Note from Becky: I’m so pleased to welcome fellow ACFW member, Julie Arudini to “Talking Among Friends.” Julie shares her own story about faith and blending a family together:
My prince came a few years after college graduation. What set him apart from the fantasy I heard growing up and claimed as my own was a couple things.
He was ten years older.
And he also was divorced with minor children.
There wasn’t a story or Disney movie I could consult, a least not one where the step-mom scenario was a positive one.
Couldn’t there be a happy blended family story?
Our family is proof that there can be.
When we first met, his kids weren’t even teens. The week we started dating he learned they were moving to Wisconsin. We lived in New York State.
That was my first challenge, and we were so new as a couple marriage wasn’t on my radar. But I put one thing into practice right from that first week that has seen us through all these years.
I believed God. I prayed (and still do) for my husband, his children, their mom, and every member of their family in Wisconsin. That was something God asked me to do, and I never made a big deal about it, nor did I guilt my husband into doing the same. I was emotionally separate enough that I could daily pray for their safety, unity, peace, health, and hunger for God in their lives. If I prayed bad things for their family, that would hurt the kids, and no one wins. I truly prayed for everyone to prosper. I prayed over my words and actions, as well as my husband’s. When God asked me to do something, I did, and I was intentional about obeying with no expectation of a blessing in return.
I prayed over our times with the kids, and school events. I prayed over every child support check I sent.
Not too long after my step-son graduated from high school, their mom became very sick. That’s her private journey but it was a dire situation. I kept praying. Thankfully, she is doing well.
Then it became the season where the children became adults and his daughter was set to marry. I knew this would be the first time all of us—him, her, their kids, our kids, their sister, her husband, and the extended family he once knew as in-laws would reunite. He was nervous. How would they treat him? Me? Us? Our kids? He came right out and asked for prayer.
And this time, I started proclaiming. All those years I sowed a lot of prayer, and I sensed it was time to proclaim a harvest. I thanked God for the favor I believed He’d give all of us. I praised Him for peace and kindness, believing in my heart every single thing would come to pass.
When we arrived at the church, the very first person to greet us was their mom. She welcomed us with warmth, and knew our kid’s names and was so gracious to them, to all of us. She walked us down the church steps to where she had cold cuts and drinks, knowing we traveled a far distance. We met their daughter, and said hello to her husband.
On the wedding day you would have thought we were simply friends of this big family. A stranger would never have known this was a group of people affected by divorce. My husband had so much fun catching up with former in-laws, who came to him first and initiated fun conversation. They all introduced themselves to me and our kids. Things went so well that my husband’s former mother-in-law switched place cards at the reception so we could sit by each other. I absolutely adored talking to her. This matriarch ended up passing away less than a year later, and we were invited to share in celebrating her life. My mother-in-law passed away earlier this year, and one of the first cards my husband received was from his first wife.
When we pulled out of the church lot on his daughter’s wedding day, we weren’t even out of reverse when my husband turned and asked, “How did you know? You kept saying this was going to be an amazing day.” Without hesitating I replied, “I laid down too many years of a prayerful foundation for that to return void. God heard those prayers and met us all in an amazing way.”
If you are in a blended family situation, whether recent, or for a few years, it’s never too late to start laying down prayers and proclamations laced with believing God and His word. Re-write that evil step-mom story, and watch God do amazing things, in His time.
Julie Arduini is a writer and speaker who encourages audiences to find freedom through surrender. She knows it has to start with her, so she’s surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. She blogs for Christians Read, the Bella Women Network, and is working on her Adirondack based contemporary romance. Julie lives in Ohio with her husband and children.