Scott and Mindee Hardin navigate the complex landscape of a blended stepfamily every day. Raising children in a merged home with shared custody presents a minefield of emotional swings, but the Hardins have worked courageously to create a safe family unit in their home.
Balancing parental roles and shared custody is no small feat. Both Scott and Mindee have to be resilient and creative with everything from schedules to discipline as their six children (each has three) move in a staccato rhythm between households and co-parents. Though it’s more complicated this way, Scott and Mindee’s backgrounds gave them deep compassion and a commitment to uphold their blended family. Mindee grew up in Oregon, the high-achieving daughter of two high school principals with a devout Catholic faith. Life revolved around school, activities, and church. “We were Catholic,” Mindee shares.
“I had a strong background in church. I knew who God was, but I didn’t really read the Bible or get that Jesus wanted a relationship with me.”
By 2007, Mindee was knee-deep in her career as an Entrepreneur with a growing family that also needed her. When one of her companies took off fast, Boogie Wipes™ (a nose wipe for kids) what looked like success from the outside felt like trauma to Mindee on the inside. “I was freaked out by just being a mom and a wife, and losing my identity. Instead of working to embrace that, I threw myself into the business to avoid it.”
Within a few years, Mindee’s life was unsustainable. Her husband at the time, decided to become a commercial pilot, creating an even more volatile mix of schedules and distant relationships. Feeling constant guilt and out of control, she had developed an eating disorder and grown into a distant mom and wife. In 2009, she took a two-week break from her family and her business to determine how to dig herself out of what she calls a “Mom-Life Crisis.” She spent some time at home with her parents, sought help for her eating disorder and took a leave of absence from Boogie Wipes™.
Unfortunately, at that point, a lot of damage had already been done. Within a few months, she would be fired from the company she co-founded. And then divorced. All of it followed by personal bankruptcy, foreclosure on her house, and repossession of her van. She felt like she’d hit bottom. She and her kids moved into a rental home her brother owned and she found herself living across the street from neighbors, Toby and Lisa, who noticed it all and cared for her. They became a lifeline, inviting her to visit Beaverton Foursquare with them.
As she attended church, the music and worship drew her in, and the teachings fed her soul—even her kids loved attending. She joined B4 Divorce Care and began to read the Bible regularly. The church became a stable part of an evolving schedule as Mindee coped with single parenting and shared custody. “I remember one Sunday,” Mindee says, “when they encouraged us to greet one another, Lisa turned and gave me a hug. I just dissolved in tears."
"She hugged me tighter and whispered, ‘Jesus will fill every hole in your heart.’’’ He was about to do just that.
Scott grew up in Southern California. By age nine, he’d seen two divorces among parents and step-parents. He vowed never to get divorced and became an extremely committed person in relationships. Even though his family was twice remade, he still felt loved and supported in his home. It was a solid launchpad for a USC education, fraternity life, and a good job with Intel following graduation.
His work took him to the Bay Area where he met his first wife. Soon thereafter they welcomed their first daughter. Before long, Scott was promoted and the siren call of cool green landscapes brought them to Intel in Oregon. Two more kids came along and his wife started her own business. The accumulating life changes brought increasing pressures, and eventually, Scott found himself depending on alcohol to ease the edge.
He found the solace of friendship in a soccer team that played and drank together—too much. Scott and his wife could feel the bonds between them tearing. What’s more, she rediscovered her desire for women as well as men. She made a decision to end the marriage, a choice Scott resisted. He did not want to see the failure of his parents’ marriages repeated in his. He was relentless in his pursuit to reconcile, but she was moving on. Oddly enough, in an effort to help Scott let go, she asked her friend, Mindee, to go on a date with him. Though hesitant at first, Mindee agreed to go out with Scott...once.
What began as a favor for a friend developed into much more.
Mindee found herself attracted to Scott and he felt the same way about her. They began to date regularly, bringing their kids into the mix more and more. Scott’s oldest daughter, Grace, noticed Mindee and her kids were attending church and asked Scott to take her. He accepted with a hint of skepticism, never really a fan of religion.
