16 years ago today I became a Father for the very first time.
It was a day that was to change my life forever. My beautiful daughter was born weighing 7lbs 14.5ozs just 5 minutes into the day that she was due on [at this point I could make a cheap joke that it's the only time she's ever been on time for anything-but obviously I wouldn't be tempted to do that :-) ]
16 years later and I now have 5 children in our unique family. I love them all to bits, and so does Ellie !!
I'm a dad and I'm a step-dad.
Ellie is a mum and she is a step-mum.
The word "step" comes from the old English word "steop" which literally means "loss". There are many people in step-families up and down the country of course - we are not that unusual. However in our situation the loss isn't caused by divorce, betrayal or any personal choice, it's caused by the death of a loved one.
The most encouraging thing I know is that God's family is a step-family too. His family is made up of a jumble of different people from different backgrounds and experiences, uniting around their love for Jesus and for each other. God's family also represents the creation of something new out of the brokenness and loss of the past. It's a fabulous inspiration for our family!
This past year has been a huge learning experience, and has had many challenges, many tears, some failings and some great triumphs too. Sometimes as parents we've felt like we're treading on egg shells and much of the time life has felt overwhelmingly draining emotionally....but slowly and surely we are evolving a unique family identity that is a privilege to both Ellie and I; shepherding the hearts of five delightful and precious children into adulthood.