Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

13723951_10154199875291007_5818723205847714512_o (1)

Being a spouse can be difficult.
Being a parent can be hard.
Finding balance in family life and doing your best to get it right is rough and takes mountains of patience.

Even trickier than all of that is trying to pull it off in a blended family.

I tried to look up statistics on blended families and it became overwhelming. What it boils down to is that about 50% of American families are blended, meaning the adults in the family have children from previous relationships.

My family is blended. Well, my family is chopped, minced, and then blended. Even though we don’t use the terms step or half, the reality is that we have step parents, step kids, step siblings, half siblings and we even have my sister who we’re raising as our daughter.

We’re the poster family for blended families.

Being a blended family is tough work. You don’t just have to figure out how to make life inside your home work, you also have to figure out a way to make life between two or more homes work. Navigating co-parenting with another family is not for the faint of heart and is another post all together.

I’d like to say we get it right all the time and that love always trumps the hard times but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say grace is always given when we tread on bumpy terrain but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that we never doubt the choices we’ve made but sometimes none of our choice make any sense at all and I wonder how the heck we got here in the first place.

Blending families takes more than most of us are equipped with and because of that the failure rate is through the roof.

The brutal reality of it all is that your blended family is going to fail and over and over again you’ll fail at trying to make it work.

You’ll fail at never having feelings of resentment.
You’ll fail at swallowing your pride.
You’ll fail at relinquishing some control and allowing another person discipline your child.
You’ll fail at showing compassion and grace.
You’ll fail at keeping jealousy under wraps.

You’re family will fail at not being territorial inside your own home.
You’re family will fail at making love completely equal between all its members.
You’re family will fail at pretending it’s easy.
You’re family will fail at wanting to make it work.

But through all the rough spots you’ll find immense beauty.

There will be the moments where the light shines through the cracks.
There will be the moments when the broken pieces will come together to make a stained glass window where others will look through and see nothing but beauty. They’ll see all the different colors, shapes and sizes and stare in awe at how it all came together so perfectly.

12928360_10153945453516007_1218674214433196918_n (1)

There will be the times when you watch your spouse love on and parent your child as their own and it will bring up a love so deep you can’t even imagine how it contains itself inside your heart.

There will be a time when your spouse’s child kisses you and tells you that they love you and you’ll wonder how you ever lived your life without them.

There will be times when your children walk hand in hand with your spouse’s children and you’ll know that you are teaching them to love far beyond any boundaries.

Your blending family is going to fail.
They’re going to fail over and over but they’re also going to prove that love and grace can outshine any darkness.
They’re going to show others how broken things can be mended, maybe not back to the way they were but to a way that lets the light shine through the cracks and heal the hurts.

The Simple Cross Where True Forgiveness Was Found

dads cross 1

Repost.

 

He handed me the reusable shopping bag and it felt empty as I took on its weight. Not only did he not make eye contact as he handed it to me but he didn’t say a word either.

I took a peek inside and there it was.

My dad’s cross.

I’ve only seen it twice and it’s only been through pictures.

My brother let my dad’s ashes go out on our family property in West Texas almost two years ago. It was a day that I struggled with more than I thought I would. He sent me a picture of the simple cross where he laid our dad to rest.

A year later, on the anniversary of my dad taking his own life, my brother went back and took another picture of the cross, sent it to me in a text and wrote “All good”.

The cross sat hours away from me in the middle of a few hundred acres of raw land. I would have never made the trip to see it. I left it as a place just between my brother and my dad and was content to never actually see it with my own eyes.

But here it is was.
In my hands.
Still covered in West Texas dust.

My brother didn’t want an oil truck to run it over or for it to get destroyed somehow so he pulled it from the hard ground last weekend and brought it home to me.

There are two crosses in my life that mean more than I could put into words.

The cross on Calvary where Jesus willing took on my sins so that I can be forgiven and live with my Father in heaven for eternity and the cross where my brother and I were finally able to let my earthly father go and forgive him of his sins. Those two crosses symbolize a forgiveness that cannot be measured.

