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
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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.

 

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.

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:)

 

 

Stepfamily Rx Conference update

My brain in finally settling back down after the consuming details of wanting to present a successful day for the other speakers and attendees.

The biggest feedback was parenting issues and co-parenting issues. For stepdads…some questioned whether they might be falling in love with their stepchildren and focusing on them more than their own because of the split and occasional visitation days. This is a real concern for some!

For stepmoms, the same issues exist with having a clear understanding AND support of their role in the family. Biological parents set the boundaries and rules for their children and decide on discipline consequences, but many times, the stepmom is left with caring out the actions because she may be with the children and stepchildren more hours during the day. Children need to understand what roles the adults have and what roles they have. Being in control and “the boss of the house” is not in the rulebook for children.

For other couples, they’ve allowed the older children, aged about 10-13 years of age where they want to live with a residence change each year. What? One poor father said the month before the annual “decision”, he walks on broken glass wondering if his kids will feel he is “good or fun enough” to live with for the next year.

Adults need to set the parameters and rules for the best interests of the children. Yes, age appropriate children can determine which parent they want to reside with; but then there is a stipulated agreement wherein the other parent will get sufficient time for visitation. The stressed dad of the “annual decision” said he made a terrible mistake to agree to that arrangement.

Parenting today is much different than it was just a couple of decades ago. Spouses always come first under God in the marriage. Children always come first under the parents. Such a relatively simple concept, yet many adults/spouses want to tangle up the two definitions. Kids do not need pals….they need PARENTS. And parents should care about raising respectable, responsible, reverent children that know and love God. If you think “spoiling” them is benefiting them…you will need to keep them in your household the rest of your life, or follow them to every employer and explain to them why they need to continue the spoiling. NOT!

Take care, God bless you, and stay strong and consistent!