A 40 Day Devotional for Blended Families
By Tanya Phillips
8004 Haviland Beach Drive
Linden, Michigan 48451
Regarding Grace For Blended Families: A Forty Day Devotional for Blended Families by Tanya Phillips :
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author.
Table of Contents
Fighting the Good Fight 1
Building a House that God Desires 4
I Quit 5
Be Still and Know That I Am God 6
Investing in Your Marriage 7
Judge Not Your Spouse 8
Draw Near to God 9
Taming the Tongue 10
Giving our Frustrations to God 11
Letting Go 12
Fed Up 13
Households Working Together 14
Breaking the Chains of Shame 15
Bringing Joy to Your Spouse 16
Have Some Fun 17
Keeping our Eyes on Jesus 18
Praying for our Spouse 19
Taking Care of Me 20
As For Me and My House, We will Serve the Lord 21
Building Relationships 22
Awkward Moments 23
Thou Shalt Not Covet 24
Healthy Boundaries 26
Holiday Expectations 28
Cooling your Temps 30
Work Cited 31
About the Author 32
+10 Additional Devotions ~ Email the author Tanya Phillips to request the additional 10 devotions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fighting the Good Fight
“Please God! Just make it stop!” It can seem cumbersome day in and day out fighting the good fight. Some days, the step family challenges can feel like the harsh waves crashing against a northern pier, on a cold January day. When will it end God? We cry out to Him, begging Him to make it all stop. The arguing, the jealousies, the guilt, the frustration, the powerlessness. We aren’t alone with our earthly cries.
Christ Jesus suffered while on earth. He too cried out to God. In Hebrews 5:7 it is written:
Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
So what are we to do with our worries and cares? In Psalm 55:22 God says:
Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
My dear friends, have you taken time alone with God today? To seek His council and wisdom? He longs to hear from you. Give him your time, talents, and attention. He wants to pour in to you. He wants to bless you with His Spirit.
Heavenly father, we bow before you humbled by your awesome power and grace. You alone created the heavens and the earth. You alone are the most high. Jehovah Jira, I seek you with all my heart. Please pour out your blessings upon my household. I cast all of my cares upon you. Thank you that I can do this every minute of every day. Thank you that you love me and my household, more than we can fathom. I love you Lord! Amen.
Psalm 127:3 says “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him.” However, differences in how we raise them can be a great source of contention between ourselves and our spouse in our blended family. How do we keep the peace and sanity in our home during the child rearing years and teenage years? How do we keep from reenacting the Battle of Gettysburg in our own living room with the two families that we have blended together?
Perseverance. The thesaurus’ words for perseverance include: persistence, dedication, steadfastness, grit, stamina, endurance. When we are ready to run, ready to put the for-sale sign in the front yard, our steadfast perseverance is what keeps us here to do the right thing. To do what God has called us to do.
Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
How do we persevere during times of battle? The answer: God, prayer, His word. It seems too simple for these gritty, grueling times, but it really is that simple! Drawing strength from getting on our knees, opening His word, reading scripture, confessing our anguish to Him, surrendering it all, asking for His guidance and strength.
Lord God, I am battling. I am tired and frustrated. This blended family journey is a struggle and I confess to you I don’t always want to do the right thing. I want to run sometimes God. Often, things don’t always seem fair. It feels like a constant battle; a losing battle some days. But God, You never waver. You never give up. You are always there for me, and I thank you for that God. Thank you that you love me no matter what, and that you never leave me. Please forgive me for my sins and my unforgiving heart. Please change my heart and my thoughts Lord so that they are in alignment with yours. I pray that I have willingness to do what you want me to do in this household. I pray for the perseverance to do your Will in this household. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Blended families’ finances may possibly be a source of contention in the household. The complexities that arise from previous marriages and possible past debt, to current child and/or alimony support, to disagreeing how the money should be spent, to division and possible separate bank accounts, all of these things can cause tension between our spouse and us. Like a tug boat tied to a dock lapping against the sides of weathered deck boards from rough waters, differences in agreement regarding our finances can cause friction and wear and tear of our marriage over time.
God wants every part of us; every part of our marriage. He wants to lead both of us spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
The bible states in Matthew 12:25 “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
This is a stark reality. This scripture can also apply to our financial attitudes in our homes. God wants us to be united as a couple on all fronts, so that the devil will not be allowed a foothold in our marriage and household.
