Archive for the 'Grace' Category

Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Stepfamily Relationships

It’s easy to think we must be perfect in our stepfamily interactions and make huge steps every day to strengthen our relationships. But that isn’t true.

Small steps on a regular basis can result in huge dividends with your stepfamily.

steps

Here are ten easy ways to show every day love and harbor positive relationships in your stepfamily:

1) Offer grace freely and often.

2) Think positive thoughts about your stepchildren; if a negative thought pops up – replace it.

3) Say at least one nice thing to each person in your stepfamily daily or as often as you see them.

4) Live “one day at a time” and enjoy the present moment – don’t project into the future.

5) Take care of yourself: emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

6) Strive to keep a thankful spirit.

7) Nurture your marriage with sweet gestures, alone time, and date nights.

8) Send thoughtful text messages when your stepchildren are away.

9) Deal with conflict when it occurs in a healthy context – don’t stuff it, don’t ignore it, don’t exaggerate it.

10) Pray for each member of your family daily.

Other ideas? What suggestions can you give to help strengthen stepfamily relationships?

Related Posts:

Is Your Stepfamily in a Season of Challenge?

Five Ways to Create Stronger Stepfamily Relationships

Lessons Learned About Stepparenting from Tim Tebow

Five Practical Tips for Successful Stepparenting

Five Steps for Healing Stepparenting Wounds

I’ve been nursing a bee sting on the bottom of my foot for weeks. I ignored it at first, thinking it would heal on its own. But it hasn’t.  Now,  I’m annoyed at the nagging pain I feel when I’m on my feet too long.

My sister suggested I puncture the wound and look for a stinger that needs to be removed. I’m not a good patient but I carefully inserted a sterile needle close to the wound and removed a small skin-like material I found. Optimistic that would help, I thought — let the healing begin.  But the nagging pain continues. I’m now soaking it daily with espson salt and keeping it covered  with antibiotic ointment and a bandaid. If that doesn’t help,  I’ll have to consider my last resort – a trip to the doctor.

I would prefer wounds heal on their own. But that doesn’t always happen. Whether it’s a physical wound or an emotional wound, the steps we take determine how quickly our wounds heal.

Stepparenting wounds come in all shapes and sizes. They occur when someone hurts our feelings or our expectations aren’t met. In the beginning stages of blending a family, wounds occur frequently.

 Some wounds resolve on their own, but most require special attention. Nagging wounds occur   repeatedly, leaving us vulnerable to anger and resentment.

So how do we resolve our stepparenting wounds? How do we prevent our wounds from negatively impacting our relationships?  Here are a few steps I suggest:

 

1. Forgive your stepchild.

You may be justified in your anger, but it’s hard to find peace when you refuse to forgive an offense. The relationship with your stepchild suffers when you hang onto your hurt. Take the high road. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

2. Don’t allow your feelings to fester.

I allowed my bee sting to fester for weeks before I did anything about it. As a result, the wound will take longer to heal.

Emotional wounds fester when we let our feelings take over our mind. Instead of addressing the issue, we compound it by complaining to others, acting out in anger, or  stuffing our feelings deep inside.

Festering wounds erupt. Deal with the offense so healing can begin.

3.  Commit to pray daily for your stepchild and strive to think only positive thoughts about him/her.

I know that’s not easy. When my stepson made piercing remarks about me in a custody hearing years ago, I didn’t want to consider praying for him or try to think positively about him. But when I made a conscious choice to dwell on his positive aspects and pray for his well-being, my wounds began to heal.

4. Give yourself grace for your part of the offense.

Each of us plays a role in conflict. Nonverbal communication speaks loudly. Stepchildren sense disapproving thoughts and critical looks. Words fly out of our mouth we can’t stop, contributing to conflict.

But if we choose to stay defeated in our guilt, we won’t find victory with our wounds.  Recognize your part and ask for forgiveness. Then give yourself grace and move on – imperfect people make mistakes.

5. Seek help when necessary.

It’s not unusual to get stuck nursing a stepparenting wound without healing. Some wounds go deep and wide, requiring professional help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of courage.

