The Joyful Stepmom
Posted on April 30th, 2019

I know it's hard, Sister. I know the days are rough and the nights are full of staring at the ceiling with worry. I've had seasons where things are ok...and I hold my breathe for that next shoe to fall. And I'm in a season now of just real deep frustration.

Sure, it's easy to say forget it. I can't do it, Lord. It's too hard. You picked the wrong girl!

Who am I to tell the Lord that He picked wrong.

Maybe I was chosen for this. Maybe I landed here and now He is working through me. Either way- I believe as Jesus Loving Stepmoms THIS IS YOUR MISSION FIELD.

Ask Him to give you strength for it. Even in my season right now, I know in my very soul that the Lord's plan is always good and I am sticking with it to see what happens next.

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.
Elisabeth Elliot

Posted on April 2nd, 2019

Yesterday we had a survey done of the yard. Two men came out to the house on a blustery, cold day and took the measurements. They stuck little pink flags at the corners of the lot. The pink flags let us know where our lot ends and the neighbors' property begins.

Most of us have a general idea where the line is between you and your neighbor. Maybe there is a clear division with a fence or sidewalk! Or the two of you can just work it out based on who mows the lawn and how previous owners kind of left things.

We moved into a home that had been empty for awhile. Our neighbors are amazing! But we have a pie shaped, hexagon lot. It's weird! There's no straight line to walk down and know your boundary. And one back corner of the backyard really had us stumped! We just could not figure out where the yard ended and our neighbor's began. So it felt worth the investment to define that boundary line. 

 We just could not figure out where the yard ended
and our neighbor's began.
So it felt worth the investment to define that boundary line.

Now these are our neighbors. And like I mentioned, they are amazing! We aren't staking out the yard and drawing lines to put up a barbed wire fence! We're finding the line to be good stewards of what we have.  We want to be friendly and take ownership. Not overstep where we are not intended to be.
Boundaries are just as important in blended family life. There is a LOT of togetherness. Sure, it's two different homes. But you share children. The spill over will surprise you. I know it surprised me!

You will need to find a boundary line for your self, your marriage and your home. So many of the posts we receive on The Joyful Stepmom from hurting women could be helped by a few boundaries. I admit, it's really hard! It takes discipline to put in place. But the rewards of peace are worth the patience and practice.

The pink stakes in my backyard are points. They show a boundary. Neighbors wave, children run through the yards. But at the end of the day, you tend to your own space. You respect the boundary that has been set.

So where do you need to set a boundary today? Maybe your husband sends a lot of messages to the other house and really struggles on how to balance that communication. Take it on together. Group text or reply together, and set a time for that to happen so it doesn't take over your home life.

Maybe you feel social media is taking over your phone. You feel the need to keep tabs but it also is raising your anxiety levels! The block button is your best friend, use it.

And let's talk about communication. Possibly one of the highest ranked complaints or requests we receive. Text, email and FaceTime have made communication between homes 24/7. That does not mean you have to reply to each message. PAUSE. Make your boundary the Pause. You will not respond until you pause, pray and consider if it requires your attention. Or you will respond when you have a well thought out and calm reply. I cannot emphasize the amount of strife you will save your family by slowing down in your communication. 

We're finding the line to be good stewards of what we have. 

Am I glad we staked the backyard? Was it worth paying a couple guys to come out and put some pink flags in the ground? Yes! That back corner that was so confusing is a different shape than I thought it was. I was about to plant a whole little garden in a space that was not mine.

Posted on March 9th, 2019

Picture it's your first time coming to small group at church. You picked a comfy chair, they leader has gone around the room to introduce everyone. And now we're digging into the material. The book study questions start with some verses to read.

And the leader asks YOU to read the first verse.

What?! Why! Can't we all just read it silently in our heads! We have the app on our phones, let's listen to the audio play. 

Bible Gateway gives us some tips on why reading scripture out loud has value. I really appreciated the points in this devotional. Let's look at the main takeaways:
1- Multisensory: We add hearing, not just sight
2- Retention: speaking the verse aloud improves our memory of it
3- Reading aloud slows us down: We are able to process the verse more thoughtfully

For your next personal time, try reading your Bible out loud. Slow down your reading and really hear the words. Bonus, you'll be extra prepared for small group. 

Posted on March 1st, 2019

In The Joyful Stepmom Facebook group we like to do Bible studies together. Right now, we are not formally going through a book. But so many of us are reading  "It's Not Supposed to be This Way" by Lysa Terkeurst that we are sharing our thoughts or snippets as we go.

