The Joyful Stepmom
Posted on September 4th, 2019

I had the opportunity to attend a parenting seminar with speaker Mark Gregston. Mark is the founder of Parening Today's Teens through Heartlight Ministries.

I'm not sure when I first stumbled across Parenting Today's Teens. Somewhere in the past few years when we were in the midst of high school with our son. Mark focuses on teens and families in crisis. Now, that wasn't us but the parenting advice was great. So I kept following.

For our members of The Joyful Stepmom who do go through some really challenging situations with their teenagers - Parenting Today's Teens is my go-to resource.

This seminar was more conversational. Mark gave stories and background of the ministry. He touched on some great points and I wish he had time to go deeper. Namely - when your child walks away from God.

Mark is a Texan, likes to joke and very relational. The couple sitting in front of us faithfully listen to his podcast, and I know many of you would enjoy that as well.

From my notes on the evening, I particularly honed in on his Love Languages message. Some will be familiar with the 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. Mark felt that maybe there are more than 5 options. For teens, additional possible love languages are wanting to be defended by those you love and they want to feel wanted and included.

That resonates particularly in a blended family. Our children experience displacement, rejection and not knowing where they stand in their own homes and families. It should be a light bulb moment that of course they want the adults in their life to be their defenders. They want to truly be WANTED.

If you are going through the teen years, I urge you to follow Parenting Today's Teen and look through the resources provided. 

Posted on August 28th, 2019

As a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I am so pleased to have received a copy of this Bible for Kids.  I received this copy of The NIrV Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids as a free review copy. I am excited to go over some of the features for our stepmom readers and their families.

I love to talk about and share resources for our stepmoms. We often get requests in our Facebook Group for children's Bibles or devotionals. Here is an opportunity for us to look at a Kids' Bible and some of the unique features.

Right away when opening the mail, I noticed the vibrant colors of this Bible. They are sure to attract the interest of little eyes. The cover is also very sturdy. Great for hands to grab, hold and really dig in easily.

On some adult Bibles the books are tabbed or indented for easy finding. This NIrV Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids has color coded books of the Bible. It allows for easily finding your place and a little bit of color on the side of the Bible, which is really nice for children.

Let's look inside the Bible. You will notice in your adult edition, verses are often divided by a title heading. The division is subtle but helps in breaking up verses for understanding. This children's Bible also has title division between verses. I appreciated that it was fun, clear but still felt like reading a real Bible.

I do want to mention I felt the font size was a drawback. It seemed small to me for a child. Then again, personally I have graduated to a Large Print version. Perhaps the difference is standing out too much for my tired eyes. Ha!

The NIrV Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids is a wonderful edition for when your child is ready to graduate from a baby -ish Bible and up closer to a full edition.

Posted on June 4th, 2019

I wrote this piece for a past Better Than Blended newsletter. Check out their website for great blended family resources!

Summer! It should make us think of sunshine, lazy days, the ice cream truck and family vacations! In a blended family, there's a little something extra that comes along with summer. Whether this season feels like warm sand between your toes or your popsicle is melting, let’s kick back in the beach chair and talk about it.

It can also be a little overwhelming. What are we supposed to do while we are together? Nobody is used to the same routines or house rules. It is big adjustment for both kids and adults. Let's walk through a couple tips to keep summer smooth and fun for everyone.
Post house rules for everyone to follow. Your family is a team. Do not expect kids coming and going to remember everything between two homes. Keep it simple and full of grace.
Make a plan for fun and flexibility. When my stepson was little, he came home for one or two weeks at a time. We planned a few activities and some stay home days. Most of the time, he just wanted to be home and do normal everyday things with his dad. Create memories and remember that quality time spent together is most valuable.
Stepmoms, make space for the kids to have one on one time with Dad. Give visiting children a chance to build that relationship. Tell them how awesome he is or how much Dad loves them. Remember, you may be the only one who tells them and they need to hear it.

Parents who send the kids to another home for the summer, I see you. You made it through the school year! But while many are excited for the pool, summer camp, and lazy days, your house is too quiet. You thought the break would be nice! But it's also filled with anxiety. What are you supposed to do while the kids are away?
Pray for them. When my stepson is away, I go in his room and sit on the floor to pray for him. I pray he's having a good day, that he's surrounded by good people and friends. Ok, maybe I cry a little. It's ok to miss them! Entrust them to the Father while they are gone.

Take care of you. Get that manicure, call your girlfriend. Maybe even call a therapist for a little emotional checkup.

Recharge your marriage! Marriage should be our top priority, but it takes a beating in stepfamilies. Get away for a weekend or check out a marriage retreat. Take this time to reconnect.

Are you a stepmom who is feeling anxious about summer? I want us to be stepmoms who tackle summer with no fear! This week I challenge you to pray, every day, for your summer. Listed here are verses on joy to prepare your heart for a season of Summer. Write them in your Bible or save them to your phone. Let's be stepmoms who love summer and embrace it with joy!
Psalm 61:2
2 Corinthians 13:11
Nehemiah 8:10
Galatians 5:22-23
1 Thessalonians 5:16
Proverbs 31:25

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.