Blending, God’s Way

March 4, 2019

I’ll never forget the day my fiancé and I sat in the preacher’s office. The minister’s exact words to me were, “You’re never going to love his kids the way he does,” and then he turned toward my soon to be husband and said, “You’re never going to love her kids the way she does.” I thought he was being a bit direct but I loved this man and greatly respected him. And then he said the words that have stuck with me for over twenty years. They still make me a little teary every time I think about them.

“God has brought two kids out of your lives. Now He is bringing two kids into your lives. They are God’s kids, first and foremost. Never forget that.”

They were and are God’s kids and so are yours. They aren’t excessive baggage from a failed marriage. They aren’t mistakes. They aren’t brats you have to tolerate. They aren’t just like their mother or father. They aren’t out to get you. They are God’s kids and He loves them as much as He loves you. And you will answer to Him for how you treat them and how you love them.

Parenting is hard. Blended-family parenting is harder. I could throw every verse in the Bible at you and tell you to learn it and apply it, and even if you did, good parenting is still going to be the most difficult job on the planet. However, the key to spiritual parenting of any kind is your attitude. Not your mate’s and definitely not the kid’s. The way you approach this new life is either going to make or break this relationship.

Parenting sometimes can feel like being in a fiery furnace. Remember the men in Daniel 3? They refused to bow before a golden image so they were thrown into the fire. Note that God didn’t keep Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the furnace even though they were living righteously.  Instead, He met them there and stayed with them until they were called out. God wants to be a part of our family.

All families have difficult times but bringing together separate families and merging them into one has a unique set of circumstances that most are unable to understand. Unless you’ve lived through visitation, child support, favoritism, and the feelings of complete inadequacy that come with being the “other” parent, you’re just not going to get it.

It’s time we change the “his, hers, and ours” way of thinking. You aren’t raising his kids and you aren’t raising hers. You both are raising God’s kids. With that piece of knowledge at the forefront of your mind, your family can and will flourish.

I know this first hand because many years ago, I was the single mom of two beautiful children. Four years later, I became the mother of four. Our blended family was nothing less than a four ring circus but we survived. We, not only love each other, we like each other, and we can laugh as we look back at the journey.

Be advised, it won’t be easy. If it’s anything like ours, there will be tears, probably a few slamming doors, and days when you won’t even want to look at each other. That’s normal but know you’ll survive and, believe it or not, there will come a day when you will miss the organized chaos.

In our house, there were no steps. They were ours. All of them. When my husband and I married, we had a four, five, six, and seven year old. I remember being at the church building one evening after services and saw a sweet lady I hadn’t seen in years. She asked about the kids and as they ran up to us, I introduced them to her. She spoke to each of them for a minute and then asked me, “Now, which ones are yours?” I knew exactly what she meant but smiled and answered, “They’re all mine.” And they were. I refused to single out which ones I had given birth to because God gave them to me in different ways.

We encountered that a lot and realized people didn’t mean for it to be as it sounded. They just wanted to know how we blended but we refused to talk about that in front of the kids. We were a family. We weren’t the norm but that’s ok. Normal is boring.

You’ve probably heard the statistics. Nearly 45% of all first marriages end in divorce but did you know that number jumps to 67% for blended families? And increases to 73% for third marriages? [1] Imagine the number of kids and parents in these categories. They aren’t just percentages. They are real people with broken hearts and broken dreams.

The enemy is alive and well and using everything he can to destroy these people. He’ll use your distractions, pride, selfishness, and stress to try to destroy your family, too.

As Christians, it’s our responsibility to protect God’s children.  Let’s start a revolution of men and women who are dedicated to their Lord, their spouse, their children, and the Kingdom. God does great things with stressed-out, tired, ordinary people who love Him dearly (consult your local Bible for hundreds of examples).

Safeguard your family with a few simple tips from someone who has been there, done that, and got the t-shirt (as my husband would say).

Get Over Yourself. It’s not about you.

You have found someone who has healed your heart. I remember staring out the window of my apartment, asking God what He wanted me to do. I had gone back to a small two-year college and my time there was close to an end. Where would I go next? Would I move to the University town a couple hours away, uproot my kids, and begin again? Would I stay in the little apartment complex in the country and try to make the best of it? The kids had just started school; one was in Kindergarten, the other in pre-school. I didn’t want them to have to change schools. I didn’t want to have to leave my church family. I was happy where I was but not content. I spent a lot of time staring out that window praying and wondering where our lives were headed.