If you’re considering stepparenting coaching, my fees for the summer are reduced. I would love to help you heal your stepparenting wounds and restore your relationships.

What other tips can you offer to help with stepparenting wounds? I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

Coping with Loss in a Stepfamily

Offering Forgiveness

When Stepparenting Feels Too Hard: Four Ways to Overcome Discouragement

The Beauty of God’s Grace

I’m posting a devotion today that I wrote for NIV devotional contest for Mom’s. Hope you find it helpful.  :)

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When I married my second husband I took his last name, Grace.  God offered me another chance at marriage after failing the first time.  With my second wedlock came a new role: stepmother to my husband’s son and daughter. As the mother of two daughters already, I knew and cherished the role of Mom. But I had no idea how vastly different the role of stepmother would be.

 My new role proved challenging and full of obstacles. I made a lot of mistakes. And I struggled with rejection when my stepchildren didn’t embrace me right away.

But I knew I had been placed in their lives for a reason. I wanted to add value and make a difference as their stepmother. I began to pray about how to love and accept them as my own.

God spoke to me about offering grace more often. He reminded me that He freely offered grace as a gift to me when I didn’t deserve it and challenged me to do the same.

With God’s help, I began displaying more grace to my stepchildren. It wasn’t long before I noticed they were doing the same for me. They began to love and accept me as another maternal figure in their lives. Our interactions contained less conflict and more forgiveness. And now in their young adult years, my stepchildren and I enjoy meaningful, purposeful relationships.

I don’t deserve the gift of grace God offers me. But I accept it. And from a thankful heart  I seek to offer God’s grace to my children and stepchildren, freely and abundantly.

Ephesians 2:8-9   “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it  is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

How do you show grace toward your stepchildren? Does it make a difference in your relationship?

Related Posts:

The Perfect Opportunity for Grace

Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily

The Perfect Opportunity for Grace

“I’m failing my International Business class,” my stepson Payton relayed to me through tears. “It doesn’t matter how much I study, I don’t do well on Ms. Cantrell’s tests and I’m afraid it’s too late in the semester to pull my grade up to passing.”

As a 3rd year college student, Payton understands the consequences of failing a class at this stage of the game. Although he had a history of neglecting assignments in high school, he doesn’t want to fail and we’ve talked on several occasions about the importance of applying himself in his upper-level college courses.

“If you’ve done the best you can, there’s no point in berating yourself over it,” I said. “Sometimes we can’t foresee the difficulty of a class for us until it’s too late.”

A business major myself as a young college student, I went on to tell Payton my struggle in Accounting at the undergraduate level. I hated the subject and couldn’t grasp the concepts. But it was required to advance in my major and after making a “D” the first semester, I was forced to take the class again.

Payton was broken over his inability to pass the class. I immediately sensed his need for grace as he talked to me. There was no need for consequences as I knew the natural consequences of his actions would be enough.

In my early years of stepparenting, I didn’t offer grace freely enough to my stepchildren. When they did wrong, it was easier to harbor anger and build up resentment toward them. Forgiveness and grace didn’t flow easily.

But I’ve learned that the person who suffers the most from that unforgiving spirit is me. My stepchildren don’t see the bitter feelings I’m carrying around or sense its strangling hold on my spirit. They only see the fallout of my feelings through angry words or inappropriate behavior.

I love the acronym that illustrates God’s grace for us: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. As we celebrated Easter this past Sunday, I was reminded of God’s sacrifice for us. His grace is more than we can ever comprehend. And although we’ll never be asked to illustrate that kind of grace, we are given the opportunity to offer grace every day to those living around us – our imperfect stepchildren who need it more than we realize.

How can you illustrate grace today?

Related Posts:

Healthy Stepparenting: Don’t Keep Score

Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily

Coping with Difficult People

Angry. Humiliated. Disgruntled. I left our church choir rehearsal with a flood of emotions circulating through my mind. As a piano accompanist, I had been belittled in front of the choir. It wasn’t the first time it had happened but I vowed it would be the last.

