Andrew and Kari Miller, from Cumming, Ga., married four years ago after their spouses died. Their blended family includes five boys and four girls—all between the ages of 8 and 20. “When a parent dies,” says Kari Miller, “that person is held up to a very high standard because they’re not here, they’re just this magical, perfect being.” Kari says that’s a hard act to follow—and it’s one of the biggest issues facing families like hers.
‘When a parent dies, that person is held up to a very high standard because they’re not here, they’re just this magical, perfect being.’ —Kari Miller
The Millers say their Christian faith has been a key ingredient in the strength of their family. “Galatians 2:20 [“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”] has been with me since I first became a new believer at the age of 21,” Kari says. “Sometimes it feels as if I’m being crucified, because in order to stay in this family I have to give up myself … and the dreams I thought were going to come true.” Contentment, she adds, comes from “knowing God has a different plan and every single day I have to trust Him.”
Roosevelt and Shannon Simmons credit faith for supporting them as well: “Because we are on the same page, we are able to navigate through our blendedness,” says Shannon. “We rely on the Holy Spirit to help us apologize and forgive each other when we fail.”
Rebirth and remarriage
Buford, Ga., resident Ron Sheintal’s first marriage lasted five years and produced two children. Not long after his divorce, he married again and had another child. His second wife also brought two children to the union from a previous relationship. That marriage also ended in divorce: “Things seemed to be crashing in on me pretty hard.”
Sheintal, who is Jewish, says a co-worker took notice: “This gal, Mary, started sticking Scripture notes in my mailbox. … She seemed to recognize I had some pain and was pretty confident she had the solution.” Mary invited him to church, and he eventually went: “I had the distinction of being the only Jewish guy, the only white guy, and the only guy with a ponytail in the church.”