Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Dose of Family

After spending the weekend in Jackson for my grandparents anniversary, I realized just how lucky I am to have the family I do.

We are all wacky and heck were family so of course we each have our own dash of dysfunctionality, but we have a great time. We know how to enjoy each other's company and I always have a fabulous time. My cousin Conor and I played on Hilary's computer making funny pics, this one is more sweet than funny, but I loved it.

We started the weekend out at dinner to celebrate my grandparents. It was lots of fun, just ask Uncle Mike. My dad made this great slideshow and it was wonderful to reminiscence (at least for the ones that were taken in my lifetime). We celebrated and ate then we just went back to the hotel. Saturday was wonderful bonding time with board games and then the guys went to see Gran Torino and all the gals went to see Bride Wars (12 of us ladies laughing). Then it was back to the house for a family dinner.

Sunday we all went to church (took 3 rows) and then went to my dad's favorite restaurant (Taco Bell) for lunch before heading home. Having time just to catch up with everyone was fantastic. I have such a great family. I am truly blessed. Both my mom's and dad's side of the family are big and love to be together. It couldn't get any better.

The bottom picture has all the female cousins and my stepdaughter, Stephanie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plan of Redemption

I am one that believes in healing of the past. I believe in being real about who you are and where you are. I believe in transparency within boundaries and safety. I am always at work, not to be perfect, as perfection is not attainable or desired. Perfection is boring and impersonal. Instead I seek to be the best me possible. I seek to be the person God has made me to be. I desire to be free from past pain and the expectations of others. I say all this because, yesterday, as I met with a local couple in ministry, I had a perspective change, not in the above mentioned, but in how that plays out in my everyday life.

You see, thus far I have seen my choice to marry my wonderful husband as a result of past longings. My parents divorced when I was young, and despite their loving attempts to make me feel accepted and loved, I never felt like I completely belonged to anything. I felt I was a fraud and an outsider always looking into someone else's full existance. I always knew my step mom loved me, but felt lesser to my half siblings that were hers and my dad's. Going from one parents' home to the other meant missing out on what was going on in the other home. I never felt like I fully belonged anywhere on this planet.

One day earlier last year, it hit me, that when I married my husband, with 2 children from a previous marriage, that I had unknownly placed myself in the same emotional outsider situation, and my husband's attempts to prove otherwise had been futile. This fact felt depressing to the progress I had hoped to make. I am working on my internal struggle and working at correcting the wrong thoughts and feelings I face, but it just seemed futher compounded.

Yesterday all of that changed. The struggle is still present and real, but the perspective is different. You see now I see that though I made the choice that brought me back into a place of emotional pain, God allowed the choice to bring redemption into my life. As I continue to correct my feelings of pain, I am redeeming the past. I can't go back and relife it (nor would I want to), but I can heal deeper places in my heart because they overlap. That is such a freeing perspective. It makes me want to sing at the top of my lungs and dance around the room. Because what Satan intends for evil, God will use for good. Joel 2:25 says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you." I love that God has come to redeem the gnarly parts of our past and wishes to not only heal them but make us spiritual giants through the process.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Plight of the Stepmom

Don't get me wrong, I completely love my husband and stepkids, but being a step mom is a hard. My circumstances are compounded by the fact that I don't yet have my own children. Our blended family was just blending me into the mix of a pre-existing family. Truly difficult. Oh, and did I mention that my husband is 16 years older than me so my step kids are closer in age to me than my own husband. We have full-time custody and while their biological mom has visitation the girls don't really do so on a regular basis. While my husband tries to consider my point of view, I often am seen as the one who doesn't get it because they aren't my blood.

Yes, I know I walked down that aisle. I signed up for this, and let me repeat, no regrets. A lack of regrets does not equal a lack of difficulty and frustration. A day in the life of my stepmother experience includes tons of looks. People often ask me if I am my stepdaughters' sister, because I look young. My older stepdaughter is special needs and is 7 years younger. So while she looks adult-sized, she acts child-sized and that adds to the looks. I love it because she calls me mother. She is full of energy and adds to my life. When I tell people they are my stepdaugthers I usually get an, "oh..." Its like they aren't really sure how to react.

I Feel Like a Phony

When women ask if I am a mother and I say I have 2 stepkids. I often get an "oh, you don't have your own children," as if I am fake or phony. The fact is I do all that biological moms do, and at the end of the day I get no credit. At the end of the day "she" will always be mom and I will be the "step." Let me tell you that fact alone, sucks. Especially considering I don't have children yet, and its not that I don't want my own children, I do, desperately. Mother's day has become an awkward experience for me because I really don't know what I am, especially considering for many years my husband was both dad and mom for his girls. I really feel like he should be honored.

Learning the dance is taking some time. Learning when to step in and when to step back. Its difficult, but worth it. Because at the end of the day those girls need someone in their corner and it keeps me humble, because its not about me. I just wish that more people got it. Its often a lonely journey, and that's with great girls and a great man. In the process, I am learning to be myself and learn to have my own life. I am really enjoying a life outside my family and that is helping me enjoy more of life with my family.