Step Up, Step Out, Step In

I just realized it’s been several months since I’ve blogged on here. Well lo and behold, here we are in 2021. The old has passed, the new has come. What was placed in my heart this morning is to write about perspectives in step-parenting. Many people do not like the word, “step.” There are many stigmas to the following words: stepfamily, stepdad, stepmom, stepchild, etc. The new term on the block is “blended family” or “bonus-(fill in the blank).” I’m here to share my personal perspective. As with everything, take it or leave it, receive it or reject it. Everyone has their own experience, this is mine, whether you “agree,” like it or not.

In a nutshell, I grew up in a two parent, married household. I never met my biological father. My mother re-married when I was 2 years old, and thus my “step” father stepped in and became my dad. I call him dad, or “papi” since that’s what we do in Puerto Rico and what was taught to me. He’s my dad, I love him. All is well.

Fast forward now in my adult years. I married my husband who has two daughters from a previous unmarried relationship. I have taken on his two girls as my own, however unlike my situation growing up, they have a biological mom that is in their lives . They live with her full time, and we see the girls every other weekend and on holidays and school breaks. This is what is in our court-ordered parenting plan, and we have chosen to adhere to this written plan for accountability and consistency purposes. When there is not a clear, written plan in place, much chaos ensues. So for the safety of all parties, we stay on the straight and narrow.

There are times when we’ve been out and about together and people refer to me as the girls mom, which is fine. I do not correct people in public, because I don’t want things to be awkward. However, the truth of the matter is, I am not their mom… they know it, I know it, we all know it. Now, please hear me out. I love these girls AS IF they were my daughters. I do all the things a mom would do when they are in my care.. make sure they have clothes, food, provide a safe place for them, am concerned about their education, their activities, discipline when necessary, talk to them about wise choices, friendships, their relationship with God, take them to church, celebrate their victories, encourage them when they fall, pray for them daily, etc. Sometimes we argue and get mad, sometimes we laugh and have fun. All normal things. However, for me to insert myself into their lives and declare, “I am your mom,” in my opinion is not healthy. They have a mom. No one can ever replace her, she gave birth to them, there is a bond there that will always be. I respect this. Do I agree with some things that happen sometimes? No. Is it my place to butt in? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I have realized that my role as a step-parent is not to place demands, but to come alongside my husband as he navigates co-parenting with his ex when the girls are away, as he steers the ship with me when they are with us, offer positive suggestions to their mom about healthy parenting choices that will help them thrive, and make myself available when they are in my care. Another very important role as a step-parent, weekend parent or for all parents is to always forgive and let things go. It is very easy to go into “blame” mode or “what if” mode. For example, “IF they were with us full time, things would be so much better!” OR “That would NEVER happen in our house.” Whether these claims are justified, correct or not, these thought processes are are not right and must be extinguished immediately. Honestly, I do not know how people that don’t have Jesus in their lives do it. If it wasn’t for God, my husband and I would not survive. We would be another statistic, another torn-apart broken family. However, with God, ALL things are possible. When the enemy tries to attack, we stand firm in our faith. We pray together, stay in unity, and do not waver. Some days are amazing, some days are hard.. such is life.

To all step-parents out there… stop trying to fit yourself in a box, you will most likely never fit in. Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t work out as planned or feel like you’re not “doing enough.” Be flexible, be available. Realize that it’s a step-by-step process. Sometimes we have to step up and be there. Sometimes we have to step back, keep quiet, and let things be handled by the bio parents. Sometimes we have to step in and intercede. Sometimes, we have to step out of the way, pray and trust in God.

Much love & many blessings on your journey. ❤

Mini Zucchini Polenta Pizzas

It’s summer time, and my garden is over-flowing with zucchini.  I’ve been giving them away, and made a zucchini bread recipe, however, wanted to try something new, healthy and simple.  Here is what I came up with: mini zucchini polenta pizzas.  There are only 4 ingredients and it only takes about 15 minutes to make!