Through Christ, there is freedom from the bondage that can come from financial worry, resentment, mistrust, greed and self-seeking motives. Therefore, my friends, have we asked God to be the Commander in Chief of our finances in our home?
Heavenly Father, You know the financial struggles [spouse’s name here] and I face. Thank you for what you have blessed us with already in this area. Please forgive us for any harm that we have caused each other stemming from worry, mistrust and anger in the area of our finances. Help us forgive each other in this area. Please guide us and bless us with Your wisdom as to how You would have us run our finances in our home, so that we are pleasing to You, and that we may have a more unified marriage and household. Open our hearts and minds Lord so that we may hear what You have to say in the area of our finances. We thank you Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Building A House that God Desires
The bible says that it took Solomon roughly 7 years to build the temple ie. “House of God.” Solomon’s Temple (also known as the first temple) was said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. It was located on Mount Zion, in ancient Jerusalem. This architecture was vast, bold, intricate, beautiful, majestic and complicated. It was no easy feat to construct this temple; hence taking the construction crew (which consisted of thousands of workers), 7 years to build.
Just like the House of God, in Ron Deal’s book The Smart Stepfamily, it states that it takes stepfamilies 7 years to successfully “blend” our new family. It takes time to build your family; piece by piece. You need to begin with a strong foundation; Christ, so that it cannot be broken when the pressures around us arise. Then, little by little, through prayer, perseverance and commitment, you will begin seeing the fruits of your labor, with new memories that you create together.
My friends, begin each day by spending it with God. Through prayer and scripture, seek God. Deuteronomy 6:5 says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6: Love the LORD Your God 1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Lord, thank you for this family you have blessed me with. I pray that you “blend” this family the way that YOU would have it blended. I give you (name each family member here) and pray that these relationships be your relationships Father. I pray that you bless us with your spirit of perseverance as we nurture and grow our new family. I pray that you bless us with your wisdom. Thank you Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Who do we turn to when it feels as if the world is against us? We just spent what was supposed to be a quiet evening with our spouse, but instead, we argued again about each other’s kids. The ex is putting up road barriers, and when our kids are together, they don’t appear to be “gelling.” On this particular night, we are being accused by our spouse of not “loving their child.” We wonder and ask, is this ever going to work God? What is the point anyways? Wouldn’t we all be happier apart? We want to throw in the towel and declare “I quit!”
But God calls us to a higher place.
In Psalm 62:5-6 it says: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My friends, when we are ready to give up, there is one we can turn to for help 24/7. He is always there for us. Always ready to hear our cries. Always ready to provide comfort and help navigate and calm our storms. If only we ask and take the time to seek Him.
Dear God, thank you that you are always there for me. Please God, help me stop arguing with my spouse. Help me grow my love for my spouse and their children. Please help me navigate these bumpy step family waters and calm these storms. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Be Still and Know that I am God
Raging waters, rapids, crashing from all sides. Some days in a blended family, it can feel like we are being attacked from every angle; our spouse, our children, our step children, our ex, their significant other, and the list continues to multiply! What can we do when we feel like we are being tossed around in a raging sea?
Stop. In every sense of the word, mentally and physically just stop.
In Psalm 46:10 it says: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Find a quiet place of solitude where you can go and be alone with God. If only for a few minutes. Shut the door on the rest of the world, the sounds, the noises of chaos. Grab God’s word; drink in His amazing grace. Breathe. In those few precious stolen moments of grace, ask God to calm your raging seas.
Heavenly father, you know my worries today. Your Word says in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” So God, I stand before you now and give you all that is upon me. You know everything that is causing me turmoil. I give it all to you now, totally abandoned. I surrender every care, every worry. I surrender every attempt to control these people and circumstances. Your Will, not mine, be done, with all of it God. Thank you Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Investing in your Marriage
Investing in your marriage, has a greater importance in a blended family. If you and your spouse are on shaky ground, the other complexing intricacies that we face in blended families, can feel overwhelming or “not worth it.” You fell in love with your spouse before you added the new family component to it. Today, remember why you fell in love with your spouse. What were the characteristics about your spouse that drew you to them? What can you do to get back to putting your marriage as a priority? Ask yourself “What can I do to make my marriage better?”
