Faithful On MarriageToday XO Podcast

Leah and I were guests on MarriageToday‘s XOMarriage Podcast. We were invited to talk about the challenges and share tips for blended families during the holidays.

We jump in at about the 22 minute mark, but the entire show is a blast. It was a pleasure sharing our family and the lessons we’ve learned for building a strong marriage and a loving blended family.

MarriageToday is also the sponsor of our Marriage On The Rock course that we share with couples as our gift to you in prayer that it’ll bless your marriage.

Bless us by checking out this interview and share your thoughts and practices for making the most out of blended holidays.

God bless you,

Scott & Leah

Dr. Phil Gets It Wrong: Blended Family Discipline

Missed The Mark

I generally like Dr. Phil. I’ve never watched an episode, but what I have seen appears to be a calm, caring man with a heart for others.

While researching a topic on blended families for our next book, I came across this video. Naturally I had to watch. This is big-time syndicated television after all.

While I completely agree with what Dr. Phil said about pre-marital counseling, I do not agree with his position on discipling children as a non-biological parent.

In this short clip, Dr. Phil explains to each spouse that under no circumstance are they to discipline each other’s children. They should support the decisions made by the biological parent, but have no part or initiation in disciplining.

Law of Possession

The current cultural ethos reflects Dr. Phil’s advice. Only the biological parent has authority over the kids, and the non-biological parent is relegated to the role of babysitter or nanny.

When rules are broken, the stepparent should document and report the infraction once the biological parent returns home. This is absolutely contrary to God’s design for marriage – first, second or third.

Would you enter into a relationship where you are already relegated to a subservient position beneath that of children? Yet this is the standard for managing a home environment. Is there any question why second marriages fail 63% and third tries end 74% of the time?

God is very clear from the beginning that man and woman are to become one. One in all and everything they own, do, possess and desire.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:24-25

This applies to property, problems, finances, children, hopes, dreams and all realities that each adult brings into a blended family scenario.

Civil Law

I clearly understand that civil law does not support what I just said. Most importantly, what God’s word says about marriage. Where God created marriage to endure through His holy covenant, man’s contractual marital agreement is wrought with escape clauses and protections for “just in case.”

God’s word says each spouse shall give of themselves completely to the other. Neither one shall have authority over the other. They are both equal. Different, but equal.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4

While prenuptials and separate community property rules may apply, they are created for the impending failure of the marriage.

Stage Setting

God’s marriage model requires that you each go all in. There is nothing held separate or sacred from your spouse. Money, kids, and property are not meant to be held away from or over the other spouse.

Going into a new marriage with a “just in case” attitude is setting the stage for yet another failed marriage. Kids are in the top reasons people divorce as first families, and their role as catalysts in second and subsequent divorces become more imposing as they are placed as the priority in a family.

Set God’s hierarchy on display immediately. He is head of all. Parents come next, with the kids a close third. That is the only way remarried couples will succeed.

Trust Or No Trust

You trust your new spouse enough to marry them. You move into a new home, remain in one of the homes you had, open joint bank accounts, share passwords to social media and computers, introduce each other to your circle of friends and maybe even have additional children together.

You got it rock solid, right?

Then why don’t you trust them with your children? The law of possession applies across the board. Anything held back becomes an idol in your life and supersedes the place and importance of your spouse.

We always hear parents proclaim that their children are their life. Well, that’s a noble sentiment, but it’s not biblically sound or practically wise. Children are a temporary assignment. We were meant to raise them up and wish them well as they also entered adulthood as we all did at various years in the past.

God warns against covetousness. Giving the life God gave you to a child is an offense to the One who gave you life. Let’s take a look at Exodus. Seriously consider the role children play in a parent’s life. Loving and mentoring them is expected, but making them demi-gods is a risky situation.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 20:3-5

Family As One

Discipline is about love. God is clear about this, and before you marry again and blend a family, you should be just as clear.

Because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 3:12

You must surrender your children over to the authority of your spouse. If you cannot because of fear, suspicion or mistrust, then why are you in the marriage to begin with?

Your children have suffered from the divorce from their biological parents already. Studies show they will continue to be effected. But a healthy, loving blended family environment shows them a healthy relationship model. That model does not include hiding them away from your new spouse.

Sorry Dr. Phil

I’m still very much in favor of his advice for this couple to seek counseling. Since I’ve not followed this show or the couple, I can’t share what they chose to do, but for their 7 combined kids sake, I pray they sought Christian counseling.

Aside from that, Dr. Phil’s popular cultural method of one parent acting as a snitch on the kids, and having to endure bad behavior until the biological parent returns is what continues to support the 63% and 74% failures of second and third attempt at marriage.

Here To Help

Are you in need of pre-marriage counseling? We use the SYMBIS assessment as the most insightful self-survey tool for determining your strengths, challenges and marital readiness to move forward for the first or second or other times.

We are also certified as marriage counselors through MarriageToday‘s Marriage On The Rock ministry, and want to share this resource with you as our free gift to you. It will change your life, change you marriage and change your family.

God saved our marriage, and in that we are led to help other couples save, salvage or strengthen their own marriages.

I Am His,


The Protected Marriage

Great is Thy Faithfulness…

I‘m a private person, despite the fact that I have a very public life. There are aspects of my first marriage that I’ll never discuss with anyone but my husband.

The main reason is because I have children who love their father, and I want to honor that. I will say that my first marriage wasn’t a healthy one. I didn’t learn how unhealthy it really was until I went to counseling during my divorce.

I was only fourteen-years-old when I met my first husband. That’s the same age my oldest daughter is now. And it’s terrifying. I grew up in a Christian home with a solid foundation.

My parents were married for more than fifty years before my dad passed. And I knew from his example what it meant to be a head of household, and to lead the family in decisions, and provide and protect. I knew right from wrong, and I knew Christ lived within me.

The older I get, the more I understand what a precious gift sex is. Sex is God’s desire for marriage. It’s not meant to be taken lightly. Yes, sex is pleasurable and fun, but that physical connection with the one person God chose for you is special beyond all belief.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says,


1 Corinthians 6:15-16

When we only seek pleasure from sex, we’re using our partner instead of loving our partner. Sex creates emotional and physical bonds, which is why casual sex is never a good thing to fall into.

