Just try harder….

Our minds habitually play tricks on us. We ponder, we plan, we expect, and we wait. And then   Explosion Detonation Blast Burst Fulminati.

Nothing goes as planned, as a matter of fact things seem to go even more topsy-turvy than we could have imagined. And so it goes in many stepfamilies.

Trying harder is NOT the best answer. As a matter of fact, emerging research shows less stress, less problems, when we stepparents assess a situation and lovingly step back. It’s not difficult to tell a step-teen (just an example!), “I feel that I’m annoying you right now, and I understand that people can do that to each other occasionally. I respect your space, let me know if you need anything,”

Please do not construe my words as avoiding, detaching, or isolating. We all need time-outs, privacy, quiet. TIME is your very best friend as a stepparent. What’s the rush….the kids never asked to be born, never chose their parents, and certainly didn’t choose death, divorce, or remarriage. Keep your Bible open, talk to God, you will be ok.

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5th Annual Stepfamily Rx Conference Pictures & Feedback!

Some attendee feedback:

“Exceeded expectations…(knowing) we’re living under same conditions (as others)…I will share my experience!…appreciated hearing about being a child of divorce (from adult speaker)…helped me focus on my faith…loved it all!!…awesome to hear different testimonies…event was awesome…(appreciated) raw examples from (speakers’) lives…would love to hear teens’ perspectives.”

This is what keeps me going when the enemy wants to fill my head with any kind of failure or exhaustion. I see the participant’s eyes and faces, I hear the gratitude  in their voice. The room was filled with the Holy Spirit. There was so much prayer on this day! At the end of the day, I asked my high school tech guy what his thoughts were. You know what he said in his first words? “I’d like to hang out in this next year.”  WOW!!!!!  Even though he is not in a stepfamily, he was impacted by the day, the speakers…and I asked him to pray about perhaps speaking as a teen and especially asking some of his step-living or single parent friends if they would speak next year. Honestly, I was STUNNED that he was so open and intrigued. Thank you Father God, thank you!

 

(L to R) Pastor Dave, Matt & Erin/7 children between the two, Dori Pulse/Stepfamily Rx, Krista/Sonset Point Ministries, Kim/LPC, and in back, Brandon/Adult child of divorce.

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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.

PEOPLE ARE HARD WORK!

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

 

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 40DayLoveDare.com. 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.”

Q.T.I.P.

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.

 

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.

brandon-nelson

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

The Challenge: Combat “BUSY”

busy    AAAGGHHH…..this one little word…my newest most UNFAVORITE word… has been the culprit of my absence as well as the angst of my family and friends’ lives.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this word in the past six months, I’d have a good stash for Christmas shopping! What is going on? Are we really that consumed? Is it an affirming word for our existence? A quick answer to explain why we’ve not called, come over, spoken to each other? Sadly…..I believe all of these or a combination is true.

A recent short video I saw on Facebook and posted to my timeline about a family too “busy” to see their elderly father at Christmas until they all received a notice that he died. All showed up at his door and on time. When he presented himself from around the corner, everyone’s face displayed shock….but thankfully, they were happy he was living and able to spend at least one more Christmas with them all.

I hear “busy” a lot and I’ve challenged myself NOT to say it when someone asks “How’ve you been, what’s been going on?”, and also to not let “busy” run my life. It’s become annoying, snarky, and the excuse of excuses. I know if I dropped dead right now or a loved family member or friend, schedules suddenly wouldn’t matter…you know it’s true for you all as well.

I speak about living the 3 R’s…Respect, Responsibility, & Reverence. I’ve added another to that speaking gig….REGRET. I do not want to live nor die with regret. None of us know when our moment will come. No second chances.

Family and friends….our God-given gifts to help us, love us, teach us, pray and play with us. Jump off the busy train, this is your challenge…stop using that word…for 30 days. Develop boundaries and priorities. Let not your last word to a loved one be, “I was just too darn busy.” God bless you, each and every one.