People are Hard Work!

This afternoon I was listening to a Christian speaker on the Hillsong channel and when he spoke the above words as he was preaching the love of Christ in us, words began to flood my mind for a blog.

Why would we think this is not true?

Our best friends are easy…really?  We respect them, love, listen, help, encourage, understand, change our schedule to meet theirs, be kind, etc. This doesn’t take effort (work)?? Of course it does.

Courting someone for a relationship we find we work work work and we love it because the chase is often so much fun.

Then comes marriage and before we know it, we left the “work” of the relationship at the altar. Too often we’ve nestled into a groove of apathy, complaining about our spouse, feeling tired, used, bored.

Remarriage and a stepfamily? You say we’ve been married before, we won’t make the same mistakes (No, you’ll make NEW ones, and many of the old ones want to come back!). The kids will get used to it, everybody will get along……Riiiiiiight.


Are you a single parent? Stepfamily Rx’s conference has something for you!

Are you a couple contemplating marriage creating a stepfamily? Ooooh, lots for you!

Are you married and in a stepfamily? WOOOOW, even more for you!!

It’s going to be great! Everyone that has attended has left with information, more skills, knowledge, and new friends!

God has blessed this event every year. YAY.



Character vs Chaos

human pinball There was a time in my life where I was the the epitome of that little round steel ball, bouncing from one thing to the next. I was wounded, struggling, but pretty sure I had everything under control…..not! Reverand Billy Graham’s passing today prompted tears and a memory of where I believe true change of character in me began.

I had moved to Sacramento, California, in the early 1990’s several years after my first divorce. That is when I became the “pinball”. Not that is was a bad thing or that I was a bad person, but leading the life of a human pinball without the guidance of God is chaos….one thing to the next, to the next. I was trying to chase some kind of peace, stability, and happiness. The second marriage and divorce in the mid 80’s didn’t help matters….but I was trying.

I heard Billy Graham was coming to Sacramento. I believe it was in 1996 that I was made aware. The Holy Spirit put a heavy nudge on my heart one day to call Arco Arena to get a ticket. I ended up sitting in the nose bleed area, but the experience was profound.

My paternal Grandma Slaby listened to Reverend Billy Graham. I used to hear him occasionally as I entered her apartment. Turning the corner into her tiny living room, I’d see Reverand Graham on her black and white television; holding up a Bible, preaching with passion and a loud clear voice to thousands of people. I remember being rivoted to the sound of his voice and then watching as many people would stand up and walk down to the front of his stage to accept Christ. Over the years, I’ve heard him several times and I also read a biography on Reverend Graham. He was so aware of the human condition that when he travelled with men and women as part of the ministry, he insisted they stay on opposite ends of their hotel and that men and women did not go out one-on-one casually while travelling.

He obviously planted in me the seed of character, decency, and a subconscious awareness that I was living dangerously. In early 1997 I surrendered my life to Jesus and have given my heart to Him. I had finally found the deep sacrificial unconditional….agape love I’d been searching for. This testimony is for you, Reverend Graham…..the sun seemed a little dimmer today because you’ve left us and entered the realm of your heavenly home. I’m feeling a tad envious, but that’s ok….I know I have much work left to do here.

Thank you, Lord, for Billy Graham and his passion for Your Word…it sure made a difference in my life.  God bless America. Billy Graham


A dori:) kind of day…..

It Began With Green Nail Polish

(Family Video store, Cindy at the counter, Nov 2017)

Pretty nails!

Thank you.

Where do you get them done?

I go back to my hometown Portage, WI, every two weeks and get them done.

Wow, that is a long way to go!

I pick up my mom, she is almost blind and it gives my dad a break and we go to the nail salon together.

(I am awed…amazed…curious)

How old are you?


They obviously broke the mold when they made you…you are really something!

Well, my parents and grandparents aren’t going to be around forever.

I am proud of you.

Thank you.

I am a mom and gramma too, so I appreciate what you are doing very much.

Well, I hope your family treats you special too.

Oh, now I’m going to cry.

Aw, well have a nice day!



Back to my car…tears on my cheeks!

(I did not know this gal, just read her name tag….but her kind words took me up and beyond for hours!)

Love Language & the Holidays…

affirmationWords of Affirmation

“Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”
Above comes from my friends, Eric and Jennifer Garcia Co-Founders of AMFM (Association of Marriage & Family Ministries), who have now developed a site I took the quiz, but I already knew where it would land. Words are so important to me; they build me up but…. can tear me down instantly.
As I’ve aged and gained wisdom and discernment, I’ve also learned that my words can build up or tear down as well. I work hard to not use mean ugly words. I can express myself, even in hurt and anger without being mean. Instead I’ve learned to use my emotional “pause” button when I feel hurt or threatened. I’ve been practicing for years to always wear a smile, and find something kind to say with sincerity.
During this holiday, focus on thanking God. No matter what is going on, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for….even if it’s for each breath you take. Be kind and gracious to others this holiday season. In stepliving, greet family and children no matter what day you celebrate on…avoid fights and arguments and “what about me”. Tell those you love, “I love you.” There are some folks who have lost a loved one since last holiday and they are dealing with painful grief.
 Free Thanksgiving Clip Art 400 Pixels Wide 01

Social Media: Attraction & Temptation

   Every time I sat down….anywhere….I was checking my Facebook page. Who liked what I posted or if they didn’t like it, did they comment? I had become the one I was feeling sorry for. The one who constantly monitored what others were doing, saying, or “liking”. Hours would fly by every day.