You’re creating physical, and theoretically “emotional” bonds, but the more partners you have the more your heart hardens and you block that emotional sense of self, so sex just becomes the act and nothing more.

I didn’t treat sex with such reverence when I was dating my first husband. If I’d waited, I never would have married him because he wasn’t the right one. Now, what I will say is that I have no regrets about my marriage, despite my mistakes, because I have four beautiful children that I’d lay down my life for, and they came from that marriage.

How Firm A Foundation…

Because I’d grown up in a Christian household, and I knew the difference between right and wrong, I was conflicted about marriage to my first husband. We fell into a very unhealthy pattern. If you looked in the dictionary under Dysfunctional Relationship, you’d see our pictures. And because I was a private person, even as a fourteen-year-old kid, there became this precedent where we looked like the perfect couple.

My ex-husband was one of those people EVERYBODY liked. He was outgoing and personable and always had a joke or a smile. And I withered in the corner, afraid what people would think of me if I finally broke up with a guy who was so “perfect,” but so perfectly wrong for me.

I didn’t have a mentor or adult in my life to stop me and say, “This whole situation is wrong on a lot of levels.” This was a pattern that followed us into our marriage and through our divorce. Hallee Bridgeman wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about how she felt “relief” when her marriage ended. That post brought me to tears because I felt the same way. If you haven’t read her post make sure you check it out.

From the age of fourteen until we decided to divorce when I was in my early thirties, we had that on again-off again type marriage. There was even a point later on in our marriage where I just told myself to suck it up for the kids and live with it. It was my mistake for marrying him in the first place, because I knew better.

When we divorced, it was a surprise to everyone because they thought we’d been so happy. But the truth is, no one knows what happens in a marriage except for the two people that are in it. But what I learned soon after the divorce was that everyone had an opinion on it.

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound…

Without going into details about the dissolution of my first marriage, needless to say, there was emotional baggage I brought with me to my marriage to Scott.

On the outside, I had everything in the world going for me. I had four children I adored, I was not only a New York Times bestselling author, but a consistent New York Times bestselling author, meaning each time I released a book my sales were only getting better. I was financially solvent, and I was asked repeatedly to give keynote speeches all over the world about “How I Became A Success.”

I was in control and was the poster child for having a successful career and raising a family as a single mother. On the outside it looked like I had it all. But on the inside I felt sick and empty, and I wondered how anyone could possibly ever want me again. I was spiritually and emotionally drained and bitter. I was a woman in her thirties with four children. What kind of man could ever want that?

All I had going for me was my success, so naturally, that’s the only reason I thought a man would want me. See how Satan takes our fears and worries and makes them bigger?

I guess that’s the long way of saying Scott and I had things to work out when we got serious about each other. As a wife who experienced a failed first marriage, one of the things that was a priority for me was knowing Scott was loyal and committed to me alone.

God created us for monogamous relationships. That’s the simple truth of it. When we’re loyal to our spouse, it’s a reflection of our Creator.

Holy, Holy, Holy…

That’s why intimate physical relationships aren’t to be taken lightly. When you’re merely seeking out pleasure or lust and not the intimacy sex is meant to achieve, you’re chipping away those pieces of yourself meant for physical bonding with your spouse. I’m going to do another blog post on physical intimacy, so I won’t delve too far into it now.

Here’s the truth, it’s our job as husband and wife to put the needs of each other before any other person. If we’re following God’s desire for our marriage, my feelings, needs, hurts, and desires should be a priority above all else, just as his feelings, needs, hurts, and desires should be a priority for me.

In this culture and society, it’s not easy to have a “protected” marriage. Social norms and the world tell us one thing is right or okay. And other people can manipulate or influence our feelings into making decisions that aren’t the best for the marriage. Satan lies. So the excuses you might make to justify certain things as “okay” can be detrimental to a marriage in the long run.

For example, have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m just flirting. It’s no big deal,” or “There’s no harm in looking.” We’ve all heard that one from a friend or two before, right? Or what about, “I can still be close friends with him/her. The past is the past.”

I’m going to make a controversial statement that I stand by one hundred percent (and Pastors and Counselors stand by too): CLOSE FRIENDS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX CAN HARM YOUR MARRIAGE.

That’s a wildly unpopular opinion in the Twenty-First Century. But I don’t care. The largest percentage of affairs start out as friendships. Whether it’s your next-door neighbor, a co-worker, a friend from college, or someone you connected with on social media. It doesn’t matter. The person you chose to spend your life with should be the best friend you have in this world.

Don’t spend time or attention on someone of the opposite sex when that time and attention should be used to grow your relationship with your spouse. (For clarification, I’m not talking about cutting off communication with the opposite sex of acquaintances you see at work or in social settings with your spouse.

There’s a difference in casual conversation and personal conversation).

In my marriage, I want Scott to always be one-hundred percent sure that the only relationship I’m investing in with someone of the opposite sex is him.

We each need to be confident in that feeling. I don’t see it as being old-fashioned, and I know it’s controversial, but I truly believe  your marriage will be stronger if your spouse is the only friend you have of the opposite sex. Protect your marriage.

If you’re investing in a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, you’re taking something away from your spouse. That will almost always lead to problems with your spouse. What are you telling them when you invest in another relationship?

You’re telling them that they’re somehow not meeting your needs. That the other person is more interesting. That your time is better spent getting to know that person. You are providing a reason for your spouse to feel inadequate or jealous.

Why would you do that to someone you love?

If you have a friend of the opposite sex, do me a favor and do an experiment. Put some distance between you and your friend for awhile and see if your communication and the connection between you and your spouse grows. Protect your marriage.

Blessed Assurance…

The thing about Satan and sin is that he laughs in the face of your perceived willpower. What might start as innocent can often lead to the not so innocent. Out of respect for your spouse and the sanctity of marriage, those are the thoughts or actions that need to stop. Marriage is sacred. Just like sex is sacred. And we need to learn tips and tools for keeping our marriages protected.

I’ve been reading a lot of research materials from Christians in high positions who are using their voice to mentor other Christians. And they have A LOT to say about how to protect your marriage in a secular world.

Michael Hyatt was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and he’s also a speaker, blogger, and mentor. Here are his top tips for protecting your marriage. (And here’s the link if you’d like to check it out for yourself: What Are You Doing To Protect Your Marriage)

1.) Invest in your relationship with your spouse. He says this is especially important for men because they typically want to invest spiritual, financial, and emotional resources into relationships other than the ones they have.

