Prayer Changes Relationships

This picture is my neighborhood prayer group I have been part of for almost seven years. We meet weekly at 6:00 a.m. (just rolled out of bed – no make up or hair fixed) and pray for the needs of each family represented for an hour.
I joined this group when my husband and I were fighting a custody battle for my stepson after his  mom died and his stepfather had applied for custody. It was a very difficult time and these ladies became my support group.
Year after year of praying diligently for my stepfamily and its relationships has resulted in some amazing healing. My stepson has changed from an angry adolescent who wanted to isolate himself from our family to a maturing young adult who loves and cares for each family member.
The Mother’s Day card  my stepson gave me this past Sunday brought tears to my eyes. The comments he wrote said, “After this last year, I’ve needed a mother the most, and you have been outstanding. Thank you for putting up with all my crazy ways and being a great mother to me!!”(exclamation marks included).  
I don’t write this to brag about our relationship but only to encourage you if your stepparenting relationships are strained. I’ve been there. I’ve had so many days that I wanted to give up on my stepmother role. But as my stepchildren reach their adult years, they show me their appreciation more and more.
The rewards of stepparenting don’t come during the early or middle years, they come at the end – probably after your stepchildren leave home.
But I’m convinced that the hours I’ve spent praying for my stepfamily and our relationships have made a difference. Our family was broken when my husband and I married 15 years ago, and only God could have put the pieces back together. 
With tears in my eyes, I said good-bye to my neighborhood prayer group last night. As  my husband and I and youngest son move to Louisiana, I’ll be in search of another prayer group to join. Or perhaps, I’ll start a neighborhood group where we move. But I can assure you, I won’t quit praying for my stepfamily. Because prayer changes relationships.
Are you praying regularly for your stepfamily?
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Have You Seen Our New Ebook for Stepmothers?

How was your Mother’s Day? Do you need a pick-me-up after a difficult day?

I hope you’ll consider downloading our new ebook for stepmothers that Heather Hetchler and I compiled, “Stepping with Purpose: Stories of Strength and Faith for StepMothers.” It can  be downloaded FREE from my website home page.   

Here’s an introduction taken from the book: 

“Stepparenting is a hard role.We’re given parental responsibilities but have no parental rights. We perform parental chores but get few parental rewards. We offer love and acceptance to our stepchildren but may receive pain and rejection in return.

That’s why we’ve created this e-book. We believe stepmothers need the support of one another for strength and encouragement. We also believe stepmothers who rely on their faith for guidance and perseverance for their stepparenting journey will find greater peace, fulfillment, and success.

So, we’ve compiled eight stories of strength and faith from seasoned stepmothers walking the trenches of stepparenting to help you. We don’t pretend to have all the answers but hope to offer ideas and suggestions that have worked for us.”

I hope you’ll take a look at the encouraging stories submitted by some wonderful stepmoms when you download the ebook here. And then check back with me and let me know what you think!

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A Sampling of Stepmother Stories from Ebook  

New ebook for Stepmothers available today!

I’m excited to announce a new e-book a fellow stepmom, Heather Hetchler, and I compiled that can be downloaded for FREE from my website home page. It’s a collection of  personal, real-life stories and struggles from seasoned stepmom authors that are designed to encourage and support you on your journey.

Here’s a sampling from a story titled “Learning how to Love,” by Laura Petherbridge, co-author of The Smart Stepmom:

“If I’m being totally honest there were times in my early years as a stepmom that I didn’t even like my stepsons, much less love them. To me they appeared spoiled and pampered, plus everyone in my husband’s family seemed to tip-toe around their wants and whines. … But as a Christian I desired to learn how to love them. I knew Christ could teach me, if I was willing.”

“The first thing God revealed to me was that I had a tainted view of the boys. They were hurting kids, not bratty villains. Their sharp, stinging comments were merely an angry response to their circumstances. They didn’t view me as a wonderful new addition to their family; to them I was the new woman rocking their boat of security. In their eyes, I was taking away their Daddy.”

Here’s another sampling from a story titled “Acceptance,” by Jackie Brown:

“Having my stepdaughter 24/7 was not what I had planned. My life became a roller coaster of angry, sad, unhappy, and at times, depressed feelings. The reality is that I suffered a loss … a loss of the way things were and the way I wanted them to be.

I learned first-hand that there are many things you have to accept in the role of being a full-time stepmom:

Accept that your time, space, and privacy are different from what they once were.
Accept that being a stepmom is unfair and lonely at times.
Accept that you may not see the fruits of your sacrifices until the stepchildren become adults.
Accept that there will be many sacrifices that often go unnoticed.”

There are great stories in this e-book. I hope you’ll hop over and download this free ebook today. Then, come back and let me know what you think.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Stepmom

With Mother’s Day only a few days away, you may be thinking about how your stepchildren will handle the celebration. It tends to be an awkward holiday for many stepmothers, including myself at times. We don’t know whether to expect anything from our stepchildren or let the biological mom get all the attention for the day.

