About the Guest
As a young husband and father of two small children, David Beasley made his wife, Sabrina, promise to remarry if anything were to happen to him so that his children would have a father figure. Keeping the promise she made to her late husband was difficult for Sabrina Beasley, but today she is Sabrina McDonald. Her new husband, Robbie, joins her to tell their story.
Robbie and Sabrina McDonaldRobbie and Sabrina McDonald were both widowed when they married and blended their families in 2013. Together they have three children at home and a grown son and daughter-in-law. Robbie is a full-time non-commissioned officer for the Army National Guard, a deacon, and a member of The Gideons International. Sabrina is a stay-at-home mom and author of two books, "Open the Widows of Heaven," a devotional for women, and "The Blessings of Loneliness."
Ron DealRon L. Deal is one of the most widely read and viewed experts on blended families in the country. He is Director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®, founder of Smart Stepfamilies™, and the author and Consulting Editor of the Smart Stepfamily Series
It was difficult for Sabrina to keep the promise to her late husband, to remarry after his death. But today she is Sabrina McDonald. Her new husband, Robbie, joins her to tell their story.
Bob: As a young wife and mother of two small children, Sabrina Beasley remembers her husband, David, ask her to make an unusual promise.
Sabrina: Many times he told me that, if anything ever happened to him, he wanted me to remarry again—he wanted that for his children. He felt like he was missing something in his life by not having a father. Honestly, we had had a conversation just a couple of days / maybe the day before he died. Of course, he had no idea he was going to die. It was just the sovereignty of God to give me peace of mind that this was okay for me to do. He actually said to me, “Promise me that, if anything ever happens to me, you will get married again and have a father for my children.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Keeping the promise she made to her husband was difficult for Sabrina Beasley, but today she is Sabrina McDonald.
We’ll meet Sabrina and her husband on our program. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I see that you have brought Dr. Deal in the studio with us today.
Dennis: Ron Deal joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Ron, welcome back.
Ron: Thank you—always good to be here.
Bob: I called you Dr. Deal—it’s not officially Dr. Deal; right?
Bob: But I’m going to call you Dr. Deal because this is kind of—we’re going to have a little checkup today; right?
Ron: Exactly! We’re going to be talking about relationships in blended families and how they adjust and change over time. Actually, we’re going to let the real experts talk, here in a minute, and teach the rest of us how it works.
Dennis: Well, you have to be excited.
Bob: You have a book that you wrote, about four years ago, that is being rereleased. It’s called The Smart Stepfamily Marriage. You’re excited about this because this is going to help a lot of folks.
Ron: Absolutely. This book was the result of a research project that I did with Dr. David Olson. We studied over 50,000 couples, who had formed relationships in creating a stepfamily. We looked at the strengths of their relationships and the weaknesses. We pulled this book together around how you build strength into your couple’s relationship. It’s a very practical book. It can be used in churches, with a small group study guide; and we’re just thrilled to be able to share it with people.
Dennis: You also have a brand-new feature—a radio feature that’s out on a number of stations. How’s that going?
Ron: It’s going very well. FamilyLife Blended™ is a sixty-second daily feature, that’s heard around the country, on various stations and outlets. If you’re not hearing it in your neck of the woods, you can call your radio station, right now, and ask them to carry it.
Bob: There you go! They need to be doing that.
Well, you brought some guests with you into the studio today. Introduce our guests, Ron.
Ron: I’d be happy to. Sabrina—formerly Beasley, now McDonald—was married and had two children. Your first husband passed away, tragically, in a car accident. You’re here today with Robbie, your new husband. Robbie McDonald is a sergeant in the Army National Guard. Your first spouse / your wife passed away as well. Let me just kind of set our timeline for our conversation today.
In 2010, Sabrina, your husband passed away in a car accident. In 2011, Carrie, your wife, Robbie, died of cancer. In 2012, Sabrina was on this broadcast, talking with Bob, and Dennis, and I about a book I had written called Dating and the Single Parent.
Bob: Yes, you remember being on FamilyLife Today talking about that?
Sabrina: Yes, definitely.
