mother spoke those words to me at the beginning of my relationship with Steve. Her words stung, but she wasn’t saying them to hurt me. She loves me very much, and I really believe she would give years off her own life to spare me the hard and cruel lessons the world can teach.
I was raised to love Jesus and pray. I was raised to remain a virgin until my wedding night. I was raised to do the speed limit, to eat my vegetables, and to get a good education.
I was not raised, at least in my Mother’s opinion at the time, to fall in love with a man who had a three-year-old and an emotionally unstable ex-wife.
My Mom’s soft green eyes looked at me with worry and sadness as she wrung her hands and listened to my latest woes and drama. The blissful beginning that most dating couples face was soon replaced with a stressed out boyfriend, a little boy who missed his dad, and an ex whose disturbingly long phone rants would carry on during (and well past) dinner. Sometimes the only reassurance Mom could give me was a sincere but troubled, “Honey, all I can do is pray for you.”
Little did I know at the time that Jesus was guiding me through one of the darkest valleys of my life and he was raising me up in His OWN way.
Fast forward quite a storied, beautiful and sometimes difficult 17 years. My Mom’s frequent and intentional prayers are felt like warm rays of light all around me. Steve and I are at a good place, a joyful place. My Mom and Dad quickly saw the measure of the man who became my God-fearing and magnificent husband. My Mom now says, “I can’t imagine life without Steve and Keegan. My sweet Lynnette, you are blessed beyond measure.”
Sometimes our limited minds cannot understand the struggle God has purposely planted in our lives. My friend, there is beauty in the struggle. There’s also unexpected elation, gained wisdom, and grace. We can’t comprehend with our human eyes the perfectly designed tapestry of life Jesus has planned for us.
What our loving and great-intentioned family and friends want for us might not align with what GOD wants for us.
Step-moms and step-dads, you will get a bevy of advice during this journey, some good and some not at all. Ask for a discerning heart as you wade through the muck of good intentions. Ask the Lord for wisdom and listen closely as He directs your footsteps. He won’t lead you astray. Your life belongs to Him, and HE envisions for you to be a beautiful story of His mercy and love.
Pray With Me:
“You hear my cries for help, Lord! You ease my despair. Sometimes I get really stubborn and fiercely independent in my thinking. I start out doing things my way, forgetting to relinquish the control to your able Hands. Reel me in today, Lord. You love my strong spirit but you WANT me to depend on you. You are CAPABLE of handling all of this I’m going through for good. I hand it all over to you, and I TRUST you.”
I remember you as a boy. Your innocent, saucer-shaped brown eyes looking up at me. Your hand always finding mine, our hearts always looking for security in a time of trouble. Three years old and 28 years old, walking into the great unknown
Sometimes it feels like we grew up together. I had so much to learn about the world. I wanted to shield you from the ugliness of life at the same time. Time would heal us where the wounds were still tender. But your little soul was determined to
You loved even though you were told not to. Your arms were always stretched wide, almost as if you wanted to hug the world. You made room for everyone. You still do. You warm many a forlorn spirit with your hugs and
I saw you smile today. Your eyes were glimmering mischief as you gave me that funny little smirk. Joy danced in your laughter as you shared a funny tale with your Dad and I. It’s times like this when I want time to stand
“Be still and know that I am God”, the Lord says. Be still in the moment and enjoy the boy. Before our very eyes, the time passes quickly and you become a
The holiday season is chaotic enough. Add in the drama of co-parenting (or in our case, NON co-parenting) and you have a ripe atmosphere for conflict.
Then there’s the custody agreement. The custody agreement should make holidays with your kids and stepkids a little easier, right? The tension can be just as bad as if there weren’t time parameters at all. Having to drop off your child by midnight on Christmas Eve, by noon on Christmas Day, or ANY time during the festivities can make the time together feel truncated and more like an appointment than quality time together.
Who struggles the most during this time? Our children. Imagine you are a six-year-old with divorced parents and essentially two homes. You love both of your parents and your stepparents. You want to be able to actually SAY how you love everyone in the stepfamily. That brings up some important Do’s and Don’ts for the holiday season.
DO for the sake of the kids:
- Help your kids pick out a present for other members of the stepfamily. Young children who can’t drive or make their own money cannot buy presents on their own for mom, dad, stepmom, or stepdad. Use common sense and help them buy a present for other family members. Put your ego and any negative feelings aside. This isn’t about YOU. The big plus? The kids will remember you being the bigger person at Christmas, and they will be very grateful adults.
- Show appreciation and gratitude when your child comes home with extra gifts. Don’t unleash drama in front of the children when the stepmom, stepdad, mom, dad, cat, dog, etc. buys your child a gift. Again, this isn’t about you. Be an adult. Be happy that someone loves your child and took the time to buy them a present. Children can’t have too much love.
- Be flexible (if possible) with drop-off and pick-up times. Yes, the times stated in the divorce/custody decree should be adhered to. However, life happens. If your co-parenter is running a bit behind and makes the effort to tell you that, be kind. YOU might need the extra time in the future as well.
- Speak to the co-parenter with civility. Your kids are observing how conflict is handled. Be a good example.
DON’T for the sake of the kids:
- Please don’t ever, under circumstances, EVER bad mouth the co-parenter in front of the children. When you bad mouth the other parent you also are badmouthing one half of your child. At one time you thought enough of your ex to have offspring with them. Don’t throw shade in front of the kids. It’s just plain hateful.
- Don’t make your kids open presents from the other co-parenters alone, in a different room, outside, etc. Be mature and be happy for the love expressed. Again, be grateful that your child is loved!
- Don’t buy gifts for your child that are passive-aggressively sending a message of spite to the other household. Kids are smart, and they see right thru it.
- Please allow your child uninterrupted time with the co-parenter. There’s no need to call and/or text unnecessarily. Your child will remain happy and balanced when they don’t feel like they have to “report” back to you while they are spending time at the other household.
Thankfully, Santa understands that many children in the world do not live in “traditional” families and households. He loves all the kids regardless of where (or who) they live with.
And most importantly, Jesus loves all of us while knowing the shortcomings of our minds and hearts. He also knows we are capable of incredible love, forgiveness and acceptance. Let’s show that love, forgiveness, and acceptance to EVERYONE. Do it for the kids. 🙂