My Spouse or My Kids?

My Kids or My Spouse?

You married for love. You married forever. But you never expected your marriage would involve having to choose between your new spouse an...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Blessing

(Just in case you might need a suggestion for that Christmas dinner prayer. BC)

When He came to us as man,
the Son of God scattered the darkness of this world,
and filled this holy night (day) with His glory.
May the God of inifinite goodness
scatter the darkness of sin
and brighten your hearts with holiness.

(Optional response) Amen!

God sent His angels to shepherds
to herald the great joy of our Saviour's birth.
May He fill you with joy
and make you heralds of His gospel.

(Optional response) Amen!

When the Word became man,
earth was joined to heaven.
May He give you His peace and good will,
and fellowship with all the heavenly host.

(Optional response) Amen!

May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.

(Optional response) Amen!

Friday, November 21, 2008

FAMILY: What's the Fuss All About? (Thanksgiving)

"Come on, already! Let's serve the turkey and get on with it. The games are starting on TV and I don't want to miss the first quarter!"

"No, dear, let's take a moment to each tell what we're thankful for this year and then to pray."

>sigh< "Why?! I just want to eat and get outta here."

"Why? Well, instead of me trying to tell you why I think we should pray and give thanks, let me read to you what the original idea for Thanksgiving was ...

"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

"And I recommend to them that, while offering up the prayers of thanks justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.

"In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and cause the seal of the United States to be affixed.

"Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."
- Abraham Lincoln

[NOTE: from Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclaimation]

Rub Your Mate ... the Right Way!

Nothing says I love you quite like a gentle, long, relaxing massage. But when I suggest this to some of the couples who come to me for relationship coaching or mediation, I usually get odd looks, snickers, or just plain silence. Seems most people either don't know how or just don't take time to give a good massage.

What a shame, because it can be very helpful in a troubled marriage. Just the act of giving service unselfishly can begin to break down the walls of resistance and resentment. To most wives, the idea of a soothing, loving massage from their husband is a dream.

Well, guys (and ladies) I've found a great instructional article, complete with photos, to help you make that dream come true. It's HERE and there's even a special page on giving a FOOT MASSAGE for those of you who have limited time or who are really, really interested in making your spouse sigh with pleasure.

With the holidays coming up, these massages could be a great way of helping your partner release the stress. You could even make a booklet of coupons offering massages on demand or in exchange for compensatory services ... !

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If you value your marriage,
If you are having any
tension or stresses in your marriage,
If you are thinking - at all - about
giving up.
If your
spouse is thinking of giving up,
If you are not experiencing the
happiness you want and need in your marriage,
If you want a
happy, loving, genuine marriage relationship,

visit their web site at this link:

No kidding ...
(you're welcome)

How-to Do A Couple's Conference Right

Just back from our Fall Couples' Getaway Weekend, and we had a great time! Seven couples was just the right number to allow for lots of mixing and fellowship without everyone feeling too crunched. We stayed in a very nice hotel (thank you, Hyatt Place!), ate at some great restaurants (Osegueras, Border Town, and P.F. Chang's), hear some in-depth couple teaching, and shared a LOT of thoughts and feelings about stepparenting. We also went to see the movie, Fireproof - which you MUST see if you've not seen it yet. It was one of the true highlights of the weekend!

Some tips on holding a Stepparenting Couple's Getaway Weekend:

* MAP OUT EVERYTHING! If someone can get lost, they will! Ensure all have a contact phone number for emergencies.
* make friends with the hotel planner/concierge so they can guide you away from mistakes and suggest side trips,
* Keep it fun! All want to learn how-to's, but no one likes a dead-serious event. Include outings or speakers who lighten up,
* Carpool as much as possible. It keeps individuals from getting lost and promotes fellowship and new friendships,
* Plan ahead for where to eat, rather than just cutting couples loose to get lost, frustrated, distracted,
* Have some extracurricular activities planned, but not required, for those who need a boost,
* Allow plenty of free time for socializing, visiting, between couples who share common situations'
* Don't get so wrapped up in organizing details you aren't available for couples with needs, questions, reassurance, etc.,
* Take lots of photos. These are not only keepsakes, but the ultimate promo tool for next event,
* ASK for discounts and bargains for your group. Most restaurants, hotels, and conference centers will happily comply,
* NO KIDS, plenty of private couple time, Don't ask why!

