Long before I was a stepmother, I was the neighborhood mom.  There have always been children in and around my home.  Sometimes it got a little crazy.


One day, the boys were outside jumping out of the two story oak tree in our front yard. Going out, I cautioned them about the dangers of jumping out of trees that tall; and I asked them  to please stop.  The next thing I know, my son’s mattress is in the yard and they are landing on it!  The boys claimed that was how the firemen did it.


What do you say?  I mean, I have never found a rulebook that tells you the correct response to THAT situation.  So, what did I do?  I had mercy on their creative and shortsighted souls.  I gave them 20 more minutes of supervised jumping off of lower branches. Then, I gave them the vacuum cleaner so that they could vacuum the mattress before retuning it to the bed.


One particular Saturday morning, I could hear someone going through the refrigerator and, thinking it was my daughter, (I was a single mom at this point) I walked into the kitchen in my pajamas.  There, bent over looking in the refrig, is this teenage boy.


“Hey, Chad, (not his real name) ummm, what cha doin?”


“Hey Ms. Diane, I was hungry and there is nothing to eat at our house.”


Retuning to my room, I dressed, and came out to cook some breakfast for Chad and my daughter, who was now awake.  I’m guessing that I had left the backdoor unlocked; and, that was how he came in; but, I never asked.


As we ate, Chad casually mentioned that his mom’s boyfriend had spent the night; and, he didn’t like being there when there was spend-the-night company.  He came to our home because there was food, and he stayed because someone was listening.


It would have been very easy and, unfortunately, very natural for me to confront Chad on coming in the way he did that morning.   However, by the Grace of God, I held my tongue and was able to listen to that young man who was in desperate need of a mother’s listening ear.  I could not fix his problems, but I could listen.


If nothing else, I tried to keep good food around the house for the kids; though, my daughter, who was the picky eater, would disagree.  Having food around makes children feel at home. Whether children, stepchildren, or neighborhood children, they will all agree that the house with the best food, and parents who will take the time to talk with them, is the house they will hang out in.


A house like this is a Mercy House, full of Grace.  Mercy withholds judgment and punishment.  It has rules but looks more for the relationship than the letter of the law.


Mercy, in Greek it is Eleeo.  The definition ­– a verb, an action word –to be compassionate by word or deed, especially by divine grace, to have pity on.



Our home, was a place of comfort – not elegant, or beautifully decorated; but, it was a Mercy House.  I could tell you story after story about those years as a single mother as child after child came to our house for food, a safe place to shower, and sometimes even clothing.  There seemed to be so many broken homes in our neighborhood.  At this time, as a single mother, I had six neighborhood children calling me “Mom.”


The lessons of compassion I learned back then, have been brought into this stepfamily.  Some worked; some needed adjusting, and, some I threw out.  The idea of a Mercy House, a safe place that my children, my stepchildren and their friends could come for food, clothing or a listening ear, never changed.


Let your home be a Mercy House for the children, stepchildren and their friends.  Remember, to some, you may be the only image of Christ that they ever see.  This is your mission field.

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Diane W. Bailey is the founder of The Consilium – an online community of wisdom and purpose for women over 45 years of age. She is a published author. Her books include String of Pearls – From Tears to Treasure, and 30 Days To A Better Stepfamily. She creates her own line of precious metals bracelets. Diane lives in the Deep South with her husband Doc. Together they have created a stepfamily, each having two stepchildren and two birth children, and share three grandchildren, one black lab named Charlie and one long haired tabby cat named Lil Girl. Diane’s passion is to encourage women to be all God has created them to be by pressing past fear and daring to live life as an adventure. Some of her life adventures include traveling to Israel, speaking, entrepreneurship and backyard farming with Doc. She loves Gumbo, fried shrimp and seeing all sunsets across water.

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