So I took August off. The only time I went on FB was when I received an email notice that it was someone’s birthday. I celebrate birthdays and love to acknowledge those I love and care about on their special day.

Facebook/Social Media, the most insidious avenue to attract and tempt anyone to look and click rather than live life. I truly grieve every time I see someone walking, waiting, sitting with their children and on their phone because I know the percentage of them checking social media is very high.

In my home office, I am going to discipline myself and put a timer on so my “attraction to and temptation for” Facebook will be limited. An hour will be more than enough. I will have a book near my recliner instead of my phone.

God will not be determining my salvation by the “likes” I gave or received.

School has started….Stepfamilies and divorced parents please be sensitive to kids in split homes with things to remember. Help them by posting a “Did You Remember” dry erase or chalk board in good view. Something they or you can write on each week….”Homework, school books, iPad, Phone, certain clothes, jackets, or shoes, etc.”


It’s been difficult to come up with a topic to blog about because there have been so many life things that have popped up lately. Books, movies, calls and texts from stepcouples and divorced folks….so much to talk about!

In speaking with a counselor friend lately, we discussed the ups and downs of feelings. Feelings are extremely powerful and yet are temporary, unreliable, and ultimately can do great damage. Feelings include the depth and beauty of unconditional love to the precarious depths of rage. For me, my feelings are usually expressed in my eyes. One can see great love, happiness, sadness…and yes, anger. I’ve come to know myself very well….and that is with humility, honesty, and truth. Age has a way of doing that.

With that said, I know I have to monitor my feelings. I am easily hurt. I used to react more often without thinking, but that taught me lessons about the beauty of silence and patience. I’ve learned that like President Trump, no matter what I do, not everyone is going to like me. As a matter of fact, no matter what I do, there will be those that see “bad” in everything about me. It’s a journey of acceptance I continue to work on.

Broken to mended

QTIP = a good acronym for “quit taking it personally”. I will tell you it is one of the most challenging and difficult things to do. In family, with friends, spouses, kids, stepchildren….the mantra “one hurts those they love the most” is sadly very true. We all ache for love and kindness….respect and honor. There is a way, however, to work on not taking everything that happens to us personally.

I leave you with this…..a good book I am currently reading has a wonderful chapter on choices. I have embraced this word because it has made my life better. I live it and teach it. I understand no one can “MAKE” me happy, sad, angry, etc. Actions can cause my feelings to rise up, but then I can choose what I do with them. In my mind and heart, I can choose to not take things personally, to let go, drop it, stop it. And a big hint is to stop replaying a painful situation over and over and over in your head.

Today, I pray that you choose to live with gratitude, see all that God has blessed you with. Instead of choosing to think bad or negative thoughts about someone close to you, begin to look for and think about their good. Pray, talk to God, read Scripture, read good books. Stop watching so much television.

God bless America….it’s the greatest country on earth and we get to live here!

Jonah and me….

jonah-beach-whale-168772-print Our worship services have recently begun digging deeper into the Book of Jonah. Years ago before my relationship with Christ, I had heard of this story and thought, “how weird, why”. But the story is a beautiful example of God’s grace and our potential strength.

This picture? I chose it because I have felt like this many, many times in my life.

Jonah was told to go to Ninevah and he didn’t want to, he tried running from God. Jonah was stowing away on a ship that was on rough seas and finally Jonah requested he be thrown overboard…thinking his death would be the answer, but God commissioned a large fish to swallow and “save” Jonah. He spent three days and three nights in the fish. Jonah prayed to and praised God. Then the fish spit Jonah out on land and God gave him a second chance to go preach to Ninevah.

What has this to do with stepliving? All of us stepparents have tried to run or give up when things become too difficult, too painful, too stressful, too disappointing. We fall into the trap of thinking we’re not good enough, we’re failures. But God in His mighty love for us, forgives us, and in grace “spits” us out continually to follow Him. Jonah had a huge job to do with going to Ninevah, an enemy of his people. Stepparents have a huge job and sometimes the family environment can feel like enemy territory. Pray, talk to God, ask Him to help and to bless your family.

I was struck by two movies I watched this weekend. New release “Megan Leavy”. She had difficulties resuming civilian life and missed her combat dog companion, Rex. Her dad told her it didn’t matter if she failed trying. She could fail again and fail again….but keep living. I rented the movie, “The Founder”, the story of Ray Kroc and McDonald’s. Honestly, I was taken aback in learning the real story of Mac and Dick McDonald and how Mr. Kroc finally took over.