Bob: What are your memories of that time?
Sabrina: Well, you know—
Dennis: Let’s refresh your memory! [Laughter] You’re not doing really well coming up with memories. So, Keith, why don’t you just kind of give us a little sampling of what Sabrina said back in 2012?
Sabrina: This is not going to be the same situation—this is a different person / a different relationship—a different scenario. When you don’t have any children, the relationship is one-on-one; but then, when you have children—if you think about it like a spider web or a string—and you just keep attaching, and attaching, and attaching between the different relationships—there’s a whole web to consider: “Now, how is this going to affect my children? How is this going to affect everything?”
Everything is different the second time around. When I met my husband, I didn’t have any children; now, I have two more lives that are completely affected by this other person I bring in. If he has children, their lives are affected by my children / by me. It’s just an entire web of situations.
Bob: So, at that point, Sabrina, had you met Robbie?
Sabrina: No, I had not met him.
Bob: Were you dating?
Bob: You were just a single mom / two kids, wondering if you’d ever date or marry again?
Sabrina: Yes. I was definitely looking. I mean, I had looked a lot. I actually met Robbie on the internet. [Laughter] I’m not even sure if I was signed up, at that point; but I was definitely contemplating it.
Bob: So, I just have to back up here—you had looked a lot.
Dennis: Yes. I was kind of wondering about that, too, Bob.
Bob: Where, and how, and—[Laughter]
Sabrina: Everywhere! [Laughter] My first husband was raised by a single mom, and his father was killed in a car accident. Many times, he told me that, if anything ever happened to him, he wanted me to remarry again—he wanted that for his children. He felt like he was missing something in his life by not having a father. Honestly, we had had a conversation just a couple of days / maybe the day before he died.
Of course, he had no idea he was going to die. It was just the sovereignty of God to give me peace of mind that this was okay for me to do. He actually said to me, “Promise me that, if anything ever happens to me, you will get married again and have a father for my children.”
I had no idea, at that moment, that anything like that would ever happen. So, when he died, not only was I looking for someone, but his family was extremely supportive. They found several suitors for me. [Laughter] I had people looking for me everywhere—I told all my friends: “Listen, I’m a single mom. I don’t have time to go out and date.” I said: “If you know somebody, you bring him to me because I know you know me—you’ll have a filter. You know the kind of person I’m looking for.”
Bob: Yes, and we ought to say here, Sabrina, who worked, here at FamilyLife, for a number of years—Sabrina is a spiritually-mature woman.
Bob: So, the filter—the kind of person you were looking for—
Dennis: Yes, she wasn’t just being frantic.
Bob: This is not just any apple off the tree—this is somebody who has to meet a pretty high standard for you to even have any interest in him.
Sabrina: Absolutely. David and I—my first husband and I—we had a wonderful relationship. I mean, we were very happily married—probably happier on the day he died than ever. I mean, we were married for seven years. It was a very happy, healthy relationship, built on the principles of Christ. I did not think I would be able to find someone to that standard. So, my standards were really, really high. I was looking for someone who could fill that hole.
Ron: One of the things that impressed me about you, on that prior broadcast, is that quote we just listened to. You were expecting and anticipating that dating again, with children involved, would be an entirely different process. When it’s just two people, that’s one thing; but when it’s children and a crowd—that would be another. So, shortly thereafter, you do meet Rob; and you guys do start dating.
Dennis: Well, before you go there, I have to have you comment—because you wrote a book for a person, like Sabrina; didn’t you?—who is thinking about remarrying and needing to count the cost.
Ron: That’s right.
Bob: You talking about Dating and the Single Parent?
Dennis: I am; I am. Just comment, if you would, about how Sabrina was handling herself, at that point, and what you said in your book that would have helped her, at the time.
Ron: Candidly, one of the reasons I wanted her on that broadcast is because she had a very insightful perspective—as a single mom / as somebody who was being set up by all the friends and family—and, at the same time, open to a new relationship. She had a very mature perspective about, “This is going to be different.”
