106: Scripture for Families in Need of Encouragement
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Gayla GraceGayla Grace serves on staff with FamilyLife Blended, a division of FamilyLife, and is passionate about equipping blended families as a writer and a speaker. She is author of Stepparenting with Grace: A Devotional for Blended Families and co-author of Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. Gayla holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Counseling. She and her husband, Randy, have been married since 1995 in a “his, hers, and ours” family. She is the mom to three and stepmom t...more
Do you have a roadmap to follow on your blended family journey? We’d like to encourage using God’s Word. Listen to Ron Deal & Gayla Grace, with stepcouple guests, talk about the value of scripture for families who are in need of hope and encouragement.
106: Scripture for Families in Need of Encouragement
Stacy: Early on in the blended family journey, when it was proving to be much more difficult than I had imagined, and there were so many times that I didn't know what to do, God gave me the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23; the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It just has really been my core when I didn't know what to do.
Ron: Welcome to the FamilyLife Blended podcast. I'm Ron Deal. I'm here with Gayla Grace. We help blended families, and those who love them, pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm so glad that you could be with us today, Gayla. It's always great to have you in the studio.
Gayla: It's good to be here, Ron. Hey, we have some big events going on at our house.
Gayla: Yes. Randy and I have five kids, and our youngest is graduating from college.
Ron: And how are you feeling about that?
Gayla: It's a weird feeling. I thought we'd never get to this point. [Laughter]
Ron: You're finally there.
Gayla: Yes, and you know, Nathan's a child that Randy and I had together, and so there was a little bit of a gap between the kids. It's just we are truly at a season that feels weird, but at the same time, good; that we are going to officially have launched our kids. As a blended family, sometimes you wonder if you'll ever get to that point.
Ron: Well, Nan and I launched our youngest this past year as well, so we have just been living through that transition. You know, like most things, I find there's a little bitterness with the sweet. We've loved him graduating college, getting a full-time job, getting a car, and moving out to an apartment with a good buddy from high school. It's been a lot of fun watching all that happen. This is what you dream about, and we miss him.
Gayla: I know.
Ron: And the house is a little—really quiet.
Gayla: I know. It forces you to really interact with your spouse.
Ron: It does.
Gayla: It helps you realize that sometimes you just neglected things and could focus on the children, and now you've got to really focus on the relationship.
Ron: That's really true; that's really true.
Gayla: Yes, but you know what I think is—and we're going to talk about in our episode today—is about some biblical principles and things that help us as we raise our kids, and then also help us as we launch them into the world. We're never really completely finished parenting. We want to continue to have some kind of a voice in their lives, but it changes. It does change.
Ron: It does. It does. I think we still have influence even though they're adults.
Ron: They still look to us for certain things, and we're involved in their life and navigating that space can be a little difficult. We did a podcast on that.
Gayla: We did.
Ron: It's been a while. Jim Burns came and talked about parenting adult children.
Gayla: Yes. It's a different position. You want to be careful that you aren't stepping on them and that you kind of respond when they ask you to. You don't just freely offer your opinion, but we have some wisdom our kids need.
Ron: Yes, I agree with that 100 percent. This reminds me, we got some feedback on a podcast that I think brought some wisdom to people and parenting and life. Listen to this. Julie wrote to us and said, “Podcast 97: Protecting Your Kids from Porn is excellent.”
Gayla: Oh, it is.
Ron: And it really was a good one. Brian Goins talking about a great resource. If you haven't heard that podcast, to the listener, let me encourage you to look that up. Number 97, and it's 97 out of over 100 now, so if you're not familiar with a lot of our podcasts, flip back through. A lot of people start with today. That's great. This is your first one. Well scroll back through the list. We have covered so many elements and aspects of stepfamily living.
Gayla: We have; and have more to come.
Ron: There's more there. That's right; and more to come.
So, Julie, thanks for writing to us. We love it when people do that. If you'd like to write in, give us a little rating after you listen to the episode; that helps other people find us, so we always appreciate that.
And all this year we're inviting people to share their Promised Land Payoff moments with us. It doesn't have to be a grand story where everything's perfect in your life. No, we just want to hear about the little moment where something turned a corner, something felt really good, you got a little payoff.
