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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Five Standout Moments From Our First Five Years

I've been reminiscing as we celebrate our Anniversary. When I close my eyes and consider life with Mr. Wonderful, these are the things that stand out. 

Beach Vacations! Annually we have been able to spend a week at Hilton Head Island.  I am grateful for these times to be all-together and carefree.  Family vacation is part of our family culture.

Holiday Traditions: Christmas brings families together and the season creates a way for blended families to create their own memories and traditions.  Other holidays also make a way to connect and we certainly appreciate the occasions that give us cause to celebrate.

We have our own "couple" traditions, too, for when we are alone and the kids are with their other families.
That Dark Winter of Difficulty: Even though it's not a positive memory, when we had two vehicle accidents, a broken hot water heater and lots of stress, we came together, avoided blame and bonded to get through the hard times.  That's what a family does.

Hiking As family has become way to spend time together and to get back to nature.  It's something almost each of us enjoy and we can do it for a few hours or a full day.  #Adventuremom

Seasons of Change: Five years doesn't seem like a long time, but we have experienced two high school graduations, shifting from elementary to middle and high school, job changes and more.  To be alive is to experience change and this rings true for us, also.  Learning to adapt and shift while remaining committed has been an essential skill.  We cling together when so much around us is changing.
Sending another one off to college!
At the End of the Day we have found our family to be a welcome respite in the world of competition and change. Our home is a landing pad for the comings and goings of life, especially in blended family and co-parenting life.  The relationships we cultivate are safe, reliable and supportive.  We may all exist within a second family dynamic, but we are living out a wonderful success story of remarriage and blending.  I'm so thankful for every single person in our home!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Five Things I've Learned in Five Years of {Re}Marriage

We are celebrating this week - Five years of marriage!  It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I think we are officially out of the "Newlywed" category.  Thankfully, there were no big surprises when I married Mr. Wonderful.  We took the time to know each other well and that paid off.  Still, I have learned a lot about family (blended and traditional), myself and the ones I love.  I'm confident that there is still a great deal to learn, but today I'm sharing five things from the first five years.

Blending is hard.  Complicated. Most people don't get it, even the close friends and extended family.  Unless you have lived with and experienced the combining of two full households, there is no way to understand the layered complexity. Because it's tough, I've learned to let go of some control and to let the outcomes happen as they will.

I cannot manage the emotions of others. I spent much of my first year of marriage consumed by how everyone else in the house was feeling:  Are my children adjusting alright?  Do they feel conflicted? How are the teenage girls feeling with us in their space?  Can I move that picture on the wall?  Does anyone feel attached to this dish?  Is my new husband getting enough attention?  Am I doing this right?  It was all-consuming and so exhausting.  Slowly I learned to communicate, to connect and to do my best and trust others with their own feelings.  Yes, there are conflicts when bringing two homes together (merging kitchen items of two homes alone is a huge task), but when we do it together, we each have a chance to demonstrate selflessness and resilience.

It's essential to seek the greatest common good and exercise selflessness.  Mr. Wonderful articulated it early that we will both be defensive for our biokids.  The most challenging decisions are the ones that benefit one set while feeling detrimental to the others.  When we acknowledge our intrinsic bias, it helps to take feelings out of the decision-making and be objective about what is truly best for all of us.  Whether it's bedroom capacity, budget limitations, noise and clutter or meal-planning we attempt to aim for the greater common good.

It is essential to live in the moment. The past is part of us and being aware of our stories helps to inform our present.  When I jump to conclusions with Mr. Wonderful based on experience in a prior relationship I am applying a mask over the individual he is.  When he assumes things about me that were true of his previous relationship, he is usually wrong.  Once more, communication has been the key to unlocking our present reality and knowing each other even better. 

I can trust my husband. Time and again I have witnessed that my husband is trustworthy.  I cannot describe the true soul-peace that is found in knowing and resting in his love, protection and care for me and our children.  In him I have a safe place to fall and a partner for times whether good or bad.

Above all, two are better than one when both are first surrendered to the Lord.  It's worth is to work through difficulty and join together for common goals.  Remarriage isn't the road for everyone and we were both enjoying our lives as singles.  Yet I am confident that God brought us together and has blessed our family.  I am so grateful for my step daughters and for my husband.  I wish the same for all who are on the same path.

Are you considering remarriage?  What excites you about the prospect?  What are your fears?  How long have you been married?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Fruit of Friendship

God brought us together in this dorm at
Liberty University.
We had our annual college girlfriend gathering this month and it was so refreshing for my soul.  We were just girls when we met nearly 25 years ago!  Now there is so much history among us and we have had front row seats to the major issues of life: marriage, parenthood, loss, infertility, betrayals, divorce, job loss, financial strain, promotions and seasons changing.  One of our group is sending her own son off to college this fall, and we are witnessing yet a new season.  Another is facing serious illness of a close relative.  I am privileged to travel these unknown roads together with my dearest friends.

I never guessed that we would remain close, and it's an even greater surprise that we have not only remained in contact, but grown so much closer through sharing these years intentionally.  It really hasn't happened on accident but by design as we have been willing to share, engage and make time for one another.  We live on opposite sides of the county, separated by time zones, marital status, job requirements, family demands and more.

This year, we were missing one.  Her absence was felt intensely by the rest of us.  Even though she probably will never know, her presence was still with us as we sensed what she might do our say.  Our hearts were with her as she journeys through her own path right now...we continually included her in conversation and spirit.  I like to think it would be the same for any one of us not able to be present in body one year.

The lasting friendships from college are more than worth the tuition that I paid to attend.  If I could guarantee the same kind of friendship for my own daughters and sons, it would be worth loans and more.  Having such history and support is the fruit of putting in years together: time, effort, intention.  It doesn't happen without awkwardness or expense and yet this kind of friendship is worth it all.