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Mother’s Day for Stepmoms: Ron Deal, Gayla Grace and Summer Butler

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2024 5:15 am

Mother’s Day for Stepmoms: Ron Deal, Gayla Grace and Summer Butler

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 30, 2024 5:15 am

Mother's Day can be rough for stepmoms. Maybe you feel left out, unloved, and unappreciated. Ron Deal, Gayla Grace and Summer Butler discuss how tough times, like the stepmom Mother's Day dilemma, can build strength. They offer advice on how to reclaim identity and make Mother's Day a little less miserable.

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Okay, before we get started today, I've got a question for you. Not you, Ann, our listener. Where are you listening from? And you know that we're from Detroit. Motor City.

Shelby's in the Philly area. And our Family Life Today headquarters are in Orlando. So we're coming to you guys from all over the country. But what about you?

We would love to know if you are in one of those areas or where else you consider home. Text FLT plus where you're listening from to 80542 to let us know. So again, you're going to text FLT plus where you're listening from to 80542. I felt God really tug at me and say, pull off the road. I need you to pull off the road. Pulled over and he said, I want you to write this down. And he said, you are not raising these children. So they grew up and call you their mother. You are raising these children. So they grew up and call me their father. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most.

I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com. This is Family Life Today. If you wrote a letter to your stepmom, what would you thank her for?

And maybe this. Is there anything you would apologize for? I would say thanks for loving my dad well and loving me well. She really did. She loved my dad. I was in middle school when it happened, so I wasn't understanding how important I was. But I do remember her taking me in like her own son. And so I would thank her for that. Any regrets? I would apologize for not staying in touch after my dad died. It's on me. I didn't stay in touch. So why are you asking me that?

Well, here's the truth. We can't let this month of May go by without speaking to and acknowledging all the stepmoms who are loving, serving, and caring for children throughout our entire world, really. Yeah. I mean, something that I don't think a lot of us realize is Mother's Day is a difficult day for stepmoms. I mean, it's a difficult day for a lot of people, but it's hard for stepmoms because often they have the responsibilities of being a mom.

Absolutely. Yet they get very little acknowledgement on Mother's Day. I know all the Mother's Days I did as a pastor, I don't think I stopped and recognized stepmoms. You totally did. I did? Well, that's good to remember. I remember I thought, oh, good for him. Yeah. Well, here's the thing. A lot of people don't know this, but there is a Stepmother's Day, which was the week after Mother's Day this year.

It was May 19th. And we want to join that celebration and really honor the stepmoms by sharing a portion of the Family Life Blended podcast with Ron Deal. If you're not a part of a blended family, please keep listening anyway, because there's bound to be someone in your life who would benefit from what is shared here. And in case you didn't know, because I think the whole world knows this, but Ron is the director of Family Life Blended, which is a division of Family Life that focuses on blended family ministry. And today we're going to hear a portion of his conversation with author and speaker, Gayla Grace, who's on the Family Life Blended staff and also Summer Butler. Summer is a speaker and a Bible study leader and authored the book, Blended, aligning the hierarchy of heart and home. And if you want to hear the entire conversation, listen to episode 81 of the Family Life Blended podcast. That's how that conversation started.

We know around here at Family Life Blended, we've heard for years about what a difficult day Mother's Day is for a lot of people. Actually, it runs the gamut, the feedback that we get from people. Some love it. Some hate it. Some experience everything in between. And some people over time experience everything in between.

I'm just curious. I'd like to hear from both of you. What has your Mother's Day experience been like so far?

Gayla, why don't you go first? I would say in my early years when my expectations were in places that they shouldn't have been, my Mother's Day was hard. And I think over time as a stepmom, I began to adjust my expectations and just be thankful if my stepkids chose to honor me in any way. But to honestly know that they need to honor their biological mom, it's very natural that they want to. And that needs to take precedence over me as a stepmom. And because I do have biological kids, then I can be honored for my biological kids.

And that is a blessing, obviously. So I do feel like, though, as stepmoms, we need to be careful about our expectations. And I even would say if you're a stepmom and you don't have kids of your own, that you might have to have a conversation with your husband and just say, please know that I know your kids may not honor me in any way, but I think it's important if you would because of my role that I play with your kids. Well, I heard that loud and clear what you said about expectations. And when your expectations were out of line, my guess is we're going to come back to that a little bit later in this conversation.