I got one recently. Let me share this with you, Gayla; this is so great. Listen to this. Chip went from being a dad of three kids to a stepdad of six.
Gayla: Oh goodness.
Ron: He learned to let his stepchildren set the pace for the new relationship. He learned that from us.
Gayla: Oh, good for him.
Ron: He's struggling to find balance and to be patient. Well, this past summer they report to us his step kids went to stay with their biological dad for an extended visit at dad's house. Before they left, out of nowhere, his stepdaughter put Chip in charge of her favorite stuffed animal.
Ron: And left him a little letter saying that she loved him.
Gayla: Oh my goodness. And she trusted him to put him in charge of her stuffed animal.
Ron: Yes, yes; that is a Promised Land Payoff moment, folks.
Gayla: I love that.
Ron: We love hearing about those kinds of things. By the way, this dad has saved the note and it's under—he's got it protected along with the favorite stuffed animal. Share those with us; look in the show notes. You can find out how you can get in touch with us. Leave us a voice message; we'd love to hear you tell the story, or you can just email us if you'd rather do that.
Okay, so throughout this last year, as you said, we've been talking with many guests and we'd ask them a bonus question and ask them: what was a biblical verse, or something that—a biblical concept that has helped their family move down the road?
Ron: We've collected those together and we're going to walk through them one by one and just share those with you, our listening audience. Sabrina McDonald is going to share with us our very first clip. Let's roll that.
Sabrina: A Bible verse that has really meant a lot to me in our blended family is the verse, Joel 2:25, which says “I will restore the years that the locust has eaten.” In a blended family situation like ours where there was a spouse—a previous spouse died; both our previous spouses died. Then you have all these questions about “What are they missing?” and “Why did God allow this to happen?” and “Why didn't David get to see my daughter go down the aisle on her wedding day?”
And just different questions even as a blended family itself—you know “What are the things that we're missing? What are the things that got messed up, ruined or destroyed?” And the grief that comes from having to put two families together and the losses that occur from that. But this verse continually gives me peace and a trust that God knows what he's doing, and we are always blessed beyond measure. He never withholds anything from his people. For those who love the Lord, he always blesses. And he said, “If you give to me, I will give unto you...pressed down, shaken together and running over.”
I don't know how the Lord will restore the years that the locust has eaten, but I know that He will. Many people when I say this to them, they look at me kind of crazy—you know, “Well, how is God going to do it?” Well, I don't know how God's going to do it. I don't know the method by which He works, but I do know that He could do anything. I do know that He made a virgin pregnant with a baby. I do know that he gave a 90-year-old Sarah a child. I do know that He works miracles. I do know that anything is possible with Him, and so I just keep trusting that. I hold on to the trust that He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten in my family in whatever way that He does that. When all is said and done, it may not happen today, it may not happen before I die; it may happen on the other side when I get to heaven.
Ron: You know what I love about that—
Ron: —is she's basically saying, you know, God is my rock, the Lord is my anchor, and I can trust Him to do what He's promised He will do. Which is not necessarily fix everything and make us free of any concern in life at all, but that He will be true to care for us and provide for us. That passage in Joel is written to the Israelite nation at a different place, a different time but I do think it's consistent, as she mentioned, with the character of God and how He's treated lots of people in history. And so, there's a basic promise there that God's going to right the wrongs.
Gayla: Yes, and I also think that we don't have to spend our time trying to understand it. That's where I get hung up sometimes, because if I don't understand it, then I go back to, “Well, how can I trust you if I don't really understand what happened here? I think if we take that piece out and we just choose to trust even when we don't understand,
Ron: Okay, that's really good. That is not easy because I'm like you, I want to make sense of things that are nonsensical sometimes.
Ron: So how do you personally, make that little move toward trust even when you don't understand?
Gayla: A lot of times I go back to previous experiences that I've walked through, and I can say, “Okay, I didn't understand.” I can think of one right off the bat when my stepchildren lost their mom to cancer and that was such a challenge. They were 14 and 19 and we had prayed to heal her, and God chose not to. We just had to say, “We'll never understand this and yet You are still a good God. I'm still going to trust You. I still love You to walk with me.” And so, I saw the way that He comforted us and that He guided our steps and took care of us even after all that happened.
