Mission Accomplished!

It’s been way too long since our readers have heard from us.  Why?  Because our lives have been moving way too fast: work, kids, and the outside attacks on our marriage/family since that began when we first got engaged.  The attacks never seem to dissipate, however, we are getting much better at dealing with them.

We have some amazing news to announce.  After beginning to blend our family together in August of 2017, we can now comfortably and publicly state: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

That’s right!  We have reported on some pockets of success in the past, but today, we are a solid family unit.

When we started this site to share our lives, we referenced what the experts said about blending families.  “The average family takes 5-7 years to combine; some take longer,” renowned Stepfamily expert Ron Deal.

Believe it or not, we even had leaders in our church tell us that “there is no such thing as blended families, it never works.”  Did those words get us down?  You bet they did.  We hoped for encouragement from our church.

But we kept at it.  We worked on our marriage so we could love and serve each other better.  This is no easy task with the relentless attacks against us.  We parented our children the way we know is right — with rules and boundaries.  This also is difficult when we only have them 50% of the time.

Most importantly, we prayed for God to bring our family together. And He did!

With the grace of God, we successfully combined our family in about 2.5 years!

Here’s what we see in our family now:

  • Loudness and laughter at the dinner table instead of quiet and forced discussions
  • All the kids teasing each other
  • All the kids teasing the parents!
  • The stepbrothers sending each other tons of texts when they are apart
  • The boys ganging up against the one tough girl we have
  • The stepbrother sticking up for his stepsister
  • The stepbrothers scheming together to get what they want from the parents
  • The stepbrothers wrestling instead of coming to the dinner table
  • And they now look forward to vacations – TOGETHER!

Of course, those are just some of the highlights of the more typical sibling interactions.  One thing we did recognize — they haven’t begun to fight with each other yet. This would probably be the ultimate in “coming together” when they can fight and yell, and then love each other the next day…or day after that.

One thing is certain: WE ARE BLESSED! And we thank God every day for His phenomenal work in bringing our family close.

Stay tuned for our posts in the weeks ahead which will detail some of the things that worked for us in hopes that it may work for you!

Feeling Shame

We read an interesting story recently that prompted us to write this post.

FACT: Leaders struggle too.

For over two years, we have proudly been building this marriage resource for people in every possible situation.  For people like us: those who were engaged to be RE-married after getting divorced.  We learned couples getting remarried are particularly unique because there can be a stigma attached to us, especially in some churches, that keeps remarried couples at arms length while the church focuses on first time married couples.

As we have been building this resource, we have learned so much from married couples in every situation and this much is clear: married couples want and need opportunities to grow and enrich their marriage.

We also learned one other critically important fact – leaders that you know and rely upon will struggle.  Even those who are experts in marriage.

In our space, that means marriage ministry leaders – who offer themselves up to help build strong marriages – will struggle.  We read a compelling story about a couple in full-time ministry, and one a part time worker at a church who were absolutely desperate and in crisis.  Read their story here. Continue reading “Feeling Shame”

The Sibling Whisperer

That’s right.  We have the “Sibling Whisperer” right here in our home.

We have known for a long time just how special Liam is to us.  But his abilities, or gifts we should say, never cease to amaze us.

As we enter the third year of blending our family, many challenges remain.  We have written quite a bit about the difficulty in bringing four very different kids together to live and love in one family unit.

However, we had a breakthrough during our summer vacation.  And that breakthrough was led by our very own “Sibling Whisperer”.

Let us tell you a little more about Liam.  He was born with Down syndrome.  Continue reading “The Sibling Whisperer”

2nd Anniversary

You wouldn’t think these low numbered milestones are very important.  But given the chaos we have gone through in our first two years of marriage, we are here to tell you that it is a BIG ONE for us!

Some days, it seems like we’ve been married for 5, 7 or even 10 years.  We have gone through more difficult experiences than any “typical” honeymoon couple would go through.

Most “typical” honeymoon couples go through issues of money, sex, and leaving the cap off the toothpaste! We are happy to say those haven’t been our issues.

