A note to stepmoms everywhere

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Give a gift like no one’s looking.

Jessica Henry's photo.

Once a month, I go to a church to help serve meals to the homeless. Today was that day for this month. I volunteered months ago to be the “community meal coordinator” for the church where I work. Now this speaks to me personally because when I was a kid, we were broke. We lived in an apartment that had lots of critters in the attic and sneaking around, and sometimes the sewer backed up into the tub. We hid from he landlord, and once, when my dad lost his job, our whole life was a jar of change we had scraped together. Some neighborhood kids broke in and stole that jar. I was very young, and had a genuine fear over how we would eat. My mother went to a few churches and food pantries and got us through it.

Now that I am older, I have a hard time with thinking a child or family not having food is inacceptable. I know a lot of people like to default to the whole “welfare handout” idea right off the bat, and you know what? That’s not fair. You don’t know what the people in that line are going through. You don’t know how they got there and you have no right to judge their need. Something traumatic may have happened. They could have had an accident and lost their job and everything. Their place of work could have closed down and they haven’t found their way yet. You don’t know, and really it’s not your concern.

In our lives we are put into places where we have an opportunity to help others. Sometimes we happen to have the amount of money someone needs, sometimes we just happen to have a truck when someone needs to move. Sometimes you will help someone, and then find out later that they abused what you gave them. Maybe they didn’t really need it, or you gave them money and they spent it on a good time instead of food, or you helped them and they disappeared after that. God put you in a place to give a gift, and that is what you did. That’s all you need to know, was that you did what you were supposed to. If they didn’t handle your gift correctly, that’s their problem.

Always give what you can, it’s not up to you what happens with what you give. It matters that it’s your responsibility to be a human being and have concern for your fellow human beings.


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A Birthday blog for my husband, the man who makes it all worth it.

These are my people, the hubs and his three kids. I'm the tallest.

These are my people, the hubs and his three kids. I’m the tallest girl.

Today is my husband’s birthday. Now I talk a lot on this blog about being a stepmom because it takes a lot of effort and has taken over my life. But that should only stand as a testament to how wonderful my husband is. I knew going into this that he was freshly separated and had 3 kids. I knew very early on that this would be a lot of work and a long process. A lot of people told me not to get involved, and I did anyway. Not only did I decide I would date him, but I had made up my mind I was in this for the long haul no matter what happened. I was going to tough it all out and I wasn’t going anywhere.

Being that I was seriously cynical about dating and completely untrusting of just about anyone, think of how wonderful a man like that has to be. He listens when I talk, not just hears what I say but fully listens and is present with his entire being. He is gentle with people’s emotions and really with thier entire view of themselves and the world. He is never selfish, I had to lecture him for about a year before he started surprising me and just buying things for himself (I mean spending like $10). I knew he would take good care of me, and I don’t mean financially. I never needed that. I needed (like most women do) someone who would be compassionate with me and my luggage. Someone who would help me grow and give me time to heal. Someone who would listen and hear me, not just my words but my feelings.

He has become sort of the standard of what to look for in a man. I am always telling the kids “there are plenty of guys out there, they care a lot about themselves. You don’t want that, you need someone like your dad.” He was the standard idea his sister had when finding a husband. An honest, loving man who puts family first.

I don’t say this to make women jealous or to flaunt in the faces of people the wonderful thing I have. I say this because he has traits that every man should have. People admire and look up to him, and he never sees it. He puts family first in everything he does, but that comes after God. And that is just how it should be.

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Find Yourself, Be Great

Today I realized something. It was a pretty great epiphany, and at first it’s going to sound a little strange, so stay with me for a minute.  People are reverse engineered.  We are backwards from everything we create.  Most things, like a car for example, have an input, serve a purpose and have an exhaust.  For a car, you give it gas, it gets you somewhere, and it puts out fumes as its exhaust. People don’t have a standard input, they work or take care of families (serve a purpose) and, if they have time, they will spend time with friends or have a hobby (believe me, it’s much needed exhaust). Our exhaust is our “venting” to people, or creating something we love. We NEED it. If we don’t have an exhaust, our input gets out of whack. We drink more, smoke more, eat more, sleep more, watch more tv, we are stressed!  If you don’t do something you love, it all feels pointless. You feel empty, lost, wondering what you should do. From the moment I wake up in the morning my family comes first. Make breakfast for my husband (aww, how sweet) take care of the dog, get the kids to school. After work, it’s my family again; pick up the kids, discuss their day CAREFULLY (help them with their problems without making them as sarcastic as I am – not sure it’s working) make dinner and clean something (ugh). It’s my purpose as a wife to serve my family, but that doesn’t mean that’s everything. I need to make something. I love to draw, I love to paint, I love to write. Sometimes I sew or cook something extravagant. Life is too short not to have some form of exhaust, you HAVE to do something. If you do nothing but care for everyone else all day, every day, you will lose yourself. Meet with friends or create something you love, just for you. It won’t matter if no one else likes it, you will love it and it will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. I promise! It’s not going to be easy to find time, but I can’t tell you how important it is to who you are as a HUMAN BEING.

But I will tell you one thing, the answer is not shopping. Seriously.