Most of all, relax and allow everyone to do the same. If the planner is running around looking freaked out, the participants will catch that spirit. The idea is to relax and refresh - let them!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mediate Family Arguments - wikiHow

How to Mediate Family Arguments

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

NOTE: This is an article I wrote for WikiHow. You can check out the original by following the links above ... or just read it here ...

Families fight. Even good families disagree. But bitter, hateful, long-lasting wars do not belong in homes among family members sworn to love and support each other. Here are some steps to resolve disputes in your family.


  1. Calm down. Very little positive is accomplished between angry people. Emotions can interfere with clear thoughts and angry emotions will especially interfere with understanding and empathy. Even though it's hard to just calm down when you're angry, this is an absolute must if you want a chance to solve anything. Take a walk, take a shower, take a breathing break. Whatever works for you, just get some air between you and the anger.
  2. Rejoin. Agree to meet to work together. Set an appointment. Set a date. Call a mediator. Find a time and place to work where you will not be likely to reengage in the battle. Perhaps a public restaurant will keep you from blowing up. Perhaps a formal meeting with a licensed mediator. Perhaps a session with a minister who you would be reluctant to loose your calm before. But set a time and place.
  3. Think. Don't just emote, going over and over your argument, getting worked up again. Instead, use the time before your mediation session to plot your approach, develop your points, consider all options, decide upon a possible settlement. List both sides and look for both positive and negative to each. Prepare.
  4. Be positive. This is your opportunity to lead the process and show the other side how serious you are about settling the dispute. Go into the meeting head up, smiling, positive, leaning toward a good solution.
  5. Follow the leader. If you use a professional mediator, he or she will have guidelines. If you handle the mediation on your own, look up professional mediation procedures ( and follow those. The more formalized the process, the better the chance of its being taken seriously. Important guidelines include: A) take turns talking (don't interrupt); B) repeat what was just said to show you're listening; C) list, list, list every suggestion; D) quit if anyone gets angry - take a break to breathe; E) write down your agreement
  6. Document, Whatever your outcome, write it down and have both sides sign. This, again, formalizes the process, adds gravity, and helps both sides remember what they agreed to.
  7. Review if necessary. If the agreement begins to fall apart, re-convene the mediation and confirm the agreement. If amendments are necessary, follow the original mediation process.


  • If the argument is very personal or volatile, get professional help.
  • Find a neutral place to meet.
  • Get a mediator who is either neutral or respected by both sides.
  • Document everything!
  • Celebrate success. Reward yourselves for doing good.


  • Both sides must be willing to at least try.
  • Don't meet for too long. Long mediations turn into endurance contests. Stop when you get tired or frustrated. Agree when to pick up again.
  • Avoid a mediator who may have reason to take either side. Your mother will not be a good mediator.
  • Keep your voices down. No yelling.
  • No insults. No accusatory "you" statements.
  • Focus on only one topic at a time. If something else comes up, make a note and come back to it later.
  • Leave the past in the past. Focus on now and the future.

Sources and Citations

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Re: Loving your Ex - backlash!

So, I posted the article about loving others (here) last week, and I'm getting some backlash about it. Which doesn't really surprise me. Whenever you suggest that it's OK to love your mean ol' ex-spouse (or others) you can expect to take some flak. I mean, even Jesus, who started the whole "pray for those who curse you" thing was attacked for it, right?!

I was asked, (quite loudly, BTW) "Are you saying I should love the man who abused me for so many years and is turning my kids against me!?" Well, yes. That's exactly what He means.

"But I can't do that! I can't even stand to look at him! I despise him!"

