Sometimes It Takes A Funeral

Curerntly in the August issue of the Eau Claire Journal:

Sometimes It Takes a Funeral

funeral

Written By: Dori Pulse  |  Posted: Thursday, July 30th, 2015

            When I was growing up, the first of six children, my family did not have a lot of money. We were provided for and lived on a farm, but extra money for “stuff” wasn’t available. My social events included auctions, wedding dances, and funerals.

Auctions and wedding dances were just plain fun. Rain or shine, we’d run around with other kids and laugh and stay out of the adults’ way because we might get told we had to go home. Funerals, on the other hand, were a real curiosity to me. I remember most of all the crying and grieving and remarks of how much the person was loved, was nice, was generous, was… whatever. And I’m sorry… but saying “They really look good” as the deceased is lying in their final resting place is a very strange thing to say! I have never figured that one out. Anyway, every funeral was the same to me.

Then I grew up. Life happened. I couldn’t do life myself, so I surrendered to Christ. Going through all that I did involved other people and their lives. I began to attend funerals as an adult and listen to the same basic remarks I did as a kid. But I wondered…”Did you ever tell THEM while they were living?”

I have just returned from the funeral of a sweet lady’s husband who passed away from Alzheimers complications. They were married 54 years, had four children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Trails of memories were displayed in albums, on poster boards, and on the screen. As I sat and watched the DVD of many years’ worth of photographs and videos I began to wonder about my own. Who would come and what would they say about me? What legacy will I leave behind?

I speak to groups using a revised version of Steve Covey’s story about a memorial gathering and moving through a group of people to find yourself in the casket. The first time I heard that story it struck me with great finality. What marks did I make in my little world, whose life did I affect and how, did I serve God well….additionally, I would have no more chances to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “Forgive me”, or whatever else would be unfinished business.

Relationships are complicated. Families are complicated. Stepfamilies are more complicated. Life expectancy is unknown. Death is final and anything we wanted to say or do cannot be done once we leave this world.

There is nothing in my life and I pray in yours, whether a friend, neighbor, family member, stepdaughter, stepson, stepdad, stepmom….that is going unsaid or undone. Love covers many wounds. Mercy, grace, and forgiveness do too. Don’t wait.

I live to hear Jesus tell me…”Well done, good and faithful servant.”

                Dori M. Pulse is the author of Everything Changed when I said ‘I Do’ – Preparing For and Living as a God-First Stepfamily.”  Her website is StepFamilyRX.com.  She and her husband Bob live in Eau Claire, WI.

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Stepfamily Rx interviewed by Chained No More Broadcast on TogiNet Radio

God is awesomely wonderful! I just completed a one hour interview with Robyn Besemann on her “Chained No More” segment via TogiNet radio. For those that tuned in, I pray that my words and passion were meaningful to you. Stepliving is hard work, but worth it! You can make a difference in a child’s life…another person to love, mentor, guide, and support them.

If you wish to contact me for further information or questions, email me at dori.pls@live.com.

Listen to the interview or download the podcast (will be available by 5:30 EST) at: http://www.toginet.com/shows/chainednomore

Peace and Blessings,

dori:)

Marriage and Longevity (of the marriage!)

Although this article is not about stepfamilies per se, it is about marriage. When I completed this article for the Eau Claire Journal, I witnessed the work that marriage involves. It is not the “marriage” itself that holds two people together as I speak of in my conferences, it is the tenacious deliberateness of two committed people as husband and wife!

Enjoy:

It’s Not Just About Toys and Antiques

 I fully intended to arrive at the Toy & Antique Museum near Chippewa Falls to do a story on a 25+ year treasured combination of amazing toys and artifacts. Because of health issues and “it’s just time” as Al and Irene Przybylski put it, they are selling their collectible toys and antique artifacts. I thought a museum article would help them advertise that they were downsizing and selling out, but we enjoyed a completely different interview.

I walked into the shop with Al and took a good long sniff. “I love musty smells”, I said. “Ha, you are just like my wife; she loves the smell of things too.” Irene soon joined us.  As we settled into our chat, the marital banter between Al and his wife Irene became engaging and I began to realize this couple had worked very hard at everything they did together. We were on our way to reminiscing about their kaleidoscope life and marriage of fifty-nine years they will celebrate July 25th.

