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

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.

talk
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!

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.

 

Successful Stepfamily Summit

summit-4-2016

Colorado Springs was beautiful. Passionate, raw, powerful…..both days were a roller coaster mix of emotions. An amazing worship band provided moving songs and music. The Holy Spirit was evident everywhere. Speakers held our attention with information, laughter, and tears. Professionals in their workshops furnished meaningful material and useful information.

FamilyLife staff provided an event to equip us with tools to bring back to our communities to support and encourage stepfamilies…their marriages and their children. I learned about “constraint commitment”, “confused identity multipliers”, and how individuals need to be “deciders, defenders, and developers”. I met six others from Wisconsin and met counselors that are realizing more and more need for helping stepfamilies.

My head was chock full of words and new information. Yes, my head actually ached. 🙂 Dennis Rainey, CEO and Co-Founder and Bob Lepine, Sr. VP of FamilyLife, reminded us attendees that we….we….were on the cutting edge of ministry to stepfamilies. This is the 4th annual Stepfamily Summit. The first year there were 100 people that came…there were over 400 this year. Although FamilyLife, Ron Deal, Laura Petherbridge, and many others have committed themselves to helping stepfamilies, they cannot do it alone. I felt a surge of purpose, renewed vigor, and dedication to growing Stepfamily Rx-Prescriptions for Stepliving….step by step by step.  Blessings to you all…..

Time For Reflection

I was spending some time with my Lord and His Word this morning. Inside the pages of my Bible, I found a worn piece of paper with a question and my answers.

The question: “How is the Spirit of God manifested in my life today because I have accepted Christ as my Savior?”

My answers: 1.) I no longer seek to sin. 2.) I feel strong conviction when I do sin. 3.) I am filled with fire when I speak of Jesus. 4.) I seek the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom.

In life, whether single, married, or married as a stepfamily…we need to pause and reflect on who and what we are. How can we live as Jesus would want us to?  What imprint will we leave?

I already know I will not be popular with some…..but then, my eternity doesn’t depend on their opinion. I live for Jesus. Recently in a conversation with my six year old grandson, Abraham, we discussed why we love Jesus more than anybody or anything. “Because gramma, then we can love better.” Amen and Amen.

Overcoming Me-Pride vs Purpose

I apologize I’ve been gone for so long! Summer brings a lot more to do outside. Also, I adopt a leisurely countenance and a tendency to languish more than usual. At my age I’ve deemed it “deserving”. 😉

My speaking on Boundaries has led me into a subsection that I title, “Overcoming Me-Pride vs Purpose”. I have two parts of me that I need to monitor, inventory, and take care of. This blog writing is just a snippet of the message.

stubbornAm I going to deny my sinfulness in my relationships, in my words and actions? Am I going to cling to pride as if my way is the only way? There are seasons to feel pride in personal accomplishments, that isn’t the pride I am addressing here. To be brutally honest with oneself is a challenge. Self-examination is a much tougher road to walk than you think. We want to be right. I want to be right with God and true to myself.

I want to stand up for righteousness, to be a model of Christ, of truth, honesty, integrity, and responsibility. That may not be popular with everyone. Today there are so many opinions. Does “Little Miss Stubborn” exist in me? As I sit here laughing…she does; however, I have learned to reel her in when my firmness is no longer a purpose to stand up for who and what I am. My purpose is more important to me than my pride.

walking with God

 

These are turbulent times. God Bless America….”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Note….I truly wonder how many “Americans” young and old can recite this from memory.

This is How God Works!

heaven-1544942  Believers often experience what I call “God Winks”. Tonight was a beautiful example and I just have to write about it.

Last week three people reached out to me regarding the need for divorce support. They all were told their marriages were over. Two women and one man. They wanted to meet with me to talk. I did. With my schedule I knew I couldn’t keep up the individualized pace, so I prayed. I felt God tell me I needed to do a summer Divorce Care program at church (I usually do January – April). I called four other women from my previous class as I knew they were still wanting additional support.Tonight was the first night. Seven people were depending on me.

The DVD equipment in my usual meeting room would not work. The room is large and has the perfect big pull-down screen. The sound wouldn’t come. Now what? So I went down the hall looking for tech help. The other meeting room had the drapes drawn for privacy but I was desperate, so I knocked. I knocked again. The drapes moved and one of my Stephen Minister partners looked at me through the window and opened the door. I apologized but said I needed the VCR and TV in that room for my Divorce Care class.

She got this weird expression on her face and looked at her care receiver and looked at me and said, “Well this is meant to be, Dori. Jane (not her name) just found out this week that her husband wants a divorce. Can she join your class?” I gathered up the other people and we all sat in the small meeting room with Jane.

Ah, the wink!! Jane needed us and God made it happen. Amen and Amen!! Thank you Father God, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit. We all felt Your Holy Presence as we shared, cried, laughed, and prayed.

Summer’s On!

It’s amazing how flexible time is….yet it never changes. It can feel anywhere from superspeed to snails-pace. Yet we know…tick, tick, tick…it’s always the same. God started the pace in creation with the sun and moon and man developed hours for measurement. Being a servant of the Lord lends me out to various needs and once the weather turned nice and people ventured out, the needs multiplied. The sensation of superspeed surrounds me.

I find myself immersed in many issues: People divorcing, fighting cancer, enduring difficult marriages, teen suicides…and the simple need to be heard. Compassion and an empathetic listening ear is soothing to many. They just want someone to care. I won’t even begin to mention what is going on in our country! Satan is truly on a rampage.

My speaking on Boundaries and the Power of Silence has been well-received and appreciated. Every day all day long, we make choices and if we do not have healthy boundaries, we set ourselves up for exhaustion, depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger.

We cannot control anyone else. We cannot expect others to like/want what we do. If we work hard at something and expect to be appreciated, we again have set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt.

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10        Oh blessed quiet with God!! Take the time God has blessed you with and spend some of it with Him. Ask him to prune off those behaviors in you that cause angst and discord. Stop gossiping. Build up, encourage. Invest time in being fruitful!

Blessings to you, dori:)