At Jesus’ cross I leave my sins.

At my dad’s cross I leave the hurt of his earthly life, the hurt it put on me and my siblings and the hurt that it put on him. I will not carry the burden of bitterness, hate or regret. I will not carry his sins as if they were mine or try to make up for his mistakes.

I will forgive and let go.
I will love and not hate.
I will give and not take.
I will be better and not bitter.
I will let God.

The cross where Jesus took on my sins is the ultimate symbol of grace, mercy and forgiveness and the least I could do to honor my heavenly Father is to give the same respect to my dad’s cross.

From today on it will hang in my home as reminder of what Jesus did for me and that it is my responsibility to Him to do the same for others. The cross that will hang in my home, the one that once sat in the West Texas dirt and took on my dad’s ashes will be my reminder that while we are here on earth we must show grace, show mercy, forgive and forget, let it go and let God.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. “ Mark 11:25

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father lift the weight. Lift the weight of sin, guilt, bitterness and anger so that we can live the life You intended for us. Help us to show others mercy and grace so that we may be more like Jesus and less like us.  Remind us that the cross is not a decoration that we hang in our homes or around our necks but rather the place where our sins were taken away and forgiven. Show us how to see others through Your eyes so that we can forgive and love the way that You forgive and love us. In Jesus name, amen.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” Colossians. 3:13

Cross Of Forgiveness

dads cross 1

He handed me the reusable shopping bag and it felt empty as I took on its weight. Not only did he not make eye contact as he handed it to me but he didn’t say a word either.

I took a peek inside and there it was.

My dad’s cross.

I’ve only seen it twice and it’s only been through pictures.

My brother let my dad’s ashes go out on our family property in West Texas almost two years ago. It was a day that I struggled with more than I thought I would. He sent me a picture of the simple cross where he laid our dad to rest.

A year later, on the anniversary of my dad taking his own life, my brother went back and took another picture of the cross, sent it to me in a text and wrote “All good”.

The cross sat hours away from me in the middle of a few hundred acres of raw land. I would have never made the trip to see it. I left it as a place just between my brother and my dad and was content to never actually see it with my own eyes.

But here it is was.
In my hands.
Still covered in West Texas dust.

My brother didn’t want an oil truck to run it over or for it to get destroyed somehow so he pulled it from the hard ground last weekend and brought it home to me.

There are two crosses in my life that mean more than I could put into words.

The cross on Calvary where Jesus willing took on my sins so that I can be forgiven and live with my Father in heaven for eternity and the cross where my brother and I were finally able to let my earthly father go and forgive him of his sins are two crosses that symbolize a forgiveness that cannot be measured.

At Jesus’ cross I leave my sins.

At my dad’s cross I leave the hurt of his earthly life, the hurt it put on me and my siblings and the hurt that it put on him. I will not carry the burden of bitterness, hate or regret. I will not carry his sins as if they were mine or try to make up for his mistakes.

I will forgive and let go.
I will love and not hate.
I will give and not take.
I will be better and not bitter.
I will let God.

The cross where Jesus took on my sins is the ultimate symbol of grace, mercy and forgiveness and the least I could do to honor my heavenly Father is to give the same respect to my dads cross.

From today on it will hang in my home as reminder of what Jesus did for me and that it is my responsibility to Him to do the same for others. The cross that will hang in my home, the one that once sat in the West Texas dirt and took on my dads ashes will be my reminder that while we are here on earth we must show grace, show mercy, forgive and forget, let it go and let God.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. “ Mark 11:25

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father lift the weight. Lift the weight of sin, guilt, bitterness and anger so that we can live the life You intended for us. Help us to show others mercy and grace so that we may be more like Jesus and less like us.  Remind us that the cross is not a decoration that we hang in our homes or around our necks but rather the place where our sins were taken away and forgiven. Show us how to see others through Your eyes so that we can forgive and love the way that You forgive and love us. In Jesus name, amen.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” Colossians. 3:13

I Choose.

I choose

“Wake up, get out of bed. Pull those covers across your head”
The sheets would come flying off of us as we yelled at him to stop.