I think it's just a matter of looking back at experiences and how God has continued to walk with us and be trustworthy even when we don't understand his ways.
Ron: The passage in Joel, the way it's worded: I will restore the years the locust has eaten, I don't know about you, but locust don't really eat much of my life. [Laughter] And so, you know I didn't live on a farm growing up. I understand the concept and it's actually a pretty graphic image when you think about it—
Gayla: I agree. Right.
Ron: —something stealing something from you. People listening to us right now have had death steals something, divorce has stolen something, decisions that other people have made that you didn't make/that you didn't want, have stolen something from you, stability, permanence, family, connectedness. All kinds of things have changed because some locust; that's life.
Ron: That's something we can all relate to on some level, and it's hard when you feel like to walk around with that sense of “I've been robbed.” There could be a resentment there. Obviously, there's pain there; that begs, “What do we do with that? How—you know forgiveness, how do I wrestle and struggle through that? How do I move towards somebody who has hurt me in the past and yet, I'm not so sure they're not going to do it again?” Maybe it's not a previous family where the locust has eaten but some locust that's eating right there in your home right now—a stepchild relationship with a former spouse or something. You know, how do I responsibly enter into that space even now, trusting that God somehow will, I don't know, return what is most important in life to me. I just find this a challenging, challenging thing to do.
Gayla: But you know, you heard Sabrina even say it may not happen in our lifetime. It may be something that we don't see until we're on the other side.
Ron: Which reminds me, I just thought we would read Revelation 21, first five verses.
Gayla: Oh yes.
Ron: Listen to this. I mean, if you're the listener or not familiar with this passage, you know, this is part of that promise. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,”—this is John talking—"for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” This is restoring what the locust have taken.
Gayla: Right, right.
Ron: “’He will’”—let me read that again—"’wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain.’” It's so hard to imagine that.
Gayla: I know.
Ron: Isn't that amazing?
Gayla: It is.
Ron: It's amazing. “’for the former things have passed away.’” Verse five, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” That's what we need to hold/to try to hold onto when we're struggling.
Gayla: Right, I agree.
Let's go to our next clip. The second one is Tim and Cynthia Phillips.
Tim: Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When I was a teenager, serving at the Bible camp growing up, I was sent to my pastor's home on site and on the front of his door that was the verse, and it stuck with me ever since. I attribute that to relating his servanthood to that passage, so it really means a lot to us.
Cynthia: I think for us too, in hosting a home group, we want everybody in our family to know that everything we do is centered on the Lord.
And then the second one for Tim and I, from a marriage perspective, and I think even for blended families, is Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” For blended families, it's all about second chances and thinking of things differently and being open to God renewing and restoring and redeeming. And so, for us it's just continuing to have that type of mind, that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus in all aspects of our lives, especially in blended families.
Gayla: I love the part in Romans 12:2 that talks about the renewing of our minds, transforming of our minds, because our mind is huge in regard to how we manage all those thoughts that go on in our head all the time. There's a quote that I ran across that I love from this author, Michael Singer. He wrote a book called The Surrender Experiment, and he says, “Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It's the commotion the mind makes that really causes the problems.”
Ron: The commotion the mind makes. Yes, as we make sense of it, if we try to figure it out, as we insert our thoughts and ideas about how life should be—huh, yes.
Gayla: Yes, that that's what causes our problems. If you take that back to Romans 12:2, that's talking about transforming our mind then it's all about: how do we keep our thoughts where they should be? Like, you know Philippians 4:8, all about thinking about things that are good and right and pure and lovely and—but do we really do that, or do we get caught up in the day-to-day drudgery?—the day-to-day challenges of life, of blended family life.
Ron: That is so convicting. You just—I'm thinking about stuff that crosses my path on social media that I didn't ask for. Do I dwell on that? Or do I not conform to the pattern of this world and pursue things that are good and right, noble and praiseworthy as Philippians 4:8 talks about? Those are moment to moment decisions. That's the other thing that came to my mind as they were talking. The Joshua 24:15 passage, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Obviously, Joshua's making a clear declaration of “Here's what's important to me. This is what we're going to do. As far as I'm concerned, this is the way we're going/I'm leading this home. This is where we're going.” Decisions, Gayla, matter.