I've written all over my copy and have so many things I want to share with you! I'd probably just end up typing out a whole chapter. If you haven't grabbed a copy, I highly recommend it. 

So I'll share one little clip from Chapter 3: Lysa writes "Jesus had many marked moments. We often read how Jesus got away to pray and be with His Father. He would face something and need a marked moment with His Father to trade His human desire for Gods will."

Marked moments. I love that. Yesterday I had a lunch with my parents. It's special because they recently moved back to the area and we can do this now. I had news, they had news. We marked the moment.

It's what we do! Even if the news isn't important, we call up our people and share. And we need to that with God, our loving Father. He's just waiting for us to share whatever it is! With Him. So let's be sure we are truly marking the moments in prayer and conversation with Our Father.

Posted on February 14th, 2019

I am by no means a tech savvy, social media guru. But I know enough to find my way around, click here and there to figure a few things out. I'm sure you feel very secure right now. Ha!

We have had a number of requests in the last couple weeks at The Joyful Stepmom regarding Facebook profile privacy. We usually have members post asking for help on what can be seen and how to shut their profile down.

This is a very good question. We should all be in the habit of watching what we post on social media and being aware of how to protect our privacy. At The Joyful Stepmom, we feel particularly  strongly on this area. There is no reason that something you post on social media should spill over into your real life. It's unnecessary drama.

So in order to help you take care of yourself, your family and just be a good social media citizen, I've put together a few quick ways you can keep an eye on your Facebook profile. I'm focusing on Facebook because The Joyful Stepmom online community is mainly based on that platform. We should strive for the same measures across the internet.

Here it is- The Joyful Stepmom Crash Course in Locking Down your Profile: 
Number 1 Rule of Thumb: Watch your friend list. When accepting friend requests, ask yourself basic questions: Do you know this person? How? Well enough to see pictures of your family and your location?  

If you are experiencing some privacy issues, this is a good time to purge your list. Scroll through every friend profile and get rid of those who have left Facebook, you don't remember who they are, etc. 
Number 2: Review your timeline. Next time you are binge watching Netflix, take out your phone and scroll your own profile. Start deleting. What should you delete? We all share things we thought were funny, we wanted to remind ourselves about a sale, win a prize, show our spouse or kids. It's probably over now- delete.

Why?  "Once it's on the internet, it's always there." That may be true in some deep dark way. But you can end the cycle of people clicking around on links and memes and making their way to your profile from something you shared 3 years ago.

Untag yourself from pictures. It is amazing to me how I can click through different mutual friends and end up 7 people deep just because we are all tagged in pictures and we leave it public. We do that because we love each other and we want to share our good time! But someone with ill intentions can easily follow the trail. If you have someone stalking your profile, shut it down. Untag or if you have control of the picture, make it Friends Only.

How do you know who can see a post? Check that privacy setting symbol! Facebook knows this is important! And they have easy ways to show who can see what you have posted. You can also easily edit and change this by hovering over the post. This is a great time to start changing your posting behavior! From now on, pay attention to this setting. When you share a post to your own timeline or just write something, you have complete control over this. 
Here is a nifty feature I just noticed on my laptop. If you scroll your profile up a little, this option to Manage Posts appears. Click and you can delete or change the privacy setting. Really cool, Facebook! Thanks!
Number 3- Change your settings. You may need to wait for the Netflix show to end. This takes a little more focus to make sure you have everything set just like you want.

Right on your profile header are 3 dots where you hover and select Timeline Settings. 
This is where you "lock it down." Read each section carefully. Google what you don't understand. Facebook has good descriptions in their help section as well. 
And lastly, don't forget that fun Bio/ Intro/ Feature section. We like to put inspirational quotes, list our kids names, the dates of our marriage, birthdays....whoa! Please remember this section is all incredibly public! Think carefully about how much you want or need to share. Edit or delete.  Each individual section has an edit button. You are giving away vital privacy information about yourself and your children.

Your location and job information can be made private or for friends only. And those Feature photos are so fun! But they are just that- featured and very public. If you have privacy concerns or someone stalking your profile, lock it down. Keep those fun pictures for your friends who have good intentions at heart. 
Additional Resources:
How to make IG Private
How to make Pinterest Private

I hope this has been helpful in answering a few of the concerns we've seen from our stepmom community.