Happy Step Family Day

HAPPY STEP FAMILY DAY BY KARA HUMPHREY

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

relational struggles that are experienced by most families: quarrelling siblings, lack of space, and parents figuring out discipline. What makes stepfamilies unique, is that it’s not just the people that live in their homes whose opinions, schedules, and personalities create the dynamics of their daily lives. In this case, the immediate family of these six kids includes four separate moms, four separate dads and 11 siblings between them. Each of those family members are important and must be considered when making decisions concerning the Cornelius household. “It’s not always easy, but it has to be a priority for us to work together with the other parents involved, to make sure all of our kids are taken care of. I didn’t do a good job of that when my kids were younger, but I won’t make that mistake again,” Tim said. Tim’s daughter Bella agrees. “It’s cool how my mom and Karmen talk and can be friends. When Daddy told me he was getting married, I was a little nervous because I knew my life was about to change. It did, but I’m super glad. I love our family and I got two sisters out of the deal too,” she said. Tim’s son Trevor added, “It’s awesome having a big family. [There’s] never a boring moment!” Losing their dad at an early age gave Emma Kathryn, Tommy, and Ellie a different perspective about adding Tim to the family. Ellie recalls, “When Tim came into the picture, I didn’t know how to feel. Loving Tim too much almost felt disloyal to my Dad. I think I just needed permission. I eventually had a talk with my mom, and she said that one didn’t have to replace the other. I could love both. Now Tim and I are super close. He’s not just the guy who married my mom. We really have a great father/daughter relationship.” For Tommy, there was the feeling of needing to be defensive and protective of his mom. “I just wanted her to be happy. I couldn’t stand the idea that she could ever get hurt again. It had been a hard four years for all of us. Tim has been way better than I could have imagined, though. Besides being a great dad to us, you can really tell he loves my mom too.” Emma Kathryn said, “Even though Karmen isn’t my biological parent, I’ve never heard her refer to me as her ‘step-daughter.’ I’ve always just been one of her daughters, and she’s always just been my other mother. That didn’t change after my dad died. That’s how Tim has been too. We’re all just ‘family.’ It’s not always like that for stepfamilies, so I’m grateful it’s been that way for me.” For Andy, things were a little different because he was much younger when Chad died. “I have good memories of my dad and I remember how much he loved me, but I can’t remember as much as my brother and sisters. With Tim, now I get all the dad stuff I was missing.” In most cases, when people get married, they do it with forever in mind. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way, but the second chances that lead to stepfamilies can bring the potential for beautiful things. They may be full of challenges, and it’s almost never simple, but happy and successful stepfamilies thrive all around us. They are brave moms, dads and children who are willing to offer grace, understanding, and the extra love it takes to risk the possibility of new beginnings, and that is something to be celebrated!

and Andy. “Having lots of kids was always the thing I wanted most in life, so after having our four children, I thought I had everything I ever wanted.” Chad and Karmen were married almost 12 years when, on June 29, 2012, Chad’s life tragically ended. “It’s amazing how being a mom kept me going, because I felt like my life was over. That’s not how it works, though. You look at your kids and all they are going through, and it motivates you to try to be your very best for them. That’s what I did; I tried, one minute, or even sometimes, one second at a time.” Tim’s first marriage began when he was 19, and Trevor, his son, was born 2 years later. Tim says, “getting married so young, I quickly realized I probably wasn’t ready to be a husband, but I wouldn’t change anything about it because my son is one of the greatest blessings of my life.” Years later, he married again and his daughter, Bella, was born soon after. “Having a daughter changed my heart. She’s so special.” When Bella was born, Tim was already suffering from an old back injury. Years before, he had a terrible accident at work and broke his back. Because of his pain, he was prescribed medication and eventually formed an addiction. “That was just the beginning of a series of poor choices I made that eventually left me a homeless meth- addict and completely alienated from everyone I loved, including my children.” At the lowest point of his life, a phone call from his brother, Matt, changed everything. “It was one of those moments when you know God sees you and rescues you. He absolutely rescued me and used the words of my brother to do it.” That began his difficult road to recovery and reconciliation. “Four years after Chad died, I still hadn’t dated much. It took me a long time to get to the place where I even wanted to, but after the few dates I went on, I realized dating in the year 2016 was much more complicated than it had been the first time,” Karmen said. “Everyone seemed to be meeting online, and that scared me since I wouldn’t be picking someone just for me; this time I was picking someone for my kids too. I couldn’t take any chances with that.” She and her kids were attending a new church where she eventually met Tim. He had turned his life around and was a faithful member, participating in a Christmas drive-through nativity. “The night I met Tim, he was dressed as a shepherd and surrounded by live animals. We only spoke for a minute, but I remember thinking the way he related to my kids, with such kindness, was so sweet.” After that night, they didn’t speak again for a couple of weeks, until one Sunday, Tim “just happened” to end up sitting on the same row as Karmen’s family. That was the beginning of their extremely short courtship. “When you know, you know,” Tim said, “and I was positive.” They only dated for about three weeks before they decided to get married. “Our families thought we had lost our minds, but we both knew it was right. We were ready to join our families and to get busy living a new life with a new beginning,” Karmen said. When a family of eight comes together, especially when four of the six children are teenagers, there are bound to be challenges. For the new Cornelius family, there were the normal logistical and