My dad loved to irritate us and loudly waking us up in the morning was his favorite thing to do. It was most rewarding to him when we had friends spend the night and he got to mess with them too.

He would insist that we get up and eat breakfast. There was always a skillet of sausage and eggs ready to go by the time we shuffled our way in to the kitchen. Lots of orange juice, he loved orange juice.

Even though my friends didn’t want to wake up with the roosters and my dad, they thought he was so cool and would laugh at his morning song. They always thought it was cool that he would cook for us and want to hang out with us.

Not me, I was just mad.

I’m not a morning person, never have been never will be. That’s why I get up an hour before my family and have my cup of coffee. It’s for their own safety.

What I didn’t know back in those days was that my dad wasn’t getting up early, he had never gone to bed.

He was an addict.

He was addicted to ….well everything.

He wouldn’t just wake us up to eat sausage and eggs in the morning, he would wake us up in the middle of the night and drive us around in his stolen car for hours. He would wake us up in the middle of the night to sit in the kitchen and talk to him. He was high and needed someone to hang out with, that’s where we came in. He was addicted to drugs, money, cars, women and anything else the devil offered up on a silver platter. He lived in 100 different houses and several different cells.

I’ve spent most of my adult life being angry at him.
I’ve spent many months being bitter.
I’ve spent weeks crying in abandonment.
I’ve spent days pretending not to care.
I’ve spent hours wishing ill will on him.

It took me only one minute to forgive him.

About four months before he took his life I wrote him a two page email. I hadn’t spoken to him in 10 years. I let him know that I had forgiven him and I begged him to create a better relationship with my younger siblings than the one he had created with me. I begged him to do right by them. I begged him not to make my 12-year-old little sister search for the love and acceptance of a man the way that I had.

His exact response:
“Thanks for the letter and thanks for the forgiveness”

I’ve never heard from him again and never will.

Never.

I wish I could rewrite that email.
It might go a little more like this.

Dad,
I’ll empty my bank account and hand it over to you if you come over and play with my kids just once.
I’ll search the streets, buy a bag of cocaine and give it to you if you sing that stupid morning song to them just once.
I’ll steal a car for you if you make a skillet of sausage and eggs for my girls to taste just once.
I’ll do anything dad if you would just give them one moment, one good memory, one kiss, let them run to you and wrap their arms around your neck just one time.
Just one little moment dad.
I truly, honestly forgive you. I forgive it all.
Your daughter.

I get to make a choice, that’s the beauty of our lives. I get to make a choice how I tell my daughters about their grandpa. I get the choice how I tell my stories about him or what stories I don’t tell. I can choose to start growing that seed of what becomes bitterness and hate by planting in them stories to crush their hearts. I can make them hate him.

I won’t.

I get to make that choice.
I won’t hold on to the memories that make me sad.
I won’t hold on to the memories that bring up anger.
I won’t hold on to the memories that disgust me.

I’ll tell my little girls about the time there was a horse harnessed to a tree outside of our house on Christmas morning.
I’ll tell them how he would keep the car slowly rolling while we were trying to get in and laugh hysterically as we trotted next to the car.
I’ll tell them how he would hand us a $20 bill, let us go wild in the convenience store and tell us to keep the change.

I get a choice.
I can be happy or sad
I can forgive or carry a grudge.

I’m going to be happy. I’m going to forgive. I’m going to let go.

I’m going to wake my little girls up today by pulling the covers off of them and singing
“Wake up, get out of bed. Pull those covers across your head”.

You have a choice.
You can let it go or you can crush beneath it.
You can put it away or pass down.

You can forgive.
You can.
Forgive.

Let’s Pray

Merciful Father thank you for giving us a choice. We can follow your son or try to create our own way. I choose You. I choose to follow Jesus. When we get off track gently help us refocus on what truly matters. You did not design us to be angry, sad or weighed down and sometimes we need help remembering that. Help us to leave a legacy of love and forgiveness and to not pass down the trials. Be our guide, our light and our path. In Jesus name, amen.

