Commit to the Lord

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

My mom told me once that kids usually figure things out eventually and get on the right path, even if they stray for awhile during their teen-age and young adult years. I was fretting over some choices one of my stepchildren had made and her positive comments were encouraging.

I believe this is true, especially if we raise our children by God’s word and surround them with prayer. If we commit our parenting endeavors to the Lord, His Word promises that we will succeed.

My youngest daughter turned 18 years old this week-end. She has been a joy to parent and I’m continually thankful for her compliant nature. When she leaves for college in the Fall, we will  have only one child left at home of our five children. It’s hard to accept that a big part of my parenting season is coming to a close.

But I will continue to commit our children to the Lord. I pray for them daily by name and specifically pray that our older children make wise choices. I pray that I will continue to have the opportunity to guide them through the confusion and anxiety that often accompanies young adulthood. And I ask for wisdom in my stepparenting role as I continue to grow and nurture the relationships with my stepchildren.

I don’t think our parenting and stepparenting roles ever end. But there does come a time when we don’t have the same influence with our children that we have during their younger years. If you’re in an active parenting/stepparenting role, I encourage you to commit your endeavors to the Lord. You’ll be glad you did as you see the fruits of your labor during their young adult years.

Related Posts:

Parenting From Your Knees

Let Go and Let God

Stepparenting Rewards

New Beginnings

I love the first day of a new month. I can look at what happened last month and celebrate the highs. I can also recount the lows and commit to a better month from the beginning.

For those of us living in the South, March marks the end of Winter and beginning of Spring. This morning my 10-year-old son rode his bike to school in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. The promise of nicer weather lifts my spirits while I tackle the challenges of life.

As I recount the previous month, I focus on what I did right in my stepparenting relationships and what I need to do differently. I’m thankful as I reflect on an incident with my stepson that I handled better than usual.

This past Sunday, my stepson spent the afternoon with us. He was complaining to his Dad and me about several relationship issues he’s struggling with. I quickly identified what I felt the problem was and wanted to blurt out his faults and how he’s contributing to the issues. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and began to pray for my  husband as he counseled his son. I know that my husband has much more influence with him than I do. And although he might not make the same suggestions I would, he has a good understanding of his son and how to help him.

Stepparenting requires us to discern when to talk and when to keep our mouth shut. More often than not, we need to voice our opinion in a private discussion with our spouse, and let him/her address the issue with his/her child. The blood bond that the biological parent shares with his child allows him a greater chance of success in correcting behavior without alienating the child than the stepparent. 

It’s also important to pray for our spouse, and pray specifically for wisdom, on the parenting journey. I love the reminder in James that says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

I’m thankful today for a new month. I pray it offers you a new beginning in your challenges.

Do you need to focus on a n fresh start in your stepfamily relationships? 

Related Posts:

PositiveThinking Results in Successful Stepparenting

When Our Thinking  Becomes Distorted

Parenting From Your Knees

Stepfamily Detours – Where Are You Headed?

I recently went to lunch at a friend’s house who lives outside the city. I had never been to her house and since I’m directionally challenged, I got lost (it happens frequently, unfortunately). Since I recognize my lack of common sense with directions, I carry a Garmin with me. Once I plugged the address into my handy GPS, I was able to find her house without a problem, despite my detour.

Stepfamilies often take detours down roads they’ve never seen before. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a GPS that gives us clear directions every time on which path to take? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But we can decide we don’t want to stay stuck on the detoured road and take the necessary steps to find our way to the right path.

For instance, our family took a detour down the custody battle road many years ago after my stepchildren lost their mother. It was a difficult road that we had never been on before and had no idea which direction to go. So, we sought professional help through legal counsel.

We considered the choices we were presented and weighed our options. We prayed about the right direction for our family. And then we made a decision that began to take us off the detoured road and back to the right path. We went down several roads with twists and turns before arriving at our destination, but we finally reached a successful end to the journey.

Some detours, such as our custody battle, take years to resolve. They don’t have neatly wrapped, black and white answers. But we don’t have to allow the enormity of the situation to overwhelm us and stagnate us on the detour.

If we keep moving forward with the next step we believe we are to make, we will find our way to a route with better scenery. We don’t have to stay stuck in the detour. But if will require intentional effort on our part.

Where are you on your stepfamily journey? Are you stuck in a detour? What steps to you need to take toward your destination?   

Related Posts:

Creating a Stable Stepfamily: Commit to the Long Run

Let Go and Let God

Coping with Stepfamily Storms


The Valley of the Unknown

My husband’s job ends next week. We moved to Conway, AR eleven years ago for my husband to assume the position of Director of Operations with a manufacturing company. His job has provided a comfortable living for us here as we’ve raised our children. But, unfortunately, the downfall of the housing industry has taken a huge toll on the company and Corporate has chosen to close its doors.

