Archive for the 'Waiting' Category

The Blessing of an “Ours” Baby

I was approaching 40 years old. My husband and I had four children already – we each brought two from our previous marriage. My husband had had a vasectomy almost ten years prior. How could we even consider having a child together?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I wanted a child with my husband. We knew the odds were against us. But we chose to claim God’s promise and do our part to make it happen.

The doctor was frank. “You have less than a 50% success rate because of your age and the length of time since the original surgery. But I’ll do the surgery if you’d like.”

We agreed. It appeared to be successful. Two months later, I was pregnant. Three months shy of my 40th birthday, I delivered a healthy baby boy. Praise the Lord!

Nathan turns 12 years old today. He has been a complete joy to our family.  He is the common thread we all share. And he is the one child my husband and I can enjoy and raise without any outside influences.

Gayla, nathan

But having an “ours” baby is not for everyone. For some, it’s not even an option. And if you’re considering it, I don’t recommend doing it immediately after marriage. My husband and I were married five years before we began the process.

There are sacrifices to an “ours” baby. Many times, there is an age gap between an “ours” baby and other children. Vacations become harder to navigate when you’re planning activities for a wide range of ages. In addition, other children in the family can become sensitive to playing favorites with the “ours” child.

And of course, there’s another mouth to feed. Current statistics say it costs more than a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child to 18 years old. Add college expenses on top of that.  We currently have three children in college. We have put braces on five sets of teeth. We have paid for glasses or contacts for four of our five children. We have bought and insured a bunch of cars. And the list goes on.

But do I regret our decision of an  “ours” baby? Absolutely not.  The financial and personal sacrifices we have made can never outweigh the joy of the only child my husband and I share together. I will be forever thankful for our blessing, Nathan Cole Grace.

Do you have an “ours” baby? Are you hoping for an “ours” baby? Please share and I’ll be happy to pray with you about it.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

When God Says Wait

God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

Count Your Blessings

The Blessing of an “Ours” Baby

I was approaching 40 years old. My husband and I had four children already – we each brought two from our previous marriage. My husband had had a vasectomy almost ten years prior. How could we even consider having a child together?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I wanted a child with my husband. We knew the odds were against us. But we chose to claim God’s promise and do our part to make it happen.

The doctor was frank. “You have less than a 50% success rate because of your age and the length of time since the original surgery. But I’ll do the surgery if you’d like.”

We agreed. It appeared to be successful. Two months later, I was pregnant. Three months shy of my 40th birthday, I delivered a healthy baby boy. Praise the Lord!

Nathan turns 11 years old today. He has been a complete joy to our family.  He is the common thread we all share. And he is the one child my husband and I can enjoy and raise without any outside influences.

But having an “ours” baby is not for everyone. For some, it’s not even an option. And if you’re considering it, I don’t recommend doing it immediately after marriage. My husband and I were married five years before we began the process.

There are sacrifices to an “ours” baby. Many times, there is an age gap between an “ours” baby and other children. Vacations become harder to navigate when you’re planning activities for a wide range of ages. In addition, other children in the family can become sensitive to playing favorites with the “ours” child.

And of course, there’s another mouth to feed. Current statistics say it costs more than a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child to 18 years old. Add college expenses on top of that.  We currently have three children in college. We have put braces on five sets of teeth. We have paid for glasses or contacts for four of our five children. We have bought and insured a bunch of cars. And the list goes on.

But do I regret our decision of an  “ours” baby? Absolutely not.  The financial and personal sacrifices we have made can never outweigh the joy of the only child my husband and I share together. I will be forever thankful for our blessing, Nathan Cole Grace.

Do you have an “ours” baby? Are you hoping for an “ours” baby? Please share and I’ll be happy to pray with you about it.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

Count Your Blessings

Seeing God’s Mercy on Difficult Days

My daughter shared this beautiful song with me recently – “Blessings” by Laura Story. I was having a hard day and was stressing over how we were going to survive the long days of unemployment that were upon us after my husband’s job ended.