Ron: I mean, they really, really matter. Recently I was talking with a young man who's dating a woman who has a child. They're trying to figure out the future, having a conversation, and I just suggested, “So have you kind of set a spiritual precedent for the relationship?”
He kind of looked at me like, “What do you mean?”
I'm like, “Well, have you prayed together? Have you—do you bring up spiritual things? Has it become—have you let her know that you, you know, Sunday you're going to church? Or you're involving your life around spiritual things as a way of saying, ‘If this relationship is going to work, we're going to meet here or we're going to have to go separate ways. Like, this is who I want us to be.’”
That precedent then will follow. In other words, the decisions he makes at the beginning of the relationship really matter. Somebody listening right now is going, “Boy, we've never done that.” Okay, make a decision today.
I heard somebody say once, “Decisions are not as important as what you do after you make the decision.” Right, I'm going to turn right, and you start turning right and all of a sudden, you know that's the direction you're going. That's what matters now, is the actions you take after you make a decision, so make the decision. It has implications. It'll set you off in a direction and get you going.
Gayla: I agree.
Ron: Okay, let's listen to our third clip is from Rich and Stacy Holsapple. They're a blended family couple out in Salem, Oregon. We love them to death. [Laughter] They have spent a lot of time investing in blended family couples in their local community.
We interviewed them about becoming somebody who—just a lay couple who leads small groups and helps other people. They're actively doing that, so let's hear their clip.
Stacy: Well, for me, early on in the blended family journey when it was proving to be much more difficult than I had imagined, and there were so many times that I didn't know what to do, God gave me the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” and the verse goes on to say, “against such things there is no law.” It just has really been my core when I didn't know what to do, when a situation was difficult and by my own strength, I could not make the right sacrificial choice. God would remind me of the fruit and say, “Pick one of these. You can't screw it up if you do one of these.” That has really resonated me with me for the last eight years.
Rich: Yes, I just echo that. And that just bleeds into all areas—you know, your spouse is not the enemy. The enemy is the enemy. There are so many times that you have to be reminded of that. The fruit of the Spirit just really rings true there. We use it with the kids too, as they're learning how to deal with the blended family.
Ron: Good stuff; good verses. I don't know where to start. There's so much. A few years ago, our Blended and Blessed® event was built around that theme in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit. By the way, that theme, that section of scripture, just a few verses before it talks about things that you should not do—stop doing these things; now replace them with these other things. That is a good discipline. It's a good way to try to set your mind moving forward to be more like Christ.
Gayla: Well, and I love the way Stacy said, “Pick any of them; you're not going to do anything wrong. Just pick any of them and it will benefit your family.” That's so true.
Ron: I've often thought if I don't know what to do in any given moment, in a situation I'm just flustered or you know, feel dysregulated, don't know how to respond in a situation,
I can always go back to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness. Gentleness, oh no, there's one; I should try that right now. Self-control. Oh wow. There's one I should put on right now. Self-control, oh there’s one I should put on right now.
Gayla, a number of years ago some friends gave me an insight about this passage as it relates to blended families, and I've never forgotten it. They said, “You know the way blended families develop over time and relationships in the beginning are sort of fragile and you're—a lot of ambiguity and you're getting to know each other, and it's with time in the crockpot, as we like to say, that eventually relationships stabilize, and things come together, and it tastes good.”
In the beginning, always apply fruit of the Spirit, but you probably have to do them in the opposite order they're written. Start with self-control. Start with gentleness and faithfulness. Lead with those things in your home. Trusting that love, the first one that's mentioned probably will be the last thing that develops in your blended family home.
I mean, completely, you know?
Gayla: Right. Sure.
Ron: That that will be the last thing to come about so you’ve got to start with self-control. I think there's a lot of wisdom in that notion.
Gayla: I agree.
Ron: For people who are frustrated listening right now, feel like you're hitting your head against a brick wall with whatever the situation is in your home, okay, back up. Self-control, gentleness, faithfulness; how do I do those things? I can't make everybody else do them, but how do I do those things?
Gayla: And I think it comes with asking for the Holy Spirit's help. I mean, we're just not going to always get that right, especially in a tense moment or with a stepchild that's rolling their eyes at us. We need help in self-control. So that's a thing to remember, I feel like.
Ron: Good stuff.