To his surprise, Scott found that the music and the teaching fed his spirit, too. He had begun attending mostly to please his kids and Mindee but as their relationship grew, so did their involvement in the church. Scott found that other guys, like Toby, offered him the friendship he had looked for. It was about more than just “good times.” As their sense of belonging grew, Scott and Mindee wanted to get more involved and serve at B4.
They heard about the Soccer Outreach Camp and decided to sign up and serve. As with all who serve in activities for kids, Scott and Mindee went through a child safety process with an interview and pastoral reference. As they shared their lives with some of the leaders at the church, they also shared that they’d chosen to live together to ease their finances. A pastor explained that, while the church welcomed anyone to attend, those who led and served were asked to align with biblical conduct, including being married before sharing a bed.
“We were frustrated. It just seemed like an arbitrary rule to us and the church just didn’t understand the complexities of a blended family,”
Wanting clarity, Scott and Mindee made an appointment with Pastor Randy to explain why they believed their situation was just fine. They spoke of how their kids loved coming to church, attending camps, and how God had begun to knit the hearts of their blended family together in a healing bond.
Pastor Randy asked them a simple question, “Is there anything that’s keeping you from marrying now?” That surprised them, but the question made sense. He also asked a follow-up question, “Is there anything either of you wouldn’t do to preserve this relationship?” Driving home from the meeting, Mindee smirked at Scott and said, “I guess I would say ‘yes’ if you ask me.”
Smiling at the thought of marrying Mindee, Scott began planning. “I scraped together enough money for a small ring. Mindee’s family has a tradition of gathering at a lake in Southern Oregon every summer. I thought that would be a good place to ask her.” Scott approached Mindee’s dad, who gave his permission. Scott felt like the time was right and as he, Mindee and her three kids sat in a giant nostalgic chair in the lakeside lodge, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
Mindee’s daughter burst into tears. She liked Scott, but still felt like the only person who should ever be married to her mom, was her dad. Scott recalls, “It didn’t happen exactly as I saw it in my mind.” Mindee did accept his proposal but instead of a celebration, the two began trying to care for the emotions of the kids. Their children's' feelings weren’t the only challenge they faced during their engagement.
After we got engaged, the church’s marriage pastor, Debi Mills, began helping them prepare. She and her husband, Bill, took the younger couple under their wing and talked through their living situation. Rather than demand they adhere to a rule, Debi asked them to study for themselves what the Bible taught. They came to the conclusion that they, in fact, should not be living together. However, this living arrangement had since become a source of stability for their kids.
Mindee was adamant, “We wanted to be obedient, but couldn’t imagine breaking up our households again. It would be so hard on the kids.” As they prayed with Debi, they decided that Scott would sleep on the couch during the rest of their engagement as they practiced celibacy. They explained to their kids that they had gotten it wrong at the beginning of their relationship, sharing their desire to align their hearts with God’s and to pursue God’s best for them. Scott and Mindee honored their promise in the days prior to their wedding.
Bill and Debi married them on April 11th, 2014 in the Fireside Room at B4. Of course, after every wedding comes a marriage with unique challenges, especially in bringing two families together. Mindee says, “In an original family, parents can choose the environment and influences for their kids the majority of the time. That’s simply not possible for us. The kids are constantly shifting back and forth between households, parents, belief systems, entertainment options, and rules.”
“We’ve had to learn to focus on shepherding their hearts, not controlling their circumstances.”
Both Mindee and Scott agree that they have had to ultimately trust Jesus to handle the messiness. “The sin of divorce comes with painful consequences. Life is often much more stressful and complex than in a non-blended family,” they admit. Thankfully, with the help of their faith community, prayer, and a strong marriage, both have avoided falling back into their old patterns of unhealthy escapes with food, and alcohol. And their family is thriving. “Only Jesus can change a person like that!” Scott beamed. “We are living proof of God’s redemptive grace and power.”
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