Tears began streaming down my face as I listened to the words of the chorus:

What if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

Laura Story wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and after multiple surgeries, didn’t get the healing he had hoped for. They began to question whether they had an accurate picture of God’s mercy.

As the song says, “We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep.   We pray for healing, for prosperity.We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.  All the while, You hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.”

We want our life to be comfortable, prosperous and easy. But God is more interested in the journey than the ending. He develops and matures our character through hopeless circumstances. But we have to choose to draw close to Him as we travel our challenging path.

The stepfamily journey has difficult days and sleepless nights. Defiant teen-agers, belligerent ex-spouses, confusing emotions and shattered dreams contribute to hopeless days. We search for God and beg for His mercies. But as the song suggests, perhaps our blessing comes as we seek His face for comfort, compassion, and answers during our trials.
 
Will you consider that God could be showing His mercy through unexpected ways?

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God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

There’s Beauty After the Pain

There’s Beauty after the Pain



Crocuses are in full bloom in the state of AR and it is a beautiful sight. Although the temperature is still cool outside, it’s a great reminder that Spring is around the corner and the harsh days of winter will be behind us.
As I gazed at our crocuses with a heavy heart this week-end, I was reminded that there’s beauty following the pain of my husband’s job loss. I know there are better days ahead and that hope sustains me during our period of uncertainty.
I’ve also seen the beauty that follows the pain of stepfamily trials. As my youngest son turned ten years old this month, I was reminded of the challenges we faced with my stepson at this age. As he headed toward his adolescent years, my stepson became rebellious and aggressive toward me. I could do nothing right in his eyes and I was constantly criticized and berated.
My husband and I sought counseling with my stepson to determine the root of his anger but simply uncovered selfish and defiant behavior. He refused to acknowledge his part of the relationship and how he was contributing to the volatile situation. After two years of unresolved conflict, he looked for greener grass by moving to live with his mom in another state.
Unfortunately, his mom was diagnosed with colon cancer the year he moved there and she valiantly fought the disease a little more than a year before passing on. The loss contributed to my stepson’s anger but through counseling with hospice services after his mom’s death, he began to sort through some of his hurt and anger.
My stepson returned to live with us and complete his last three years of  high school. Our relationship was mended as he grew and matured, allowing me a place in his heart. He still struggles with loyalty feelings toward his mom that prevent him from completing embracing a relationship with me, but the rebellious, aggressive behavior is no longer part of our interaction.
It’s easy to focus on the struggles in the midst of a trial and think they will never end, but just as we see the beauty of the crocus after a long, hard winter, we will also see the beauty of refreshment after hardship.  

Are you experiencing stepfamily heartache? Will you look toward the beauty that will follow the pain?
                                                                                                Photo by Jaqui Brooks
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The Valley of the Unknown

My husband’s job ends next week. We moved to Conway, AR eleven years ago for my husband to assume the position of Director of Operations with a manufacturing company. His job has provided a comfortable living for us here as we’ve raised our children. But, unfortunately, the downfall of the housing industry has taken a huge toll on the company and Corporate has chosen to close its doors.

We are facing the valley of the unknown. It’s a scary place. We have complete faith he will land another job but that job hasn’t shown up yet. So, in the meantime, we wait.

The valley of the unknown appears more often than we like on this journey of life. It has reared its head in various ways on our stepparenting path. And each time, although it was difficult to deal with, we came out successfully on the other side.

Here a few of my thoughts on coping with the valley of the unknown:

Surrender to God’s plan. Give up control of the situation and ask for God’s guidance. Don’t try to find the answers alone. God is seeking a relationship with us and will guide our steps if we ask Him.

Unite with your spouse. Be on the same page with your spouse through the difficulty. Communicate frequently and brainstorm together for solutions. Lean on one another on the hard days and seek to find laughter through the trial.

Wait. Many times, God calls us to simply wait. I strongly dislike this one, but have endured it frequently. A beautiful illustration of how God works through the wait can be found here: Wait Poem, by Russell Kelfer. 

Take the next step. As you sense answers to your dilemma, take a step of faith. Start with small steps as you overcome your fear of a new direction. Continue to seek God’s plan and follow His lead.