 

You Make Beautiful Things Out Of The Dust- Thanks Be To God

I wanted to thank each of you for the sweet comments and messages that I received yesterday and today. I thought that over these few days I was going to be reminded of the sadness of my dads death but instead I was remind of the good in people. God remains good and faithful. He has made beauty out of ashes and for that I am forever grateful. My husband blessed me today with a new bible and wrote a beautiful message for me inside, my kids have reminded me of the innocence of faith and my friends have showered me with love and support. I’m not sure what I have done to deserve such an abundance of mercy and grace but I know that I am blessed. Thank you. God is so super cool.

quote 86

Today, Tomorrow Or The Day After That.

today tomorrow next day

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6 – 7

365 Days

Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.

My dad committed suicide a year ago today. Maybe it was a year ago tomorrow or maybe the day after that. I will never know.

His death certificate reads “date found” instead of date deceased or date died, whatever they put on there. No one knows when he actually did it. It’s kind of haunting.

The last time anyone heard from him was on the 5th and that is also the day he shopped for his own noose at Home Depot. I know this because of the receipt that was in his pocket when he died.

They didn’t find him until the 7th and we were not told until the 8th.

It’s going to be a long few days for me.

Beauty From The Ashes

I’ve had some anxiety about this day arriving for the past few months. I have kept that to myself for the most part.

Then I started receiving notes from my friends, little reminders that they were praying for me and that they love me. Most of these notes were from friends that I have gained through W3 or friendships that have been renewed or strengthened through W3.

They started to do their work on me.

They started to change me.

Today, Tomorrow Or The Day After That

I’m not going to be sad today,  tomorrow, or the day after that. I’m not going to repeat that eulogy in my head. I’m not going to picture my father on the floor of that bathroom. I’m not going to dwell on Home Depot, a bag of shirts, a death certificate, the phone call from my brother, a cross in the middle of nowhere or a single moment of my past with my dad.

I am going to give thanks for every blessing that God has poured out onto me over the past year.

Thank you God for W3 and letting me have words to put down. Thank you for giving this to me.
Thank you God for renewed friendships, new friendships and changed friendships.
Thank you God for the peace, grace and mercy you have given to me.
Thank you God for the crazy faith that you have filled me with and the fire you have ignited inside me.
Thank you God for giving me the ability to know and show true forgiveness.
Thank you God for the cross and what it means to me now.
Thank you God for letting my dad walk through your gates and to your feet.
Thank you God for any life that you have allowed me to touch through your W3 ministry.

Today is not the anniversary of my dads suicide, neither is tomorrow or the day after that.

Today is the anniversary of my renewed life and faith in Gods ultimate plan.

If he died a year ago today or tomorrow or the day after that, it doesn’t matter. He is in heaven and it doesn’t matter when he got there. It doesn’t matter what was in his pocket or where he went that day. It doesn’t matter what his death certificate says or where his ashes remain.

What matters is what comes after. It matters what I do with it today, tomorrow and the day after that.

Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.

Let’s pray

Merciful Father thank you for the sacrifice of your son so that even someone like my dad can spend eternity in heaven praising your great name. Thank you for giving us enough grace that all we have to do to be able to enter your kingdom is to believe in your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for forgiving our sin no matter how big or small. Thank you for forgiving us and giving us the ability to forgive others. Thank you for writing my name in the palm of your hand right next to my dads name. In Jesus name, amen.

Dad,

I pray that you are rested and renewed in your new home in heaven. You are forgiven here on earth just like you are forgiven there with our Savior. I hope that your home in heaven is the mansion that you always wanted and that the closets are filled with snake skin boots, Polo style short sleeved shirts, 1000 pairs of Levi jeans, a pair of bright white tennis shoes and a super comfortable bath robe. I pray that God has supplied you with a barber that knows how to cut your hair in a way that that says “business in the front, a party in the back”. I pray that all the TVs in your home play images of your kids and grandkids and that you finally have a chance to see who we have become. I pray that God gave you the voice of an angel and that when you sing His great name in praise, the beauty that comes out of your mouth surprises even you.  Sing dad.

