Friday, February 08, 2008

What's in a name?

So, the latest drama & trauma at my house is revolving around my name......more specifically my last name. Nick asked me recently if my last name will still be "Evans" after Vince and I are married. Up to that point, I really hadn't given it much thought, at least not from the boys' perspective. Ever since the proposal, I've been pretty giddy about being the future "Mrs. Howard", and so has Vince! So when I told them that I would be taking Vince's last name, and would be Lisa Howard (wow, looks kinda cool typed out! I've never done that before.) I really didn't expect the boys to react the way they did. I knew that it would feel a bit weird to them and would take some getting used to, but it has actually shaken their world up quite a bit. They are very upset about the idea of us having different last names, and even said that it won't feel like I am their mom anymore. Ouch. That hurt my heart, deeply.

Vince and have I talked at length about this and I have to admit that I have had mixed emotions. How could I not share my last name with my husband? Yet, how could I not share my last name with my boys? We talked over all the options - keeping my last name Evans (that was never an option for me), or hyphenating both last names. That seemed at first like a good compromise to me, but in thinking that through it would be very confusing on several levels (how do we have our checks printed? do I want to sign my name that way all the time? how will we introduce ourselves?) Neither of us liked that option very much, in fact Vince feels very strongly that he wants me to have his last name and doesn't want me to keep my ex's last name - at all. Now, before you picture him thumping his chest and dragging me around by my hair....let me assure you that Vince treats me with the utmost honor and respect, and is not in anyway trying to control me. I know that if I told him that I wanted to keep my last name, he would honor my decision. He is sharing his heart and would honestly be hurt if I did, but he would accept it if it was what I wanted. So, this put me in a very difficult position.....whatever I chose, someone was going to feel hurt. My sons or my husband. I hate that! I'm not the type of person who can just disregard someone's feelings and say "this is what I want, I don't care how you feel about it!" So after talking it through at length, several times actually, we came to the decision together that I will in fact change my name to Lisa Howard (yay!!) But what about the boys? I have repeatedly reassured them that no matter what my name is, I am and always will be their mom. Nothing will ever change that. We are also going to be careful (and ask those in our lives to do the same) not to refer to us as "The Howard Family". We just really want to be sensitive to Nick & Kyle so that they don't feel like they are being left out.

So all this has got me thinking ~ and subsequently rambling =). This really is a bigger issue than just the name thing. It goes far deeper than that. We are finding out that it is a complex thing blending two families together!! Everyone is trying to figure out their place in this new family that we are creating ~ and wondering how our lives, our relationships, and even our identities will change. Vince and I believe whole-heartedly that God's design & purpose for a blended family is the same as a natural family......unity. We feel strongly that we need to not only bond together as a couple, but in order to truly achieve unity as a family we need to love eachother's children as our own. In our home, they won't be "my kids/your kids" but "our kids". In fact, we already feel that way! We want our home to be one of complete acceptance and unconditional love, and as long as we build it on the foundation of Jesus Christ, it will be. But this also brings up alot of questions and feelings...will Nick & Kyle feel that they are less important to me as I open my heart and love Vince's kids as my own? If we have different last names? Will Brittany, Trevor, Vinny or Hope feel like they are betraying their mom if they open their hearts to me and accept me as a "new" mom in their lives? Will Nick & Kyle feel like they are betraying their dad as they bond with Vince as a "new" dad in their lives?

Whew!!! I don't know about you, but I need to take a breath!! This is all so overwhelming for me to think about. But I do know one thing...we are not going to have to figure this all out on our own. God has a plan, not only for Vince and I but for each of our kids. He is bringing us together as a family, and He is working it all out for the good of ALL of us! We just need to trust Him and let Him do it! (I think I need to go back and re-read my post from Wednesday.)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Oh, I almost forgot. After talking through the whole name change thing with the boys, we prayed about it and they went to bed. My heart was broken at the thought of them feeling separated from me in any way and I wondered if I was causing them serious psychological damage. So I prayed more about it and went to bed. The next morning, I asked Nick if he wanted to talk more about it. Much to my surprise he said nonchalantly, "It's fine, Mom. I'm ok with it. It's just a name." Thank You, Lord!

And now I know that Vince has some things on his heart to share about this ~ so I will pass the baton to you, hon....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Seeing is believing......not!

"I'll believe that when I see it." How often do we think that way? Show me first, then I'll believe you! I've been pondering this lately as I think about our future and all the things we are believing God for in the next several months....a job for Vince, a buyer for my house, a new home for our family. For months now Vince and I have been praying about these things, and relying on faith that God will provide all that we need when we need it. As I have already written about, I am prone to worry and fret, and I admit that I have been riding on Vince's faith more than I have my own concerning these issues. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing, in fact I think it is part of God's design for marriage. God gives Vince strength and faith in areas where I am weak, so that I can lean on and rely on him....and vice versa. Lately God has been showing me on another level what it really means to have faith.

Vince made some connections with a company last week that could very likely provide a job for him in the future. It looks really promising, and afterwards I found myself releasing alot of anxiety over the whole job search thing, and feeling like "Yes! God IS going to provide a job for him!" It was then that I realized that my faith really took off only AFTER I saw some evidence that God was in fact working on the situation. Hmmph. I came to God with praise and thanksgiving, but had to hang my head in shame at this thought...where was my faith before this? Did He not tell me all along that He would provide? Does He not say in His Word that He knows our needs even before we ask, and as a loving Father He provides for our every need? Of course I believed that, but I came to realize that I really only believed it after the fact. My faith was backwards faith, which is no faith at all. And that kind of faith does not make God happy.

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:6-8
God showed me that I have been asking...and then continuing to worry & doubt, and as a result I was doing alot of blowing and tossing in the wind. What does that tell me about my faith? And my view of the One in whom I put my faith? I imagine my kids coming to me and telling me that they are hungry and asking me to make supper for them. As a parent, I already know that they are hungry and already have plans for supper. So I set about the task of preparing the meal, all the while the kids keep coming up to me, "when will it be ready? what are you making? can I open the lid? just a peak? are you sure there is anything in there?" and off they go worrying and fretting, "oh, what if mom doesn't know that I need to eat? what if she makes something I don't like? what if she forgets? I am going to starve here and she doesn't even notice!" I really don't have to imagine this scenario because it actually happens in my house. And my reaction is always the same...."Good grief, child. Get a grip! I am making supper, just be patient and trust me. This is my job, let me do it. I know what I'm doing, I don't need constant reminders from you. You just need to go do what I have asked YOU to do, and I'll let you know when it's time to come to the table and eat. And by the will LOVE it!"

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11
How much faith would it take if we knew the outcome? If we could see into the future? If we could see what's cooking in the pot? God is extremely interested in growing our that believes even when our eyes do not see His hand at work. Faith that believes without yet seeing what is behind door #1. Faith that trusts that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. It pleases Him when we believe Him....when we place our faith in HIM no matter what our eyes may see. When we believe that HE is faithful. Then when we finally do see His provision, we can truly be thankful and not awe, yes, but not surprised. Because God IS who He says He is!!! And He WILL do what He says He will do!!!

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6