• God's loving-kindness draws people to Him (Jer. 31:3 ). My task is to allow God to show His kindness through me.

So I am resolved to show my stepkids kindness, and they will always be welcome at my table.

Deal with your emotions.

The emotional upheaval of stepfamily life generates plenty of anger, pain, fear of inadequacy, and uncertainty about where (or even if) a stepparent belongs. Stepchildren experience the same emotions. How can we keep all this from destroying our families?

Take your emotions to God. God can handle our honest emotions. David poured out his anger and fear to God, even the stuff that sounded unChristian (Ps. 55:15 ). Casting our burdens on the Lord frees us to consider other's perspectives (Ps. 55:22 ). Telling God about our pain also keeps us from our natural tendency to lash out at family members who have hurt us.

Seek godly counsel. Find a Christian family that has survived the stepfamily journey. Some churches now offer Sunday school classes or support groups for stepfamilies. When seeking pastoral counsel or a family counselor, try to find someone familiar with the unique challenges stepfamilies face.

Learn all you can about stepfamily life. As I read, I found that our situation was not uncommon. I also gained practical information that changed my thinking and actions for the better.

My stepfamily still isn't perfect -- no family ever is. But we are slowly mending. God has used this experience to teach me about His mercy and to help me trust Him not just with my life, but with the lives of those I love.

Kay Adkins is the author of I'm Not Your Kid: A Christian Guide for a Healthy Stepfamily (Baker Books). Visit her on the web at www.faithfulsteps.com.