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Relationships

💡 Creating Closer Relationships in Stepfamilies

💡 Creating Closer Relationships in Stepfamilies

Strengthen bonds between kids and stepparents by going on a trip that doesn’t fit into the status quo.
Karen was like many biological mothers—she wanted her son and her new husband to have a quality relationship. They were cordial enough, but there was no real connection between them. She wrote:
I am looking for information on how to improve communication in stepfamilies. I was a single mom from the time my son was 3 years old until he was 15. …

💡 5 Ways I’d Like to Thank My Divorced Parents

💡 5 Ways I’d Like to Thank My Divorced Parents

Despite their decision to divorce, both of my parents made sacrifices along the way that kept my brother and me as their priorities.
When I was eight years old, a friend of mine whose parents had gotten a divorce told me how great it was to have two separate Christmases, one with each parent. Double the presents, double the fun, right? For an eight-year-old, most definitely.
But even at that age, I knew the significance of having only one Christmas. …

💡 Teaching Our Kids Not to Be Bystanders to Bullying

💡 Teaching Our Kids Not to Be Bystanders to Bullying

Most kids on today’s campuses probably fall into the category of “bystander.” They know they should probably do something, but they don’t.
“I feel guilty about it every day,” he told the crowd, a little choked by his own words.
The church youth group was captivated by Blake’s vulnerability.
Blake seemed like a normal high school kid: decent grades, a soccer player, and from a good home. But this particular young man was obviously plagued with guilt.
“I saw him being made fun of every day,” he said, …

❤️ Mom, Kind Is the New Skinny

❤️ Mom, Kind Is the New Skinny

What if our generation of moms decided to love the mom bods we’ve got? Motherhood puts a glow on any woman! It’s a look that’s well worth the wear.
Remember when you were expecting your first child? As your body changed, you hoped that eventually you could regain some resemblance of your pre-mom body. Many of us have been able to pull that off by opting for Chick-fil-A salads over nuggets, 5 a.m. sweat sessions over an extra hour of sleep, …

🍰 🎉 When Everyone Gets Invited to the Birthday Party

🍰 🎉 When Everyone Gets Invited to the Birthday Party

My kid’s birthday party means I include and find commonalities with nearly total strangers. And it’s a really beautiful thing.
I’m usually a mess the day of my kid’s birthday party. I’m frazzled, frantic, and barely pulled together before showtime. I’ve fallen into the trap of making sure each of these occasions is a Pinterest-perfect event.
If the birthday party is at my house, I make sure every corner of the house is clean. I make sure I have enough food for all the invitees and more. …

🎭 💡 5 Ways to Avoid Being a Drama Addict

🎭 💡 5 Ways to Avoid Being a Drama Addict

Moms today have enough on their plates without adding unnecessary drama to the list.
I wanted her to know she’d hurt me. If I were being honest, I’d have to admit that I wanted to wound her back.
The more I licked my wounds, the angrier I got.
So I did what any reasonable, mature, Spirit-filled woman would do: I hinted about it on Facebook. Just a short statement. It looked innocent on the outside, but truthfully it was anything but innocent. …

💡 Co-Parenting Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

💡 Co-Parenting Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

When the world is telling you to blame your ex-spouse and embrace bitterness, you can work on turning your thoughts toward a peaceful working relationship.
After divorce you and your ex may not be husband and wife anymore, but you are still mom and dad to your kids. That means you have to learn a new way of parenting, which we refer to as co-parenting. This is when you and your ex-spouse most need cooperation for the sake of your kids. …

💡 Lose the Toxic, Not the Masculinity

💡 Lose the Toxic, Not the Masculinity

If our hearts chafe at this whole line of thinking, our issue is with the gospel, not the cultural narrative.
Gillette recently released an ad about toxic masculinity, an interesting phrase that until recently only referred to hyper-masculine boorishness. But now the national dialogue seems to have shifted to a point where toxic masculinity refers not to excess, but to all things masculine. This is a tragic loss of nuance in an otherwise important conversation.
Admittedly, I had already heard some radio commentary about the ad that preconditioned me to hate it before actually seeing it. …

💡 Moving Beyond the Fairy-Tale Marriage

💡 Moving Beyond the Fairy-Tale Marriage

The divine design of marriage calls us to something deeper—to God’s daily involvement. Because we can’t uphold our vows without Him.
Picture me wearing Manolos.
Yep, that’s right. Bold. Modern. Romantic. I pair the gorgeous shoes with killer abs in couture gowns. My prince brings treasures from afar as little woodland creatures do my housework. Even my morning bedhead radiates beauty.
Do you ever wish married life worked like a fairy tale? Yep. Me too.
I chuckle as I write these words, …

🙏 Is Prayer Your First Response?

🙏 Is Prayer Your First Response?

