Do You Recognize Your Value and Calling as a Stepparent?

Excerpt from Kisses from Katie:

“What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?

Katie Davis left over Christmas  break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them.”

Kisses from Katie is a beautiful story of a young lady who has opened her heart to what God has called her to do, sacrificing an easy life in the United States for a challenging journey in Uganda. Now at twenty-two years old, Katie is in the process of adoping thirteen little  girls – orphans – who might never know love otherwise. Katie is also the founder and director of Amazima, a ministry that reaches hundreds of other children in Uganda.

Katie says, “Sometimes I want to spend hours talking with my best friends about boys and fashion and school and life. I want to be a normal young woman living in America, sometimes. But I want other things more. All the time. I wanted to be challenged endlessly. I want to be taught by those I teach, and I want to share God’s love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to make some kind of difference, no matter how small, and I want to follow the calling God has placed on my heart.”

We may not be called to care for orphans in a foreign country as Katie has been, but as stepparents, we are called to love and care for someone else’s children on what is often a challenging journey.

We may long for an easy road without challenges and unanswered questions. We may prefer a life with biological children who love and obey us. But as stepparents, that’s not the calling we’ve been given.

As Katie, I want to make a difference in my stepchildren’s lives. I want to love them and show them a God they may never know otherwise. I want to be a part of nurturing and maturing them.

But I’ve learned the road to growth has bumps and twists. It’s on the hard days when I don’t feel like loving my stepchildren that I can make the biggest difference in their lives. When I love them them when they’re unlovable, they know I care. When I sacrifice my schedule to meet their needs, they know they’re important to me. And when I persevere when I want to quit, they sense my unending love for them.

At twenty-two years old Katie recognizes that life’s priceless rewards come through sweat, tears, and sacrifices. Not on the easy comfortable road we would like to journey on, but on the road God has called us to. And the beauty of our calling is the satisfaction we gain in knowing we’re doing the right thing, serving others in a way that makes a difference in their lives, even when it’s hard.

Are you up for the calling?

How do you show your stepchildren you love them? Will you share your ideas with us?

Other Posts You Might Like:

Nuggets of Wisdom From Laura Petherbridge: Author of The Smart Stepmom

God is Enough for the Stepfamily Struggle You Face

Teaching our Daughters to be Healthy, Not Skinny!

If you watched any portion of the Academy Awards Sunday night, you must have noticed the number of women who looked unusually thin. And the media makes it worse by talking about how good these women look!

I love this post  by Christina Katz and am re-posting it with her permission. It’s a great reminder of how we, as parents, are responsible for what we’re teaching our young ladies about their size. Don’t leave it up to the media and expect your daughter to get a healthy message. Take responsbility for teaching your daughter/stepdaughter to be comfortable in her own skin, regardless of her size.

From Christina’s blog:

“In every household over dinner tonight, all over the world, I hope that the conversation will turn to a very serious subject:

Why are so many women in attendance at the Academy Awards last night starving themselves?

Are their families blind to this? Where are the people who love these women?

Because the camera is supposed to add ten-fifteen pounds. If that’s the case, then these women must look like Holocaust survivors in-person.

When my daughter was just seven years old and in second grade, she began noticing that her friends are thinner than she is. And so the conversation began in our house.

It goes something like this.

Mom, how come I’m not as thin as my friends? I’m fat. I don’t want to be fat. I want to be skinny like my friends!

Answer: Some women are lean and some women are curvy, but it’s never healthy to be too thin or to diet just for the sake of becoming skinny.

Answer: It’s never a good idea to try and change your appearance to please others. It doesn’t matter what your friends look like, it’s much more important to love and accept yourself for who you are.

Answer: You and your friends have different body types, and they are going to change even more over the next few years, and none of them are going to look exactly alike, nor do they look alike now.

It’s never a good idea to impress upon a young girl that she is not thin enough to be acceptable or to make her afraid of becoming fat.

The only sensible reason to try and change your body is for health reasons and then the only acceptable approach is to eat better and exercise more in a moderate, gradual way without shaming or pressure.

My daughter is curvy. I am curvy. Maybe you are curvy, too.