Summer, let me turn to you. What has your Mother's Day experience been like? I mean, I think, Gail, that was such a good response because it's similar, I think, in line with mine as far as in the beginning.

I don't think you know what you don't know. Right. Like when you experience that first Mother's Day as a stepmom, if your expectations are misaligned, it is disappointing for sure. Because our dynamic is I'm a full time stay at home stepmama. So for me, and we'll get into this, too, but doing a lot of the grant work, in my opinion, my expectation was I should deserve a lot of the reward after that. And Mother's Day was a day set aside in my mind for that. While I will give my husband a lot of props, he always made that day also special for me and the kids would always also say Happy Mother's Day to me. But I think when my expectations were not aligned correctly, it became a day for self-pity and self-righteousness in a lot of ways. And I agree with you, Gail, it's a special day for moms and that's not our role in their lives.

But that takes some refining for sure. Yes. And so somebody's listening to this. You may be on the downward slide after Mother's Day and all the emotions that you just heard a little bit about could be running through you minute by minute, changing up, down, all over the place. Where do you go with all those emotions? Like what do you guys do when all that's raging inside you? I guess it's a great idea to go to your husband and just pour all this out on him.

Is that a fabulous idea or is that a lousy? I don't know. It depends on what the emotions are, right? Well, we've probably both done that, right, Summer? Yeah, for sure. And there's some things that your husband can do to receive that and hug that, but there's other things he can't fix. So that's complicated.

Yeah, it is. We've had to learn how to communicate ahead of time. Like, I need you to feel this, not fix it. That's kind of my code word for my husband to like, don't try to fix the situation. I seem to feel my way through it because sometimes I feel like he's trying to rescue me out of a situation that I don't necessarily need to be rescued from.

I need to just feel my way through it. And so whenever I was walking through hard times, you know, with Mother's Day specifically, I think when I look at my heart position, it was that I was facing my worth in my work. And for all the stepmoments out there that still do that, and I do too, I'm human, right? And so I just have to check myself often. But when I started to realize my worth is found in Christ and outside of that title, I started to disengage from making these holidays matter more than I think they do.

You know, I don't know that it matters so much as much as we put pressure on them. So I think give yourself grace. Obviously, what you're feeling is normal.

That spiral, that mental spiral is normal. But know in your heart of hearts that your worth is not found in your work. It's not found in your title. It's not found in one day of appreciation.

You know, your worth is found in Christ. Yeah, I do love what you said about helping your husband just acknowledge your feelings, acknowledge your pain, that it is okay for us to have those feelings still and they don't have to fix it. The other thing I would add is, so I've celebrated 27 Mother's Day now as a stepmom. And so we just have to keep it in perspective that maybe you didn't have a great Mother's Day. It doesn't mean that every Mother's Day is going to play out like yesterday. Say a little more about the overtime thing. Sometimes you have bad Mother's Day and they get better.

Right, they can get better. Sometimes I've had bad Mother's Day with my biological girls during their teenage years. I remember having some hard Mother's Day years. So, you know, you just pick yourself up, you ask the Lord for grace and strength to move into the next day and know that you can build a better future and you can have a good one in the future.

Summer, this past weekend I just happened to be driving on the Dallas Tollway. It is a frightening place to be. Yes. Yeah, lots of traffic, people moving fast, love that speed limit, boy.

You can just boogie on through, but boy is it a little scary. It's no joke. You had a come-to-Jesus moment, it sounds like. You write about it in your book, Blended. You had a moment on the North Dallas Tollway where God gave you a perspective about your role as a stepmom.

Tell us the story and what did you learn? So, when Andy and I met, he had both the boys full-time and they were pretty young, six and eight. And we were pretty far along in our journey at this point and just had not been doing things right. And I say we, but I'm going to take my responsibility in that, in that I really had veered off the path of good intentions. And it was a slow process doing that.

But this all kind of was boiling. I was getting our oldest ready for winter formal, which is a pretty big deal down here. I'm sure it's a big deal everywhere, but I'm kind of an organizer, a planner.

Like, I like things in order and all of the plans are ready for the weekend. I felt like everything was in place. I was driving down the Tollway and it just kind of hit me that as I was putting the plans in order, the dance didn't fall on our weekend. And so I had gotten this jolt of just really anger and resentment that I had done all this work and here we go again.

I don't get the reward in this. And at that moment, it was really all about me and what I would get out of my good works. I felt God really tug at me and say, pull off the road.

