Recently, I realized that I needed to get back to blogging on blended families. I think because we aren't in the thick of things, I've stepped back and needed some time to simply "heal". I also find myself in a time of "clearing". God has recently pressed the pause button on some "good" things I've been busy with and begun calling me to choose the "best" things. I've been wrapped up in being a "Jack of all trades, master of none" time in my life. This has to stop.
SO much to update you on- I will try to be brief, but a lot has happened since my last post. Hopefully, you will get an idea over the next couple of posts how life has changed for us... instead of a 5 hour novel reading!
So, I'm sorry for my absence. I pray that the posts I have planned coming up will be helpful and healing, and offer hope for this life in the blended journey. As always, I'm here for you, my reader. Feel free to comment or send me an email. I don't pretend to have the corner market on answers for situations, but I do have an ear and heart filled with empathy and compassion for the life you are trudging through as a blended family!
Stay tuned for articles coming up, helpful tips, and personal story.
Blessings over you and yours!
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Jacob laid his head on a stone pillow in a desolate land, escaping his enraged brother. Hearing God’s promises his words were these, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
He is in the places where we often feel like He is absent and we are left alone.
Abraham Longing for a son… Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness…God delivers.
Abraham about to sacrifice his son… Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness… God delivers.
Mary about to have her first child, spoken and gossiped about in hushed tones by the on looking neighbors…. Surely our God was in this place of barrenness… God SURELY Delivered!
The ache of feeling displaced and like you don’t belong, memories of holidays past left broken and empty…
Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness… and He will Deliver.
Tears flood my heart as I think of those days of feeling like I was a visitor in my own home, a stranger sitting on the fringe of someone else’s memories.
“Remember when we…” my mind drifted off as they conversed happily about memories and moments that didn’t include me.
It happened a lot. Pictures, recollections, laughter and smiles… I politely listened until one day my husband mentioned to his children..
“Remember that time…” Before he got another word out, I gently said… “No, I don’t”
It took him some time to figure it out, but we try now to recall the memories we are making together. Not that we forbid the kids to recall their childhood, we just try to point them to places where everyone was included so no one feels left out on either side.
Absent children, holiday traditions that perhaps have been carried out by an original family for decades suddenly fade into a dream like state, and we’re left to wonder if those things ever existed.
The ache and loneliness of the new reality is not that different from laying your head on a stone pillow in a desolate land.
The bitter cold bit into my cheeks as I walked alone down the row of houses lit with Christmas lights. Through the windows I could see families together, making their memories- everyone seemed to belong. It was as if I could hear my heart breaking like thin ice underfoot.
I missed feeling like a real family. I missed the day where there were no others invading our space either in a physical sense or plaguing memories. No shared children. Our traditions were our traditions and we had formed them over years of togetherness.
I felt displaced and separated from everything I had ever known.
I wondered if there would ever be a time when I would feel this intimate togetherness again… I would, but it still would never be like those years when we existed as an original family with no invaders.
This is a process of grieving. But I promise you God is a restorer… He never seems to restore in the ways we would see or maybe even like, but it becomes better for us in the end, if we just trust Him.
Remember to be sensitive to each other. Gather traditions that you enjoyed from your previous families change them up a bit, this can help the kids feel like not all has been lost as well… reclaim those traditions for your new family..
Create new traditions- maybe there are traditions that your children’s friends do that they would like to try- make them yours! Have a family meeting to discuss what kinds of things you would like to include in your new family as far as holiday traditions go. Maybe it’s going to the tree lighting and having dinner in town. Attending the Nutcracker every year, or perhaps serving in a local shelter. Maybe the kids have always wanted to hunt down and cut down their own tree.
This gives everyone a place to belong, a place to be a part of something bigger than the mourning of what has been lost. It provides a place for reclaiming holidays for something new and exciting where no one is left out. A place where our God surely is… a place of healing for the broken family.
Holidays are difficult for the newly divorced, and the blended family. Over the next few blogs, I am hoping to address some of the common issues of the situations that we find ourselves in as we live in Step-ville.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Pressing my face into a tear soaked pillow I cried out in pain. I curled into the fetal position and wondered what I would do without my children surrounding me on the holidays. They were scheduled to be with their dad, leaving me all alone. I’d never felt so alone in all of my life as that first year after the divorce. At the time, my now husband, was struggling with the same pain. When you stare into those sweet little newborn faces in the hospital and daydream about holidays and presents, you never imagine that you will have relinquish them to someone who doesn’t want anything to do with you, unless it suits them.