2.) Set Boundaries (And Mr. Hyatt doesn’t care one bit that it might be old-fashioned)

  • He does not travel for work with someone of the opposite sex who is not his spouse

  • He does not eat out alone with someone of the opposite sex

  • He does not flirt with someone of the opposite sex and maintains appropriate relationships when he does communicate with the opposite sex

  • He speaks of his wife often and lovingly

3.) He considers what is at stake. What kind of legacy does he want to leave to his children and grandchildren? Someone who loves his wife? Who puts her needs above all others? Or someone who squandered away his legacy?

Jesus Loves Me…

There’s a great site called (Don’t worry, ladies. I’m about to get to you), and they also give tips on how Christian men need to handle interactions with single women, whether in the workplace or the community.

Just like Mr. Hyatt, they also stress the importance of mentioning your wife right off the bat and speaking about her lovingly and respectfully.

The next tip is the importance of keeping conversations with single women general and professional. Single women are not your confidants or “buddies.” You’ve got guy friends for that or Christian mentors who can listen if you need to get something off your chest.

Be intentional about your conversations. There’s no reason to share personal information with a single woman or let them share personal information with you. There’s no reason for emails or text message relationships. That’s one of those things that starts out innocently enough, but can lead to very shaky ground.

Remember, Satan hates marriage because God LOVES marriage. Establishing a personal conversational relationship is a type of bonding and it can lead to the danger zone. Save those conversations for your wife. Bond with her.

My good friend Chermaine Stein, who is also a contributor on this blog, shared some great wisdom with me for this blog post. If you come from a past marriage where there was infidelity, she likened it to flying a plane with zero visibility.

You have to rely on flying by instrumentation because you can’t rely on your feelings. You’re going to be hypersensitive to trust issues.

She continued to say that it’s the spouse who didn’t come from that kind of marriage who must be sensitive to where you’re coming from, and they must be willing to make concessions to ease your discomfort and build trust.

She also shared this verse: Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Chermaine mentioned she could do chapters on this subject, and honestly, I hope she does. She’s a wise woman and a fantastic mentor, and these are issues that most couples deal with at some point or another.

One of my favorite things that she said in our conversation was, “Wondering can cause tremendous damage to a relationship. I wonder what…I wonder who… I wonder where…” And then she gave me this verse she said she faithfully prays – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Don’t ever let your spouse “wonder.” Love your spouse the way Jesus loves you.

And because Chermaine is a fount of information and interesting biblical facts, she shared this nugget of wisdom as well. Genesis 3:16 I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.

I’d never really thought much about this verse before other than the fact that it’s kind of a bummer. But when she explained it, it was such an “Ah-ha” moment that I wanted to share it with you. She said that part of the curse placed on women was a desire to control their husbands.

It’s in a woman’s carnal nature to want to control because she needs to feel safe. It’s a husband’s job to provide that safety and security for her. “A good woman will strive to never emasculate her husband. A good husband will put on his big boy pants so she doesn’t feel the need to.” (Chermaine’s Exact Words)

That Chermaine is a smart cookie, right?

Here’s another great reference from Pastor Dave Willis (check out his full blog post here: 7 Rules Guaranteed to Prevent Infidelity)

1.) He never meets alone with a woman other than his wife (Sound familiar?)

2.) When he sends text messages to another woman (other than his mom), he CC’s his wife.

3.) He shares ALL his passwords. He goes onto say that, “In marriage, secrets are as dangerous as lies.”

4.) He doesn’t watch porn or sexually explicit content

5.) He gives “Side” hugs.

6.) He doesn’t engage in ongoing dialogues with women on social media

7.) He makes time together with his wife a priority

And in case you were wondering, I found literally HUNDREDS of sites online that gave advice on how to protect your marriage. And ALL of them were almost identical in their content. Protect your marriage.

Nothing But the Blood of Jesus…

Okay, ladies. I haven’t forgotten about you. Women need to protect their marriages right alongside their husbands. When I divorced, I never expected to remarry.

Honestly, I didn’t really want to remarry. There was a time during and after my divorce where my heart was very hard, and no matter how much I tried to talk to God and hear God speak, He was silent. Satan was at work, filling me with self-doubt. I wasn’t at a place where I could humbly get on my knees before God and repent.

Where I could ask for His forgiveness.

It was just as much of a surprise to me when Scott said he wanted to marry me than it was to anyone. But it became very clear very quickly that God was working deliberately in our lives. We were two people with different careers, different lives, and we were living in two different states.

But God worked on our hearts and made miracles happen. And we knew then He most definitely had plans for us and our walk with Christ.

That He wanted to use us for a specific purpose.

Victory in Jesus…

One of the most important things I’ve done since we’ve been married is to become a prayer warrior. I pray DAILY for my marriage. Because it’s my priority. My prayers go something like this:

Heavenly Father,

I pray for my marriage. Please protect it and nurture it. I pray that I can become a wife who always honors and respects her husband, who is his equal but who submits. I ask that in times of tribulation that I will always kneel in prayer first, before harsh words are said, and that if we do say harsh words that we learn to say I’m sorry and forgive.


Christ is the center of our marriage. Our marriage is our priority. And if we do these two things it will trickle down to our children and grandchildren, leaving a legacy that God will bless.

I’m a writer by trade, so I’ve found that writing my prayers like a daily journal really helps me articulate my thoughts and feelings well. And it’s nice to go back and read them to see the prayers God has answered, and so I can be thankful.

Just like I posted above about a married man’s relationship with other women, it works the same for us married women. There’s no reason for me to be alone with other men, eat alone with other men, or put myself in situations where Satan can put separation between me and my spouse.

I’ll either do activities with my spouse or in groups, but never with another man alone.

Also similar to what was said in the men’s section above is protecting your marriage through boundaries.

This is an important conversation topic, and each of you needs to listen to the other to understand where each of you are coming from and any underlying worries.

Anyone who lays down ultimatums isn’t being respectful or sensitive to the other. Love your spouse like Christ loves the Church. Boundaries are necessary. You’re not trying to put restrictions on the other or give orders.