I think that’s where a lot of people get blind-sighted. In Dating and the Single Parent, we take great caution to tell people: “Hey, it’s a different process. It’s not just like falling in love with another person. You have to learn how to be a family; and there are other things to consider, as you’re going through the dating process.”
What I’d love to do now is just kind of have you reflect—you had that opinion, back then, and then you actually experienced it—and to the point of sitting here today, being married. What did you learn? What would you say to yourself, if you could talk to yourself, a couple of years ago—is there anything you’ve learned that you would say to yourself?
Sabrina: Well, first of all, because we had discussed it and I was already coming into it from that perspective. So, when I would meet single men, oftentimes, I would consider how they would be around my children. For example, a young man came by, really right after the funeral, and was bringing me a meal. He was a single man, and a lot of people had suggested him. He was with my children; and I thought, “He just doesn’t know how to identify with my son.”
He seemed okay with a newborn baby; but as a two-and-a-half-year-old—he didn’t know how to interact with him / he didn’t seem comfortable with a toddler. Immediately, I thought, “Well, he’s gone because he has to be a dad—number one.”
There were others that I looked at that just didn’t have the type of quality I want for someone to be the father of my children—and not that there was anything wrong with them, as individuals—but they just didn’t seem to be like a dad. They seemed to need a parent—they were more immature. Even if they were in their mid-30s, they were acting more adolescent. I wanted someone who was more of a mature person to be with my children. So, there were guys I rejected simply for that.
Dennis: Ron, you wrote the book; but what I hear—from what Sabrina is saying here—is she wasn’t just thinking, as a single-parent mom, who’s lonely. She’s looking out for the good of the whole, at this point.
Ron: And that is the balance that single parents need to have. You’re not just looking at a partner for you—but you’re looking at it from a family perspective—father to your children, in your case.
Sabrina elevated the question about their role as a father and the entire role as a family unit as being equal with, “Do I like this person, as a man?” It’s not just one question / it is many questions, and she did that extremely well.
Bob: I want to go to the night, when the kids were in bed, and you said: “Okay, I’m finally getting out my credit card. I’m finally typing it in, and I’m finally going on this internet service.” [Laughter] Because that had to be—you had to swallow hard—go, “Do I really want to do this?”
Sabrina: Yes. It’s scary to think about whom you might meet, and opening yourself up to the world, and going, “Do I really want to do that?” You have no idea. It’s scary because you, as a woman—you want a protector—you’re not used to being the protector. When you’re a single mom, you have to play a role of both nurturer and protector, and I had to think about protecting my children from strange men.
So, it was a very difficult decision.
Dennis: I want to turn to Robbie and go—we were talking to her about her credit card coming out. What motivated you to go, online, to do the same?
Robbie: Not being able to meet people because you don’t go to the places to meet people. The only places that I had to meet people were the grocery store or the church.
Dennis: I’m guessing you had met every single woman at church; right?
Robbie: I kind of put that as an off-limits place because of the fact that this is my church—I’m a deacon in the church. If something did not go right in the relationship, I didn’t want that to be a burden, at church—and have to look at the person or the congregation, looking at me, saying, “This person did something wrong.” So, that’s how I thought there—so that was an off-limits area. There were women at the church who approached me, but I kind of didn’t let that happen.
Ron: You held to your boundary, at that point, and said, “No, this is not a good idea.”
Ron: Good for you, by the way.
Robbie: I love my church, and I wanted to stay there!
Dennis: I have to ask: “Who pinged who first on this?”
Bob: Oh, you know—he pinged her!
Dennis: I don’t know that! [Laughter] You just heard Sabrina say she was looking all over the place!
Bob: Well, I know, but I also know Sabrina. [Laughter] She’s not going to be pinging anybody—they’re going to have to ping her. I just wonder what you saw in the profile that caused you to go, “Okay, I’m sending her an email.”
Dennis: Now be honest—was it the picture? [Laughter]
Robbie: The picture is a starting point, yes. [Laughter]
Ron: That’s the right answer, by the way.
Robbie: The fact that she’s a writer—and the things she wrote on her profile and the way she wrote them—had me intrigued. The fact that she was a Christian writer was something that I really looked at.