We are facing the valley of the unknown. It’s a scary place. We have complete faith he will land another job but that job hasn’t shown up yet. So, in the meantime, we wait.

The valley of the unknown appears more often than we like on this journey of life. It has reared its head in various ways on our stepparenting path. And each time, although it was difficult to deal with, we came out successfully on the other side.

Here a few of my thoughts on coping with the valley of the unknown:

Surrender to God’s plan. Give up control of the situation and ask for God’s guidance. Don’t try to find the answers alone. God is seeking a relationship with us and will guide our steps if we ask Him.

Unite with your spouse. Be on the same page with your spouse through the difficulty. Communicate frequently and brainstorm together for solutions. Lean on one another on the hard days and seek to find laughter through the trial.

Wait. Many times, God calls us to simply wait. I strongly dislike this one, but have endured it frequently. A beautiful illustration of how God works through the wait can be found here: Wait Poem, by Russell Kelfer. 

Take the next step. As you sense answers to your dilemma, take a step of faith. Start with small steps as you overcome your fear of a new direction. Continue to seek God’s plan and follow His lead.

Rejoice in new beginnings. Adopt an attitude of thankfulness as you move from the valley of the unknown to a heighth of unchartered territory. Embrace the change that accompanies a fresh start. Leave the past behind with any regrets of what could have been.

Press on. As Selah’s powerful song says, “In Jesus’ Name, we press on.” View Selah’s song.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Are you in a valley of the unknown? Do you have other suggestions to offer?

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God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

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Parenting From Your Knees

I told my husband this past week that getting our children successfully to adulthood is requiring more effort and time than I envisioned. Several of our children are in the young adult age but show evidence of immaturity and poor choices more often than I want to admit.  

For instance, I received an e-mail this week stating my stepson was in jeopardy of being expelled from his college because of attendance problems at chapel. He attends a private Christian university that requires he attend an hour long chapel service each week. Sometime last semester, he decided he didn’t want to go anymore and quit attending.

As my husband spoke with him about it over dinner, my stepson admitted to his nonchalant attitude toward the chapel policy and his negligence in attending. With only a year left to graduate, he doesn’t want to be expelled. Thankfully, he committed to doing what the school requires for chapel make-ups and regular attendance in the future.

However, we can’t control whether he actually follows the school requirements or not. As a college student living in his own apartment, he makes his own decisions, good and bad. But we can pray daily that he makes wise choices and seeks the Lord diligently.

In her book, Prayer Changes Teens, Janet McHenry says, “No matter how much we love our kids and want to protect them, we cannot control them or their circumstances. But God is in control, and He can take care of our kids far better than we ever could. … Give control back to God and get back to what you enjoy most – loving your teen.” 

As a stepmom who struggles with control issues, that’s a good reminder for me. I like to think I can control my children’s behavior, but that’s grandiose thinking. The sooner I give up control and allow God to be in charge, the greater likelihood of a positive end result.

I’ll give you an update on chapel attendance at the end of the semester. But for now, I need to go talk to God.

What are you trying to control? Do you need to parent from your knees more often?

Related Posts:

Let Go and Let God

Making Resolutions that Count

Where to Find Hope on Your Stepfamily Journey

Making Resolutions that Count

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, it’s a great time to reflect on how things are going in our stepfamily life and what areas need attention. I don’t make a lot of resolutions because I would rather set short-term attainable goals, but I have made a resolution this year that I know can make a difference in our family: pray daily for my husband and each of our five children.

 It’s a simple resolution but an important one. Since three of our five children live outside the home, I don’t always know specific struggles going on with them. But I can easily pray for them anyway and lift up concerns that I do know about and other general issues of importance.

I saw a quote on twitter last week (not sure who said it) that I pondered for a while before I decided I agreed with it: “Talk with God about your children more than you talk with your children about God.” I’m a firm believer in talking to our children about God, but particularly since our children are older, I have less opportunity and see the value of vigilant prayer about them.

That doesn’t mean I neglect the opportunities to talk with them about God; it means I understand the importance of constant prayer. As I pray for them, it could open up more doors to communicate with them.  (BTW, if you’re on twitter, connect with me @GaylaGrace).

Prayer is a powerful discipline that we often neglect. We’re too busy finding answers to our problems instead of taking our problems to the Answer.

What resolutions have you made this year? Will you share them with us?

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Holiday Tip: Live by Faith, not  Fear