You are fighting to protect your marriage, just as you are supposed to do, and if your spouse doesn’t feel like there should be boundaries then they’re not loving you the way God designed married couples to love each other. Keep praying for them that God will change their heart.

Remember what Chermaine said. Concessions must be made to protect the marriage. Women want control. Men need to provide safety and security for their wives so they don’t have the urge to control.

Be careful of the Internet. How many people do you know who have rekindled old romances through Facebook? It starts out innocently enough, catching up on the past or the good old days, and maybe noticing how successful that person has become or how great their life seems.

These “relationships” are based on fantasy. Before long you’re private messaging or text messaging, and those personal conversational bonds are forged. There is no reason on this planet for me or any other woman to have a text or email relationship with a married man.

And it’s easy to make excuses or justifications. “But we’re just friends,” or “We’ve always been friends and we’re so close.” I’m sorry, but no. Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Don’t ever be the reason to come between a husband and wife. God is very clear on his commands for marriage. And if you are that person, take a step back and ask yourself “Why” you’re doing it. And then ask yourself if you want to be the reason to cause anyone hurt or pain.

God will work on you and your heart, and bring you someone to fill that role of spouse. God will NOT bring you another person’s husband or wife to fill that role.

Peace, Perfect Peace…

Godly love is found in a committed relationship and unconditional love. And guess what, an Internet love relationship is virtual infidelity, and though you might see it as “not cheating” because sex wasn’t involved, it causes very real pain to your spouse.

Ladies, protect your marriage by spending time together, just like men need to carve out time to spend  with their wives. When you spend time together, you’re meeting each other’s emotional needs, and the temptation of the virtual fantasy relationship lessens.

Communicate with your spouse. If you’re struggling with any of these issues talk to them. Being open about struggles you face individually puts everything out there in the open. When you’re tempted, tell your spouse. And spouses, listen with an open heart and mind when they talk to you. Give them a safe place to communicate with you. And then guess what? Pray for each other. Nothing brings couples closer together than prayer.

I’ll close with this. Marriage isn’t just a contract or an agreement between two people. It’s a covenant. It’s a vow meant to last a lifetime. Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

What are some other ways to have a protected marriage?



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The Mistake of Putting Children First

Alone At Last

I once had a friend who went away on a long anticipated weekend with her husband. She told me how much her husband looked forward to the weekend because they had neverbeen away alone.

Because she had a child from a previous marriage, everything they’d ever done their entire relationship revolved around family life. Her husband planned this trip, took care of all of the details, made arrangements for caring for their three little dogs, and drove them off on a Friday morning.

Friday night, her 19-year-old daughter called her and told her that her boyfriend had proposed.

That night, this friend packed herself and her husband up and drove the 4 hours home so that she could see the engagement ring and start making wedding plans with her daughter.

We Have A Problem

I think typing this out like this, anyone reading it is able to see the problems in this relationship. This woman put her daughter before her husband, without apologies, their entire marriage.

Just because her daughter had reached that pinnacle of adulthood, that didn’t change. SHE was the most important person in this wife’s life, and her husband fell well second – likely third if we wanted to elevate the status of the dogs into relationship mode.

American Parenting

In researching this phenomenon of putting children before your spouse, I came across the term “American Parenting” – and how that describes this modern way of elevating parenting to a religion complete with children demi-gods who deserve our worship and full focus.

I’ve found article after article — written almost exclusively by women — with the argument that children need to be the center of our world.

I came across one blogger who wrote something that gave evidence to me as to where the disconnect is coming. “My husband can tie his own shoes and make his own dinner. He doesn’t need me right now.”

The parenting that we do that comes with preparing meals for our children or tying their shoes has nothing to do with the placing of children above our husbands.


When my children were little, I prepared meals and tied shoes all day long, and still knew the need to put my husband in my priorities second only to God.

“Putting your husband first” is not in terms of physical actions or needs so much as it is your emotional and spiritual connection. Over and over again, I see children more important in a wife’s emotions than a husband.

One blogger actually said, “In order if importance, I place my children, then my friends, then my husband – but don’t tell him. He doesn’t know!”

The other night, skimming social media, I saw a friend make a reference to her children and complete it with “my children are my life.”

I appreciate the sentimentality that might spur a woman to say such a thing; however, I see mothers say things like that all the time, and if it’s true, then what we have is a society of women with giant holes in their lives.

On Temporary Loan

Our children are given to us to raise and nurture, to train up in the way of God so that when they are old they won’t depart from it.

But once they reach a point of maturity, they become their own adults, responsible to God for their decisions and no longer responsible to us. Our spouses still remain right here by our sides.

God never intended our children to be our life. In John 14:6, Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Taking that even a step further, Christ’s relationship with the church is compared to a relationship between a husband and wife — not a parent and child.

He Needs You

No matter how young or old your children are, despite what that blogger above said, your spouse needs you — needs your love or respect, needs your physical commitment, needs your attention and your focus, needs your intentional loving.

In my article titled The Beauty of Submission, I explained:
Genesis 2:20-24 says,

“I will make him a helper suitable for him…and they will become one flesh.”

The term “one” used here is the same term used in Deuteronomy 6:4 describing the Holy Trinity:

“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

I think that is a powerful message from God that puts husband and wife as one – one flesh, one in the eyes of God as much as the Trinity of God is one.

In the “American parenting” model, children are treated as equals, part of decision making, catered to when it comes to meals, activities, money, and entertainment.

They tend to operate under blurred lines of expectations and standards. Beyond how unhealthy it is for the child to be the number one priority for a parent, doing so will also generate a feeling of resentment from the neglected spouse.

Over time, all of it will snowball until the marriage itself is at risk.

Blending Well
In mixed/step family, those extremes have a tendency to become even worse. As the mother of a child who was raised with a stepfather, I can understand that at times there may be a knee-jerk reaction to step in try to be a buffer between adult and stepchild, to make sure everyone gets along and is happy — but as many times as I may have felt the impulse, I held it in check.

Doing so would have done nothing than create battlefields that had no business in our home. I am one with my husband – and no matter who our daughter’s biological father is, and no matter what the dynamics are or were in his home, in our home, we parented as a single unit with no separation.

The result of that is a 20-year-old daughter who has a healthy relationship with both of us and considers us a single parenting unit — even though she was five-years-old when we got married.