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Dear Heavenly Father, I seek you today and ask that you bless me with a heart for my spouse. I pray that you grow my love and respect for them each day. I pray that you help me be the best spouse that You would have me be. I pray that I am pleasing to you Father, as well as my spouse. Show me ways that I can be a better spouse. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Judge Not Your Spouse
Frustration! You feel like you are trying. You are reading God’s word, praying, abiding in the spirit, trying to be the best God would have you be. But things feel rather “lopsided.” You feel your spouse is not doing the same. You judge, resent, and feel like “it’s not fair.” “Why should I always be the one doing ‘the right thing!’
But God says in Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
God, please forgive me for judging others. You alone are the supreme judge. Search my heart O Lord, and any impure thought or behavior, may you forgive me for. Please help me to let go of any resentments I may have towards my spouse and help me to forgive them. Help me to love like Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:36-40 (below). In Jesus’ name, Amen.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Drawing Near to God
If we are going to be successful at step family life, we need to equip ourselves with a strong relationship with the Lord. Where are you with your spiritual walk? Are you taking time to be alone with God today and seek His will and guidance for your life, for your family, for your job? They say you get out of something, what you put in to it. Have you felt distance from God lately? Who moved? It isn’t God who moved. He is always there for us, awaiting communion with us through our words, prayers, songs of worship, and being in His word.
James 4: 8 says “8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
My friends, making alone time with God a priority in your daily life, will yield great fruit in every area of your life. He longs to commune with you; pouring his blessings in to you. He wants you to know the sweet fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The bible says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Dear God, Please help me have a willingness to put you first in my life, as I long for that. Please help me be dutiful in setting time aside each day to spend it in prayer with you, reading Your Word. Whether it be praying during my morning commute to work, or praying and asking for your presence and guidance before I turn on my computer or pay bills, to opening the bible at lunch, or reading your word through a bible app on my phone. Please help me draw near to you daily Lord. I love you with all my heart. Thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Taming the Tongue
How do you talk about the other household in front of your children? Is it edifying and glorifying to God? Or does it cause embarrassment, uncomfortableness, insecurity and resentment to your children. Our words are very powerful and lasting. Proverbs 12:18 says “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Would you say those things in front of Jesus? If not, then we need to remove those from our conversations. Even if the other household still does it, it doesn’t give us the right to do in our household. We can be the household where the children don’t have to hear it or feel like they have to choose sides. We can be the household that demonstrates peace and brings honor and glory to God.
Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Heavenly father, When I am tempted to say hurtful things about the other household, help me to hold my tongue. Help me to choose peace and harmony over discord, as this is pleasing to you and imperative for the health of my household. Help my words be pleasing and edifying to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Giving our Frustrations to God
What do you do when it seems as if the other household is dictating your household’s day or plans? When it constantly feels like they determine how things are going to go in your own household based on their schedules? Anger, resentment, frustration, powerlessness, control issues are knocking on your door again. We are masters of our own home; we decide how things are going to run. Yet, why does that not seem to be happening?
Unfortunately, we can’t control others’ behaviors, and in a blended family, the reality is, the other household does and will effect our schedules and our plans.
Does it help the situation if I voice my opinion in opposition and once again complain about this? Or do I add more negativity to the atmosphere.
Taming the tongue. Proverbs 21:23 says “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
Okay. I can keep my mouth closed. But what do I do about my anger for this situation?
Psalm 37:8 says “Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.”
Colossians 3:8 “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Prayer: Dear God, I am angry and frustrated that it feels like the other household dictates our lives at times. Please forgive me for my anger and unpleasant thoughts. Please help me Lord, to let go of my anger. This anger and preoccupation with the other household, only hurts me. I don’t want to be a slave to that. Thank you for your Word that I can reclaim the victory over my emotions and thoughts. I thank you that I can come to you at any time and ask for relief from this, and that you will grant me anything I ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Letting go of Stubborn Pride
Do I want to be right? Or do I want to be happy? Sometimes letting go of our stubborn pride is the hardest thing to do. We can choose to hold on to grudges. Or we can choose to let go for the sake of freedom and peace. This doesn’t mean that we are saying the other person is “right.” It is saying that we are choosing peace and happiness for ourselves and our home. Freedom from anger and quarreling. When we struggle with letting go of step family issues, we can take it to God and ask for His help with letting go and forgiveness.