It began in 1958 when they moved to the area. They were in their 20’s, young and poor, purchasing a dairy farm with old ramshackle buildings. “But everyone back then was poor; we were all on a level playing field.” Irene said. They had a barn fire, sold the cows, and ended their dairy farming. Al then went to work at Uniroyal at the same time they were beginning to build the campground next door.  By the age of 26, Irene had given birth to six children with no running water or toilet facility in the old farm house. Irene said she and the kids all gathered around in the bathroom the day this thing called a “toilet” was getting installed.

In 1972 they began selling motorhomes. Al worked sales for the company and he did so well, that the entire family went on earned bonus trips such as Hawaii, Italy, China, France…basically around the world.  They in turn went into their own RV business which is now owned by their son and is called Countryside RV outside of Tilden. Al and Irene agreed that life here in America was the best compared to life in foreign countries. They also owned a mini storage business.

They bought land in Donna, Texas, and developed an RV campground. This town is near the Mexican border, so they began to coordinate and offer Mexican tours for RV vacationers. Al said they’d have up to twenty-five RVs, take the tour convoy through site-seeing places in Mexico and then return to the campground. Al and Irene would always be the “tail gunners”, bringing up the rear to be sure everyone was in the group. All six children were young at this time, and for ten years they travelled back and forth during the winter months to operate and maintain their Texas business. When the kids got older and into their teens, Irene said the times and memories were good, but it was time to sell that business.

Then they bought three other farms and rented out the buildings and the land. Al said with a twinkle in his eye, “I don’t know how we did it, we didn’t have any money.” They also bought and managed home rental properties. One day Al said he wanted to build a new house (where they now live). Irene said it was very difficult to leave that old farmhouse which had a lot of character and memories of all their children being raised there.

Family includes twenty grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren. As they both reflected, they thought they might have worked too hard, too much, and probably missed out on some things. Irene said the kids all worked at the O’Neil Campground and museum. Their children were raised with the concept that if they wanted spending money, they needed to work. Pride shown on both of their faces as they spoke of their kids.

When I asked what their most favorite memory was, they both responded, “the game farm”. They began to buy various animals and kept them near the O’Neil Campground. Groups, kids, and adults all enjoyed coming to view and pet the animals for free. The animals included elk, deer, buffalo, antelope, camels (two were named Bonnie and Clyde); however, pot-bellied pigs stole the show. There was a time when these little creatures were worth a lot of money. Al mentioned anywhere from $5000-$7000 per baby pot-bellied pure-bred piggy. They raised these cuties for fifteen years. Irene described how she would mid-wife the birthing moms and how one time even their ten year old son assisted. Interestingly, pot-bellied pigs can be house-broken because they only eliminate in one place, such as a litter tray.

Al said animals were wonderful, they loved you no matter what, never talked back, and were always happy to see you. Irene said the animals provided free “therapy” on many occasions. They also said the pot-bellied pigs were never a money-making goal, but a real labor of love. And that is exactly what I listened to for about an hour. A labor of love that encircled their marriage, their children, their adventures….their lives. I listened to a story about commitment, hard work, love, forgiveness, and plenty of fearlessness to living.

“The kids have told us recently, NO MORE PROJECTS!” Irene said. She and Al had a good laugh. The museum is located 4.5 miles north of Chippewa Falls next to O’Neil Creek Campground. You now have to call for an appointment to view the collection at 715-829-1104, because they are going to be enjoying time off and travelling. Call, visit, and buy that one piece or many pieces that you’ve been looking for.

Pay It Forward

COST + SHARING= PAY IT FORWARD

May 1, 2015

By Dori Pulse

When I thought of “Pay it forward,” the first image that came to mind was the movie starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey that premiered in 2000. A young boy, who took his teacher’s project seriously, came up with an idea to help people that really needed it. The concept was that if good fortune came to you, you would help three others and they each in turn, would help three others and so on. Ultimately, behavior like that would make the world a better place in which to live.

I really liked the movie and its message, but I was heart-broken by the way it ended. However, that component also lent itself to the movie’s overall message and to my life’s meaning: giving selflessly wasn’t always easy and the cost may be more than you thought.

As I write this, the Easter weekend has passed and I am filled with the awe and wonder of Jesus who took horrific punishment for our sins. He “paid it forward.” How can I take this gift I’ve been given and share?

Attitude. I believe it all begins with attitude. It isn’t what happens to me, it is how I react to what happens to me. This “knowledge” didn’t come right away or at a young age. Cost had to come first, then gifts, and then I could be helpful and share.