First Place

Emotionally, spiritually, my husband comes first. I have three children, yet there isn’t another human being on this earth who is more important to me than him.

And I am confident in the knowledge that I come first to him. Whatever that looks like to you. Breastfeeding a baby while pregnant with another and seeing to the wants and needs of my then 10-year-old did not change that.

What’s more, I’m brilliantly designed by my Creator to be able to see to the emotional and physical needs of my children, make them feel loved and secured, and raise them in the way that they should go, while at the same time putting my husband first.

Hallee Bridgeman

Vulture Or Photographer: Is Your Family At Risk?

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Comedian

The speaker at our Gateway Church service was comedian and actor, Michael, Jr. who showed this Nobel prize winning photograph during his message.

My first thought was, Why? He’s a comedian after all. But I knew why. I don’t remember one joke that had me grabbing Leah’s arm while rolling around in my seat laughing.

What I haven’t been able to forget is this image.

The Point

That’s a little girl who had almost made it to a food bank before collapsing. The vulture is waiting. Patiently waiting for her to die. And she did.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

My first question like so many other people was, “Why didn’t the photographer shoo the vulture away?” The photographer also wondered and regretted, as he killed himself six months later.

I dreamed about this and when I awoke, it was the first thing on my heart. I wondered how could someone just sit there and watch without getting involved?

Then I thought about parents. How often have we watched our kids collapse just short of finding protection from what stalked them? Could we do more, should we do more, and at what point in their lives must we no longer do anything.

Parents of addicts struggle as their children do, but often are unaware of how to help. Mom and dad aren’t the vulture, but are they the cameraman? How do we know when enough is enough, or even is there such a thing as enough?

The Boys

Next, I began to think about whether we sit and watch as the vulture or the photographer as our kids mature. Being passive in our roles as parents doesn’t naturally cause us to be the photographer.

Sometimes actions such as taking no action in the child’s life can be as treacherous as the vulture was to this girl. My parents had very little interaction with me as far as setting boundaries or accountability. God was never mentioned either. Growing into my faith, I began to understand the effect it had on me although there was no predatory attack. Damage is damage.

In house, we have three young boys at various stages of puberty. While we openly discuss and encourage most topics, we’ve yet to have a man-to-soon-to-be-man talk.

It’s not because we’re hesitant. A lot of it has to do with when and what to say so that they don’t come away with more questions than answers.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Girls

Our two teenaged girls are in the swing of high school life. They’re good, Christian girls, and to a degree we’ve allowed that to act as a sort of assurance. In reality, without conversations with them, that is about as effective a defense as a mosquito net would be against the vulture.

We have spoken with them, and often. What I thought at first was Leah’s “job” to talk with the girls, was something I soon realized was also my responsibility. They need a model by which to judge their male friends, boyfriends and one day their…don’t say it….husbands.

Instead of sitting idly by and hoping a predator never stalks them, I found it easier than expected to talk with them about their male counterparts. It was easier because it was something Leah and I prayed about and enveloped with God’s love and direction.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Wife

Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, my experience with the photograph wasn’t over. My heart set towards my wife. We spend lots of time together, and still sit for hours talking into the wee hours of the morning. But, there are those other times.

Yes, when it comes to Leah, there are times I become either the vulture or the photographer. I’ve hovered over her in her misery as she belabored with an argument while waiting for the right moment to attack her with another harsh word.

I’ve also sat silent as she suffered from the effects of an intense disagreement. Myself, wrapped in the bitterness of the battle, but unwilling to do anything more than watch. Her love language is touch, so by denying her that attention, it compounds the hurt.

The Dad

Finally, I thought about myself. I’ve been all three to me. I’ve been starved from God’s grace by growing up without a foundation of faith.

I’ve watched myself suffer without the initiative to do something about it, and I’ve heaped misery upon myself while waiting for the next chance to self-destruct.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Blended Family

Looking at the family dynamics for avoiding this horrific scene to play out in your family is tough. We parents do find ourselves on the sideline as observers. Sometimes it’s as simple as not knowing what was going on.

Blended families can add another element of difficulty when clear lines are not drawn for all members and a proper hierarchy hasn’t been established.

By hierarchy, I mean God first, your spouse second, and yes, even to their dismay, the kids come third. But, it’s a solid third. Once this is established, it helps to detect and combat situations where your kids may become victims.

When the non-biological parent doesn’t have the authority to parent a child, or isn’t fully invested in the blended family dynamic, then not just gaps, but gapping cracks occur where kids and your spouse may fall through.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Truth

It’s complex when operating without Christ as your anchor. He will provide an impenetrable hedge of protection around your family. God will slay the vultures on your behalf as he refuses to sit idly by and watch His children devoured by the enemy.

But, the key here is that God will not enter where He is not welcomed. We are granted the gift of free will. No matter if that freedom is used to do good or evil, it is our choice. Otherwise, we’d be no different from the beasts in the field. You must invite God into your life and your family.

Defend yourself and family against the dangers of the vulturous predator as well as the lurker in the shade. Also, don’t be the shelter that just sits there well intentioned but without ability or effort for seeking out those in need.

Don’t just sit there.

I Am 2nd,


You're Not My Real Dad

faithful marriage blended family father and son

“You’re not my real dad.”

Okay, maybe those weren’t the actual words a 12-year-old Jesus spoke after he’d left Mary and Joseph for three days without their knowing where He’d gone. But, it was kind of the same sting after his mother said in Luke 2:48-49:

“Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”


What would Joseph do as he stood there gazing upon the boy he’d raised and loved as his very own since birth?

Equally important what would or have you done in that same situation? As his biological parent, would you have agreed or scolded Him?

As His step parent, would you have reacted to the cutting dismissal?

faithful marriage blended family joseph and jesus

Real Life WWJD

As a man, a father and a stepfather, I can relate to Joseph in this moment. How is the role of being a stepfather addressed in the Bible? Just what role do step-fathers play in the lives of a blended family’s children?

Consider this for a moment. Jesus the Lord and Savior of the world was raised by Joseph, His stepfather. I never really thought about it in that context, but after marrying into a family of four new kids, I sought out direction to best prepare for my new role.

Doing The Right Thing

The interaction between a young Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph in the second chapter of Luke, says plenty about Joseph and his character as a stepfather and a parent to a young boy.