2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!. Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Ephesians 2:14 “ For He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
Dear Heavenly Father, You know my heart and mind. Please forgive me for harboring anger and ill will towards all of these human beings. You are the Prince of Peace. May you pour out your blessings upon these people. Help me have willingness to let go of the anger. Please help me embrace your peace; peace of mind, body, and soul. I claim this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
It has been one of those days. Your insides are screaming “This blended family thing is not what I expected! I am so tired of all of this! I am fed up!” You ask God “How much more can I take God? I feel like this new world I am in, everyone is against me. It is tough God. My eyes are downcast. Where are you in all of this?” God whispers back to me Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Then it hits me. I am grumbling and complaining, and once again, have taken my eyes off of Him. Have I spent time recently in prayer over this? Have I counted my blessings today?
Psalm 86 says: “1 Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.3 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. 6 Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. 7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. 8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave. 14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life– men without regard for you. 15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.”
Dear Lord, please forgive me for my complaining and grumbling. Please bless me with a spirit of gratitude. May I see these people in my blended family as a blessing. Help me see them through your eyes. Thank you that you are always willing to receive me, forgive me, and love me, even when I am at my worst. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Households Working Together
If you are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with your ex or your spouse’s ex, then count yourself as blessed. Chances are, you may have a strained relationship with your ex or your spouse’s ex, and you understand the struggles this can cause in every facet of your day to day lives. From raising children, to managing your time, to shared decisions and expenses, strained relationships and communication can hinder you from achieving peace and joy. Whose fault is it? It could be the other household’s, it could be yours. Chances are, it could be both. Regardless, ask yourself “How can we achieve peace and work together to achieve our goals of raising these children so that they are happy, healthy well rounded, productive citizens?” Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Put down the sword and stop fighting. Ask God to show you where you have been wrong in these relationships and how you can do it His way.
James 1: 19-20 says: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Heavenly father, I desire to do your Will in every area of my life. I give you my relationships that I share between these households. These households share the awesome responsibility of raising these children together. May these relationships be Your relationships God, and pleasing to you. Please reveal to me any areas that I need to improve and help me be willing to do so. I thank you that you possess the power and are ever ready to help me be the person that you desire me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Breaking the Chains of Shame
Shame. It is a powerful emotion. Blended family members carry a lot of shame around with them from the past to the present. Shame for what we have said. Shame for what we have done. Shame for what others have said and done to us. It can cut deep to the very marrow of our existence. It can cause us to feel rejected, betrayed, lost, exposed, embarrassed, anxious, confused, insecure, and cut off from loved ones and God. But God does not want us to be bound by these chains. He can deliver us from this paralytic emotion and provide a way out.
Psalm 25 says: 1 In you, LORD my God, I put my trust. 2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. 4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good. 8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore, he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 11 For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 12 Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. 13 They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. 14 The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. 15 My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. 18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. 19 See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me 20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. 21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you. 22 Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!
Heavenly Father, You know my inequities, you know the pain that I have caused and that others have caused me. I pray now for freedom and forgiveness that only You can provide. I pray that today these chains are broken. Lord, please bless me and others that have been directly affected by this shame with a renewed heart, the spirit of forgiveness, peace that passes all understanding, love, joy, hope, and healing. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Bringing Joy to your Spouse
What makes your spouse happy? What brings them joy? In a step family, bringing joy to your spouse can simply be loving their biological children. When you love your spouse’s biological children, when you show their children appreciation, attention, spend time with them and do nice things for their children, this is loving your spouse. How can you do this today? What are some ways this week that you can show care and attention to your spouse’s biological children, which in turn, shows your spouse love?
Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ “
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Heavenly Father, Thank you for blessing me with these individuals in my household. Help me to see each and every one of them as a gift and the blessing that you’ve intended them to be. Please grow my heart for each person in my home. Help me to love them the way you love them Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Ideas to show love towards your step children:
Read to them.
Toss the football, baseball or basketball around with them.
Take them to the movies.
Help them with their homework.
Have a tea party.
Go bike riding with them.
Paint/color with them.
Offer to take them to their social, school, or sporting events.
Play cards, checkers, Legos or a board game together.
Take them to the store and let them pick out a gift from you.
Talk to them – ask them how their day went.