I love you.

Your daughter.

.

Blessed Beyond My Dreams

Our little W3 Facebook page hit over 1000 likes on it last night. I have to say that it hit me in a way that I didn’t expect. I thought that I would be excited and slightly proud. Instead I was humbled and brought to tears. I started this little ministry as my own therapy when my father committed suicide last December. God has since laid His hands on it in a big way. I never expected anyone to really read what I was writing or even care but once I started I simply couldn’t stop. The love, support , new and renewed friendships that I have received through this is more than I can even wrap my simple mind around. Thank you to everyone that has give me support and encouragement. My cup runneth over. Thank you sweet and gracious Father.

YOLO!

So Clever

Have you noticed the newest cool thing to say? If you have a teen or preteen you have.

It’s written on their books, walls, instagram, hands, tshirts and anywhere else they can put it. YOLO. It means You Only Live Once. I’ve noticed that the majority of the time it is used when doing something wild and off the wall.

I saw bracelets with YOLO written on them at the store the other day. I didn’t buy one and I wouldn’t let me daughter buy one.

I’m guessing whomever thought of it thinks that they’re pretty clever and honestly, they are. They have tons and tons of people using their saying in an effort to be hip.

Wasting The Gift

You Only Live Once. I could have used that one several times back in my early twenties. Every time I screwed up I could have yelled “YOLO!”.

I once drove to a city 7 hours away in the middle of the night with my cousins just to have a road trip and to tell a friend hello. “YOLO!”

I stopped going to class in college so that I could sleep in and hang out in that cool college town. “YOLO!”

I ran off to Las Vegas and got married on my 24th birthday. “YOLO!”

More than once I drank myself sick and got behind the wheel of a car. “YOLO!”

I denied God because well, I was just too cool. “YOLO!”

My oldest daughter spent our car ride home from school the other day explaining to me what YOLO means. She thinks that I’m extremely old and that I have no idea what’s going on in the cool kid world.
She told me that the kids at her school use it when they do something crazy like kiss a boy or disrespect a teacher.

She said that it’s a battle cry of sorts.

I told her that YOLO is brilliant and she should think a little harder about what it means.

Get It Right

You Only Live Once. You better try to get it right while you can.

You only live once so why chance living without a Savior.

You only live once so why not spend it telling everyone about Jesus and what He did for us.
You only live once so why spend it searching for answers when they are written in the bible.

You only live once so live it boldly shouting the Lord’s name.
You only live once so live it in a way that others can see Jesus through you.

You only live once so do what you are passionate about.
You only live once so be kind, forgive, give grace, have mercy and pray.

I’m more of a WWJD girl myself.

I bet Jesus wore a t-shirt under His robe with YOLO written on it.

He knew that His time here on earth was limited and that He had tons to get done before He went to the cross. I can almost guarantee that he never wasted a minute trying to fit in or jump on the current trend. He had one chance to get it right and get it done.  He knew for a fact that His father was watching Him and He wanted to make our heavenly Father proud. He had lives to save, people to heal, words to teach, grace to spread and forgiveness to give.

Why should we be any different?

WWJD

I don’t want to waste this life that my heavenly Father gave me. I want to use every minute living a life that glorifies His great name. I want to set an example for my daughters that will help mold them into wonderful women. I want to be a wife that makes my husband so proud  he brags about it to his friends. I want to serve God, serve my husband, serve my children and serve all of Gods children. At the end of the day I want to scream YOLO because I have accomplished becoming the woman that God designed me to be.

What’s your YOLO?

Are you living it?

What are you waiting for?

Let’s Pray

Father teach me how to be exactly what You created me to be. Show me how to live a life that glorifies You and what You have prepared for us in heaven. Help me to not waste this life that you gave me. Guide me to live out Your will and not my own. When my thoughts fill with excuses gently take them from me and replace them with courage. In Jesus name, amen”.

I think that I am going to start severely over using YOLO with my oldest daughter to see how sick of it I can make her. I might even yell it out the car window every morning when I drop her off at school. Fun for me, not for her.