In school being a farm kid, I wasn’t one of the popular crowd, wasn’t a cheerleader, a book brain, or a sought-after date. I was one of those kids who slid through high school untarnished and unnoticed. My attitude was one of an old-fashioned childhood including: obey your elders, no sassing, homework and chores.

Adulthood offered many more lessons within the University of Hard Knocks. Marriage came after high school graduation, then bearing children, divorce, remarriage, divorce and remarriage into a stepfamily. I felt shame and guilt for a long time about my divorces and the effects on my sons. Certainly, there was something wrong with me! I couldn’t hold it together. Life was handing out some very painful experiences and my attitude was, “Why and why me?”

But then one warm spring Sacramento evening in 1997, everything changed. I realized I could not manage my life by myself, couldn’t “make” things work the way I wanted them to. I surrendered my life to the Lord. A new realization enveloped me that I didn’t have to feel guilty or be ashamed anymore. I had been given great gifts of forgiveness and mercy. Now I could turn and give to others….pay it forward. My life became shaped by my experiences and my resolve strengthened by my pain. Today my attitude is love like Jesus and help hurting people.

Stepfamily Rx Conference – Helping stepfamilies!

We had more registrations yesterday! StepfamilyRx is dedicated to and passionate about helping stepcouples not only survive but THRIVE.

Here is an important quote:

“People need to know that healthy stepfamilies break the generational cycle of divorce,” explains Ron Deal, head of FamilyLife Blended™. “They can be redemption centers for both children and adults, and they increase the likelihood that the next generation will follow God’s blueprints for the family. Supporting this work has generational impact.”

I met Ron Deal this spring. He is a gifted teacher and also focused on helping us stepfamilies. CALL THE CHURCH OFFICE 715-834-2486 (Eau Claire, WI) AND REGISTER!! God bless all stepfamilies!

2015 Stepfamily Rx Conference_April Final Flyer

Stepfamily Rx Conference – April 25th – Eau Claire, WI

You won’t want to miss this powerful information-packed conference! Exciting speakers with an array of information that will give everyone something to take home and use! Break-out sessions to meet and network with other couples and individuals! Call Peace Church BY April 15th for Early Bird pricing! 25% DISCOUNT!

Church Office to register: 715-834-2486

Email me at dori.pls@live.com for further information.

2015 Stepfamily Rx Conference_April Final Flyer

Are You Discipling Your Children and Step-Children?

This morning, Mark Halvorsen on WWIB radio interviewed Pastor Brian Cole and Jerry Carpenter, the grandfather of a boy who was driving fast and had an accident, killing himself and other teen passengers in 2012.

The conversation was rich in the Lord, speaking of woundedness, honesty, forgiveness, and MOST importantly….speaking to our young people about God and Jesus Christ. Pastor Brian read part of Psalm 78 wherein God is speaking to His chosen people, the Israelites, about teaching and preaching our Sovereign Creator to current and future generations. Verses 4 through 6:

We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.

Dads, stepdads, moms, stepmoms….are you teaching the children in your homes about Jesus Christ? Remember your words and teaching are important, but you will be doing more teaching by your EXAMPLE. Although we are not perfect (I’m certainly not), our actions as a way of life will speak for themselves. God bless everyone….  ❤

Stepfamily Rx Conference! April 25, 2015

RESERVE THE DATE! Another great Stepfamily Rx conference is coming!

SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2015!

Returning speakers and new speakers! Please share this flyer anywhere and everywhere you can in the Eau Claire, WI, area!

Blessings…pray for couples to come and interact with others, share ideas, learn, grow, and be encouraged and supported! Thank you! ❤

2015 Stepfamily Rx Conference_April Final Flyer

Marriages are Built By You Not For You

Recently a post crossed my vision while I was browsing on Facebook that caused me to stop, read, and ponder the words for quite some time:

Marriage box The words mirrored what I believe and share in my book “Everything Changed When I Said ‘I Do’ – Preparing for and Living as a God-First Stepfamily” about how marriage should be viewed. Marriage is not something you do and then wait for the marriage to help you and solve your problems. Marriage is a beautiful union created by God in the perfect Garden. It represents an intimacy unknown to any other living creature. As a visual person, a “marriage box” is a great analogy as I believe when man and woman get married whether it is for the first time or the next time….they give “birth” to their marriage. Just as with any living thing, the marriage requires both the husband and the wife to love, protect, nurture, and grow the marriage.