Ask them what activity they would like to do together.
Have Some Fun Together
Are you and your step family having fun together? Or are you caught up in the daily grind of running from work to meetings to sporting events and dance recitals, only to find the last ounce of energy you have at the end of each evening is to drag your body in to bed. The piles of laundry, dishes, and “to do” lists are never ending. You are exhausted beyond measure. Where is the joy in your life? Where is the joy in your family’s “togetherness?”
Taking time for fun together is a need for survival in your household. Fun = Joy. Joy results in positive mental and emotional health. This can also improve your overall physical health as well. Lack of good health can actually slow us down and impede getting our “to do” lists done. Fun needs to be a priority in your family.
So, drop the laundry basket and the “to do” lists (they will still be there tomorrow), and go have some fun with your family!
What activities together bring fun and joy to your family? Make a list. If you are not sure, sit down as a family and make a list together. Your family will love creating a list together.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 says: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
Dear father, You know the “to do” lists set before me and my house. Those lists can be overwhelming, Lord. All of this running around, the never ending lists, and the expectations I put on myself, can rob me and my family of Joy. Joy is one of the fruits of Your Spirit and I want to claim that for me and my family, now. Please help my family and I place fun and Joy as a priority. I thank you for the resources you have blessed us with. Help me to remember that the days with my children are few. Show me ways that I can help maximize joyful opportunities for me and my family. Thank you, We love you Lord! Amen.
Keeping our Eyes on Jesus
It is easy in a blended family to become distracted with all of the daily rigmarole around us. From arguing with our ex, to not feeling loved or respected by our stepchildren, to not feeling supported by our current spouse. These daily (sometimes minute by minute) challenges can cause us to take our eyes off our Creator. But in John 16:33, Jesus’ says:
John 16: 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
By spending time daily in God’s word, by laying our troubles and burdens at the foot of the cross each day, and giving our cares and worries over to Him, He will release us from the strongholds that can take our eyes off of Jesus.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Dear Lord, you know all of my sorrows and troubles and I lay them at the foot of the cross right now, every single one of them (mention each one of them here). Please forgive me for my part in any of them and help me forgive others for their wrong doings. Make me new in you Lord. Strengthen my heart and mind so that they are pleasing to you. Thank you for sending your only Son to pay for our sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Praying for our Spouse
How often do we pray for our spouse? Sure we pray when they anger us, in which we probably pray that God would change them, and that He gets rid of their glaring defects. But do we pray for them on other occasions when things are going well, for daily protection, spiritual growth, and wisdom? If God is #1 one in our lives and our spouse comes next, shouldn’t we then invest a lot of time praying for our spouse, especially in our blended families?
Ephesians 4: 1-3 1 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for (spouse’s name here). They are a gift from above. Please help me to remember to lift them in prayer often; through thick and thin. Please help them be all that you would have them be, God. Lord, I pray for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual protection. I humbly ask that you bless them with salvation, wisdom, joy and abundant blessings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Taking Care of Me
In order to be the best we can be to our families, and be better prepared to deal with step family challenges that come our way, we need to make taking care of our own health a priority. Our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple. Therefore, we should honor and respect the Holy Spirit by taking good care of ourselves, as this would be honoring and pleasing to God. Getting enough rest at night, exercising, eating healthy food that God has blessed us with, are all ways we can take good care of our Holy Spirit’s temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.
You may be declaring right now “But I don’t have time to exercise or prepare healthy meals!” If that is the case, are your priorities in order? How can you tweak your day so that you can put yourself, the Holy Spirit’s temple, first, as a priority? Start small if needed. Add 10 minutes of exercise each day; parking farther away from your destination so you have to walk further, or running up and down your stairs for 10 minutes. How about replacing just one meal a day with healthier options, or replacing an unhealthy snack with a healthier choice of fruit, veggies, and nuts?