(L-R) Tommy Tye, Emma Kathryn Sams-Tye, Bella Cornelius, Tim and Karmen Cornelius, Trevor Cornelius, Ellie Tye, Andy Tye

T hese words echo the truth of so many blended families around the world. Thousands of these beautiful families act as examples of how broken things can be turned into the blessings they never knew they needed. September 16, 2020 is National Stepfamily Day in America. It’s a day to recognize those families who are navigating often treacherous and complicated circumstances, but are, one step at a time, arriving at the unique and diverse family units which make up much of our community. Karmen and Tim Cornelius claim backgrounds that are complicated, to say the least… November 4, 2000, Karmen married her first husband, Chad Tye. “I have parents who are still married after 45 years. So being married only once was always my plan. I never even considered anything else,” she says. Chad was a police officer and detective for the Texarkana, Texas and the Wake Village Police Departments. When they married, Chad already had a two-year-old daughter, Emma Kathryn, and Karmen fell in love with her from day one. After they were married, they had two sons and a daughter, Tommy, Ellie

The story of our family is a perfect picture of God’s promise to bring beauty from ashes, gladness from mourning, and praise fromdespair. ” —Karmen and Tim Cornelius

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H A P P Y S T E P F A M I LY D AY

H A P P Y S T E P F A M I LY D AY

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

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SEPTEMBER 15

SEPTEMBER 17

SEPTEMBER 19

SEPTEMBER 20

National Professional House Cleaners Day

National Tackle Kids Cancer Day

Talk Like A Pirate Day

National Pepperoni Pizza Day

T o say 2020 has been full of the unexpected would be an understatement. From COVID-19 and wildfires, to murder hornets and riots, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been dealing with a little extra stress this year. Add to that the fact that it’s an election year with all the political hullabaloo that accompanies it, and you’ve got yourself a year that will definitely be mentioned in history books. This “Groundhog Day” scenario we’ve been living has been a little disorienting, and one day has rolled right into the next with little fanfare. We’ve been longing for the day when things get back to “normal.” For a while it felt like this storm may never end, but it’s starting to look like there may be a break in the clouds and a little sun may be shining through. Schools and sports have made a comeback, Churches are meeting together in person, and the limited capacity tables of local restaurants are filling up. As we slowly start stepping back into our pre-pandemic routines, it feels like perhaps the end of the world may not be imminent after all. While remaining vigilant and careful, wearing our masks, and remembering to wash our hands, maybe it’s time to shift our focus away from all the things that seem to be falling apart around us and set it instead on things worth celebrating. For us at Texarkana Monthly, September is going to be a month dedicated to doing just that. There’s always something to celebrate if you look hard enough, but if you can’t seem to think of anything, we’ll be sharing some of our ideas. It’s time to look on the bright side. We invite you to celebrate with us!

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

National Neonatal Nurses Day

National String Cheese Day

National Dance Day—Third Saturday in September

Wife Appreciation Day—Third Sunday in September

National Pawpaw Day—Third Thursday in September

National Online Learning Day

National Gymnastics Day—Third Saturday in September

Greenpeace Day

Boys’ and Girls’ Club Day for Kids—Third Saturday in September

SEPTEMBER 18

SEPTEMBER 21

Airforce Birthday

National Chai Day

National IT Professionals Day—Third Tuesday in September

Puppy Mill Awareness Day—Third Saturday in September

National Cheeseburger Day

National Pecan Cookie Day

Responsible Dog Ownership Day—Third Saturday in September

SEPTEMBER 16

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

National New York Day

National Guacamole Day

National CleanUp Day—Third Saturday In September

National Tradesmen Day—Third Friday in September

National Step Family Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day—Third Friday in September

National Working Parents Day

National Hug Your Boss Day—Changes Annually—Friday, September 18, 2020

Mayflower Day

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