When God introduced me to my husband on Friday the 13th at Chuck E Cheese (you gotta love His sense of humor), everything changed. Our future started coming into focus. My husband and I begin attending church together. He would drive the hour to my house, pick me and the kids up, and then drive the forty-five minute trip back to the church building.  A few months later, we were married. Divorced with two children quickly turned in to married with four. It was a shock for all of us. Neither of us had planned on remarrying, thankfully God had different plans.

This marriage is about bringing glory to God. You can’t do that when you’re full of pride, hate, or jealousy. Let it go. Focus on God. Think Jesus.

You and your husband are on cloud nine, but your children are still grieving and still confused. They are dealing with change and that takes time. They may be very angry. Learning life isn’t a fairy tale is a hard lesson to learn when you’re twenty-five. Having to learn it at eight just plain stinks. They don’t want another adult in their life.  They don’t want to get close to someone else only to watch them leave. Kids expect adults to do what they say. When they’re hurt, it takes a long time to heal. Be patient with them. Put yourself in their shoes and love them.

Refuse to use your Kids as Pawns.

Leave it to Jesus to shake up the status quo. He refused to let his followers be like everyone else. He told them to love their enemies, bless those who persecute, turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile. The world is full of ex-husbands and ex-wives who manipulate each other, damage their children, and wreck havoc on society. Be better. Be different. Be like Jesus.

Never, never, never ever bad mouth the other parent in front of the children. Did I stress that enough, because it’s so easy to do. Never. The kids will love them regardless of whether they pay their child support, cheated on you, broke the law, or even if they have suffered abuse at their hands. If you are going to talk about the other parent in front of the kids, do it with grace and mercy.  My grandmother used to say that everyone has some good in them. Find the good. Dwell on that.

Drama is everywhere. Refuse to give into it or feed off of it. Seek and pursue peace even when you don’t want to and even when you don’t have to (Matthew 5:9).

The other parent might slander you and the child might take the opportunity he or she can to throw it in your face.  Be graceful anyway. Someday your child will tell you how much they appreciate you for not speaking badly about their biological parent. It may be ten years down the road (it might be twenty or forty) but they will remember and they will respect you for it.. And even if they don’t, God will. Ask the Lord to control your thoughts and season your speech with grace. You might not want to be kind, loving, and forgiving. That’s normal, but do it anyway.

Each and every Christian is a missionary. The people who are in your life right now are the people the Lord wants you to lead to Him. Your spouse, your children, your co-workers, yes, even the ex. I know it sounds impossible and radical but I know that the Lord equips his people for every good work. Nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26).

Trust Your Spouse

You are on the same team. If you loved him or her enough to marry them, then you have to trust them enough to love and discipline your kids. Talk about discipline before you marry and then follow through.
This is ridiculously hard and a good time to remind yourself that good parenting is. Don’t ever let the kids think they can divide you and your spouse. Be united (Mark 3:25).

Every Parent is a Youth Minister

Spend quality time with each child throughout the week. Even if it’s taking one kid with you to the gas station or grocery store, don’t neglect your kids. They need you. Have dates, have dinner, read a book together. Pray every day together.

Let the kids know that God is not just a visitor in your family, He owns it. Talk about Spiritual matters.

Remember that kids aren’t mini-adults. They don’t need all the information. Limit what you tell them, keeping in mind they can’t process what an adult can.

Watch what you say and how you behave in your home, at your work, and on the Internet. Your kids are watching.

I can’t stress this enough, pray for your spouse, your children, your ex, the other step mom or dad, and your in-laws. Pray for your kid’s teacher and Bible class teacher. Pray for their friends. Scripture says, “Pray without ceasing” and I encourage you to do so. Prayer may not always change the situation but it will always change you and it will strengthen your family. Pray, pray, pray (I Thessalonians 5:17).

I would love to sit down with you and tell you about all the crazy times with four kids and then a few years later, five kids. Some were funny. Some were maddening but take comfort in this, knowing what I know now and looking back over all the years (tears included), I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  

Let’s teach our children how to love better. That starts with us and where we are in life.

Take God’s hand, be faithful as you face your giants, and don’t forget that your God is more powerful than any sadness, heartache, or stress you will ever encounter. The Creator of the Universe is on your side and loves you more than you will ever know.  He is faithful and ready to comfort and uphold you as you raise his children.


[1] http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics/

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