Drowning In Mercy

When my brother and I were younger we spent a lot of time with our cousins. My dad has a twin brother who has two sons our same age so we were always with them. They lived out in the hill country and back in those days we had to hike to school two miles in the snow, both ways. Ok, seriously. Our parents used to let us go out in to the woods on adventures and we would be gone for hours. I think that they just wanted us out of their hair for a while and could have cared less where we went. We once found a small hot stream that fed into a huge hole that we called the pool. It was beautiful. It was so fun that we went home and had our friends come over and go there with us to swim. It was kind of like our own private oasis that we were hiding from our parents. Once all of our friends were with us, my brother went to the top of the cliff and jumped right in. We all followed his lead and stayed there swimming for hours. Hours turned to days as we went back every morning and stayed all day. We all dared each other to try to swim to the bottom. I grabbed a rock of off the edge while no one was looking and I dove down in the water. I came up with the rock in my hand and told the boys that I had gotten it from the bottom of the pool. That was all it took for them. They were diving to the bottom and feeling around in no time because they were not going to let the girl beat them. They all came up with rocks. When we got tired of the pool we would head up to where the stream started and lay in the hot water that came out of the natural wells. We called it the hot tub. It was a short lived oasis. It only took a few weeks for it to dry up. The beautiful hot stream stopped running. When we went back to look at it once it was dried up we found a disturbing surprise. The bottom of the pool was full of jagged rocks and huge sharp tree vines. It look like a pit of death and it wasn’t very deep at all. We realized two things when we saw it. We were extremely lucky that none of us got impaled by the hidden dangers below the water and that each one of us had lied about diving to the bottom and retrieving rocks. I can’t imagine how busy our angels must have been those days. I bet they were all over the place. As my brother stood on the edge ready to jump, I can picture one of his angels gently repositioning him so that he wouldn’t jump off and land on one of those death vines. I can also picture them rolling their eyes at us each time we came up out of the water holding a rock. Have you ever discovered the jagged dangers at the bottom of your oasis? It shows up in divorce, death, break ups, job loss, the list could go on and on. You start off your marriage in bliss, diving in with complete trust. Then the water starts to dry up and the tips of jagged rocks and vines start to get uncovered. Maybe it’s the late nights at work, the lack of help around the house or something more serious like alcohol or drugs. The next thing you know you are staring at something that you wouldn’t go near. Maybe your oasis was that new job. You were going to make millions and be on the top of the food chain. The next thing you know your boss is calling you in to his office to hand you your pink slip. You know what I’ve noticed about my oasis, once it is dried up and I am able to see it for what it has become , I am able to finally walk away. Once I am able to walk away, I am able to look back, thank God for what it was while it was good and accept that it was time for Him to take it from me. We get so caught up in what we are losing that we sometimes forget to be thankful for ever having it in the first place. Even though God dissolved my first marriage, I am so thankful that he gave me that time with my ex husband. I have some really amazing memories and we have a beautiful daughter. I used to dwell on the divorce and it made me so bitter. God finally showed me how to look at the beauty of it instead of focusing on the vines and jagged edges. As soon as I was able to take my eyes off of the vines, I was in awe that God had given me the time of love and friendship that I got to share with my ex. In the end God gave us the most wonderful friendship with each other. Are you standing at the edge of what was once your oasis and staring at the vines and jagged edges or are you praising God for giving you the beautiful pool to swim in in the first place. Don’t take what you once had for granted, it was there for a reason and it ended for reason. Lets stop pointing our heads down toward the vines and rocks and start looking up at our Savior. If you are standing on the edge looking down at the rocks then this might be the perfect time to fall to your knees and look up. Let’s pray “Merciful Father thank you for your vale of protection that You put over us each day. Help us to appreciate the grace of the pool and the mercy of the vines. Teach us to soak up the beauty of the moment while we have a chance and to lock it tight in our memory. In Jesus name, amen”. None of us ever told our parents what we found at the bottom of our pool because we know that they would never let us go back again and to tell you the truth, we were just waiting for the next heavy rain.