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. 

Posted on December 10th, 2019

The Joyful Stepmom verse for 2019
Our verse for this year brings focus back to why we work so hard at The Joyful Stepmom. There are plenty of places online to find advice for stepmoms. Do a search on Facebook and you'll find about a hundred stepmom support groups.

As a Christian, we need to be mindful of how we fill our cup and what we allow into our hearts. The advice of the world is very different from the guidance of God.

When injustice happens in your stepfamily, the world will call you to anger and revenge. During a hard time in your marriage, the world will tell you to walk the front door and never look back. Kids giving you a hard time?  The world tells you to give it right back to them, you don't need that kind of attitude in your life. Get what you deserve.

Jesus calls you to something greater, harder and FAR more rewarding.

As we round out the year and look to 2020, take stock. Is there are an area of your stepmom life where you need a little less world and little more Jesus?

Your marriage - pray for and with your husband. Don't know where to start? Next time you have dinner together ask if you can just say a quick prayer together first. Send him a little text, Hey, I'm praying for you today! Stormie Omartian has a book I highly recommend called The Power of a Praying Wife.

The Kids - Struggling to connect? Just smile, make an effort to smile at them and start there. Take an interest in something they like to do or something about their day. Quick story - one year when our son was young, he didn't like talking about personal stuff so I just asked about his school lunch. Every weekend he would eagerly tell me what he had for lunch every day, what he liked about it... or not. We even started looking up what children in other countries eat for lunch at school! Start small and run with it.

The Mom -  Pray. Always pray for the mother of your children. You all have a big job together!

The worlds runs by ungrace.
Everything depends on what I do. I have to make the shot.
Jesus' kingdom calls us to another way, one that depends not on our performance but his own.

Phillip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace?

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