Personally, I believe if we’ve played an active role as a stepmother, we deserve some recognition. But that doesn’t mean we will get it from our stepchildren. We may need to ask our spouse (the father of those children) to honor and acknowledge us on Mother’s Day for the difficult role we play.

Stepfamily authority Ron Deal includes a statement from a stepmom in his article, “I Dread Mother’s Day.” The stepmom says, “I get all the grief of parenting, but I don’t get to enjoy the pleasures associated with being a mom.” As a stepmom, I’ve had days I feel that way too. But thankfully, it’s not every day.

I’ve learned to enjoy Mother’s Day with no expectations from my stepchildren. If they offer me a gift or choose to honor me in some way, I’m thrilled. But if they don’t, I know my husband appreciates what I do and lets me know that regularly. I also believe God put these children in my life to care and nurture and I want to be obedient to His calling.

Another stepmom, Heather Hetchler, and I created a free e-book, Stepping With Purpose, in honor of stepmoms. If you need some encouragement as a stepmom, I know you’ll enjoy the stories.

How does your family celebrate Mother’s Day? Is is meaningful day or a difficult one?

When Do You Seek Custody of a Stepchild?

I have a dear friend who had a gut feeling that her stepchild was being mistreated by his mother’s boyfriend. Her stepson had made several comments about happenings at his mom’s house that were concerning. So, she and her husband hired a private investigator to find out about the mom’s boyfriend.

The results were alarming. The PI uncovered several assault charges, a DUI charge, and other charges that had been filed within the previous six-month period on the boyfriend. It was enough evidence that my friend and her husband chose to seek custody of the 10-year-old boy. I think it was a wise choice.

The court hearing resulted in temporary custody for the dad and stepmom for four months while all parties participate in counseling and after that point, it will be determined where they boy should reside long-term. Although my friend has a new baby and custody of her stepson will disrupt her entire household, she has chosen the high road of doing what’s right for her stepson.

I applaud stepparents who selflessly choose to care for their stepchildren, even when it inconveniences their lives. As a stepparent, we might enter marriage with part-time custody of our stepchildren and prefer the arrangement remain that way. But stepfamily life tends to take twisted turns when we least expect them. 

Stepmothers, in particular, have a natural bent toward nurturing that allows us to recognize when things aren’t quite right with our stepchildren. I believe it’s our responsibility to act on those gut feelings and get to the bottom of what we’re concerned about. Our stepchildren deserve to be raised in a stable, healthy home and if they are being mistreated or neglected in their custodial home, we must take action to change their environment.

When we marry our spouse and choose to take on the responsibilites of a stepparent, we say, “I do — for better or for worse.” There are many times on the stepparenting journey that the circumstances get worse before they get better.

Assuming custody of stepchildren who have previously lived in another home is never easy. But it’s not right to allow our stepchildren to remain in a home that we know is not best for them. It may be that temporary custody is all that’s needed to change the other home, but it won’t happen until we step out with faith and courage.   

Are your stepchildren at risk in their custodial home? Is it time to do something different about custody arrangements?

Related Posts:

When a Stepchild Changes Residence

Coping with Change

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

Expect the Unexpected On Your Stepparenting Journey

I have a good friend who is raising her step-granddaughter because her stepdaughter has proven too unstable for the responsibility. I have another friend who could be assuming full custody with her husband of her three stepchildren because their biological mom continues to struggle on the road of addiction.

Difficult happenings on the stepparenting journey that cannot be predicted. They’re all around us. As a stepparent, will you muster the effort and energy to go the extra mile when your family road takes a turn of events?

I believe we are called to do what we can to keep our family intact if we sign up for the role by saying, “I do.”  (Aside from abuse, of course). We unite with our spouse as a team and commit to minister to our stepchildren through the ups and downs of stepparenting. It doesn’t mean the road will be easy, but God will give us the strength and power to sustain us on the road He allows us to walk.

In their book, The Smart Stepmom, Laura Petherbridge and Ron Deal acknowledge some of the complex issues that can show up unexpectedly on the stepparenting journey and how a smart stepmom deals with them. Here are a few thoughts to ponder:

“A Smart Stepmom:

– discovers the things she can control and releases the things she can’t.

– is prepared. She isn’t naive or ambused by complex stepfamily issues and is flexible to cope with matters that she didn’t see coming.

– is constantly growing and learning about wise stepparenting and parenting techniques.

– has a strong support system with other women who share her values.

– recognizes that there are limits to her contributions to decision-making regarding her stepchildren’s lives

– accepts that sometimes being a stepmother is going to be unfair and lonely.

– acknowledges that she may not see the fruit of her sacrifices until the children become adults.

– believes that her value is determined by the price Jesus paid for her and that she is precious in God’s eyes. This awareness offers her enduring peace even in challenging circumstances.”

Has your stepparening journey taken an unexpected turn? How are you coping?