I am putting out a call tonight. We all need to have to have conversations with our daughters and tell them that they way those women looked at the Academy Awards is NOT a healthy choice. And we need to pressure the media and the industry authorities and actresses themselves to take responsibility for the horrifying examples that they are setting for the daughters of the world.

It’s up to us to help our daughters understand that the healthy choice is to be more tolerant and accepting of what our bodies want to look like and less tolerant of unacceptable — and unsustainable — images of women.

These women look like they are going to die from starving themselves. I sincerely hope that this does not turn out to be the case.

But those Academy-award nominated actresses are putting our daughters at risk. And it is inexcusable as an example, whether they are sick or not.

And anyone in the industry who is putting pressure on them to starve themselves for success is guilty of injuring the world’s daughters, period.

I hope every mother in America will talk to her daughter tonight. And tell her, you NEVER have to look like that to be loved.

And then hug her and love her exactly the way she is. And ask her to do the same with herself.

And if you have an eating disorder or weight obsession, I hope you will seek help for your sake and for all of our daughters’ sakes.

Please copy and paste this meme into your blog so long as you link here. Or blog a response and link back to this post. And then talk to your daughters and report about the results online. Enough is enough!

We can change our daughters’ futures by raising our own awareness about self-abuse among women and talking openly and honestly about how to love and accept ourselves instead of further dis-empowering and abusing our bodies.”

Do you agree? I would love to hear your comments.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Nuggets of Wisdom from Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom

When Stepfamily Life Gets Messy

 

 

Are You Celebrating the Beauty of Family this Holiday- Even if Yours is Imperfect?

I was on the phone this week with stepfamily author, Ron Deal. We were chatting about his upcoming move to assume a new position with FamilyLife as the Director of Blended Families Ministries. (Read press release here). I could hear his excitement of continuing his ministy with stepfamilies in a larger fashion through such a great organization.

 

But I could also hear his grief when he mentioned the upcoming anniversary of the loss of their son, Connor. Connor was 12  years old when he came down with a rare illness that took his life within two weeks of its onset. He was the middle child of three boys and his family will never be the same. It’s a parents worst nightmare that leaves unfathomable pain in its wake.

Although the loss of a child may be the greatest loss anyone could experience, each member of a stepfamily has experienced loss too. Through death or divorce, relationships end and pain remains. But through healthy stepfamily relationships, family members can begin to heal and find joy in life again.

Although it may take longer than we desire, beautiful relationships can form if we don’t give up. And our family becomes something to celebrate, even if it’s imperfect.

So as you celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas this week-end, I encourage you to celebrate the beauty of family also. Although your stepfamily relationships may not be where you wish they were, celebrate the progress you’ve made. Commit to stronger relationships through intentional effort as you look toward a new year.

Life is short. We don’t know what’s around the corner that could alter our family dynamics forever. But we do know what our relationships look like today and can choose to celebrate the beauty of our family.

How will you celebrate the unique beauty of your stepfamily as you celebrate the holidays?

Unexpected Stepparenting Moments

*Note to Readers: Our out-of-state move begins next week. My blogging will be sporadic for the next month but I hope to return to a regular schedule by late summer.

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. A milestone. I had great plans for a leisurely morning on my son’s first day of summer, while considering a movie before going to dinner with my girlfriends. (With my husband working out of state, I planned my own celebration). But my plans went completely awry.

“I’m headed to the Emergency Room,” I heard my stepson, Payton, say on the other end of the phone as I scrambled out of bed. “I’m in severe pain in my lower back and don’t know what to do.” I sensed panic in his voice and tried to calm  his fears. “Let me call the doctor and try to get you in. You will sit for hours at the ER,” I said. “Come to the house so I can help you.”

Less than an hour later we were waiting in the doctor’s office, my stepson barely able to sit on the exam table.The doctor explained that it appeared he had a kidney stone and would need to wait it out, pushing fluids and surviving on pain meds while praying the stone would pass on its own. I suspected that was the diagnosis we would hear and I think my stepson was relieved it wasn’t anything more serious. But kidney stones are not fun to deal with.

I dropped Payton at our house to rest while I picked up his pain medicine. Upon returning, I found him curled in a fetal position, trying to cope with the pain. He took the medicine and began a steady intake of fluids. As the medicine began to take effect, he dozed off quietly.