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Dear God, Thank you for blessing me with your Holy Spirit. I pray that you help me have a desire and willingness to take good care of the Holy Spirit’s temple that you blessed me with. Please grant me motivation and endurance to take good care of me. Show me how You want me to take better care of me. Please guide me and give me strength. Thank you Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
As For Me and My House, We Will Serve The Lord
How do you discipline your children and step children when the other household has different rules, and allows the children to do things that are in contrary to what God’s Word is telling us? It can feel disheartening and discouraging at times. You wonder if the “good fight” is worth it. You take it to God and He reminds you to claim:
Joshua 24:15″ But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
We must remember to keep our focus on what the Lord wants for our household and not constantly worrying and try to change the other household. We can only control what happens in our household. We must remember to cast our cares on to the Lord.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Prayer: God, We come before you and we are claiming “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Please guide us in our parenting. You Lord, are the supreme parent. Bless us with the knowledge of how to parent these children that you have blessed us with. Use us as your vessels Lord. Please put a hedge of protection around our children and clothe them with your veil of mercy and grace. Please guide and provide for our children, whom you love more then we can fathom. Thank you God. We surrender them to you Lord, in Jesus’ name.
Building relationships with our stepchildren takes time. It is not going to happen overnight. Although we would like it to, it just isn’t going to happen. Children from divorced homes are generally coming from a place of loss, brokenness, and grief. They may still be dealing with hurt, confusion, and mistrust. Many of them have built up walls so high, that it seems almost impossible for us to ever connect with them.
But don’t give up hope my friends. There is one who has the power to move mountains.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Friends, our God has the power to heal broken hearts, to restore broken relationships, and to make a way when there seems to be no way. The bible tells of many dismal, desolate stories of people who thought all hope was lost, until they looked to their Lord and Savior for help. They called upon Him in their times of despair and He faithfully answered.
Just like He did for His people in the Bible, He is waiting to do for you today; waiting to move Your mountains, if we just look to Him.
Matthew 7:7-87 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Heavenly father, I pray that you help heal the hurts of my stepchildren. I pray that you help me be the stepparent that you would have me be to them. Use me as your vessel. I give you my relationship between me and my stepchildren and I pray that that relationship is Your relationship Lord; pleasing to you. Make it the relationship that you would have it be. Please bless us with the spirit of forgiveness for each other and please grow our love and respect for each other. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you are part of a stepfamily, then you have plenty of awkward moments to tell about. Social situations can provide awkward moments for stepfamilies. When you introduce all of the members of your blended family; some are bio, some are step and it can cause uncomfortableness when you finally finish introducing who’s who. Where your family sits at social functions may cause awkward feelings for some. Sometimes, the bios want to sit next to the bios, however, it may fall that a bio and step end up next to each other and you may feel that awkward silence of disappointment. Or you ride together with steps to meet bios, and then the bios pile in the bio’s car to ride home, only to leave the step riding solo home. Awkward. All awkward moments with leaving step family members working through feelings of alienation and feeling like an outsider in their own home. How can we handle these emotions when they arise and linger? We can remember God’s love for us.
God already accepts us, loves us unconditionally, and calls us His own. As Christians, we are part of His heavenly family and kingdom, and we never have to feel separated isolated, or alone again. My friends, God loves us more than we can imagine.
Psalm 139:13-18 ESV says: “ 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”
Heavenly Father, Please help reduce these awkward stepfamily moments in our household. Please help us show more grace, respect, hospitality, and love towards each other. Show me ways that I can help reduce these awkward moments for each family member. Father, please help me know the depths of Your love for me. Help me show others the depth of Your love for them. Thank you Lord for your unfailing and unwavering love. I love you Lord, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thou Shalt Not Covet
It is may feel tempting for people in stepfamilies to covet traditional family households, wishing we could be like them. It may seem like traditional households have it easier with less complexities to deal with. We may grumble and complain and sit around moping thinking home life would be a whole lot easier if we could go just back in time before we were part of a stepfamily. We might even be jealous of our friends that live in traditional households. We may even feel inadequate when we hear of them celebrating their traditional household stories; while we are internally just struggling to make it through the daily battles of stepfamily land.
How do we get off this merry-go-round of regrets, feelings of inadequacies, and jealousies?
The bible is pretty clear in that it states in Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
How can we find contentment in our own circumstances? We need to go to the throne and ask God for help in this area.