Like many men, he could’ve easily snapped back by asserting his earthly authority as an adult. Instead, he understood and encouraged the relationship Jesus sought with His real Father. It didn’t diminish Joseph’s role, it strengthened it.

Battle Lines

Guys don’t handle emotional assaults or ego jabs very well. Even the slightest slight can come across like a major attack on your manhood.

Many relationships fail fast because the man of the house can’t, or won’t invest the time and effort to mesh with the children.

I’ve heard it, and I pray I never feel or say it, but “I don’t need this junk. I’m not going to be talked to like that by a child,” is an all too popular battle cry for retreat and eventual failure. It’s usually countered by the mother’s natural defense of her child.

And just like that, the battle lines have been drawn.

Guy Stuff

Without blending your family on biblical principles, each spouse stands a greater chance of fading further from that line in the sand. Gradually, neither will be willing or able to meet in the middle.

Men, this is for you. Moms, this is for you to share with your husband:

– You accepted her AND her kids.

– Her kids are not your competition. They are your responsibility.

– Believe it or not, you and her kids are vying for the same things from her – love, time and attention.

– Her kids have already been through enough. Either add value to the family unit, or don’t ask her to marry you.

– Part 2 of number 4 – If you’re already married, and have hard feelings toward kid(s), pray for God to change your heart.

– They need a Christian male role model, not a job-site foreman.

– No matter their ages, they are your beloved wife’s children. Give them that respect.

– You are the adult – always hold yourself in that humble esteem.

– You are not in competition with their biological dad. Encourage a healthy relationship with him. They will respect you.

– Always consider the way you as a child would want or how you want your own child treated.

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Colossians 3:21

greg norman cris evert divorce faith marriage blended family


Have you found yourself in these situations of being dismissed or disrespected by your spouse’s kids? How did you handle it? Would you handle it any differently?

I recently read an article about two well-known sports figures who thought they’d dismiss their current spouses and live happily ever after. Cris Evert and Greg Normangave matrimony a try at the expense of their own families. It failed 15 months later.

Their children’s disdain for their new parent was one of the many causes of their high-profile divorce. Like it or not, children can become powerful equity brokers in their parent’s remarriage and divorce.

Approach it the biblical way, and experience the joy of God’s second chance.

I Am 2nd,


Iron Man: Yeah, He Really Exists

faithful marriage blended family ironman real life

Look, In The Sky

Iron Man does exists. Actually, Iron Men do. God confirms it through Solomon’s writing of Proverbs.

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

Over the last few months God placed a burden on my heart for the condition of man. I’ve written several straightforward articles about spiritual obligation, adultery, absence and the general failure of men to stand the gap where marriage and family are concerned.

“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”

Ezekiel 22:30

God also led me to focus my daily videos and prayers at Brick Breakers on these same topics. While it might seem I’ve launched a negative campaign against my brothers, I’ve simply prayed to receive God’s word and shared it.

We men have some work to do, but it’s not like we haven’t had examples of good men doing bad things since Adam threw Eve under the bus over the whole forbidden fruit ordeal in the Garden of Eden.

Positive Word

This week God spoke so clearly to me about the importance of role models. Men who loved the Lord and invested their time to share God’s love and salvation with other men. Not all who make eternal impressions on others are relatives. Some are friends, coworkers and even strangers.

The best way to describe a brother in Christ who is unafraid to swoop into the secular world to share God’s word is an Iron Man. Cloaked in the armor of God, they understand the humanity of emotions telling them to avoid the confrontation over what is right in a world that values what is easy or just feels good, but they charge into the spiritual battle anyway.

real life ironman faithful marriage blended family

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18

real life ironman faithful marriage blended family

It’s important that we recognize and lift these men up in our families, churches and communities. They’re often unknown and unsung in our culture. Usually the meek who possess a powerful supernatural presence, real-life Iron Men don’t pursue attention or earthly accolades.

We should look closely in our homes and families. Unfortunately, this is where true Iron Men are often overlooked and underappreciated. There are guys out there everyday doing God’s work.

They may not be on TV or behind a pulpit, but they are leading their households by God’s word, they are edifying their wife, they are mentoring their kids in the ways of the word and they are laboring honestly for a day’s wage.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

Joshua 24:15

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

1 Timothy 5:18

wolf in sheep clothing faithful marriage blended family ironman

An Enemy’s Attack

It’s tough being an Iron Man in today’s secular world. Christians are the most persecuted religion on the globe. A recent study by the Center for Studies on New Religions claim that 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016.

How easy would it have been to remain silent or publicly decry Christ? No, these Iron Men along with their counterpart sisters remained faithful. God does say we will suffer persecution for our position within the kingdom. This alone dissolves the resolve of many, but in the case of the true Iron Men, it readies them for the confrontation for Christ’s sake.

Threats against Iron Men not only come from people counter to the Christian faith, but from supernatural attacks. Satan hates to see anyone accept Jesus Christ as their savior. The devil despises losing the lost to God’s saving grace.

Once men make the decision to stand for Christ; their wife, kids and family will come under attack by satan. Iron Men understand this, and step behind the protective shield of God for protection. But how do men know how to seek shelter and ensure evil is defeated?

It Takes Male Mentors

I sometimes say, “Okay, you’re a Christian, now what?”

It’s not meant to be cutting, but the reality is, it’s a life changing experience.

Unless there are other believers available to the new Christian or better yet, Iron Men willing to mentor the saved man, he may languish back into his old ways. Yes, we are made new, but we also require fellowship with others in the body of Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

I’ll confess when I was first saved, I was set upon by family members who thought I’d joined a cult, or had lost my mind. Those most vocal hadn’t personally stepped inside a church or acknowledged Jesus except in times of peril. But they didn’t hesitate to throw buckets of water on the Holy Spirit’s fire.

The effect caused me to tamp down my joy. I had indeed accepted Christ as my savior, but I wasn’t trained up in the ways of an Iron Man. It wasn’t until I was surrounded by men of faith and conviction that I understood my role of serving the kingdom.

ironman faithful marriage blended family

Iron Men

This isn’t a fantasy comic character. These men are real and they are incredible. They face the same troubles and temptations everyone else does. Some have actually fallen a time or two, but have never refused to get back up. That’s the key to living an active-learning life for Christ.