Sabrina: I was overtly Christian on my profile. That got rid of a lot of people. No one—
Ron: That’s a way to filter.
Sabrina: It is.
Robbie: I really liked that part too.
Sabrina: Yes; that’s the kind of person I was looking for—the one that would be attracted to that. So, it worked.
Dennis: What was the first ping? What did you say / what did you do? Is it just a box you check?
Robbie: I think the first thing I said was: “I read your profile. I think you really need to look at my profile and go from there.”
Bob: And you looked at his profile?
Sabrina: I looked at his profile. I saw that he was ten years older than me, and that he had a 23-year-old son and a 14-year-old son. I said, “Uh, [Laughter] no.” But I saw that he was widowed. So, I thought, “Well, I understand how that feels, and it’s hard to start over again.” So, I said: “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to meet him. I have lots of friends that are his age.” [Laughter]
“And if nothing else, I could just introduce him to one of them.”
At this point, we had talked several times. So, I knew a little about him—I knew he was—said he was a good person / he had a testimony. You know, you have to take all of these things sort of at face value until you meet the person and can really read their body language and all those things. Because you can sit down and think about a reply to an email for an hour, you know.
Dennis: And the first date was?
Sabrina: The first date we went to YaYa’s—
Bob: Ya-Ya’s is a restaurant—nice restaurant, here in town.
Sabrina: Yes. I remember—when he got out of the car, I went, “Oh! Well he’s a little more handsome than I thought he was.” [Laughter]
Ron: That picture didn’t do you justice, Robbie.
Robbie: Yes, I didn’t do a very good job. [Laughter]
Sabrina: So we walked into the restaurant and sat down. I said, “I feel like I know you already.”
Bob: Did you walk out that first night, going, “She’s the one”?
Robbie: I had a feeling, before we even met, that she was the one.
Bob: Just from the phone conversations?
Robbie: Just from the phone conversations.
Bob: So, did you walk out from that first dinner, going, “Maybe he’s the one”?
Sabrina: No. I walked out, saying, “He is a really nice guy, but our circumstances are too different.” I mean, his oldest son was getting married. I told him, “Within five years, I could be a grandmother; and I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old.”
Ron: You didn’t see yourself dealing with that kind of life circumstances?
Sabrina: Not at all—not at all. I told him, “Absolutely not.” He was so nice—
Dennis: Hold it. You told him, “Absolutely not”?
Ron: Yes. I’m wondering, “How do you go from ‘not’ to ‘okay’”?
Dennis: Well, he works for the army—so he’s all about challenge. [Laughter]
Ron: There you go.
Dennis: “This is battle time,”—so he has his fatigues on / he’s coming after you.
Sabrina: He worked hard! I’ve never seen a man work so hard.
Dennis: How long between “absolutely not” to “maybe”?
Robbie: Seven months.
Sabrina: No, that’s till “I do.”
Bob: Seven months till “I do.”
Sabrina: Seven months till “I do.”
Bob: “Absolutely not” to “maybe” was—
Sabrina: —about six weeks—maybe a little less than that.
Bob: And what happened, over six weeks, to shift from “not” to “maybe”?
Sabrina: He really pursued me.
Dennis: Did he wear his uniform? I just want to know if he wore his uniform as he pursued you.
Sabrina: I don’t know—yes/no—not as you were pursuing me. I don’t know—I don’t think you did.
Robbie: Yes; the first time I wore my uniform with you was when I met your children.
Sabrina: Yes. And I had already decided “yes,” at that point, because he wasn’t going to meet my kids until I was, at least, on the “maybe.” He worked really hard. He would send me—I told him “Absolutely not!” “No way,” “Never again,”—and he just kept sending messages/texting me and really asking me about myself—what—every day. He got on one thing where he started asking me:“I want to learn something new about you every day. Send me something new about yourself.”
That was very charming, you know, that someone wanted to know so much about me.