We must train ourselves to make prayer a default reaction in all situations.
Emergency service people are called first responders. Their first response is to help. Police, fire fighters, and paramedics all race to respond when someone is in need. For many it comes naturally. For most, training is needed to be able to fly into action during an emergency. As a former police officer, my husband was trained to be a first responder.
As a Christian, I have a desire to speak to the Lord about things. …

💡 Connecting With Your Spouse Through the Busy Parenting Years

💡 Connecting With Your Spouse Through the Busy Parenting Years

When we became parents, our entire universe shifted. What happened to the couple we were?
Before kids, Josh and I went to movies not rated G and ate at restaurants not offering Styrofoam cups. We spent our weekends doing whatever we wanted, staying up late, and sleeping in later.
Then we became parents. And our entire universe shifted. Psychological thrillers were exchanged for films featuring talking animals. Those overpriced, chef-prepared meals turned into a quick drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. …

💡 💍 Overcoming Communication Barriers With Your Spouse

💡 💍 Overcoming Communication Barriers With Your Spouse

Communication in marriage is not easy. But the fight to communicate is worth the work. In the end, you’ll find a thriving marriage rooted in oneness, not division.
Men and women communicate very differently. Most of us know that, but we often don’t know how to overcome those barriers with our spouse. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communication that will work for every couple, but there are some tips that can help you communicate better to move through conflict with your spouse, …

💡 🎄 Navigating the Holidays as an Adult Child of Divorce

💡 🎄 Navigating the Holidays as an Adult Child of Divorce

At Christmas, decisions for an adult child of divorce become especially difficult, with both parents vying for your loyalty and attention.
I never wanted a stepmom. And I certainly never wanted my kids to have a stepgrandmother.
But when my first daughter was 6 weeks old, my mom left my dad. It had been a long time coming. And from every professional’s advice, he certainly deserved it. No one faulted her for it.
I was glad they waited so long to end their marriage. …

⚠️ Two Traps to Avoid: “If Only” and “What If?”

⚠️ Two Traps to Avoid: “If Only” and “What If?”

When these issues dominate my thoughts, I succumb to selfishness and fear.
In each season of my life, I’ve found myself falling into two mental traps which are not helpful. One is the “If only” syndrome, and the other is the “What if?” syndrome.
Here’s how “If only” might express itself:

“If only I had a husband.”
“If only I had more money.”
“If only my husband would act like…”
“If only my husband (or I) had a good job.”
“If only we had a different house.”
“If only my parents (or his) understood.”
“If only my child would sleep through the night.”
“If only I had a really close friend.”
“If only I didn’t come from such a wounded past.”
“If only I wasn’t stuck in this place.”
“If only I was free of this disease.”
“If only I knew how to handle my teen.”
“If only I didn’t have to do this.”
“If only I didn’t struggle with this.”

Can you identify? …

💡 🍂 When You Don’t Feel Like Giving Thanks…

💡 🍂 When You Don’t Feel Like Giving Thanks…

Thanksgiving can be a difficult reminder of the struggles we face, but there is comfort in the promises to come.
Helen Keller had every reason to bitterly complain about life—she was blind and deaf as the result of a disease contracted as a toddler. It wasn’t until she was nearly 8 years old that a teacher helped her intelligibly communicate with her family for the first time. She lived with these disabilities her entire life.
But because of her steadfast faith, …

💡 10 Ways to Teach Children to Be Thankful for Each Other

💡 10 Ways to Teach Children to Be Thankful for Each Other

Long after my husband and I are gone, I want our kids to still have each other.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been diving into Scripture to prepare my heart for a season of thankfulness. I wish gratitude was something that came naturally to me, but it rarely feels that way.
One definition of gratitude I recently read was, “readiness to show appreciation for.” This definition suggests that gratitude is something I can prepare myself for, to get ready to show appreciation for the many blessings around me. …

💡 🍂 4 Simple Ways to Add Significance to Your Thanksgiving

💡 🍂 4 Simple Ways to Add Significance to Your Thanksgiving

As family and friends gather, here are some ideas to create a holiday that is memorable and feasible.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory? For as long as I can remember, as soon as the crisp air chilled our cheeks, our family collected colored leaves, painted plump pumpkins, and baked apple pies.
These memories and festivities are rich, but I grew more and more tired by the seasonal check-off list. Finally I had to realize that more than a set of busy rituals, …

⚠️ The Struggle With Temptations and Fantasies

⚠️ The Struggle With Temptations and Fantasies

Loving God with all your mind helps guard against falling to temptation.
In the movie What Women Want, Nick Marshall (played by Mel Gibson) develops a telepathic ability to hear each thought, opinion, and desire that goes through every woman’s head.
Imagine this: Tomorrow morning you wake up and every man on the planet has developed the ability to read your mind just by being in your presence. Does the thought make you nervous? You bet it does! …

💡 How to Overcome Jealousy

💡 How to Overcome Jealousy

Complex Old Testament families mirror modern day stepfamilies.
Michelle and Jackson called for an emergency premarital counseling session. “We’re getting married next month and I’m finally facing my jealousies,” Michelle said. “Jackson is very close to his 10-year-old daughter, as he should be, but it scares me. I don’t know why, but I’m jealous of her. I’m also jealous of the fact that when Jackson and I have a child together it will be my first, but not his. …

❤️ We Are Created for Intimacy

❤️ We Are Created for Intimacy

We have a hole in our hearts that only God can fill.
Everyone loves a love story. Love stories are the stuff that movies and best-sellers and headlines are made of. That’s because we were made to give and receive love. We were made for intimacy.
Yet most of us know more about the absence of intimacy than the reality. That sense of aloneness and isolation we have all experienced somewhere in the core of our being is a God-created hole that cries out to be filled; …

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