I need you to pull off the road. And it was a command. It was not really anything I could ignore. I was really just like, OK. And I did that. Yes, Lord, I'll do that. I want you to write this down. OK, I will obey.

That's a lot. So I pulled over and he said, I want you to write this down. And he said, you are not raising these children. So they grow up and call you their mother. You are raising these children. So they grow up and call me their father.

Somebody just needs to absorb that one more time. Would you just say it one more time? So he said to me, you know, Summer, you are not raising these children. So they grow up and call you their mother. You are raising these children. So they grow up and call me their father. And I had to sit with that, you know, to be completely honest, for a few years. Because in the moment, I, in my spiritually haughty self, didn't think I had been working all this time to be their mother. Like, that was not an intention of my heart. I'd never, they don't call me mom.

I'd always been very clear that that was not any, that I didn't have the intention of coming in and taking over that role. And so I wrestled with God through that statement. And really, most recently, what he has shown me, even between the writing of the book and now, is that all along, I really hadn't been chasing that title of mom. I had been chasing the title of God in their life.

That's a punch in the gut. Kind of over the process of that refining process and him showing me, like, what I was doing wrong and how I needed to do things differently, I graciously stepped off that pedestal that I had created for myself. And I gave that highest seat back to God and, and through that act of obedience, you know, been able to kind of journal my way through that process to help other stepmoms and moms and blended families really put into perspective. One of the scriptures he gave me, which is First Peter five, two through four. And it talks about, you know, we are to shepherd the flock that is placed under our care and not because we must, but because we are eager to serve him.

Right. And eager to serve those that he places under our care. And they're actually his sheep, you know, and we are to shepherd them back to him and not necessarily to us. You're listening to Family Life today, and we're listening to a portion of the Family Life Blended podcast with Ron Deal and guests Gayla Grace and Summer Butler. I mean, families of, you know, every structure needs support, blended families included, which is why our Family Life Blended ministry has so many resources for couples. And you're going to want to check these out and you can get the link in the show notes at familylifetoday.com. So let's pick up the conversation talking about shepherding our children toward God and not us.

The other thing that I think is probably practical is this shepherding your stepchildren thing. And let's unpack that for a minute. John 10, 14. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, which, by the way, implies that we're sheep. You know how dumb sheep are. Yeah, I do know how dumb they are. Yep. That's me.

I'm one of those. You feel like you've been given a flock, Summer. That's the way you've started thinking about it. And what a paradigm shift to go from I need to be their mom. I need to be central in their life to wait a minute, wait a minute. I'm a shepherd.

They're my flock. So what does that look like in everyday practical moments? I'd love to hear from both of you about that. Well, one thing I would touch on that Summer mentioned earlier was, for one, you're doing the practical things and that's going to include some of the grunt work. But when you notice that you're feeling resentful about what you're doing, that's when you need to take a step back and consider, am I doing too much though? Am I stepping into a space that isn't the space I need to be in? Because if we sit in resentment, then it moves to bitterness. And so we got to pull back and consider, why do I feel resentful about what I'm doing? And that's a big issue, in my opinion, for step parents to always consider is where am I at?

Where's this resentment coming from? Great. Oh, that's good. Good self-reflection there. Yeah. Yeah.

Summer? Well, and speaking into that, I think what I've realized along the way is that I have a really hard time having difficult conversations in the moment. And so I allow those resentments to build over time. And that's something that I've had to consciously work on. So if Andy hurts my feelings in the moment, I sit with that, pray over it, and then I have to address that because otherwise we're six months down the road and that resentment bubbles over and I'm unleashing this entire conversation.

And he's, you know, six months ago has no idea what I'm talking about. But to your question about shepherding, I think in 1 Peter it refers to Jesus as the chief shepherd. So much like in John. But what really gets me is towards the end of 1 Peter 5, 2 through 4. And at the end it says that we work for a crown that will never fade and that we will get that when we meet our chief shepherd.

And so in the book I write kind of about this aligning your heart. And we do have to, just like you said, Ron, realize that we are first his sheep. And if we are so spiritually haughty or so high on that platform like I was, I don't recognize that I need to work on self with him first and to align my heart and say, look, I am your sheep.

I am here to do your work. And then I can recognize that these children that have been placed under my care are for me to shepherd and not for me to grab their hand and want to hold on to that forever, but for me to take them by the hand and place it in his because that's my job and that's my role. And I really think that goes for bio parents too. I mean, I really approach my own biological son in the same way. It's like I, and that takes intentional parenting for sure. You know, not to want to lord over them, but to hand them off and say, God, how would you have me handle this situation?