At the same time, I was going to the church singles’ group—there were a lot of young people there. I guess I have a young-looking face because I would have people, ten years younger than me, trying to ask me on dates; and they didn’t know anything about my life. I had had another totally different life that they had never even experienced. I felt like I was an old woman, from having gone through this experience.
I thought: “Here are these 23-year-olds, hitting on me—no idea—and here’s this wonderful godly man, and I’m rejecting him simply because of his circumstances.” I kept thinking about the Scripture that says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I said, “Here is a man who is godly—he loves the Lord / he has a good relationship with his kids,”—that was a big one for me.
Another one was—I met his son. I said: “I can’t marry somebody with a teenager. He’ll hate me—I’m not his mom.” He said: “That’s not fair. You haven’t met my son.” I said, “Okay.” I met Seth and absolutely loved him. He had a certain maturity about him. He wasn’t a silly kid, sitting around with his earphones on, listening to music and being sassy. He respected his father. I thought, “If he has a good relationship with his dad, then this man could raise my children to be the same kind of kids.”
Ron: If Seth were sitting here, right now, and we asked him, “So, what was it like to meet Sabrina?” what do you think he would say?
Sabrina: Well, I asked him, later on. That’s one thing that’s interesting about our family—is that we all have an understanding. There’s not really—talking about his mom is not off-limits / talking about his dad having other relationships is not off-limits—because he knows I understand.
He told me that what he liked about me was that I didn’t try to be his mom. I had experienced loss myself, and I understood where it is that he’s coming from. So, we have a very good relationship, he and I.
Dennis: What hits me about this story is that, although you were dating Robbie, you were checking out all the relationships that were a part of the web that you described back in 2012.
Bob: And Ron, that’s key; isn’t it?
Ron: That’s absolutely key. That sort of wisdom is what gives blended families a running start in a healthy direction versus trying to step in and replace—running over the grief of children or just ignoring that the kids are part of the package deal to begin with.
Dennis: And I’d encourage anybody, who’s in a dating relationship or maybe already married, to pick up some of Ron’s resources, especially this most recent about The Smart Stepfamily Marriage.
Bob: Yes, this is an opportunity for couples to really dig into the dynamics of a marriage relationship and give themselves a checkup as they either consider marriage or as they begin a blended family. Maybe you’ve been in a blended relationship for a number of years and you’d just like to kind of do an inventory and say, “How are we doing, and where are the areas where we can strengthen and improve our marriage relationship?”
Ron Deal’s book, The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, is a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can request a copy when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” Again, the title of the book is The Smart Stepfamily Marriage.
Let me also mention that we have Ron Deal’s video series on The Smart Stepfamily available for couples who’d like to go through this on your own or maybe you’d like to form a small group and go through this material.
Find the resources we’re talking about when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link at the top left corner of the page that says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for information about The Smart Stepfamily Marriage book and The Smart Stepfamily DVD series.
There’s also information available there about the upcoming 2015 Blended and Blessed™ Summit on stepfamily ministry that’s being held November 13 and 14 at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. This is an event that is open to anyone who is interested in either launching a stepfamily ministry in your church, or maybe, you’re already engaged in some kind of blended family ministry and you’d like to network with others who are also involved. Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the “GO DEEPER” link. Look for information on the Blended and Blessed Summit.
Now, some of our listeners have already heard about the exciting opportunity that’s been made available to us, here at FamilyLife, during the month of May.
We have some friends of the ministry who feel strongly about what we’re doing, here at FamilyLife. They agree with us that the need of couples and families, in our culture today, is probably the most critical need facing our society. They’ve linked arms with us as we try to provide practical biblical help for marriages and families.
This month, this group of friends has agreed that they will match every donation that we receive, here at FamilyLife Today, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $300,000. We have a great opportunity for any donation you make to be doubled in its impact. We’d like to ask you to consider going online, or calling, or mailing a donation to us, here at FamilyLife, knowing that your donation’s impact will be doubled during the month of May.
You can easily donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just click the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I CARE,” to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow as we’re going to continue our conversation with Robbie and Sabrina McDonald, talking about the blending of their family. We’ll talk about the impact that blending had on Sabrina’s kids tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?
Copyright © 2015 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.