Rejoice in new beginnings. Adopt an attitude of thankfulness as you move from the valley of the unknown to a heighth of unchartered territory. Embrace the change that accompanies a fresh start. Leave the past behind with any regrets of what could have been.

Press on. As Selah’s powerful song says, “In Jesus’ Name, we press on.” View Selah’s song.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Are you in a valley of the unknown? Do you have other suggestions to offer?

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God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

Let Go and Let God

Making Time for What Matters

     Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Francis Chan

     I’ve always admired Tony Dungy. As head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, he was the first African American coach to achieve a Super Bowl victory. The 2007 win put him in an elite echelon of only three individuals who have won the Super Bowl as a player and head coach.

     But those accomplishments aren’t what make Coach Dungy stand out from his peers. It’s his passionate desire to walk a path of significance characterized by uncommon attitudes, ambitions, and allegiances. He knows how to distinguish the important from the unimportant and fashion his time after what matters.

     In his book, Uncommon, Finding Your Path to Significance, Coach Dungy says, “We have all missed too many memories and moments in our lives because of poorly ordered priorities. But even so, it’s never too late to set things straight … Start here: ‘Seek first his kingdom.’ (Matthew 6:33). Take a few moments to be quiet and spend time with God. He will lessen your worries about tomorrow and release you from the breathless pace of the world’s urgent priorities.”

     Time spent on what matters most will look different to each of us. But if we aren’t intentional with our time, we find ourselves on the treadmill of busyness, focused on the urgency of the present, instead of the lasting permanence of significant moments.

     Stepparenting is a time-consuming endeavor if we take it seriously. But, I believe it’s an important role and one worth making time for. Do you agree?

    How do you spend your time? Are you making time for what matters?

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Setting Boundaries as a Stepparent

God’s Timing is Different Than Ours

My stepson and stepdaugther lost their mother more than five years ago after a difficult battle with colon cancer. My stepson was 15 years old at the time and had gone to live with his mom (out of state from us)while she was sick. My stepdaughter was 20 years old and had lived with her for several years.

Following her death, we anticipated moving my stepson, Payton, back to live with us. But he had different ideas. He liked the freedom and lack of accountability he had at his stepdad’s house. He didn’t want to change schools and resisted every suggestion we made of moving him.

Finally, we gave in and allowed Payton to stay for a few months to grieve with his sister, half-brother and stepdad. What we didn’t anticipate, however, was his anger and resentment toward us when we continued to mention the move. We had no idea that his stepdad was plotting to seek legal custody to change his living arrangements permanently.

When the sheriff arrived at our door with custody papers, we were devastated. Why would God allow this process to happen? Why does his stepdad want custody when Payton’s biological father is willing and capable of taking care of  him? Isn’t is obvious that our home is more stable and secure than the environment Payton is living in?

We firmly believed Payton should have come to live with us immediately following his mother’s funeral. But after fervent prayer, we chose not to fight the custody battle and allowed Payton to stay at his stepdad’s. It was one of the hardest choices we’ve made concerning our children. We believed God was in control, but didn’t understand the happenings.

Nine months after his mother’s death, Payton called his dad to say there was trouble. His stepdad was heavily involved in drugs and he and his sister were currently staying at another relative’s home. It was obvious that Payton was scared and unsure of what to do next. My husband gave him no choice at that point other than to come live with us. Payton willingly surrendered and moved in the following week.

The timing of Payton’s move was different than what we wanted. But by trusting God’s plan, the transition was smooth and uneventful. Payton was thankful to be at our home after several tumultuous months at his stepdad’s.  

God’s plan is often hard to understand and His timing difficult to manage. But when we choose to plow ahead with our own plans, in our time frame, disaster ensues. There is no better plan than to wait on God’s.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
 (Isaiah 55:8,9)   

Are you trusting God’s timing in your stepfamily circumstances, even when it doesn’t make sense?

Related Posts:

When God Says Wait

Finding the Beauty of God’s Grace in Your Stepfamily

Let Go and Let God

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