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in Church

Blended Families: Part 1

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Blending two families has its challenges but the love and opportunities can far outweigh the struggles of adjusting to the blend! In an effort to smooth your way, we have some tips from blended families right here at Eastern Hills and resources that may get you to a “Happy Blend” more quickly. Blended families who have “been there and done that” have truth to share that can make your life better.

Arlee Renella is a part of our church family. She comes from a blended family and currently has a blended family of her own so she has great wisdom to share. The blended family she came from is not a blended family that worked well. Her parents each had a child from a previous marriage and then had two of their own. Arlee shared that her parents may not have had the communication needed to set rules to be used in their new blended family.

The parents needed to come together and work as a team and treat all kids the same. Arlee feels it is extremely important for the new blended parents to come together to set their own new family rules so all kids have same expectations including equal love for each child. Favoring one child over another can affect the children and cause feelings of being left out or being less than. Never let the kids feel like an outsider.

Arlee never wanted a blended family because of her unhealthy experience but that is where life took her. She learned from her parents’ mistakes and made choices for her blended family that led to co-parenting and being intentional to ensure the parents never go against one another.

Because rules were set ahead of time, the whole environment feels more solid and secure for all the kids. Simple things that matter are set boundaries and require respect for all children. Include all kids in special nights because there is no they or us but WE.

Never rule out counseling. Kids are dealing with a lot that parents are not able to address as well as a professional. Don’t rule out counseling for the parents either and family counseling is almost always a win. Arlee highly suggests that there is no price tag on this for the transition into a blended world.

Arlee shares that their faith unites them and she feels that the ultimate desire is that they love all the kids as God loves us. Where society standards may work against you, Arlee and her family choose their faith to outweigh the statistics of blended family failure.

Another member of our church family is Deborah Abbott and these are the top words of wisdom she wanted to share with other blended families navigating their way.

  • Pray a lot.
  • Set boundaries and stick with them related to the ex's.
  • Do not say bad things about the children's parent.
  • Create new memories and do not dwell on the past. 
  • Enjoy the good family memories with your children.
  • Model forgiveness.

Join us next week for Part 2 of the conversation!

in Youth

Who am I? The Identity of a Middle School Student

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Middle school is a time of life like no other. When so much of life is devoted to school, some might be surprised to find that most of the academic information that middle school students hear has either already been taught in elementary school, or will be taught again in high school. 
 
So what does this mean? 
 
Some say that middle school is just a place where three years worth of the most emotionally unstable students are held in captivity. Of course, there is certainly some truth to that, but to say that middle school is a waste of three years could not be further from the truth. 
 
In reality, this system of educational repeat is done very purposefully. While middle school students are sure to learn a great deal academically, the real lessons that middle school is designed to teach are respect, responsibility, and collaboration. In essence, middle school students are learning how to function as one part of a whole. As they are learning all of this, a fierce need for independence and individuality is built in middle school students. With that in mind, these three crucial years are designed specifically to help students learn who they are; to help them learn their identity.

In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul is saying that when we give our lives to Christ, this becomes our primary identity. We are loved by the creator of the universe and we live to know Him and to serve Him. That’s it. Our identity is that simple. 
 
It is misplaced identity that leads to so many struggles that middle school students face. When students, so desperate to find out who they are, place their identity somewhere other than in Christ, the results WILL be damaging. It is from misplaced identity that complex issues like bullying, gender confusion, and even racism can arise. 
 
It is only when our middle school students are able to see that their identity is found in Jesus and His love for them—not in athletics, academics, popularity, gender, or race—that they will find stability. 
 
When we ponder who we are and our definitive answer is to declare that we belong to Christ, we can find hope in every school assignment, every fight with a friend, every heartbreak, every challenge, and every up and down of middle school life.

 

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