Ingredients:
Polenta roll (I used Trader Joes organic polenta)
Zucchini (sliced round)
Shredded cheese (I used cheddar, though you can use mozzarella or another cheese of your choice)
Marinara sauce

Step 1:  Slice polenta into rounds and place on greased cookie sheet (I used pam cooking spray)

step1

 

Step 2:  Spread marinara sauce on each polenta round.

step2

 

Step 3:  Place sliced zucchini rounds.

step3

 

Step 4:  Add shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

step4

 

Step 5:  Serve warm and enjoy!  😀

step5

Listen to Your Elders

wiseowl.jpg

I’m currently making my way through the Bible, and today I landed in 2 Chronicles 10.  I’ve been in Chronicles since covid-19 came to our world, and there has been some stark and interesting parallels between the book of Chronicles and the times of coronavirus.  Let’s explore.

We start this passage with King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam assuming the throne, as Solomon has just passed away.   When the people of Israel came to make Rehoboam king, they had a request for him.  Apparently, according to verse 4, Solomon had “put a heavy yoke” on his people, therefore, they came to ask Rehoboam to “lighten the harsh labor and heavy yoke,” and then in exchange, they “will serve” him.

So we have a few things going on here.  In my opinion, there isn’t anything wrong with placing a request to the king. However, what is wrong is placing a condition on the request.  The people of Israel did not really ask and make a request, they pretty much presented an ultimatum.  They basically said, your dad made us work hard.  We don’t want to work hard anymore.  Lighten our load, otherwise we won’t serve you.  Sounds like a union-formed strike to me..

First of all, Rehoboam is the king, and by default, if the people of Israel are citizens of the kingdom, then it is their duty to serve. Second of all, why didn’t they place this request on Solomon?  Is it because Rehoboam is new, so they were trying to see how little they can work without repercussions?  Let’s say that perhaps the people are right; Solomon had been working them to the bone, their concerns are valid, and it’s time for their burdens to be lifted.  Fair enough.

The next part of the story thus shifts to King Rehoboam’s response.  In verse 5, the King basically told everyone, okay, give me three days and I’ll have an answer for you.  Fair response.  The King thus makes a wise decision and consults the elders.  These elders served during Solomon’s lifetime, so not only were they faithful servants, they were also probably very familiar with decision-making processes, and were first hand witnesses of what worked well or didn’t work well.  It is also safe to assume that a position of “elder” is not just someone that is of greater age, but also most likely possesses certain character traits, such as wisdom, experience, integrity, and sound judgment.  So when Rehoboam asked the elders how he should answer the people, the elders stated in verse 7 “if you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servant.” What a wise answer! Proverbs 21:21 states, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”  Proverbs 11:17 says, “a man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”  The elders are telling Rehoboam to be kind and honor their request.

However, instead of listening to the elders, what did Rehoboam do?  Verse 8 says that he rejected their advice!  Then what did he do after that?  He consulted the young people who had grown up with him (aka his peers)!  Really?  Come on!  What?  For real?  This guy is supposed to be the King, and instead he’s acting like a rebellious kid.

Rehoboam’s peers or friends, end up telling him to not be nice, but instead to be harsh (aka the opposite of wisdom)!  In verse 11, they tell him to say, “my father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier.  My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”  WHY?  Is he trying to flex?  Are Rehoboam’s friends mad that the workers gave them an ultimatum?   Instead of listening to their concerns, they think it’s better to be harsh?  Power-tripping, perhaps?

So King Rehoboam ends up listening to his peers, instead of his elders. He tells the people of Israel all the harsh words that his friends told him to say.  This one man’s choice of not listening to his elders created grave consequences and ignited the prophecy from 1 Kings 14:7-11:  I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.  I tore the kingdom away from the house of David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.  You have done more evil than all who lived before you.  You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.  Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam.  I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel–slave or free.  I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone.  Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.  The Lord has spoken!

After the people hear that the King will not listen to them, war begins (verse 16-17).  This war could have been completely mitigated if one man would have made one right choice.

How many times have you made a choice in your life that created severe consequences?  How many times has an elder, parent, teacher, mentor or someone older, wiser, and with more experience told you something, however, you chose to listen to your unwise friends instead?