Gayla: Okay, let's go on to the next clip. We have Rick Marks on this one.
Rick: That alienated parent who's listening, I would say to you, I know you're hurting because of whatever happened. I know that there's pain. I know you're angry because of it, but in your anger, because of your own pain, you're taking it out on the kids against that other person.
My admonition is heal, but don't turn your anger on your kids to use them as a pawn against the real person you're angry at is that other parent, that other person. Go heal. Care enough about yourself to heal, but in so doing care more about your children, so you protect them from adult issues and don't bring them into the middle of an adult issue. Let them be children. Let them love both parents.
Ron: Gayla, let me put a little perspective on this for our listener, and then I'd love to get your reaction to it. Rick is in episode 103 on parent alienation. For those who didn't hear that episode, Rick was alienated by his father away from his mother as a child growing up, and he went ten, fifteen, twenty years without any relationship with his mother because of his father's manipulation.
Ron: Deep hurt and pain, and a fracturing of the family relationships. So, for him to say, you’ve got to deal with your own pain; you’ve got to heal, I mean, he's speaking from experience.
Gayla: Oh. I think that's applicable for all of us in blended families and also in regard to what pain we still carried into our new marriage. because we talk about the ghost of marriage past and things that we carry in that result in us hurting another person because we're still hurting. His phrase that he says over and over again, “Go heal; go heal, I mean, you're a therapist. It sounds easy, but it's not.
Ron: No, it's not, even for a therapist to heal themselves. [Laughter]
Gayla: Oh, right.
Ron: I mean, I struggle with this too. Like we all have something, hurt in our life. We just live in fractured lives and worldhood. Even you grew up in an intact family, and yet there's residue.
Gayla: Oh, of course.
Ron: There's always a little residue on our hearts.
Gayla: There is,
Ron: Because we're all imperfect, and we all know as parents that we're putting some residue on our kids' hearts. I just think that's part of the reality of realizing “I'm not a perfect person, and so that's a part of life.” I think we just have to be candid and honest with ourselves and say, “What is that residue for me?” and “What do I do with that?” because it will seep out a little bit at a time.
Gayla: It will. Some of that is self-awareness then. If we hear other people saying to us, “Hey, have you thought about how this behavior is affecting you?”
Ron: “Why are you acting that way? What's that about?”
Gayla: Right, right. And if we just immediately get defensive, then it's a red flag that there's something here. If we find that our emotions are getting ramped up all the time about something, we’ve got to step back and say, “What is that about?”
Ron: You know in this Empowered to Love seminar that Nan and I are doing now for churches and for couples, we've learned that essentially all of us, there's basically four categories of reactivity in us when we have pain. Whether that pain comes from parents or siblings or a coworker, it could be somebody benign to us that causes us pain, we'll still basically do one of four things—blame, shame, control, or the last category is escape/chaos.
Okay, let me explain. Blame is “Well, what's happened is all about you, and you're messed up and this has nothing to do with me. I have no part in it. I have no responsibility on any level. This is just all about you.” That's blame, that's a posture where you're just really mad at the other person.
Shame, “This is all about me and obviously this happened, or you said that,” or “This happened because I'm a bad person. I'm unworthy.” That's a focus on your lack of your sense of worth.
Control, that's mine.
Gayla: Right. [Laughter]
Ron: I'm really good at—I go into perfectionism, “Well, I'll just outperform this thing and I'll make this problem go away.” Or “I'm going to get you to be different because I don't think you're responding correctly,” so I go into control mode about the other person. It takes various forms, but it's simply trying to get the pain to go away by controlling it.
And then the last one is escape. And you can escape into, well, there's a thousand things. You can escape into porn or drugs or dope or an affair. You can escape into religion. A lot of religiosity in people is just their way of not really doing life very well. They just sort of claim all these spiritual things and live in that, but don't really absorb it.
And with that comes some chaos. I think that's the thing that we’ve got to admit. If you throw yourself into something, like drugs or alcohol, it brings chaos on your life. You're escaping all right, and it's making things—
Gayla: —and everyone around you.
Ron: and everyone around you.
The reason I'm sharing all this is to just simply say, when you do any of those four things, that should be a sign to you that you have some hurt and pain and you need to figure out a way to heal it. It's backwards to go, “Hmm, why am I so controlling? Oh, maybe because I feel this pain in my heart. What's that about? And where's that from?”