I knew it was time to confront the person in charge who touted his musical knowledge in a fashion that humiliated those who worked for him. A peacemaker by nature, I don’t like conflict. But I’ve learned there are times we must confront those in our path who are mistreating us.

That doesn’t mean we recreate the conflict or nitpick issues that should be overlooked. As a stepparent, we can recognize the losses our stepchildren carry, and allow grace for their troubled emotions. As my post, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff talks about, we want to pick our battles. But it’s important to realize that even as Christians, we do not have to allow others to mistreat or take advantage of  us.

In their book, Peacemaking Women, Tara Barthel and Judy Dabler talk about the need to confront. “As difficult as it is, sometimes we are called to go humbly to the people who have wronged us in order to help them to understand better how they have contributed to our conflicts. Of course, when appropriate, we should be quick to overlook (Prov 19:11), and we must always first confess our own sins (Matt 7:5). But if after we have confessed our own sins we cannot overlook the offense, we are called to help the person who has offended us by gently restoring her (Gal 6:1) and helping her remove the speck from her eye (Matt 7:5).

I like the way these ladies describe our responsbility in the conflict – try to overlook and confess our own sin first if that’s part of the conflict. Then, if we cannot overlook the offense, humbly confront. The Scripture they give offers additional understanding of the Biblical view on conflict. 

In my conflict mentioned above, the choir director and I reached an amicable agreement in how he would treat me at rehearsal. It took courage on my part to confront his actions, but the result was worth the effort.

I pray you’re not dealing with difficult people today. But if you are, I encourage you to seek a Biblical solution to the conflict by overlooking the offense when you can, and confronting in love when you can’t.

Are you allowing a difficult person to badger or bully you? 

Related Posts:

The Need for Boundaries as a Stepparent

Healthy Stepparenting: Take Care of Yourself Spiritually, Physically, and Emotionally

Overcoming Difficult Feelings as a Stepparent

The Value of a Supportive Spouse

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a great time to show your spouse what you appreciate about him/her. And if your spouse is a stepparent, make an extra effort to validate his efforts and the important role he plays in the life of your child.

It’s so easy to get distracted with our kids and forget to let our spouse know how important he/she is to us. My husband is a much better encourager than I am and I often take for granted his words of love and support. But without his support, I would have given up on my stepparenting role.

During my stepkid’s adolescent years, it seemed I was emotionally attacked regularly. If someone was unhappy, I became the target for their anger. But thankfully, my husband stood up for me and required that I be treated with respect.

One of the best gifts we can give our spouse if he/she is a stepparent is the gift of support. Stepparenting is a difficult role and if we don’t feel that our spouse is supporting our efforts, it’s easy to give up. There are a lot of ways to show support but here are a few to consider:

Thank him for being a parent to your child.
Compliment his stepparenting efforts.
Require that your children are respectful toward him.
Affirm his worth as your spouse.
Offer him grace when he messes up.
Cook his favorite meal.
Enjoy an evening together without the kids.
Put his needs before yours.
Make your relationship a priority.

If you’re a stepparent also, and you’re not getting the support you need from your spouse, ask for it! Your spouse cannot read your mind and may not realize the struggle you’re experiencing.

Marriage is a union between two people that requires constant nurturing. But the rewards of our efforts far outweigh the work.

How do you show support to your spouse? I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

Making Your Remarriage Work: Be An Encourager

Nurture Your Marriage

The Value of Prioritizing Your Marriage

Friday’s Fav Scripture – "My Grace is Sufficient for You"

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)

I don’t know about you, but I often feel weak and inadequate in my parenting and stepparenting role. I love this Scripture because it speaks of the Apostle Paul’s need for Christ’s power to rest on him and supply the grace and strength he needs.

I can relate. I cannot adequately perform my role as a wife, mother, and stepmother without Christ’s help. I’m thankful for His willingness to walk this path with me.

As we move toward the week of Thanksgiving, I want to offer thanks for the unending grace, strength and power I can access.

What about you? Do you need to recognize Christ’s strength or grace today?

Related Posts:

Friday’s Fav Scripture – “I Will Strengthen You”

Be Anxious for Nothing

Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily


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