Saturday, December 29, 2012

Take the Challenge

I would first like to start by thanking everyone who regularly reads and/or shares my blog. I hope it is something that you find not only entertaining and enjoyable, but helpful and inspiring in your own journey.

With that being said, we have just rounded out the week of Christmas. It is natural that now our thoughts generally go to the New Year. In particular, New Year's resolutions, a fresh start, goals for next 12 months, organizing our lives, losing weight, and the list of our fresh intentions for the coming year goes on.

I recently came upon my list of goals for 2012.  I have known them in my head since I set them in January.  I've known them well enough to diligently work on them throughout the year, but it was quite an eye opener to again read them in black and white.  I regret to report that I did not accomplish any of my goals for 2012.  Saying that out loud sounds fairly pathetic on my part.  This isn't to say I didn't try, or work diligently on my goals. Some of the lack of success came from circumstances beyond my control, others from neglect and not planning well enough.  Luckily enough, I am faced with another new year to start all over again.

In an effort to eradicate my personal humiliation, I found an app for my phone, which at first glance seemed quite the find.  It is an app that helps you plan goals, dreams, and challenges.  There are all kinds of ideas listed, anything from get out of debt, to traveling to Europe, to knowing the names of trees and plants.  One of the challenges that caught my eye was to truly forgive someone.   Intriguing.  I thought to myself, there are many times that I forgive and move on, but are there people that I still harbor unforgiveness?  Without hesitation, I clicked that challenge.  Yep, that's what I want to do, because if I'm truly honest with myself, I have not truly forgiven my ex-spouse for the demise of our marriage. Sure, I have moved on, and I have wonderful family, and love my life, but there is still that pinch of unforgiveness.  In the Bible, when Peter asked Jesus how many times we must forgive someone, Jesus told us to forgive 77 times...that leaves me at about 76 more times to forgive my ex-spouse.

I have to admit that in my initial decision to take on this challenge, it was all really to make myself feel better.  However, the more I think about it, I believe it will also help me to be a better parent, a better wife, a better example for others, and a better ex-spouse, or at least I can only hope.

What about you? Do you still harbor some hard feelings for former spouse or partner?  Do you need to truly forgive someone? What steps would you need to take to accomplish this?

Here are a few things I am going to do: 
1) start small - forgive someone for something little,
2) embrace how better my life is now and thank God for all I have,
3) make a list of what has angered me and hurt me the most about this person,
4) recognize that not forgiving will not bring healing,
5) accept that nothing can change the past and then release it, and finally
6) embrace all my future has to offer - continue to make goals of how I want to live my life going forward because this can be whatever I want it to be.

Where ever you are in your journey I encourage you to make your own challenge for the new year!  Post a comment and let us know what it is, or send me an email at blendedfamily5@hotmail.com to let me know your challenge and keep me updated on how you are doing.  Remember your emails always stay anonymous unless you indicate otherwise, and your comments and ideas help others too.  We're all in this together!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'm the Mom of a Celebrity!

Well, its finally happened. My son is a celebrity!  Christian has made it big on the Internet.  I can't even imagine what is next - Hollywood?!

Check out his videos:

This first video is a promo for our Christmas service at church. Which, by the way, is next weekend. I welcome you to check it out. If you are in the Kalamazoo or Battle Creek areas come out to one of our locations (go to www.valleyfamilychurch.org for directions). If you are out of the area, check it out at our online church at www.valleyfamilychurch.tv.

Look for Christian -he's the "little" chick:
 Retro (VFC Christmas) Promo

The second video is a trailer for a new short film Christian is in. One of the young men that is in the discipleship program with the kids is a very talented person and an excellent movie maker. As you will see, the movie premiers in February 2013.   Look for Christian in the scene after the field of soldier's shooting, he's the soldier being shot falling into the water. I guess he plays a dead guy, but, hey - he does a great job! Here is the link to the trailer on You Tube:

A Soldier's Story

I hope you enjoyed a little fun video watching.  In all seriousness, I know that all of our children will do so much once they are "out in the real world".   Christian and Adam just finished up their first semester of college, and Alex is now 3/4 of the way through her first two years.  It is so amazing how quickly time flies.  They have good solid foundations and are smart, hard working young people.  I am really proud of their accomplishments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Not All About Me

This past weekend I was feeling a bit blue.  Here we are in the midst of the Christmas season, which I love, and I just felt sad.  I think a lot of it was because we were doing many of the traditional Christmas things without the kids, since they are away at school. We got our Christmas tree, and put up Christmas decorations.  We had the first fire of the season in the fireplace, and all the while it felt like something was missing.