But, as some point, you loved him, right? At some point, you stood before God and witnesses and swore to love him "til death do you part" right? You promised him, them, Him, your kids, and yourself, right?

"But he's not the same person I married so long ago! He changed into a horrible person I don't even recognize."

Well, his personality changed (did it really? or did he just stop hiding it?), his actions changed, his words changed, but HE is the same person you vowed to love forever. If your child becomes a wild, rabid teenager some day, will you stop loving him or her, too? If your parent develops Alzheimer's and their personality completely changes someday, will you stop loving them, too? I hope not.

God told us that His love is eternal. He promises to love us even if we turn against him (see the story of the prodigal son in the Bible, in Luke, chapter 15). And He asks us to do the same for others:
* This is my command: Love each other. John 15:17
* Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ... love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Luke 6:28,35
* 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'Matthew 22:39

For Christians, these aren't suggestions, but marching orders from our General, our Lord. He also pointed out a reason for this order:
* "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13: 35
As Christians (literally, followers of Christ), we should look different; we should stand out in a crowd; we should behave/speak/LOVE differently than is expected by those outside the Family. Because we are to be an example to them of the Peace we have through Christ's Spirit and His salvation.

If we're not different from the outsiders, what's the point of faith in Christ? We follow Him because of the blessings and comfort and support we get from Him, as well as our gratefulness for His gift of salvation, right?

To the dear lady who insisted she could not love her ex - I agree. You, alone, in your own strength, cannot do this hard thing. But Christ in you, through his Spirit and the gift you received at salvation (see Galatians 5: 22, 23 for a list of the fruits - or gifts - of the Spirit which each person receives on accepting salvation from Jesus), Christ in you CAN do that. If you lean on your own strength, you will fall. Period. You must tap into that Grace and strength that you get from Him. Let him lead you to forgiveness so you can heal.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Have Your Kids Said About Family?

Most folks agree that, in a divorce, it's the children who get hit the hardest by the shock, the changes, the confusion and stress. I talk to parents all day long about how their kids (or their stepkids) are dealing with a new marriage or new relationship or the on-going balancing act of divorced co-parenting. They especially want to talk about how the kids act out toward everyone. But what I seldom hear from them is how their children feel.

We know in general that children feel frightened, frustrated, and powerless about their parents' decision to split the family. I teach classes every week almost to help parents understand how to help their children cope with the break up. We talk about how to approach the kids, how to comfort the kids, how to get the kids to talk about their fears, etc.

But what are the kids feeling?

Well, obviously, no one knows as well as the kids themselves. Except maybe insightful, tuned-in parents who are fielding tough questions from their children. So, I'm turning to you to help me create a new resource to help parents and stepparents understand what's going on in their children's hearts.

What have your children said to you? What have they asked you? What are the toughest things they've asked? What are the most confounding things they've said or asked?

Have they surprised you? Have they shocked you? Have they broken your heart? Have they made you angry? Have they just plain stunned you into dead silence sometimes?

Please help me help others by passing along your kids' and stepkids' statements, comments, questions, and demands regarding their feelings about their families' changes and rearrangements. I promise I'll keep everything anonymous - I'll only use first names, unless you specifically ask otherwise.

With your help, we can build a tool to help you and other parents understand their children better and to help them grow into healthier adults.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Great Man's Celebration video

Billy Graham will celebrate his 90th birthday on November 7. He is in my opinion the greatest evangelist of the 20th & 21st centuries, and one of the greatest men to ever live. Please view this short video.

[Here's my birthday message to Dr. Billy Graham]: Today I lead a 5,000+ member ministry for stepfamilies around the world via the Internet. This began at age 9 when I accepted Dr. Graham's invitation to accept Christ as my Lord. Billy was on TV; I was in my parents' living room, lying under the coffee table, on our cool wood floor. I remember clearly how "Just As I Am" seemed to pierce my heart; how I cried; and how my dear mother prayed with me, directing me to a new life in Christ.
God bless you, Billy Graham. I love you dearly, my brother and friend in Christ.
Our ministry is located at

Show your STEPfamily Pride!