Philippians 4:11-13 says: “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Heavenly Father, I come before you and I pray that you forgive me for areas that I have coveted. Please help me stop grumbling. Please help me stop coveting my friends and neighbors. I pray that you help me have a content spirit. I pray that you help me let go of my past. I pray that you help me let go of the “traditional family idea” and be content with my household. I pray that you continue to “blend” my household that way that You would have it “blended.” Help me see the value of my household and hold it in high esteem. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
What do you do when you blow it again? When you don’t act or react in a Godly manner to stepfamily issues? You lose your cool. Maybe you raise your voice, stomp around, or slam a door. Childish behavior, lack of self-control. Perplexities of stepfamily issues can cause pressure build-up like the inside of a volcano. If not dealt with in a proper manner, we can find ourselves losing our self-control, leaving ourselves feeling remorseful and others feeling the effects. So where do we turn in times like these?
Take it to our Creator. Get on our knees and confess to God that we have sinned with our lack of self-control.
Proverbs 16:32 “32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Ask Him for forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Heavenly Father: I come before you sorrowful. I have once again, showed lack of self-control. I pray that you will forgive me. I thank you that I can come to you over and over and over again, and you are always willing to provide me grace for my inequities. You are always willing to listen. Please forgive me for my sin (list them here). Please help (list person here) forgive me for my sin(s). Please help me forgive myself for these sins Father. Thank you Lord. Please help me with my self-control in this area (list here) in the future. Thank you Lord. I love you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
It is easy in stepfamilies for boundaries to become blurred. When to step in, when to step back. Whose items belong to whom, whose turn is it, what traditions do you keep, which ones do you toss, when is okay to say no, do you have to share all of your personal items, feeling like even the smallest of nuances can become a tug-o-war at the drop of a hat between bios and steps. Where do we turn for guidance? Is there help and hope in all of these blurred lines? Who is going to mediate?
Obviously, there is a lot to work out, and it is not going to happen overnight. Working together, for a common goal, compromise, so that everyone can find some joy and peace is the ultimate goal. True, not everyone is going to be happy all the time, but if we have everyone’s best interest at heart, we could work together little by little towards resolutions and mutual contentment.
We do have an ultimate mediator who always has our back. Who always has the answers, who wants the best for everyone involved, who knows the bigger picture, and is the ultimate problem solver. That someone is God.
Romans 8:28 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
When we are not sure what boundaries to establish and are okay in our stepfamily households, we can seek out God and ask Him for guidance.
Luke 11:9 says: 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Abba Father, We come before you perplexed by these blurred boundary lines in our step family home. So many of them father. We seek your wise counsel with establishing healthy boundaries in our household, so that they work for everyone involved. You know what is best for everyone in our home. Please work out all things good according to your purpose, so that You are pleased with our home, Father. We pray for your guidance and wisdom, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Accepting where your stepfamily is right now, this very moment may be difficult for you. You may wish you were already a successfully blended family, where everyone got a long peacefully and harmoniously. You may wish that your stepchildren called you mom or dad, that they gave you their love and respect, and that your family felt like a traditional loving household. But instead, what you have is a household that feels more like a rainy day Sunday football game, where your sloshing around in the mud barreling in to each other. You may even be trying to control situations and people, and trying to make “blending” happen way too fast. This may cause frustration and disappointments for you and for others. So how can we accept where we are at this very moment? How can we find contentment along the blending journey?
Matthew 6: 25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Matthew 6:32-33 “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Heavenly Father, You know my heart. You know how much I desire a happy, harmonious home. It is so hard at times to just accept where my family is right now in this blended family process. Please help me accept where we are today and help me remember 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Thank you Lord, In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
When you become a stepfamily, you will find that your original family tree moves from one tree with a few branches, to a whole new extended forest. For example, if your ex remarries, your children will have new relatives. If your new spouses’ ex remarries, your stepchildren will also have new relatives. This means during the holidays, your household will be competing for precious time with other relatives. You may now be faced with decisions that you didn’t have to make before, such as letting go of former family traditions. This may initially hurt and cause disappointment. It is an opportunity however, to reexamine our traditions and what is important to us, exercise our flexibility and create new family traditions. It is okay to move your family tradition to a different day as well. It doesn’t have to be on the exact day of the holiday. Sharing the day or alternating years is another option too.
Our attitudes in how we handle change go a long ways though. Being grouchy about having to share our children with other households new relatives is not setting a good example for our children and can put a damper on the holidays. It can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth about the holidays, including our children. So decide today, to make each moment count with your children, and choose for your self today and your household, a positive attitude.
Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Psalm 19:14 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Philippians 2:14 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
Dear God, Please help me keep a positive attitude and a cheerful heart during the holidays. Please help me also have a flexible spirit. Help me show Your love to all that I encounter during these holiday seasons. Especially in my own household. I love you Lord. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins, and my families. In Jesus name, Amen.
In the bible, Jesus gives us explicit instructions on what to do regarding forgiving others. Matthew 18:21-22 says “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
In blended families, forgiving seventy-seven times can feel more like an understatement. You may feel like you have already overlooked, brushed aside, and dished out a heaping scoop of mercy with a side of grace seventy-seven times, and it is only Tuesday! Blended family homes provide plenty of opportunities to forgive, repeatedly. We are all going to make mistakes and need forgiveness and grace throughout this bumpy, beautiful blended journey. Will it be easy? Not always. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!
Forgiveness begins with a choice. Not always an easy choice. But a choice that provides freedom from those tattered, dirty rags of weathered hurt and anger. A choice to break free from chains that hold you back from soaring ahead. A choice that gives way for renewed strength and fresh hope. The sweet fruit of forgiveness is an opportunity to heal, and release strongholds in your life, as well as others.
During these times of struggling to forgive and letting go, reading God’s Words can help begin to loosen those chains and soften the most unforgiving hearts:
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Colossians 3:13 says: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for Your beautiful Words that guide and instruct me on how to forgive. I confess Lord, that choosing to forgive is not always easy for me. Please forgive me for harboring any anger towards any family members or others. Please help me to let go and forgive (list name(s) here) for (list scenario here). Please break these unforgiving chains that bind me from having the full freedom in Christ Jesus, that you have intended for me and so freely already blessed me with. Thank you Lord, I love you! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Author: Tanya Phillips
Cooling Your Temps
What do you do when your spouse has made a big purchase or decision for your stepchildren without including you? A decision that you ultimately do not agree with it. As a married couple and parenting partners, you thought you were to be making decisions together. But yet, here you are, and maybe it is yet again, faced with your spouse making decisions for their bio children without including you. You fume, feeling disrespected, neglected and like an outsider once again. As a Christian, we are called to control our tempers, but at this moment, you want to design a t-shirt to wear in public that declares “I’m not with them!”
So how can we still be pleasing to God while we feel the blood boiling in our veins?
It’s at these times when we feel we have been betrayed, when we feel things are unfair, that we don’t want to let go of the anger and rage. It’s at these times when we least feel like praying and when we least feel like diving in to God’s Word.
Yet, it is that still small voice beaconing us to Him. Calling us back to Him. Drawing us nearer to Him.
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”
If we are obedient to that still small voice, we may be pleasantly surprised, as to what we will find, in that alone time with Him.
Peace, wisdom, solitude, comfort, connectivity, centeredness, renewed vision, diffused fuses, hope for a better tomorrow, God’s love for us…These are the gems that can come from being alone with God.
So my friends, take time to talk to God about it all today. He is waiting to hear from you.
Heavenly Father, You are truly amazing. Thank you for your awesome power. Thank you that you love me more that I can fathom. Thank you that you are there for me all the time. Thank you that you comfort me and provide me strength when I am weary. Thank you that you diffuse my fuses. Thank you for your small voice that beacons and calls me back to you. Thank you for the beautiful intrinsic treasures that you provide me when I seek you with my whole heart such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I love you Lord, In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Deal, Ron L. The Smart Stepfamily, 2005, Bethany Publishing House
All Scripture is the New International Version unless otherwise noted
“Praying for our Spouse” #19 : James 5:15 King James Version
“Awkward Moments” #23 : Psalm 139: 13-18 English Standard Version
About the Author
Tanya Phillips lives in Linden, Michigan with her husband Jim Phillips. They are a blended family and have been married since 2012. Together, they have five children; 2 of which are Tanya’s biological children, and 3 are Jim’s biological children. Tanya has enjoyed being and elementary teacher for close to 20 years and currently teachers 3rd grade in Fowlerville, Michigan. She has her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and has served her community in various service projects such as fundraising for the National Children’s Cancer Society, and volunteering by tutoring students in need at their local Family Impact Center. Tanya and Jim have also enjoyed leading blended family ministry groups and serving in children’s ministry programs at church. Tanya also enjoys leading bible studies. They continue to look forward to where God is going to lead them and their family in the future.