During these current coronavirus times, are you adhering to the guidelines and standards set forth by our governing elders?  Are you listening and taking things seriously?  Is it more important to hang out with your friends, gather in large crowds, and be harsh against our governing leaders and elders who are choosing to be safe and wise?  Lives are stake here!  Make the right choice.  #bewise

Instructions for Revival

Here is a presentation I recently gave on personal revival.  The Lord is calling for a revival amongst His people during this time of corona.  Are you ready to fully surrender to the Lord and put Him first as the King of your life?  Are you ready to knock down idols, step out of your comfort zone, and truly seek the Lord’s face?  We are in a spiritual battle.  The weapons presented here are worship, the Word, and prayer.  Time to suit up and wake up!

Revivalcover.png

Revival2.png

Revival3.png

Revival4.png

Revival5.png

Revival6.png

Revival7.png

Revival8.png

Revival9.png

Do You Come in Peace?

About a year ago, I decided to start over in the Bible.  I started reading from the very beginning, line by line, not skipping over anything.  Even though I started over, I am not doing a “Bible in a year plan.”  If a one year reading plan works for you and gets you in the Word, then great.  However, I personally think it’s more important to go at your own pace, dive deep, and gain wisdom and understanding, no matter how long it takes.  Having the Word living and breathing inside of you is imperative, instead of trying to “accomplish” or reach an end goal.   Because I am not skipping over anything in the Bible, sometimes it takes days to digest and reflect on a particular passage.  Other times, I am able to consistently get through a nice chunk of Scripture. Today, I have landed in 2 Kings: 9.  Here’s the recap so far, along with some background info.

God appoints Jehu as the king of Israel and commands that he destroy the house of Ahab.

  • Jehu is the son of Jehoshaphat, who was a “good” king of Judah.  During Jehoshaphat’s reign, he “followed the ways of his father and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 22:43).  “Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:44).
  • Ahab used to worship God, but once he married Jezebel, she influenced him to worship the false God, Baal and she began killing off the Lord’s prophets.  “Ahab did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:30).  He thus ends up bleeding to death in his chariot (1 Kings 22:35), they wash the bloody chariot at a pool where prostitutes bathed, and dogs licked up his blood (1 King 22:38).

After Jehu becomes God’s anointed king, he conspires against Joram and Ahaziah (the kids of Ahab and Jezebel). According to 2 Kings 9:17-19, Jehu rides out to find Ahab’s kids.

  • Joram sees Jehu’s troops appearing and says, “Get a horseman. Send him to meet them and ask, ‘Do you come in peace?‘”  The horseman rode off to meet Jehu and said, ‘This is what the king (Joram) says, “Do you come in peace?‘” Jehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace?  Fall in behind me.”
  • So then Joram sent out a second horseman.  “This is what the king says, “Do you come in peace?”  Jehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace?  Fall in behind me.”
  • Then Joram and his brother, Ahaziah, “rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu.  When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”  This time Jehu replied, “How can there be peace, as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”

After all this “peace talk,” Joram and Ahaziah end up being destroyed.  Then Jehu goes off to find their mom, Jezebel.  When he arrives at her gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”  Jehu then “looked up at the window and called out, Who is on my side?  Who?

Jezebel then ends up being thrown out of a window. “Some of her blood splattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.”  Her body was left for dogs to eat, and “when they went to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands” (2 Kings 9:33-37)

———

Wow.  Just wow.  Who needs to watch horror movies?  All you have to do is read the Bible.. (just kidding).  But for real, this story is crazy.  First I want to highlight the fact that there is an obvious war going on, not only in this particular book of the Bible, but in the life of a Christian.  Second, many will say that it is important to have peace, make peace, perhaps be a diplomat, compromise or attempt to “smooth things over” for the sake of peace.  However, this Scripture is saying that we are at war, there is a real enemy, and making peace with the enemy aka Satan is NOT the way and actually doesn’t make any sense.

