Somehow Form a Family
By Marybeth Whalen

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV)

Author’s Note: This devotion is not written to endorse divorce, but to encourage those caught in the pain of it.

Blended families are everywhere, in every shape and size. Perhaps you belong to a blended family, either through your extended family or your immediate one. Statistics show that most people reading this are part of a blended family – facing the unique challenges and struggles blended families face. Is it possible for blended families to work through all of this and enjoy happiness?

This Christmas I received a framed photo from my mother-in-law. Because my husband’s parents are divorced, I have two mothers-in-law. But this gift came from my husband’s stepmother. It was a framed group photo of all of us from our beach trip this summer — our family, his dad and stepmom, her daughter and her family, and my husband’s sister and her family. Eleven grandchildren dotted the beach as we all squeezed into the photo. As I studied the photo, I realized that it is a testimony to God’s ability to somehow form a family against all odds.

When I first met my husband 18 years ago, his family was still navigating through the uncharted territory of bringing together three teens from two different families and learning to live in some sort of harmony. Though Curt had left for college, his sister and step-sister remained behind and had some turbulent years as these two girls fought and schemed and cried. I know that those years were difficult for his stepmother and father as well. They questioned their decisions and wondered if they would all live through it.

But they also did something else which I have had the privilege of watching through the years. They sought the Lord. They practiced grace and exercised forgiveness. They turned the other cheek when feelings got hurt. They kept promises that were painful to keep. They demonstrated a love they didn’t always feel. They got stronger as a result of their struggles. They knew that God would work through their obedience, their prayers and their commitment. And, in looking at that photo, I know that He did.

I also grew up in a blended family - I am a stepchild. I know the struggle of having a parent in the home who was not your “real” parent. I know the resentments that can creep in, and have felt the pain of loss when broken relationships fragment families. And yet, I also know the joys and blessings that can occur from having extra family members thrown in the mix. My horizons have been broadened through relationships I have with my stepfather and his children. Their perspective and background has added a richness and depth to my life that I would have missed. I think a blended family can be a visual record of Romans 8:28 being worked out in our lives, “In all things (even the heartbreak of divorce), God works for the good of those who love him.” I think that helping people somehow form a family brings a smile to the Father’s face.

Dear Lord, help me do my part to bring peace to my family—even when You ask me to lay down my pride and be vulnerable. Help me to trust in Your ability to somehow form a family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Blended Families by Maxine Marsolini

Visit Marybeth Whalen’s blog

A Woman of Influence Message on CD taught by Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
If you are in a blended family, reach out to someone today in your family who you have struggled with in the past. Write them a note or buy them a card. Ask God what you can do to bless that person today.

Are there resentments from your past within your family that you are hanging onto?

Who do you need to offer forgiveness to today?

What is one good thing you can think of about your family?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:37, “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)

Isaiah 54:13, “All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” (NIV)

Psalm 29:11, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We too are a blended family. Graham and I have been married nearly 17 years and have combined our family of 5 daughters. They were all pre-teen before we got married so that made it a little easier for us. The girls have grown up in the one family for the most part, although his two daughters did go to live with their mother at various stages once they were in their mid-late teens. All are in their 20s now and except for our eldest, all the others call my husband 'dad' which is so nice. God has been with us in this journey too - we couldn't have done it without Him.

Blogger limijas said...

Oddly enough, today is my husband’s and my fourth anniversary. We are a blended family of six – ourselves and three kids from his late wife and one from my former marriage so that’s four kids at home all between 15 and 21. I will tell you that without my love for Christ, I wouldn’t still be here. I love my husband so much but our parenting styles are night and day and I reach the end of my rope on a daily basis. I actually dream about getting a place of my own (again) and not having to deal with the messes, the lies, the disobedience and the bad behavior (except from maybe the dogs). Again, divorce is not anything I would consider, just running away. But God is good to me and reminds me that He is with me and that it is only for a season. Sometimes He uses this website which has on numerous occasions kept me from packing up my stuff and leaving for yet another day. Thank you.

Blogger steph said...

This post is comming at the perfect timing for me. My two step-daughters just moved out this weekend to go live with their mom. I had to really fight feeling like a failure. She was gone a long time, and they really need her, and are going through a great deal of healing. But it took me a long time to lay down my pride. Kathie you post also really helped, we also combined our family of 5 daughters, then added one more. My pride came from, I can do it. God had really worked in me these past few months. I am stronger and wiser. This is definetly not easy, I have very often felt like you, limijas, but also like you I just keep on pressing forward. God's grace is sufficent. Thanks all of you for your much needed boost today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you forgive your mother for showing favortism to your other brothers (not a blended family, but a "normal" family)?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found that the best way to for me to forgive someone is to pray for blessings for them and for God to help me forgive them. I do this on a daily basis for my ex-husband.


Anonymous Tanisha said...

Thank you for this, reading this brought tears to my eyes. Last holiday my stepmother who comes from a traditional nuclear family didnt speak to me for over 6 months because I said "having a blended family is hard and at times can feel like a curse" I am the oldest of 7 half-brothers and 4 hal-sisters and 1 step-sister. Its nice to know other people are going through the same things. And its nice to be able to accept the family structure while referencing god's word.

Thanks again!

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