Knowing Christ isn’t a one moment of salvation activity. It’s an everyday, all day series of pursuit that draws men closer to the heart and will of Christ. Becoming an Iron Man isn’t being perfect in the eyes of others or hiding away to avoid life’s difficulties. It means getting involved by caring for and loving others. Being tough is one thing, being God-tough is another.

Be on the alert. Stand firm in the faith. Be men of courage. Be strong. Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Iron Man is real, but instead of missiles and rocket thrusters, he has a bible in his hand and God’s word in his heart. When you see him, thank him. There really aren’t enough of them around these days, but I trust that soon there will be.

I Am 2nd,


A Woman's Fight For Forgiveness: Being A Godly Wife

Tide Turned

This is one of those blog posts that turned into a tough love segment somewhere along the way. Mostly tough love for me. I learned a lot while writing this post. Forgiveness was my ultimate lesson.

It’s incredible to look back on years as specific benchmarks in our lives. I was born in 1980, and accepted Christ in 1989. In 2001 I became a mom, and quit teaching to write full-time in 2011. Scott and I met in 2013. We married in 2015.

These were all years that impacted my life significantly.

2017 is one of those years. My life changed forever on January 1, 2017. There were moments in 2017 when I felt my spirit had been completely crushed to dust. Not broken pieces that could be put back together again. But DUST.


I heard Lysa TerKeurst speak at the Pink Impact conference a couple of months ago, and she said something that had a profound impact on me. Look what God did with dust in the bible. He breathed life into it and created man.

Dust is used to make clay. We are the clay and He is the potter. He also mixed dust with his spit to form mud and perform a miracle by rubbing it on the eyes of the blind man so he could see.

Her words gave me such hope in a season where I’d felt hopeless many times.

Before 2017, I was like the blind man who couldn’t see. I was a Christian. I’d accepted Christ in 1989 and was baptized shortly after. I was brought up in the church, and when my children were born I made sure they were brought up the same way.

But I was not living my life for Christ. I didn’t know what true faith was until 2017. I didn’t know the true impact of prayer until 2017. It changed my life forever.

I wouldn’t wish my 2017 on anyone, because 2017 has been unbelievably painful. It’s also been a season of restoration and incredible healing. If I had to go through all the pain of 2017 again to get to the point I’m at now, in my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my husband, I’d do it all over again. That’s how powerful our God is.

Doing It Different

Before Scott and I married, I thought long and hard about what I would do differently as a wife this time around. I was already once divorced, and the last thing I wanted was to be divorced again.

The conclusion I came to was that I needed to learn how to say I’m sorry and ask forgiveness, and I also needed to learn how to forgive others and not hold onto years of pain or strife.

The Lord definitely has a sense of humor, because He’s made sure I’ve gotten plenty of practice at both of my goals.

I will confess that prayer and my walk with Christ has humbled my spirit and I’m able to say I’m sorry easily and ask for forgiveness. But forgiving others has been more of a challenge, especially in this new season of my life.

No Strings

2017 has taught me how to forgive without strings and with grace. A mentor of mine and Scott’s did a great job illustrating how forgiveness works. As believers,

God wants us to have the capacity to forgive.

We need to forgive for ourselves, not for the offender. And I’m so grateful God forgives without strings and with unbelievable compassion and mercy. But because we forgive doesn’t mean the relationship has to be restored.

Sometimes forgiveness is closure and a hard-stopping place in the relationship. And that’s okay.

That was one of my big hang-ups about forgiveness. Sometimes people do irreparable damage. Forgive and release them. It’s truly easier than we make it.

In my personal dealings with forgiveness, I’ve found it’s much easier to forgive those you love, like your spouse or children. I know this from experience. But it’s not always easy to forgive those you don’t love. Or worse, those who have done an active disservice to you.

I’ll be honest, things haven’t always been smooth sailing for our marriage. The largest majority of rough waters we’ve experienced has been because of people outside of our marriage, whether it be friends, family, or exes.

Here’s A Secret

Let me tell you a secret that’s probably no secret at all. The closer you and your spouse walk with Christ, the less those who don’t will understand you. They’ll question you, they’ll ridicule you, and they’ll reject you. And sometimes, they’ll intentionally make trouble for you.

Satan LOVES that kind of discord, especially in a marriage.

Scott and I had a conversation the other day. It was a circumstance involving someone we have to deal with on a semi-regular basis who lives for discord. Someone who sees me as a threat to their position and is ready to draw battle lines by using foul language and gossiping untruths.

One of their favorite tools is the divide and conquer method. The “this is just between us, there’s no need for Leah to be involved” kind of conversation. Fortunately, I have a husband who doesn’t fall into that trap and doesn’t keep secrets, even about the bad things this person was saying about me.

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

Proverbs 6:16-19

Pruning For Growth

We’ve dealt with the same thing with certain family members. I wrote a blog post not long ago about pruning people from our lives who don’t add value. You can read it here.

And what we discovered is that we don’t miss the people we’ve pruned from our lives. We don’t think about them or talk about them. It was very obvious right away how little value they added to our lives.

I’m the kind of person who likes to please everyone. So it hurts when someone doesn’t like me or spews hateful gossip. Scott doesn’t have these issues. He usually gets really quiet and lets it all roll off. He likes to let people keep talking and gather information for later. It’s the cop in him.

Peacekeeper v. Peacemaker

But our same mentor once told me that I need to learn to be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. There’s a difference, and I’m slowly learning the difference, though sometimes old habits are hard to break.

My immediate worry after Scott relayed the conversation was over gossip and slander. After all, this other person made sure to let Scott know all of the things already being said about me, some by pruned family members, though all untrue.

In truth, these people we’ve pruned from our lives know very little about me or our family at all. But such is the nature of people who let hate and bitterness invade their lives, and who cloak themselves in phrases like, “All we can do is pray for them” while living in darkness.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14

Scott and I both live in the public eye, and though we share a lot of our lives with readers and followers, it’s a managed message and we share exactly what we want people to see.

We don’t invite drama into our lives and we keep our message positive. Always. But sometimes the protective walls we build are invaded anyway, by no fault of our own. It’s times like these that learning to forgive is essential.

Scott’s response to my reaction of this person’s comments was, “So what? What can we do to stop the words of other people?” As much as I hate to admit it, the answer to that is “Nothing”.