As I thought about how strange it was to do these things without the kids for the first time, I also thought about how strange and sad it must have been when our kids did those things for the first time without the other parent.  They must have felt pretty sad too, because something was missing for them.

It is quite evident that kids get a raw deal when it comes to divorce. There is no doubt in my mind that they are truly the ones that suffer the most.  We, the adults, move on. We get over it, we re-marry, we continue to think of ourselves. The kids, however, miss what they had. 

So often at Christmas when we are in a blended family we get caught up in what we don't have. We don't have our kids on Christmas, or we are alone on Christmas, or we don't get to celebrate Christmas until later.  I think we should refocus.  Let's all stop for a moment, take a step back and think about what our kids don't have because of the choices we've made.  You know the list:  they don't get to celebrate with both of their parents at the same time, they miss having both parents there on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve, they have to go back and forth from one house to the next, always rush, rush rush. 

Now, let's move forward. Let's be thankful and gracious for what we do have.  You make your list, and I'll make mine: a fantastic husband, three great kids who love Jesus, a beautiful home, a great job and the fact that for years I got to see my kids 364 days a year (approximately), so I can get over not having them for one day. 

I know its easy to feel sad and sorry for ourselves when things don't go the way we want, but remember, these were your choices, not your children's, so try to get past yourself and turn the focus on them.  Allow them to enjoy all that they can during this joyous season. When we let go of what we are missing, we free up our children to just be children.


As an aside:  I know that often times blended families come about due to the death of a parent, and of course no one chooses to have their spouse or parent die.  Even though it may be difficult, allow your children to talk about that deceased parent while you are engaged in different Christmas activities. There is no way to bring that parent back, but it will definitely keep the memory alive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good Advice!

If you ever need help clearing a room, just ask me to speak in front of a large group of people, preferably relatives, because they'll really tell you how they feel.  On Saturday, we attended my grandmother's funeral. She was 94 years old (94 and 1/2 actually, but who's counting).  She was really quite witty and very active up until the last few years.  She was my last living grandparent and although I know she has gotten the better end of the deal as she resides in heaven, I am very sad that she is gone.

My grandparents blended two grown families together in the early '70s. They had both been previously married, and then recently widowed. They were friends for many years and at the right time got married. They each had three children, two boys and a girl.  My grandparents were amazing people. 

Growing up, I really didn't know it was a blended family. Maybe I knew in the back of my head, but I never really understood what that meant or put two and two together.  I think that is the way my grandparents wanted it.  We can learn a lot from them, and by "we" I mean, me, you, my aunts and uncles, extended family, everyone.  They were truly loving people.  There are a lot of blended families in our family now. Cousins, aunts, uncles (including myself) who have married, divorced, been widowed, remarried, and never once did my grandparents single out someone because they weren't a blood relative.  They were always accepting.

So on Saturday, after the funeral, there was a nice gathering and luncheon for family and friends at my grandmother's church. There were probably about 200 people in attendance.  Many of us were family.  As most people had finished eating, one of my mother's cousins shared a story about my grandma and then invited others to share stories they had.  One of my uncles shared, and then a cousin, all the while my brothers are egging me on to share a story I told them prior to leaving for the funeral, that morning. So I did:

      I couple of weeks ago I had surgery on my leg, and as a result my leg and foot are still very swollen and I am unable to wear dress shoes. So as I was getting ready for the funeral in my nice suite, with my casual shoes on my feet, I mentioned how I wished I could fit into some dress shoes.  My oldest brother told me - Don't worry about it. No one is going to look at your shoes. Which reminded me of what my grandmother always told me:  "If someone is looking at your shoes, kick 'em in the face."  Advice to live by! 
 
      It was at this point that I had my audience in the palm of my hand, so I decided to go on and share a story about how when I was 19 years old my grandparents and parents helped me move to a new city for a new job about 1000 miles away from where I was currently living.  My mother told me that in the car ride, I had to tell my grandparents that I was pregnant. I couldn't do it.  I was scared. I was unmarried, young, and I didn't want them to be mad at me.  Eventually my mother told them, and the judgement and disappointment I expected never came.  My grandparents loved me just as much as anyone else.  They never treated me any differently than any of their other grandchildren and they loved my son just the same.  When I got married the first time, they welcomed my ex-husband's children into our family as any other new child, and when Roger and I got married, they loved my step-kids as they loved all their other great-grandchildren. They were proud of everyone. My grandparents were special people, and their unconditional love is something we can learn from and live by as there are many blended families here today.
 
And that, is when I cleared the room.
 
Maybe I offended some, maybe others were just really touched by the sentiment, but I stand by what I said:  I think we all need to give such unconditional love to those in our blended families.