Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

Words from the voice on the radio played over in my head, piercing my heart. “We must dare to love those who hurt us.” The hurt from my gaping wound lay open. A friend I thought I could trust had let me down. I didn’t want to consider that I should dare to love her again.

Dare to Love in Your Stepfamily

I recognized the feeling from another time. Hurt by words of one of my stepchildren, I found it easier to guard my heart than make myself vulnerable to love again. I learned that a heart with walls around it, however, never experiences joy or peace.

With the Lord’s help, I reached out to my friend and offered forgiveness. Recognizing God’s grace of my own sin softened my heart toward my friend.

God’s power overcomes our weaknesses. We can dare to love again.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).





Perseverance Wins the Prize in Stepfamilies

In the early years of our marriage, I wondered if we would make it to our next anniversary. Blending four children, grappling with our stepparent roles while learning to parent together, combating ex-spouses, and trying to stay afloat with job, church and community obligations seemed impossible. But as we celebrate 20 years of marriage this year, I’m thankful we never quit.

Randy and I lead an ongoing stepfamily class at our church and often counsel other step couples. One day I asked him why he thinks the divorce rate of remarried couples is so high. His answer was simple: they quit too soon.

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Why I’m Thankful for an Imperfect Stepfamily

“I always look perfect. I never have a bad hair day.”

Really?? I wanted to ask the teen girl as I heard her talking to her friends. Did she believe that? Was that the standard she was seeking to attain?

That’s a hard way to live. For anyone. It results in heartache, disappointment, and frustration. Because it’s not possible!

God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He doesn’t expect that we will have perfect relationships. But He does use our imperfections and imperfections of those around us to teach us, if we let Him. Read more

Step Parenting Blended Families

What I’ve Learned in 19 Years as a Stepmom

My husband and I celebrate 19 years of marriage today. All four of the kids in our wedding picture are grown – we have only an “ours” child still at home – 13-year-old son Nathan.

I love the way my friend Heather Hetchler counts years in stepfamilies – # of kids X years married, so in stepfamily years, we’ve been married 95 years! Wow! That’s a long time!

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Beach Plum Island

Blended Families | Taking the High Road with Your Husband’s Ex

Happy National Stepfamily Day! Your family matters!

I want to include a guest post today by author Holly Robinson on the value of a civil relationship with your husband’s ex. I know it’s a touchy subject to address on this important day, but the ex-wife-in-law or ex-husband-in-law (as stepfamily expert Ron Deal likes to refer to them) can have a major impact on your stepfamily relationships. Robinson does a great job showing us how and why to take the high road.

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Forgiveness and Your Stepfamily

As we head into the Easter week-end, I can’t help but think about forgiveness. I’m forever grateful for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that offers forgiveness of sin.


But sometimes forgiveness and how to apply forgiveness in our stepfamilies can be misunderstood.  At our stepmom retreat this past week-end, Laura Petherbridge spoke on forgiveness and gave some wonderful nuggets on what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.  These bullets are taken from her handout.

What forgiveness is:

  • A choice
  • An ongoing process
  • Admitting “I was wounded”
  • Getting healing, help and support
  • Giving the person over to God
  • Refusing to dredge up the past
  • Choosing not to seek revenge
  • Freedom from the pain

What forgiveness isn’t:

  • A feeling
  • A one-time event
  • Denying the event
  • Saying it wasn’t wrong
  • Trusting the person again
  • Excusing from the responsibility
  • Intentional punishment
  • Forgetting the offender

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It must be done repeatedly, perhaps even several times a day.

Forgiveness means we let the offense go and give it to God. But if we’ve been badly wounded, it’s not likely we will forget it. I believe God gave us a memory for a purpose–to protect ourselves and not fall prey to a vulnerable situation again.

If we choose to forgive our ex-spouse because we know it’s the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean we automatically trust him. Trust must be earned with someone’s who’s repentant about what they’ve done.

Forgiveness allows us to be honest with our feelings. If we’ve been hurt by our stepchild, we don’t act as if nothing’s happened. We acknowledge our feelings and work through our wounds as part of the forgiveness process.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we excuse a person from their part of the interaction, but it does mean we choose to put it in the past and leave it in the past.

There’s a price to pay for the choices we make. The price of unforgiveness is a burden of resentment, a poison of bitterness, and strained relationships. The price of forgiveness is love, freedom, and peace.

Christ paid a huge price so we could experience forgiveness. His death on the cross is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice He offered us. But even Christ struggled with doing what the Father asked of him. Matthew 26:39 says, “He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Some days we’d rather say, “Not your will but mine.” My will includes justifying my hurt and wallowing in my wound. My will seeks to take care of myself instead of considering others’ needs. Unfortunately, my will also leads to a life of heartache and disappointment.

Our pastor’s words recently spoke to my heart, “Unforgiveness is demanding that other people be perfect, and that’s a standard You can’t meet!” If I fail to forgive my stepson for an imperfect action, I’m expecting he’ll never have to forgive me for a wrong. I make imperfect choices every day. Why, then, do I hold onto unforgiveness?

Forgiveness provides the key to unlock the tension in stepfamily relationships. We’re called to forgive, even when it’s not our fault. It’s not easy, but when we choose to be obedient to the call,we experience peace and joy in our relationships.

If you’re struggling with forgiveness, I encourage you to purchase Laura’s DVD on forgiveness. It can be found at her bookstore here.

What have you learned about forgiveness in your stepfamily? Can you share how you’ve seen your stepfamily changed through the act of forgiveness? I’d love to hear your comments.

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, divorce prevention, divorce recovery and stepfamilies. She is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series and the co-author of The Smart Stepmom and  When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce. She has a new book to be released May 1st, 101 Tips for the  Smart Stepmom.   Laura’s website is www.The

Picture By africa