But that’s not what I wanted to hear. I…

  • wanted to be vindicated.

  • wanted to defend myself and have him defend me.

  • was tired of being the easy target.

My response was, “I’m not used to being talked bad about so brazenly.”

And then he replied, “You dealt with talk in your church when you got divorced. This should be nothing new.”

That’s true. There was talk when I was going through my divorce. But I realized at that point I handled the talk completely different. When I was going through my divorce I was working like a madwoman. I wasn’t there to hear secondhand gossip, defend myself, or do damage control. The kids and I were secluded at home in a protective bubble.

I literally walked away from the problem without a care, because I knew without a doubt that the only person who had a right to be in my business was God. I knew without a doubt that God was there to fight my battles if I let him. And I knew that I needed to become the woman God intended for me to be so I could move forward. I wasn’t that woman.

I’d lost sight of that somewhere with this latest incident. And I think it’s because we’ve been blasted with a lot of this lately, and most of it from people who we expected to know better.

Slimy Attacks

Scott and I knew when we started this blog and we shared our faith and the importance of our marriage that satan would start attacking from every direction and through any means necessary. We prayed about it and we’ve been prepared for it. And we weren’t wrong.

Since we’ve started this blog, our marriage has been under attack from every direction imaginable, whether it be career, financial, family, death, devastation, sin,or other outside influences. Satan’s attacks on Scott are different than mine. Satan knows our weaknesses.

It’s amazing how unresolved sin follows you, no matter how much you try to outrun it or forget it ever happened. It’s especially important in these matters to ask God for forgiveness, the offended for forgiveness, and learn to forgive yourself. That’s sometimes the hardest thing.

Since Scott and I met, I’ve dealt with an onslaught of attacks from various people–some who pretended to be friends, some from family, some from an ex, and some from women who wanted to be future Mrs. Silverii’s. They weren’t nice. And when they were nice it was even worse because there was usually a sharp blade behind their viper’s smile, ready to stab me in the back.


It was vicious at times, and many times I suffered in silence because Scott and I weren’t at a place in our relationship where we were communicating well. I was afraid to bring him my hurt. Many times I was blindsided with these people’s behavior. I wasn’t prepared for it. It’s not the environment I was raised in.

But all of these people had something in common. They’re users. They used Scott’s position as Chief of Police to serve themselves. His position allowed him to get things for them, do things for them, give them status because he was related in some way, or get them out of trouble.

His decision to retire didn’t set well with them, and he was no longer of use.

Then they saw me. I’ve worked like a dog for the success the Lord has granted me. I understand in a heartbeat that it could all go away tomorrow. I understand how blessed we are, and that we have an obligation to be good stewards. This is God’s money. Not ours.

These same users saw, and still see me, as a way to have an easy payday. They’d want to work for me and collect a paycheck without actually working, they’d brazenly ask Scott for favors or money because they were broke, and then take vacations.

Just Say No

When we finally started saying “no,” they’d lash out and say it must be nice to be on perpetual vacation all the time, thinking that the hundred hour work weeks we put in and the hundred days of business travel per year, where I’ll sign books for eight hours straight, give all day workshops until my voice is hoarse, and be so booked up at conferences that I have to change clothes as I’m running from event to event (without eating all day) was just part of the glamorous life we were leading.

These things still happen. And frankly, I’m kind of tired of it. I’ve dealt with a lot of anger in 2017. But dealing with the anger is part of the process of forgiving. Anger is not a sin as long as you don’t sin in your anger. I’ve been angry with Scott, but when he asked for forgiveness and was truly repentant, I was able to forgive.

But I held onto the anger I had for these other people. My good friend Chermaine told me to say the words of forgiveness out loud, even if I didn’t mean them. God would work on my heart and soften it.

So that’s what I did. For some of these people, I was able to speak forgiveness, mean it, and put a hard stopping place in our relationship. For others, it took months and months of speaking the words aloud before I was finally able to forgive.

Forgiveness is for our sake. Not for the sake of the offender.

Forgiving and releasing these people from my life brought a peace I haven’t felt since the beginning of our marriage. But we’ve decided with Christ at the center, we can withstand any storm together.

Withstanding The Storm

2017 has been a storm. And we’ve withstood it with the help of some incredible men and women of God. Praise the Lord for those people!

Just because we forgive doesn’t mean there won’t still be bumps in the road caused by the offender. Remember, satan loves discord.

And he’ll use those people if an opening is available in your armor for their spears to pierce. This is sometimes especially difficult in a blended family or if satan is using an ex for repeated discord.

This latest incident, where an unknown war was raged upon me, is not the last, I’m sure. But here’s the thing; this person is fighting a war and I’m not even part of the battle. I don’t care. They can’t touch me. Because God has reformed me from the dust I’d become in January of 2017. My armor is strong. But my God is stronger.

These recent incidents have only reemphasized the choices we’ve made in our marriage up to this point. God moved us to Texas for a reason. There was also a reason we were led to Gateway Church and the ministries they have there. God had a plan for us, and He still has plans for us that we can’t even see on the horizon.

Enjoying The Blessings

2017 has been a blessing.

A couple of weeks ago someone thought to give their opinion of how we do things in our marriage. From everything from our personal finances, to the decisions we make in our marriage, estate, and our children.

Scott has always been very vocal about our priorities, and he talks about it quite a bit on his Brick Breakers site for men.

The priorities are this:

  • God

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:5

  • Marriage

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.”

Ephesians 5:22-23

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

Ephesians 5:25-26

  • Children (all of them have equal standing, even though we’re a blended family)

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There are other priorities in our marriage: We tithe 10% of our income no matter what it is each month, we don’t keep secrets from each other, we make decisions as equal partners (ranging from finances to children, even though we’re a blended family-we treat everything and everyone as ours).

(Side Note:)  The above statement is very important. The word ours is a big deal, especially in a blended family where lines are easily drawn.

We always stand beside each other, above all others. But those things are easy to do when God comes before anything else in our lives, and our marriage comes before our children.

Yes, our marriage comes before our children.

2017 has been a year of forgiveness, restoration in some cases, and letting go in others. There will continue to be those who strive for discord, but God is fighting those battles. All we have to do is give up the control and let him take the sword.

Be blessed,

Leah Silverii