That little exercise, if you will, of backtracking from how you react to how you feel underneath it is actually growth producing and it opens up that opportunity for us to say, “Lord, I have pain. I’ve got to heal this. Would you help me face this and deal with it in a different way? Because as long as I keep going into control mode, nothing will get better, and I'll continue to bring bad things to my relationships.”
Gayla: Right, and that's the ultimate goal, is “How is our behavior affecting the other relationships?” and we have to consider that.
Ron: Right. Okay, our friends, Kirk and Lori McGregor, who are on affiliate staff with us here at FamilyLife Blended, serve down in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
Let's hear what they had to say.
Kirk: A biblical concept that we've used in our ministry to help us, basically minister to others is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
The principle there is we're all going through a journey and we're all going to face bumps, hiccups, challenges down the road. And you know, it's very good to have people there looking out for us. We certainly have God, our Father doing that, but then realizing as we're going through this, we're being sharpened and changed and allow those challenges that we've been through—use them for good to help minister to others as they help minister to others. So, the multiplication and the replication is the big leadership model we like.
Lori: And I would say Romans 8:28 is another verse that really has guided us in that, you know all things. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It really goes right along with that 2 Corinthians in that what we've gone through and the trials that we have, God weaves it together, taking our broken past, our broken marriages, and He has weaved together something so much more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.
And that just really, I would say, keeps us going in our ministry and in our marriage.
Ron: That verse does not say all things are good—
Ron: —but that God is working toward our good in all things. It's hard to see that. It's certainly hard to understand that. Tremendous loss that people listening right now have had, and you look back and go, “There's no good in that.” I think we have to trust God with the stuff we don't understand.
Ron: The death of my son is one of those things where I don't see any good in that, and yet I understand that God is shaping character in me as a result. Is that the purpose? Is that why it happened? No, I wouldn't say that. I just know in it, God is working something on our behalf, and we have to hold onto that.
Gayla: Yes, and it doesn't say that it feels good either.
Ron: Right, right.
Gayla: But it is oftentimes things don't feel good.
Ron: That's a confusing passage but—
Gayla: I agree and sometimes gets misquoted, and we have to be careful and discerning about it.
Ron: I love the way Lori referenced it to say they're experiencing some beauty in their life at this point. That's a result of the God of second chances working in their family.
Gayla: Exactly. Yes, and the verse that Kirk quoted about, He comforts us so we can comfort others. I think that's applicable even for you though, Ron, in the loss that you've had and how you are using that to now comfort others, to educate others, to grow others, to empathize in what you're doing.
Ron: Yes, absolutely. People have come alongside us in our loss, and it was so beautiful for people to minister to us. And now we get to turn around in our loss and help other parents deal with that.
Kirk's talking about how that's sort of God's model of helping the world care for itself. The kingdom cares for one another. When God brings you grace into your world, you have an opportunity to bring grace into somebody else's world. It could just be through a word of encouragement or an arm around them when they need it, or a serving/making a meal. You know getting together in small groups, we think, is a great way for those who have been comforted to comfort other people, so to speak, to encourage and empower one another to walk in His ways. We are definitely strong advocates for that.
Gayla: I agree.
Well, let's listen to our last clip. This is with Steve and Jan Matthews; also affiliate staff with FamilyLife Blended, and we're so thankful for them.
Jan: A biblical concept or scripture that has served us would be Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.” I think the older we are, the more we
realize, we just lay ourselves at the foot of the cross and say, “Lord, do with us what you would.” And even in our stepfamily life, it can't be about me. You know as a childless stepmom with his four kids, I learned right off the bat I just have to step aside. This can't be about me. I had to lay myself down and say, “Lord, have your way and allow me to serve you in the best way that I can, and not have it be about me—more of You and less of me.”
Steve: And just to go along with that, it's just—you know the scripture talks about where “Here am I. Send me.”
Steve: And just being willing to go when God says, “Let's go; let's go,” and we just said, “We're going to go for it and we're going to do this.” That's what we strive for, is just what God—seeing all these things, what God can do, and He's a great God.