But my point is this: Ray Kroc said pertaining to his life that the only real keys to success are persistence and determination. In his life, in Megan’s life, in a stepparent’s life, in any Christian’s life….with God at the helm, we can excel and succeed with persistence and determination.

God Bless America.


A Cry and A Crown

Childhood memories in a dentist’s chair have forever remained with me as a hugely negative thing. I abhor needles in my mouth. I have a high tolerance for pain…but in my mouth? Uh Uh.

Recently a wonderful new dentist I started with did new x-rays and said my lower right molar needed a crown. And an upper smaller tooth needed a replacement filling. Horrors! No matter how much reassurance….that novo-needle hurts! The appointment was made. The crown temp completed and I left after an hour. I chewed away.

The next week, the temp came off, the new crown was glued on and the awful novo-needle stung my upper right to replace the filling. That appointment lasted an hour and 20 minutes. I couldn’t WAIT to get out of there. I was reaching my dental limit. The novocaine wore off and the new crowned tooth ached. Nooooooo……

I gave it 3 days and no chewing on the right side….rest, little tooth, rest. Eggs, avocados…ok. Toast? No. UGH. A week and a half later I called my dentist and told them about the ache, no chewing on the right. They said “come in”. I did. After meticulous examination, Dr. said….I am so sorry, but I see a tiny gap that may be causing the crown to move and cause the aching. I asked, “What are we going to do?” He replied, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I am very particular and we will need to cut it off and replace it.” AAAAGGGHHH!  Each day I would try to chew on my right side, praying and pleading with God to relieve me of this ache. I know, “cry baby” you’re thinking. 🙂

My Stepfamily Rx conference was coming up in a couple of weeks on April 1st. So much to think about. For whatever reason, registration was so low, I was going to postpone the conference for another time. I felt a Divine voice whisper. “Dori, you stated publicly that Wednesday, March 29th was the cutoff.” That was a week away. I recommitted to trusting the Lord and letting time pass as planned.

I went to collect the registrations from the church office after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29th. More had registered…it was really good! I went home feeling emotionally exhausted from all the hubbub. I treated myself to a cold brew and some peanut butter filled pretzels. I was on my second handful when I realized I was chewing/chomping on my RIGHT SIDE. Crunch, crunch, crunch. NO PAIN. I sat straight up in my recliner, pushing hard with my finger on my newly crowned molar. Nada. Nothing.

That was almost two weeks ago. I went to the dentist yesterday, he shook his head in wonder as I told him what happened. He will take care of the tiny little gap, but the crown is secure and PAINLESS. God is good and faithful. What do you think?

Some will say “Meh”, some might say “Wow”, some will say “Oh, took a couple of weeks to heal.” But me? I believe in God winks…He is so evident in my life. God is always with us. He hears us. He wants us to “grow and become”. He has wonderful plans for us.

God bless you….stay the course, believe, endure, persist. I did and felt blessedly “crowned”.

May this Easter Season bring you peace, joy, love, and a celebration of the Risen Christ!!


Are Smart Phones Smart For Your Kids?

The 4th Annual Stepfamily Rx conference is coming Saturday April 1st!

Returning speakers and NEW speakers are joining the line-up. One of the new speakers is Brandon Sutherland.


When we met and discussed becoming a part of the conference, Brandon gave me his background. He previously worked for a well-known cell-phone service provider. He loves the newest and fastest gadgets. However, he also recognizes the pros and cons of smart phones especially as it relates to young folks. Additionally, Brandon will update us on websites that are dangerous and inappropriate. We are again offering the open mic panel discussion for YOUR questions. REGISTER NOW! You do not want to miss this!

2016-halvo-speaking       2016-speaker-panel

Communicate vs Connect

I bounce around between reading books for learning and books for pleasure. Sometimes I have 2-3 books going at the same time. A speaker and teacher that I’ve been following for a few years is John C. Maxwell. I just finished a fiction book, so now turning to learn something.

Today I pulled one of Mr. Maxwell’s books off my shelf and the pages opened to the marker where I had left off. The chapter was on “Connecting One-On-One”. Within stepfamilies this concept is often either ignored or very difficult to accomplish successfully. I myself have experienced not only poor communication, but really poor connections because of my emotions, ignorance, and/or pride with both my husband and stepdaughter in our early years together. Connection is usually elusive because it’s hard for us to shut off our response mechanism and faulty reactions.

We all are capable of communication, but we all need to work on connecting with each other. Stepfamilies have a lot of people to communicate with if there are children involved: Spouse, children, bio parent, teachers, coaches, doctors, all extended family members, and the list goes on. It can be overwhelming if we do not develop healthy connection habits. Here are some of Mr. Maxwell’s points to practice:

  • Have interest in the person.
  • Place value on that person.
  • Put his or her interests ahead of your own.
  • Express gratitude to and for that person.

The list addresses anyone we are communicating with, no matter the relationship. A communication tool I’ve learned to use years ago when beginning a conversation is to begin sentences with “I” and to begin with something positive about…or be grateful for….the person or the relationship.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” NOT!!!

Peace and God’s Blessings!