My husband Robin was reluctant to be a guest on my Shaped by Faith radio program. After explaining we would be discussing blended families he agreed on the condition he could be himself. I told him this program could be encouraging for blended families struggling and offer hope to those planning to blend families together. But, it is quite risky for me to allow my husband to be himself, quite risky indeed.
One of the last things I tell my husband on the way out the door to important social gatherings is “try to be a little less like yourself tonight.” Don’t take that the wrong way, I love my husband, but after being married twenty-three years he can still surprise and knock me off balance with something he says or does. Robin is like the chili that seems tame then steams up your stomach. He blends humor, wit and intellect together, then spices it up with his dramatic body language and facial expressions. He really would make a fantastic character actor. Other than Rodney Dangerfield and Gene Wilder, his eyes are the most expressive I have ever seen.
Like preparing for my husband on the radio show, blending a family together requires you to expect the unexpected. It is not for the weak or faint of heart. The loving couple can be as perfect a match as bacon and eggs, but throw their children, pets, personal belongings, unique personalities, emotions, finances, frustrations, and unexpected expectations, and the tried and true family recipe can soon become a recipe for disaster.
The radio program went off without a hitch. It was just as I predicted, surprise stories and tricky responses, but it truly stirred the memories and we reminisced about our short dating season. Robin and I only knew each other from a distance before we began dating. Our children attended the same schools together and we had seen each around school events. Robin was divorced, working long hours, while caring for his three children every weekend. I was a divorced mother raising four children, while working four-part time jobs trying to provide for my family. I had been praying for a God-fearing husband for almost five years, and Robin, well, he was just trying to get through each day, working long hours, and somewhat apprehensive about starting over at life.
It was twenty-three years ago this month we went on our first date. As date time approached my first inclination was to cancel, but my daughter wanted the house to herself, and her friends, and encouraged me to go. Besides, I didn’t have his phone number to cancel. I thank God I followed through and listened to my heart. After thirty minutes questioning and grilling him in my driveway about his faith, devotion to God, and his children, we cautiously pulled out of my driveway. By the end of the evening, we both knew that God had brought us together for His purposes and for our good. Even the waitress at the restaurant during our first date thought we had been married for years.
As we continued to reminisce, we acknowledged some things could have been done differently, especially about emotions and the feelings of the seven children. But, we placed God above all else, allowing Him to blend us together, while relying on Him for everything. We realized early on the complexity of our situation and it could only thrive if we covered everything in love. The family hierarchy was and is, God first, our marriage and each other next, and our children to follow. As stated on the program about blending the family, “this is not your grandmother’s spoon and mixing bowl. This is a shiny new industrial size mixing bowl, rattling the kitchen counter and whole house.”
Life was messy, kids got their feelings hurt, and there were disagreements and loud discussions between the children. There was lots of laughter, great family meals together talking about life, sporting events, dance recitals, celebrations, and at the end of the day, God was always first. If the biscuits of life got burned, we tossed them out and started again. We took one day and one problem at a time. We never went to sleep on our anger. We stayed up late and worked it out. Whether it was sharing personal space, bedrooms, bathrooms or vacations, the secret sauce always included love! By the way, just for clarification, there are no step-children in our family.
In every blended family there are surprise ingredients which could leave the cake flat. Is the person healed from their last marriage or death of a spouse? Is there bitterness or resentment toward the ex-spouse? You must expose your heart before God and allow him to heal you from the inside out. You must learn to be flexible and not wear your feelings on your face or sleeve. As a couple you must always place God first and take issues and problems to Him and work things out. Your children will not necessarily like the idea of the new mixing bowl, but with lots of love and prayer together, you will eventually see the fruits of your labor of love.
At the heart of every home is the kitchen. It’s the place where everyone gathers to laugh, eat and solve the world’s problems. It is a place of good food, love, and where we keep the mixing bowl. Galatians 5:22-23 offers the best recipe for blended families, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.”
To hear the radio show of our blended family click on this link
On this episode of Shaped By Faith Radio, my hubby and I are talking about blended families. We married 23 years ago and blended both of our families together! We share what it’s like to blend seven children, a few dogs and cats together and still maintain a wonderful relationship based on putting God first!