The Joyful Stepmom
Posted on February 23rd, 2020

I was reading in Ezra this morning. In this book we are looking at the Israelite's return to Babylon -  during their time away, people had made some bad decisions. They had walked away from the will of God.

One bad decision had spiraled into many and affected crowds of people, whole families! Sound familiar? It's why I'm reading ;) As stepmoms, our lives are often dictated by the decisions of others. Many times, those decisions feel wrong.

Looking at the situation, Ezra was overcome. He was so distraught at the sin of the people and anger of God. He fell on his face weeping and praying.

Look at Ezra 10:4 - the people said "Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action." Verse 5 - "So Ezra stood up."

I have a quote in my Bible from Lori Wilhite, she has a study on Ezra called Rise Up. You can follow the clickable link or find her study on YouVersion. She writes "We can sometimes find ourselves on our backside.Maybe we made a bad decision. We might end up on our back ends because of someone else's poor decisions. Either way, we all have moments when we need to rise up. Take courage, rise up, choose faith."

Ex spouses, the court, lawyers....we all have these outside influences directing traffic in our lives. Sometimes the actions they take feel wrong, we get put in a position that is really hard to handle.

 What are you going to do about it? Sit and weep? Yes, there's a time for that. But then we need to look at the heroes of the faith. We need to Rise Up in our faith and carry on. There's more work to be done. 

Posted on February 2nd, 2020

Confession, I'm an older stepmom. At least when it comes to technology. When my stepson was young and we were keeping track of calendars, it was all on paper. Our Family Wizard wasn't available. The advancements in technology and how they affect custody management are really helpful! We want you to know they are available to you.

Below we address a couple areas of frequent topics that come up in our Facebook group.

Favorite Calendar Apps:
Monitoring the schedules of two or more homes takes planning and organization. We often get asked about favorite calendar apps. There are two clear winners -
Cozi Family Calendar
Google Calendar
Each of these can be shared and color coded. They are mobile and laptop friendly.

Printing texts:
For clear and detailed documenting, we often need to save or print out texts.
This is tricky. A lot of stepmoms just screenshot and email to themselves. I have screenshot and printed at Walgreens as photos.
Apps that have been recommended: iexplorer, decipher tools

The below programs are available as software or apps. They cover a wide array of custody managements and we encourage you to look into their advantages. This is by no means an exhaustive list. 
Our Family Wizard
Two Homes app
Custody Toolbox

Posted on February 2nd, 2020

We frequently get questions from members of The Joyful Stepmom Facebook community about phone monitoring apps. To assist in protecting your family, we wanted to share some resources.

A book I really like on this topic is Screens and Teens by Kathy Koch. When your children are entering the stage of using electronics, I highly recommend this as part of your reading stack.  
What to monitor?
Primarily, we received requests for phone monitoring apps. We can't stress enough the value and importance of monitoring ALL devices for your children. Apps, texts, websites - you want to watch it all.

Focus on the Family's Plugged In has a great, quick guide for parents on the what and why. CLICK HERE to read. 
Recommended Monitoring Apps
Consumer Advocate gives a list of the Top 10 Parental Control Apps. Each app has a bullet point description that is very helpful in breaking down the advantages and directing parents in what to look for. I see that Qustodio is on this list, which is frequently mentioned by parents in The Joyful Stepmom.

Focus on the Family's Plugged In recommends some of the same parental control apps. This list also adds Covenant Eyes which is another app recommended by members of The Joyful Stepmom.

Below is a list of parental control apps that made both lists, including those frequently used by members of our stepmom community:
Covenant Eyes

We share this information with no ranking or bias, only in the hopes that when you are on the search for this information it helps to have a few resources gathered. As mentioned, we have received the question enough times from members that we wanted to gather our own list to provide a little information for you. Protecting the hearts, minds and eyes of your family is precious to us as parents.

Posted on December 16th, 2019

Merry Christmas, Joyful Stepmoms!

Each Christmas I send a card to the stepmoms or ministries I've connected with and prayed for during the past year. However, at this point our group has grown so much I'd be here until next Christmas addressing envelopes!

 I am so grateful for the abundance. The Lord has brought together an incredible group of women to love and support one another in His name for the family.

Stepmoms, as we prepare our homes for the holidays - take one moment to prepare your heart. Sit with your morning coffee, close the door to your room, whatever you need to do to intentionally take a moment with just you and Jesus. Let the quiet fill you and His peace surround you.

The entire purpose of Christmas is a Savior. Born, lived, died and rose again just for you. Hope was born that night.

Wishing you a time of joy with your families,
Emily - The Joyful Stepmom 

Posted on December 11th, 2019

As a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid,  I received this copy of The Jesus Bible Artist Edition NIV as a free review copy. When I saw the review opportunity for this Women's Bible, I couldn't resist! I am so pleased to participate and look over the features with you.

Right away, the cover grabs my attention. The bright colors make me want to reach out and feel this Bible. The cover is soft and pliable. Honestly, I've tried to keep this as a nice review copy, in the box on my desk, but I can't keep my hands off it! It's a Bible I want to open and explore.

Let's take a look inside. If you are a note taker, there are nice margins along the text. The paper feels nice. Of course it's thin Bible paper. But as I'm flipping around, nothing feels fragile or like it may rip.

There is an introduction to each Book. Devotional notes spread through the Bible are about a page and from some of my favorite authors - Max Lucado, Randy Alcorn and more! Sometimes devotions in a Bible can feel random and be an interruption. I appreciate the placement and "just enough" of those chosen. They feel appropriate and complimentary.

I will highlight an additional special feature. Many of us carry the YouVersion Bible app on our phones. The Jesus Bible Artist Edition has a matching YouVersion plan available. I like the tie between my hard copy Bible and online, it's a nice touch.

Keep this one for me! But next time a gift a Bible to a friend, guess what they'll be getting. Thanks again Bible Gateway Blogger Grid for the opportunity to review this lovely Bible.