6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,a 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9

What have you done today to help your husband feel like a man and that you respect him? What have you done today to help your wife feel cherished and “your bride…your special girl”? It doesn’t take money. Perhaps you can make a phone call, write a note or a text. Prepare a favorite meal or dessert for him, tell him how much you appreciate him and be specific. Take out the garbage, clean up the dishes, or change a dirty diaper to help her. Here are more ideas: Back scratches, foot rubs, shampoo their hair, praise them in front of someone, a surprise lunch date, look them in the eye and say something sweet, hug, hold hands, kiss.

The “marriage box” is what will honor and glorify God, giving Him proper praise for your union. It is much easier to make emotional withdrawals than deposits. Be sure to fill your marriage box today with some love! There is no greater love in eternity than the Love of Christ on the cross. There is no greater love here on earth than an honoring, cherished, transparent, and respected marriage.

Stepfamilies: Doin’ It Right!!

The below article appeared in Sarah Stokes’ “Queen of the Castle” February magazine:

When asked to write this article, I thought and prayed about the content. As a stepmom, the owner of Stepfamily Rx, and as an author and blogger, I decided that there is a lot of information out there about “how to” and perhaps not enough about encouragement for all the good, powerful, and positive attributes of living as a stepfamily. So, within this article, I’ve shared some tips and “bravos”.

There are statistics that indicate when children grow up in a safe, positive, and healthy stepfamily with good rapport between biological parents, they can prosper and flourish as adults. Children need to feel loved, wanted, and respected. When emotional, physical, and spiritual needs are met within a stepfamily, everyone can relax and prosper. I realize things can be difficult, but I know there are happy times out there, too!

I am reading an exciting book by Shaunti Feldhahn entitled “Good News About Marriage”. In eight years of extensive research and reading numerous surveys, she has found that marriages hit a divorce peak in 1981, but since then have been on the decline. The higher statistics for remarried couples suggest that there are different situations that can cause stepfamily marriages to struggle or falter and fail. However!  The high statistics repeated by many for redivorce in stepfamilies is inconclusive (62-65% for 2nd marriages, 75-78% for 3rd marriages). Shaunti found that the divorce rates are much lower that what people have previously believed. It is true when issues are addressed from a more positive perspective, hope and endurance can reign. Marriage is a GREAT thing, and THAT is what we should be repeating!

In Ms. Feldhahn’s book, she states that her findings indicate that couples who pray together and regularly attend church and worship services have a higher success rate with happiness and longevity in their marriages. God created us for relationship with Him and with each other. Therefore, having God as first and foremost in your family establishes the relationship harmony…everyone has their focus on loving and serving God instead of dwelling on selfish desires.  That’s why in my book, “Everything Changed When I Said ‘I Do’  – Preparing for and Living as a God-First Stepfamily”, I propose ‘The Marital Perch”, which indicates that under God, husband and wife occupy and exist on this perch alone. Under the marital perch are the children, and under the children, everyone and everything else. This hierarchy is critical and essential, especially in stepfamily homes. Husband and wife must put each other first as the authority in the home for the sake of the children. It’s not easy, but it is important to the success of the family!

The good news in many stepfamilies is the husband and wife’s desire to create something better after a painful decision or event that put an end to the original family. I talk to many stepfamilies that pray together, are involved with school, activities, sports, music. They attend worship together, spend time playing, and make every effort to successfully plan holidays. Stepfamilies create new memories, new histories, and new traditions, while respecting what is important to the children. Avoid expectations, avoid taking everything personally. Celebrate good days, learn from difficult ones.

A decisive action parents and step-parents can take is to be genuinely committed to communication between each other. Seek to understand first, then to be understood. I recommend any disagreements about the children between the spouses never take place in front of the children. It gives them a peek at any issue or weakness between the adults. Strive for peace, calm, and safety. We cannot control other people, we can only control ourselves.  When you avoid negative talk about anyone, you teach the children a very important life lesson about relationships. I know of stepfamilies that strive to have friendly relationships with the ex-spouse! It can and does happen!

Take time for weekly “table talk”, when everyone checks in with each other, schedules are discussed, and highs and lows can be shared. Adults and children take turns, keeping the tone respectful. Create a family mission statement wherein each person in the family contributes. Finally, make a list together during your family table talk time of fun, new, enjoyable things that happened during the week and post it on the refrigerator. Each week you can do a new one.

Now, I’ll bet after reading this, you realize that there are successes in your stepfamily, that you ARE doing some things right! Life is too short, so rather than just survive….you can thrive! God bless ALL families.