Gayla: More of you and less of me. Man, that's a scripture that I have to ponder a lot because I don't know that I always get that right and yet, that is instrumental in relationships in blended family life if we allow more of the Lord to control our lives and step out of the way. But it requires humility; it requires selflessness. All those things, they just aren't that easy.
Ron: That is so not easy. That is a day-to-day surrender, isn’t it?
Gayla: It is.
Ron: You know for Steve and Jan; we know them, and we love them a lot.
Ron: And what we know about them, I can hear in this passage that they shared; they have a sense of mission about their family.
Gayla: Yes, I love that.
Ron: And the sense of surrender about “Lord”—Jan's role as a stepmom—"Okay, this is not about me. How do I release what I want, what I need into this moment, and somehow be for these other people what I need to be? How do I love them well in this moment?” I think that's a great heart and attitude to just adopt for any of us in any relationship that we might be in.
Ron: Do you remember Summer Butler? I interviewed her for episode number 81. It's called Bonus Moms, and she had this moment where she realized as a stepmom what her real job was. Let me just remind our listeners what she said. She said she had this moment where she was driving in her car and the Lord just sort of got a hold of her heart and she pulled over. She had this moment where she, just sort of, heard Him say to her, if you will, “You're not raising these children, so they grow up and call you mother; you are raising them, so they grow up and call me Father.”
That's what I hear in Steve and Jan's comment. They have this great missional attitude about their roles, their job within their home, and how they approach it. They’re thinking eternity. They’re thinking “How do I introduce everybody to the Heavenly Father? How do I represent Him well?” Man, you know if I could just do that with my kids and my wife all the time, right?
Ron: Now, I'm not going to get there but what a great thing to strive for: I am God's ambassador in this moment. How do I represent him well?
Gayla: And does our behavior really speak to what we say and how we want to live our lives? Does our behavior really reflect that?
Ron: Gayla, it's always great to have you in the studio with me. Thanks for being here.
Gayla: Good to be here. Ron.
Ron: I think to you, the listener, it goes without saying we would encourage you to be in the Word as often as you can, as much as you can, to be fellowshipping with God's people somewhere somehow so that you can give to them, and they can give to you. It's all a part of knowing God's Word helps us grow into the image of our Lord and Savior. If you want to know more about any of the people that you've heard on the podcast or any of the episodes that we've talked about, be sure and check out the show notes and you can figure out more information there and how you can learn more about them.
And if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet, my goodness, we would encourage you to do that, so you don't miss anything that's coming. If this podcast has served you in any way at any point in time, let me just ask you to consider doing a couple of things. First of all, would you just share a resource with a friend or a family member so they can benefit like you have? Maybe it's even this episode or something else, one of the other resources we've produced. Just take a minute, send them an email, send them a text, and let them know how they can get in touch with us.
And the second thing is maybe consider making a donation to FamilyLife® on behalf, specifically, of FamilyLife Blended. We are a 501c3 nonprofit ministry and everything we do is based on what other people make available to us, so we appreciate that. You can help us keep the lights on [Laughter] and doing more podcasts. Make sure you get on your calendar the WinShape Retreat for blended family couples coming up March 17-19, 2023. You can find that in all of my speaking events at smartstepfamilies.com.
Start having conversations with your church leadership if you haven't yet about hosting. Blended and Blessed, the one-day livestream marriage seminar that's new every single spring for blended family couples. It is Saturday, April 29th. We'll be live down in Melbourne, Florida. If you're anywhere in the neighborhood, come see us. And/but you can just stay at home or at your church host that event—get couples in the room for less than a hundred dollars. We would love to share some good word and encouragement with couples in your church and community—get those on your calendar.
And speaking of Blended and Blessed, next time on FamilyLife Blended, you're going to hear a presentation that I did a couple of years ago at the Blended and Blessed live stream about having a healthy, vibrant sex life. The message is called The Beauty, the Message, and the Mystery of Marital Sexuality. That's next time on FamilyLife Blended.
And yes, don't listen to that one with the kids in the car.
I'm Ron Deal, thanks for listening to us.
FamilyLife Blended is produced by Marcus Holt and Josh Batson; mastering engineer is Jarrett Roskey. Our project coordinator is Ann Ancarrow, and theme music composed and performed by Braden Deal.
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