He stayed at the house most of the day while I encouraged fluid intake and resting. He expressed sincere appreciation for my help during his time of need. He knew it was my birthday and apologized for the inconvenience. But I was thankful I could help.

I reflected on the day later with my sister and she remarked, “That’s just how life goes, isn’t it?” It was okay that I didn’t get to enjoy a leisurely morning or make it to the movies. I did enjoy a special dinner with dear friends that evening as we celebrated my birthday. And I cherished the fact that I was able to help my stepson through a difficult day.

Critical stepparenting moments occur when we least expect them. But if we take the time to rise to the occasion, those are the moments most appreciated by our stepchildren.

Have you experienced unexpected stepparenting moments lately?

Related Posts:

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When Stepparenting Isn’t What You Expected

Coping with Difficult People

Angry. Humiliated. Disgruntled. I left our church choir rehearsal with a flood of emotions circulating through my mind. As a piano accompanist, I had been belittled in front of the choir. It wasn’t the first time it had happened but I vowed it would be the last.

I knew it was time to confront the person in charge who touted his musical knowledge in a fashion that humiliated those who worked for him. A peacemaker by nature, I don’t like conflict. But I’ve learned there are times we must confront those in our path who are mistreating us.

That doesn’t mean we recreate the conflict or nitpick issues that should be overlooked. As a stepparent, we can recognize the losses our stepchildren carry, and allow grace for their troubled emotions. As my post, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff talks about, we want to pick our battles. But it’s important to realize that even as Christians, we do not have to allow others to mistreat or take advantage of  us.

In their book, Peacemaking Women, Tara Barthel and Judy Dabler talk about the need to confront. “As difficult as it is, sometimes we are called to go humbly to the people who have wronged us in order to help them to understand better how they have contributed to our conflicts. Of course, when appropriate, we should be quick to overlook (Prov 19:11), and we must always first confess our own sins (Matt 7:5). But if after we have confessed our own sins we cannot overlook the offense, we are called to help the person who has offended us by gently restoring her (Gal 6:1) and helping her remove the speck from her eye (Matt 7:5).

I like the way these ladies describe our responsbility in the conflict – try to overlook and confess our own sin first if that’s part of the conflict. Then, if we cannot overlook the offense, humbly confront. The Scripture they give offers additional understanding of the Biblical view on conflict.

In my conflict mentioned above, the choir director and I reached an amicable agreement in how he would treat me at rehearsal. It took courage on my part to confront his actions, but the result was worth the effort.

I pray you’re not dealing with difficult people today. But if you are, I encourage you to seek a Biblical solution to the conflict by overlooking the offense when you can, and confronting in love when you can’t.

Are you allowing a difficult person to badger or bully you? 

The Value of a Supportive Spouse

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a great time to show your spouse what you appreciate about him/her. And if your spouse is a stepparent, make an extra effort to validate his efforts and the important role he plays in the life of your child.

It’s so easy to get distracted with our kids and forget to let our spouse know how important he/she is to us. My husband is a much better encourager than I am and I often take for granted his words of love and support. But without his support, I would have given up on my stepparenting role.

During my stepkid’s adolescent years, it seemed I was emotionally attacked regularly. If someone was unhappy, I became the target for their anger. But thankfully, my husband stood up for me and required that I be treated with respect.

One of the best gifts we can give our spouse if he/she is a stepparent is the gift of support. Stepparenting is a difficult role and if we don’t feel that our spouse is supporting our efforts, it’s easy to give up. There are a lot of ways to show support but here are a few to consider:

Thank him for being a parent to your child.
Compliment his stepparenting efforts.
Require that your children are respectful toward him.
Affirm his worth as your spouse.
Offer him grace when he messes up.
Cook his favorite meal.
Enjoy an evening together without the kids.
Put his needs before yours.
Make your relationship a priority.

If you’re a stepparent also, and you’re not getting the support you need from your spouse, ask for it! Your spouse cannot read your mind and may not realize the struggle you’re experiencing.

Marriage is a union between two people that requires constant nurturing. But the rewards of our efforts far outweigh the work.

How do you show support to your spouse? I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

Making Your Remarriage Work: Be An Encourager

Nurture Your Marriage

The Value of Prioritizing Your Marriage