However, as a remarried couple and one working on blending a family, our issues have been: ex- spouses, parenting styles, health issues and putting each other, and our marriage, first when we were both used to putting our children first for so many years during our divorce.

Here’s where we are today. Continue reading “2nd Anniversary”

It’s Time To Speak Up At Church

So many of us look for guidance, help, shelter, comfort and advice from our churches.  But we sometimes fail to appreciate and recognize that, just like us, churches aren’t perfect.

Churches try to serve as many as they can in their congregation with different programs and ministries.  But, after all, they will never fully know the needs of their congregation unless we tell them straight up what WE need.  Or unless they ask and we answer honestly and openly.

According a survey by LifeWay Research and Focus on the Family, 75% of Pastors say they are doing enough in their church to help marriages.  Yet only 69% of churches have an ongoing ministry.  That’s a mighty big disconnect.  (In New Hampshire it is more like 95% of churches that don’t have a marriage ministry).  Great article here about the challenges Pastors face with marriage ministries.

When we entered the marriage ministry one year ago, we were somewhat critical of  churches for not prioritizing and focusing on what we believe to be the overarching issue in the breakdown of our families across America.  We believe that is marriage.  And we believe that marriage should be the priority of every church.  But we are just two people who don’t have a say – which is why we are here writing. Continue reading “It’s Time To Speak Up At Church”

Summer Is Busy! But I Have A Lighthouse.

We have been quiet this summer.  When you have 4 kids off from school and full time jobs, summer can just be sheer craziness.

You try to enjoy time as a couple…

You try to enjoy time as a family…

You try to stay on top of your duties at work…

BUT – you fail because you can’t do it all.

As Joya and I approach our second wedding anniversary, I am so thankful to have found my earthly Lighthouse – my love Joya.  Joya is an amazing woman who has endured more than a wife should in the first two years of marriage.  I have seen and witnessed her pain.  And as her husband I feel it too.

Together, we have faced more struggles than couples should face during our honeymoon period – almost all of it out of our control.  Yet, how we approach those struggles IS within our control and we continue to work on our marriage, and our communication with each other, so we can weather the storms when the unexpected ones hit.

I know these struggles have and will continue to make us stronger.  We are aware of the blessings we receive every week.  We know God is preparing us for good and big things ahead.  And we know we are here to share our struggles and triumphs with YOU!  Throughout this crazy summer we have shared some great times as a family!

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We’ll share more about our summer at a later time.  In the meantime, I hope you find time to spend with your spouse – and family – all while working your job!  Just know you can’t do it all and that’s ok.  No one expects you to do it all.  You just do your best while trying super hard to remain a loving and respectful spouse.

Blessings to you all!

–Mike

 

 

Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?

Ask that question and everyone will have a different marriage:

“Marrying your best friend”

“Living life with your soulmate”

“Not being able to live without your partner”

We just finished the Love & Respect video series and cannot even begin to tell you how much we learned about marriage, relationships, men and women, and most importantly the role of God in our marriage.

As we all know, dealing with conflict in marriage is the 800 pound gorilla.  Continue reading “Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?”

It’s Just Another Day?

Joya and I usually write posts together but I’m taking this one solo.

Father’s Day has taken on a much different tone since my divorce. For several years now I have not had my children on Father’s Day. I try to convince myself it’s not really a big deal. I’ll see them in a few more days and we’ll do something special together.

Probably the hardest thing is that everyone else makes a big deal about Father’s Day (understandably) starting first thing in the morning at church. So when churches ask Dad’s to stand, I don’t get to thank God for my kids and look at them at the same time. As much as I try to escape everyone else’s focus on it – it’s just plain hard to avoid and pretend that it’s just another day. Continue reading “It’s Just Another Day?”

50th Anniversary!

As we sit here at the 50th anniversary of the New Hampshire Special Olympics Summer Games – it gives us great perspective on life.

In marriage, so many of our challenges come from being two different people with opposing viewpoints.

Here, we are watching a community of Special Olympics athletes who have intellectual and/or physical challenges because they were either born with them or had some event that caused their disability.

Michael’s son, Liam, was born with Down syndrome. For those who don’t know, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features. Continue reading “50th Anniversary!”

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