It's a tough one. I don't know how, you know, and sit in that and then intentionally parent instead of react, I think, to situations. Let me react for some of our listeners right now.

If you do feel some appreciation from your stepchildren for all that you're doing for them or from your husband for what you're doing, if you do feel some measure of respect, there's an occasional reward, a thank you, gratitude, that sort of thing. Wow, that goes a long way. That really helps you keep going. Absolutely. It's in the absence of that. You know, it's the woman who wrote to me email last week saying her husband won't set boundaries with his former wife and she continually has to deal with the negative repercussions of her husband's unwillingness to do that. I'm thinking of the childless stepmom who's listening right now who feels totally unappreciated, totally left out, doesn't have children of her own. I'm thinking of the stepmom who wants so badly to make a difference in the lives of her stepchildren. She sees some gaps, she really has something good to offer.

Her intentions are great, she loves them so much, but for whatever reason, you know, the family system just sort of sabotages her efforts and she's forced to live with the status quo and it's really frustrating. And you want me to think about the chief shepherd finally giving me my reward, like that's so far out there somewhere, you could just imagine somebody going, yeah, but what do I do today? How does someone sustain themselves in a tough situation?

You hang on to the little stuff because it's just like you said, oftentimes there are small rewards. I think of one when I think my stepson was in high school and where we were living at the time, we were under a tornado warning. It was in the middle of the day. He knows I don't watch TV in the day, I probably didn't have the radio in the morning, but probably didn't have the radio anything on. He texted me from his high school to say, Gayla, take shelter. We're under a tornado warning.

That was huge to me. That's like he cares enough about me that he texted me to say, are you paying attention to the news? Because you might be in danger.

Those are little rewards. Maybe you take that for granted when you have to step up and say, and when he came in that day, I remember I gave him a hug, I said, thank you for thinking enough of me that you sent me a text in the middle of the day and that helped me know you cared. You have to hang on to those things as a stepmom. My husband, I remember him telling me that he kept a voicemail that one of my girls sent him, his stepdaughter at some point.

He kept that voicemail a long time and he would listen to it at times when he was so angry at her. And he said, that just helped me in my stepdad role to know I'm doing okay some days. It may not seem like it all the time. That's good. Yeah. In the middle of the moments, we tend to feel like it's the only moment that ever will be.

Right. And we have this unrealistic perception that nothing's ever going to change. And to be completely honest, I know I have a lot of kind of in your face techniques with this and maybe it's just because it's how God deals with me. But if nothing changes, nothing changes. And so if you're in the middle of these moments and you just feel like nothing's ever going to change, you can. And so my encouragement is to keep showing up with Christ. And that's where I had to go because I've been in the moments. I've been in the middle of some really tough times where I didn't know if our marriage was going to make it. I didn't know if I could keep doing this. I didn't know if tomorrow was going to matter. I could see me walking away.

I went there. But like I said before, if you can disengage from the moment and if you can take that and show up with Christ and align your heart there, you will start to see little changes happen. Because if one person in a relationship changes, the relationship has to change. And I think you only experience that until you experience it. Right.

So I think my experience has been in the middle of those heated moments or the moment where you feel so overwhelmed or so bogged down with, you know, can I keep doing this? This is so defeating. It is. You're right.

You know, acknowledge that. But then realize like this is just one moment to a lifetime of opportunities that I'm going to have. And if you keep showing up with a heart eager to serve, it will start to shift. What a great perspective. We've been listening to a portion of the Family Life Blended podcast with Summer Butler and Gayla Grace and Ron Deal, the host of that podcast, joins us in the studio. Ron, welcome. Welcome, Ron. Hey, guys.

Always good to be with you. You know, what are your thoughts? What hits you about that interview?

Well, you know, Summer was telling the story in the first half of the conversation about driving down the highway and the Lord speaking to her to the point that she had to pull over to really sort of absorb the message that, hey, this is not about you. You're not trying to point these kids to you. Yes, you want to bond. Yes, you want to build a relationship with them. But ultimately, you're trying to show them God and point him in that direction. That's true for every parent. Yeah.