The picture perfect Christmas cards of yesterday burn in flames in the wake of divorce, leaving you with a feeling of being displaced and the uncertainty of how it’s all supposed to work.
“How do I navigate this? I don’t fit anywhere.” I remember asking God these very questions. It was a new path to figure out… one we were never meant to travel, but then, here we were.
So Dave and I invited others who were alone that holiday. We cooked a huge feast, laughed, played games, and it made the ache sting a little less that year. It didn’t take the place of those precious faces that we were missing.
Perhaps time has hardened me to not having my children with me each year at the holidays. Maybe I’ve finally reached a place of acceptance that this is what it is going to be.
But, I’d like to think it has a lot to do with what we chose to do. We have each year what we call the “Nordski” Christmas. “Nordski” is the combination of our children’s last names. This day is not on a major holiday, which frees the kids to do what they need to do as work schedules, and in-laws begin coming into play. We still get our holiday with them, and there is no competition or fighting, or guilt for the kids- which is most what we wanted to avoid for them.
Divorce and blended family is hard enough on them. How on earth would you be able to choose? I can’t even fathom having that weight on my shoulders.
So…out of your love for them, you set them free.
They know they are loved and wanted, but are free to come or go on the actual holidays- since we have already celebrated.
Today, we were blessed to have all 7 of our kids with us. I never thought I would see the day that this would happen on a holiday. It was a beautiful day of restoration, healing, and hope for what the future holds as we travel further from the pain and damage of divorce and into a new family. We laughed at memories of past holidays spent with our old families (not always easy). We created new memories, new inside family jokes, new laughter… we even made pilgrim hats- ok that was really for me.. As I am still mourning slightly at not being able to see them all little and rambunctious together… although today we had some pretty rambunctious moments!
Our God is so precious how He restores what once seemed hopeless and lost. As we exchanged hugs goodbye, I watched as these kids, torn from their original families by divorce have begun to embrace the now, and what is. Truly caring for each other… for the first time… in a long time… I felt like we had a family.
Even now, as I sit here, I’m in tears for all that we have endured as individuals, but most of all, mixed tears of sorrow and joy for what these super six people have survived and how beautiful they are becoming.
Stepville can be a torturous road, hard & painful. But as we link arms determined to accept what is, and longing to heal… God is faithful, He uses us to heal and grow each other, and He stuffs us FULL of Blessing!
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Rattles shaking, our baby played contentedly on the floor next to me. I waded through piles of boxes looking for master bedroom items. A familiar voice came on the television… the country music star, Trisha Yearwood. She apparently has a cooking show now. I listened as she called her husband “Gartha Stewart” (aka Garth Brooks) and giggled at some of the things he likes to do in the kitchen. She went on to talk about when she married Garth, she “inherited 3 daughters. Being a bonus mom, its very important…” her voice trailed off as she talked about cooking favorites and such.
I've always had a sour taste in my mouth for the term "step-mother". Perhaps it was because of the numerous fairy tales I watched as a kid. Or maybe the horror stories my mom told me about her step mother. Either way, I never dreamed I would one day become... dunt-dah-dun... a wicked step-mother! I pray I never do. Given over to my flesh, I can be pretty wicked, but PRAISE God, I am redeemed! When I married Dave I made it my goal to be as far from wicked as I could possibly be. I know I've been nowhere near perfect, but I always try to be Christ-like as best as I can.
Bonus mom… I like it. I’ve always referred to myself as the smom, or back-up mom. But Bonus mom is WAAAAAYYYYY better! And that is exactly how I long for my “bonus kids” to see me… as a bonus to their lives. Not taking away, or trying to replace, but adding to what they already have.
Honestly, it’s also how I long for their mom to see me too, a bonus for her children, and a bonus to help her in raising their children as well. Someone who will be Jesus to them, love them where they are at, and encourage them to respect her and love her well. Obviously, their dad would, hopefully, already see this!
It isn’t easy to keep these thoughts in the forefront of my heart. Lots of hurt and painful situations come into play. Times when I wish I could just fend for myself and want to just repeat “what about me? What about me? What about me?” But then there is that calling I continually hear…
The calling of the “bonus mom”… To be the best reflection of Jesus Christ that I can be to ALL people, no matter what. This is deep stuff. Not the kind of thing you can accomplish on mere woman might. But rather, it takes the Almighty power of a Great God and His Spirit residing within, to rise above.
For “He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing.”
I know it is only FROM HIM that I can receive strength, courage and peace to go where I am called and live as I am called to live.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by MY Spirit, says the Lord.”
