Sunday, November 15, 2015

His Grace is Delicious...

The first few months of us becoming a "family" proved to be one of the biggest tests I had ever taken in my life up until 2003.  I thought going through a long drawn out divorce was difficult.  But this was by far my biggest challenge.  The emotions and personalities were so intense, that there were moments, I wasn't sure my second marriage would pass the test. God had a plan.  And because of His steadfast love I knew that this challenge was worth it. In Isaiah 43:2 God tells us that He will be with us through the waters we pass through, the rivers that pass over us, and the fires that surrounds us.  We will not be burned or swept over.  And so the journey continued...

The walls at O court were bursting at the seems.  We were filled to the brim. And there was a clear case of us suffering with multi-personality disorder.  We were quite the dysfunctional family.  My inherited daughters were whisperers and my biologicals were loud and outspoken.  My husband was a man of few words and I had lots of things to say.  There was a lot of give and take.  And some days there was more taking than giving from everyone.  And on top of all these personalities was this thing called expectation.  Expectation almost broke the blender. We all had our own idea of what ingredients were needed or not needed to make our "family".  For some it was all seven ingredients  and for others the number to be added was much smaller in size.

 It was our first full week as a new blended family. Greg had his daughters every other week.  And my children were with me 26 or more days out of the month. Ashley( age 17) was still home from college for a few more weeks for summer break.  And she seemed to be a bit more accepting of the new situation. Sarah (age 15) was still a bit reluctant and very rarely did I hear her speak. I knew that she was not too happy about her father and I getting married.  But I prayed continuously that God would give me the words to speak to her and Ashley that would help them feel comfortable. Kath (age 15) was sad because she was leaving the neighborhood that she loved but excited for the future.  Alyssa (age 12) was not thrilled at all with the arrangements.  She had to leave friends that she loved and a school that meant the world to her. She was very vocal and made it known that this was not where she wanted to live.  And then there was Christian ( age 9).  Mr. easy going and not a care in the world.  He seemed to be the comic relief or the peace maker. He truly was a silver lining for me most days.

Greg and I desperately wanted all five of the children to bond. The bedroom situation was addressed prior to the wedding.  Christian would be moving into the room that was once Sarah's bedroom.  Ashley and Alyssa would share Ashley's room.  And, because they were very close in age, we put Sarah and Kath into the family room that was converted into a bedroom.  And I wasn't surprised at all to find out that two of the girls were not happy about the sleeping arrangements.  I'll give you three guesses.  Sarah wanted to stay with Ashley and Alyssa wanted to stay with Kath. But Greg and I felt we made the best choice by blending them.  Christian was still happy of course.  He got his own room

One day Greg and I decided to go out and leave the children home to blend on their own.  We were nervous and excited at the same time.  I told Kath, Alyssa and Christian that they were going to be home alone with their new sisters.  And Greg told Ashley and Sarah. The most promising reaction I received was from Kath.  She was excited for multiple reasons.  The top reason was she finally getting to see what it would be like to have an older sister.  She had always been a big sister but never a little sister.  The weeks leading up to the wedding she would often share how excited she was to now have an older sister that she could bond with.  And this particular day she looked forward to not having to be "in charge" of the two youngest.  We were gone for a few hours and when we arrived home things seemed quiet.  But clearly there was still separation.   Mine to the right.  Greg's to the left. Operation "blend" seemed to have failed.

I prayed continuously throughout the days, weeks and months that followed for something to change.  My heart desired for us to be a family.  Again, expectations were overloading the blender.  Ashley returned to school.  And Sarah was left alone with the wild ones a.k.a my three children.  The divide didn't seem to be getting any better.  It actually seemed like we were all growing more distant with each other.  Kath and Alyssa felt that I chose Greg over them.  And Sarah made a decision to not go on our family honeymoon.

My heart was overwhelmed. Satan started to whisper in my ear that I was a failure. Reminding me that I certainly wasn't living up to my Proverb 31 expectations.  "She is clothed with dignity; she can laugh at the days to come"  I was losing my cool.  I found myself being clothed in self pity; and crying because I dreaded the days to come.  The future wasn't looking anything like the picture that I had painted in my head when I said, "Yes!" to Greg's proposal.

I knew that God's promises were true.  I continued to pray that God would bring this family together.  And that I would daily grow to be the Proverbs 31 wife, mom, and daughter He created me to be.  As I prayed and searched the handbook on life (the Bible) God began to give me nuggets of wisdom to speak to the children.  I knew that what I was instructing them to do was with the parameters of God's plan.  I prayed so hard and so much that God would reveal to me the heart of my children.  All five of my children.  And my heart again was overwhelmed.  You see He gave me insight into what was going on in each of their lives.  And as I watched over the affairs of their daily lives I saw them walking in a direction that wasn't so good.  They were whispering about each other behind each others backs.  My two girls to each other, me and their friends and his two girls to each other, him and their friends.  We all began to feast on the bread of idleness.

After a few months of us not "blending" and eating bad bread we decided to try and have family meetings.  They didn't go so well.  It was just more opportunity for us to show off our apparent personalities.  The loud were loud and the silent remained silent.  Eventually the loud became bitter because nothing seemed to change. And the silent just grew more silent.  Greg and I seemed to be defending our biologicals. And there was a wedge forming.  It was becoming evident the we were not growing to be one team.  We needed to be united.  We were just like vinegar and oil. For a moment, the time we gathered as a family, we seemed to be blending.  But once the meeting adjourned again we separated and the divide was evident.  My heart seemed more and more overwhelmed after these meetings and Satan's lies were louder than my loudest child.  I came away feeling battered and torn. I knew that God had a plan.  It was just not that easy to see it in the beginning.

I prayed and prayed and prayed some more as the months pressed on.  And held on to the promise that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. God is faithful!  I gradually began to see some changes. Yes, there was a light at the end of the tunnel!  Kath and Sarah were beginning to become "friends".  Every time I would see them interacting with each other it brought joy, great joy, to my heart.  Kath had accepted Sarah as her sister.  She introduced her as her sister to her friends and others.  They were no longer just room mates.  Eventually they became partners in crime.  She gained another younger, not by much, sister.  Although she wanted an older sister she was happy with gaining Sarah.  She was good at being a big sister.  So, it came naturally to her to be protective and caring.  Kath had been deeply hurt by words that were exchanged on that first day we left them all home together.  She never shared them with me at the time.  It wasn't until years later that she divulged this tidbit of information. And in retrospect I praise God for instilling forgiveness in Kath's heart.  And trust in Sarah's heart.  I believe it was because of their bond the blending became easier.

Even though there was progress, in the tasting kitchen,  I knew that we still had a long journey ahead of us.  But I also knew that God's would gently guide us into the blender every day that we shared as a family.  Our journey wasn't easy and the recipe was difficult to read. And yes we often had to improvise on the ingredients.  We still don't have the perfect family.  But our recipes that we created over the years are pretty delicious.

I pray that God would continue to bless and season our families every day.  And that we prayerfully wait for the outcome.  Nothing tastes good under cooked or over processed. And with God as the main ingredient how can it turn out wrong?  His grace is delicious and covers a multitude of wrong measurements.