Every one of us. That's ultimately what we're trying to do. You know, work ourselves out of a job is what Dan and I used to say to each other. We're not just send them off as in adulthood. That, for sure, but really, ultimately, pointing them to the Heavenly Father where their faith and trust for direction in life is not coming from mom and dad anymore.

Ultimately, it's coming from God himself. Yeah, and I know, you know, as Ann just said, you know, I mean, we've all raised kids. It is hard to do that.

You want to be honored by your kids yourself, and it's like taking the spotlight off you. And it's like, it's not about me. My goal is to make them no longer dependent on me and totally dependent on God. And sometimes that means adversity, trials. You got to let them go through so that they find that the Father's love and power is sufficient, right?

That's exactly right. Ultimately, that's where we want them to look. I got to share something else that our audience didn't get to hear. They need to listen to the whole episode to catch this, but Summer made another comment, another driving comment, actually, what I thought was really good. She was talking about the difficulties that we all have in parenting. And what do you focus on?

Do you focus on what's not going well, or do you give yourself permission to enjoy what's going right? Her comment was, you know, that old adage, when you're driving a car, you steer where you stare. That is, if your eyes are pointed at the double yellow line in the middle of the road, your car will drift in that direction. If you're staring way off to the right, your car will drift.

Why? Because your behavior tends to follow what you're looking at. Same thing in our focus. We focus on all the things that aren't going right, or all the things that we wish were different, or we focus on things that are going well in our kids, in our relationship with them.

Let's enjoy what we have and work hard to shore up the things that aren't going well, but don't just keep staring at the stuff that's not good. Oh, that's really good for all of us to apply in our lives, but especially in our parenting. Yeah, and I think it's easy sometimes in our parenting to stare at our kids rather than take our eyes vertical and say, I got to keep my eyes on Jesus.

I mean, I obviously want to have my eyes on my children, but it's more important that I'm following him, stopping on the side of the road if it's so strong to say, I've got to hear what my father is telling me about being a father to these kids so that they will knowledge him as their father. And, you know, one reminder I'll give our listeners who are involved in ministry of any kind. You know, I hope this program has reminded you to stare a little bit at what's going on with families.

Mother's Day may be a fabulous day for you, but it's not necessarily for everybody. And so stop and think what it's like to be other people. And that's an opportunity for you to step into their world, acknowledge what's happening and offer a little encouragement and direction. Yeah, good word. Ron, it's always great to have you on. It's always good stuff. Thanks. Thank you. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Ron Deal, Gayla Grace, and Summer Butler on Family Life Today. You know, if you enjoyed today's conversation, we don't want you to miss the Women and Blended Families live stream that's coming up on June 11. So you can join the conversation with Gayla Grace and her guests for practical tips and encouragement just for women and blended families. So if that's you, you don't want to miss this live stream.

You can even log on and ask questions live that they will answer while you are engaged on the app. You can watch on Family Life Blended Facebook, Instagram, or our YouTube channel. You can go to familylifetoday.com and see the show notes in order to figure out how to log on on June 11. And if the idea of reaching blended families with the gospel is exciting to you, that's exactly the kind of thing that we're all about here at Family Life. We're here to reach families of every kind.

Marriages and families is what we're about. And this month, we're winding down to the last couple days of the month of May. This month, we are in a very unique situation because we're a donor supported ministry and we rely on situations like the one that we're in right now in order to keep producing valuable programming. The uniqueness of this month is that every gift that you contribute to the Ministry of Family Life will be doubled dollar for dollar up to $550,000. Thanks to some generous donors who have partnered with us, your support can make double the impact and an incredible difference between today and actually tomorrow because it ends at the end of this month. If you want to learn more about becoming a monthly donor to Family Life and discovering that it's really a partnership that will help you to be on mission with us all year long, you can head over to familylifetoday.com, click on the donate now button at the top of the page, or you can find our link in the show notes or give us a call at 800-358-6329.

Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. If you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one that you heard today, would you be willing to share this episode from wherever you get your podcasts? And while you're there, it can really help others to learn more about Family Life Today if you'd rate and review us. Now tomorrow, I'm actually sitting down with Dave and Ann Wilson and we're going to listen to a few clips from an episode of Real Life Loading, which is the podcast I host for Family Life that really aims at young people in their 20s. We're going to talk to Bella Lemon. She's a college student in Northern Virginia, and she's going to talk about really how easy it is to be negatively influenced by others on your campus and the importance of giving yourself grace because God already has. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-30 07:34:54 / 2024-05-30 07:48:02 / 13

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