Yep- that is the ONLY way.
Friday, August 16, 2013
“ Do you really think anything about this life can be “great”? I mean, what would it take to make what we go through even o.k.?”
I stared across the table at my beautiful friend responding to my cry for marriage and family to be great again, and questioning if step-family and second marriages could ever come close to the intimacy and closeness that families of first origin seem to be born with.
Sadly, I knew what she was saying. Each and every day I wake, I see broken. As I pass by the pictures in our hallway to head downstairs, I see a fragmented combination of two families trying to pick up the shattered pieces to fuse together and operate as closely as they can as one.
Problem is, fusing doesn’t work. No matter how much we want to operate as a whole family, we never will. That reality crushes my hope and leaves me utterly sad. So, what to do?
We were recently blessed with our first “ours” baby. She brought so much joy to our hearts. There were quite a few happy moments listening to our kids trying to figure out whom she looked like and where she got what traits. She seems to bring all of us together into one person. Bound by human blood.
I could go on here and talk about how the blood of Christ binds us in a way no human could, but that isn’t where I am feeling led today. See, I look into her face, and the expectation of having that little family bubble like you do in families of origin is impossible for her. She has been brought into this brokenness too. She will always know that her siblings have other parents and other loyalties. Issues that we shouldn’t have to deal with, we do. The other week one of the kids in talking to her referred to one of us by our first name… no.. I am her mommy and dad is her daddy, end of story- approaching that stinks. Holidays after my husband and I are gone will be broken with the fact that she will have no other family to celebrate with.
I recently sat at a table surrounded by precious women seeking after God and learning about His perfect love. As on most first days, we went around the table introducing ourselves. Names, then years of marriage followed. I felt the lump in my throat grow larger as my turn was coming. “What was I going to say? What would they think? “ I mulled over my words. Ashamed, I could feel the weight of the albatross like necklace growing heavier and heavier. Tears welled up and I tried my best to choke them down.
My turn came.
“I’m just going to lay it all here out on the table right now. I’m Becky Nordquist. I used to attend here for 18 years until my first husband abandon me with our four kids. I am remarried and we have a new little baby, Grace. I’m here because I need to work through loving well. I need to grow here because I do not love our exes well, and I realize that as a child of God, I’m called to forgive and love well. I hope to use what God teaches me, to encourage and help others.”
I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and left the room to go feed the baby.
Thank goodness the nursing room is secluded. I sobbed as I rocked back and forth nursing our sweet Grace baby. I wanted to leave, quit and never come back. Tears streaming down my face, inwardly I screamed.
“God! I HATE this! I hate having to wear the scarlet letter of divorce! I did not choose this! I hate what it’s done to our kids, what it’s done to us! We didn’t want this! Other people chose it for us and we’re stuck carrying the load! I hate that I have to live in shame and embarrassment!” All I heard was…
“I know. I know about bearing things that you didn’t choose.”
“We don’t attend small groups anymore.” She said with a saddened look on her face.
“Why?” I questioned.
“Because of the first meeting… you know, you have to give the litany of your life… the how long have you been married always comes up. Then you feel like people are looking down their noses at you. You never really get the chance to explain that you were cheated on and had no say in the matter, and a lot of times that wouldn’t matter anyway. We got tired of feeling judged and no one really understands.”
My heart broke. Others wanted to ditch community too because of the hideously heavy necklace we are forced to wear. The only ones who really understand are the ones who bear the same burden.
Then I hear a whisper,
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
My flesh cries-“Rest?! How is there anyway possible to obtain rest here?! In this mess?! We have kids who want nothing more than to see their parents together, no matter how miserable, busted relationships, a full spectrum of emotions, people who want their say on how we live our lives.. rest? Where?! How?”
Then Truth speaks…
Rest in knowing that in the midst of broken lives, broken ideas, shattered hopes, and fragmented dreams, HE is WHO He is. He will be faithful to show me what I need to learn here. He will use me to love and help to heal others. None of this goes wasted. Refinement is precious, it means we are loved so much that God Himself chooses not to leave us the way we are, but to advance us to maturity, in order that we be useable, and even more ready to meet Him face to face.
Now more than ever, we(Dave and I) are committed to seeking out a place for stepfamilies to have community too. We need it more than the average family and marriage. The unique set of circumstances and the levels of brokenness are too difficult to traverse on your own. We need each other. We need each other because iron sharpens iron my friends. When we are called to love and pray for those who persecute us, our enemies… most often they can be called steps & Exes- we need each other and the strength of an Almighty Super Powerful God!
I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me strength!