Thursday, August 23, 2012

Second Blessings

The REFINE Conference is now less than 60 days away! As the date approaches (September 21 & 22, 2012) my own excitement is growing, anticipating the good things that will come from 300 ladies gathered together in one place! With a great list of keynote speakers, entertainment, and break-out speakers I believe all the women who attend will come away refined in more ways than one.

Blended families have their own challenges, unique to their own individual circumstances. Early on sometimes I struggled with the image of our family being less than ideal, due to each of our divorces and the consequences that followed. That's when God stepped in and showed me otherwise. Yes, there were consequences from earlier decisions in life that we had to deal with, but our God is a God of second chances...and abundant blessings.

Second Blessings

Like it or not, the devil knows our weaknesses and loves to attack when we’re most vulnerable. There was a time when I allowed myself to believe our blended family was “less than” a traditional family…you know, the “perfect families” filling the church pews on Sunday, unblemished by the stain of divorce.

God showed me otherwise one year when John and I planned a family vacation to Florida for spring break. For economic reasons we rented an RV that claimed to sleep eight and started out on the long drive from Minneapolis to Florida. With five teenagers in the mix I wondered how well we’d get along, stuck in such cramped quarters for ten days.

            Around midnight we stopped to pick up one of the girls at her college dorm. Prepared to drive through the night, John made a quick restroom stop at a 24-hour supermarket. Several kids followed John inside before I decided to dash in at the last minute.

            In the quietness of the empty aisles I met two of the girls coming out, but when I exited the store the RV was nowhere in sight. I stared at the empty lot, imagining John and the kids heading to Florida without me. I had no purse, no money; I didn’t know the license plate of the rented RV and no way to contact him since this was before cell phones. On the verge of panic, I saw the RV coming back up the street. Luckily one of the girls had asked, “Aren’t you gonna wait for Mom?”

Lesson learned and heads were counted at each stopping point thereafter. By the time we reached Florida, the weather was a perfect 80 degrees. We set up a small tent next to the RV to add more room since the narrow aisle was forever jammed with duffle bags, sandals, groceries, and whatever fell out of the compartments above.

            We ate meals outside on the picnic table and no one seemed to mind the tropical breeze blowing sand into our food. I thought an afternoon rain shower might bring a round of grumbling, but the kids played board games inside without complaint. Day by day each one of my pre-trip worries was dispelled with joking and laughter.

            Several months later I was organizing the photos and the smiles on everyone’s faces caught my attention. Just as John had been so focused on the long drive he almost left me stranded, I had let myself focus on the label of ‘blended family,’ as though it was a subclass status. God had given us a second chance at marriage and I needed to readjust my focus and acknowledge His abundant blessings. Now 24 years together, I have a cupboard full of bulging photo albums that attest to those very blessings.


1 comment:

gadhill said...

What a precious story about second chances. The pictures, too tell just how much everyone cares for one another. Love the knew of the boys lawn chairs in the water.

Thanks for writing a beautiful story. I just know your message of encouragement is going to touch a lot of women at The Refine Conference.