  • Jehu repeatedly states, “what do you (aka sinner/idol worshipper) have to do with peace?  Join and follow me! (aka turn from your ways and follow God’s way)”
  • How can there be peace with the devil?  It’s an oxymoron, it does not exist, you can’t.
  • How can there be peace as long as there is idolatry and witchcraft (sin) around?   Sin DOES NOT OFFER peace. Jehu is speaking real truth.
  • Then, Jezebel’s statement, “do you come in peace, you murderer?” is complete irony.  How can a murderer be peaceful?  He can’t!

Ladies and gentlemen, we must pick a side and we must remain true. When Jehu confronts Jezebel, he yells out “Who is on my side?”  God is asking us the same thing.  Are you on His side?  If so, stand firm and declare that you are on the side of the Lord!   If there is sin lingering around in your life, how can you be at peace?  Sin MUST be destroyed if you truly want to live a life of peace. Who are you following?  If you are asking for peace, but not following Jesus aka the Prince of Peace, how can that be?  Also, please realize that peace is NOT the absence of war.  Peace is knowing and being confident of where your place is in the battle. Peace is knowing that as Christians, we have a King, a leader that can fight for us, and be alongside us through anything!  Do you truly trust that God is in control, that He is victorious, that He is good NO MATTER WHAT?

Brothers and sisters, take heart. Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

#Jesus is enough.  #Peace

Remain Steadfast

steadfast.jpg

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

steadfast:

  • fixed in direction; steadily directed.
  • firm in purpose, resolution, or faith. 
  • unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence.
  • firmly established
  • firmly fixed in place or position.

As Christians, we are called to be and remain steadfast.  This is not to say that we are supposed to be stubborn, rigid and so “fixed in our ways” that we don’t allow a move of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  What this is saying is that we are to remain steady in our walk with the Lord.  We are to remain firm in Jesus and firmly established in His Word.  We are to have faith beyond measure, beyond what our eyes can see, beyond what is happening in our immediate circumstances.  Hebrews 11:1 states, now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Whether you are a Christian or not, many outside forces will come.  Sometimes a small breeze will try and ruffle your feathers or sometimes a hurricane storm will completely blindside, knock you down and try to destroy you.  However, as Christians, we not only have tools to navigate the storms of life, but an inner peace within our hearts that God has promised to us.

In John 16:32-33, Jesus is talking to his disciples before he is about to be taken to the cross.  He states, a time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home.  You will leave me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

Prior to Jesus’ promise to bring peace, he speaks of grief and joy.  He states, very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world (John 16: 20-21).

No matter what is happening, if you are obedient to the Lord, He will have your back.  If it appears that people in your life keep letting you down, rejecting you, opposing you or are blatantly turning their back on you for choosing God first, then say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me? (Hebrews 13:6).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

We must keep our eyes on the prize.  We must remember why we are Christians.  We must stand our post and remain in place.  When you are flying in an airplane, and there is a bout of turbulence, the pilot tells everyone to stay in their seat.  When a storm came upon Jesus and the disciples, and the waves began to overcome the boat, the disciples were freaking out while Jesus remained steadfast and at peace. (Mark 4:35-41).

When a young child begins to throw a tantrum, are you going to give in even though you know it’s wrong or remain steadfast and consistent?  Do you want to be a leaf that easily flies away, and never lands anywhere every time a windy current comes along? Or do you want to be a rooted tree, firmly established throughout time, able to withstand various seasonal shifts and able to bear beautiful flowers and edible, nourishing fruit?

Ephesians 4:14-15 states, Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is Christ.

Are you able to speak up for your faith?  Or do you change what you believe depending on who you are surrounded by?  Are you firm and steadfast in the Lord?  If someone tries to take you down an ungodly path, are you able to decline the offer?

If you have been wishy washy, tossed around and not really landing anywhere, now is the time to put a stake in the ground.  Now is the time to declare that not only is Jesus my Lord and Savior, but now I am actually going to act like He is!  You can’t say that you’re a Christian, then behave like everyone else in the world.  If you have been saved, if you are a born-again, if you are a son or daughter of the most high King Jesus, then do your part and be the child God has created you to be.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please contact me.

Remain steadfast!

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5).