As many of you know, Dave and I are a blended family. Our children were all in their teens when we married and I thought it would be smooth sailing, but we definitely had many challenges. With Christ at the center of our marriage, and agreeing that divorce would NEVER be an option, praise God we made it through and our sweet kids are all brothers and sisters in Christ and in family.
But during the difficult years, I longed for someone to mentor me from the perspective of “been there done that, made it through with Christ and you will too” and I’ll pray for you and help you. But I never found that mentor. I bought the few Christian books there were for step families and Dave and I joined a support group at church. I would have gone to a retreat in a heartbeat. I know Laura Petherbridge personally as a friend and fellow author and speaker, and if you’re a stepmom you will enjoy her book and this retreat. If you know stepmoms or have a support group at your church, please share this blog post.
Laura is giving away a copy of her book, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom so leave a comment to enter the drawing and check the box to receive follow up emails to this post so we can let you know if you won, or check back on Friday. We’ve given away a book a week all month. I love it.
Helping Hurting Women
“Please remove my name from your mailing list,” the woman’s email requested. “I am no longer a stepmom.”
My heart sank as I finished her note. Divorce. Again. She became one of the census statistics which reports that 60-73% of stepfamilies fail.
I cried out to God, “Lord, one more marriage gone. One more home fractured. One more child believing, ‘marriage doesn’t work’ because he/she has now witnessed two demolished families.”
“Lord, help me to reach stepmoms before it’s too late. Please, show me how to provide help, healing and hope. They need a spa for their weary soul, they need a—RETREAT!!”
Last year when I had the idea to conduct a stepmom retreat, I assumed it would be a one-time event. I asked a few stepmom sisters who offered a similar stepmom outreach to join me. And that one step, that one decision, has rocked my world.
We Can’t Stop Now
Since I’ve written two books for Stepmoms I’ve gotten used to them emailing me for help, but now at the retreat they were in my arms. Their tears, pending divorces, and the voices of their hurting children, were looking me in the eyes. And their begging pleas, “I’m afraid I might not make it. I feel like a failure. Show me how to survive life in a stepfamily,” could not be silenced in my head.
“What are we going to do now?” was the question each teammate asked as we ate lunch together after the retreat.
“We can’t stop now,” one team member shared. “We must do more of these events, more stepmoms need our help.”
And so with no money, no sponsor, no guidebook to follow, and no website established, we launched a ministry, Sisterhood of Stepmoms.
Within two weeks of establishing a Facebook page we had 700 likes, and now one year later, it’s over 2400. Stepmoms from everywhere began sharing how grateful they were to receive help and a place to find healing.
The Church Typically Doesn’t Understand
The church rarely has a ministry that meets the needs of stepmoms.
“I went to a mom’s conference, and a women’s retreat geared for families, but none of the issues they addressed applied to my situation,” stepmom Lisa shared.
“I need to know how to parent alongside my stepson’s mother. She lives very differently than we do, with completely diffident view of what is right and wrong. Plus I can’t figure out how to handle my husband’s inability to discipline his kids. Even though his ex-wife is the one who left the marriage for another man, he is plagued by guilt because his kids are from a divorced home.”
This is why a ministry specifically designed for stepfamilies, which can address their unique issues is a huge need. Many statistics show that there are more stepfamilies in the USA today than there are first time families. They avoid the church because there isn’t a place for them.
God Has Other Plans
Before this stepmom mentoring occurred, I kept asking God for a “nice, clean” women’s ministry. You know something with pink ribbons and flowing butterflies. I was seeking a ministry that the annual church women’s luncheon would eagerly embrace for their keynote.
God had other plans, and I’m so glad. Whether it’s; the childhood shame and trauma associated with my parent’s divorce, the devastation when my husband walked out of our marriage, or the stress of being a stepmom, the wounds of my past provide me with the insight to mentor, encourage, or instruct others. When given to Jesus, my scars serve a higher calling. The destruction is transformed into a restoration for another.
I’m thrilled to be on this journey. Here’s another email that explains why. It reads differently than the previous.
“Dear Laura, Thank you for your ministry to stepmoms. I want you to know it saved my marriage. I was on the verge of divorce; I couldn’t take stepfamily living anymore. And you taught me that with God’s help I can learn how to live above the circumstances. You offered practical, no-nonsense, real life information which changed my attitude and perspective. You gave me tools and hope. My husband immediately noticed, and now I think we will make it.”
It doesn’t get any better than that.
The next retreat, geared for ANY women who is a single parent or dating, engaged or married to a man with kids (young or old), is April 17-19th, at the gorgeous Sandy Cove Retreat Center.
What Can YOU Do?
Won’t YOU be the one to reach out to a stepmom, and show her where to find help, healing and hope?
Leave a comment to enter drawing for a free book. Be sure to check the box to receive follow up comments to this post or check back on Friday to see if you won!
Copyright © 2014 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved
Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, step-parenting, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom—Expert Advice from One Stepmom to Another and When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her book The Smart Stepmom, is co-authored with stepfamily expert Ron Deal. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com