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.

 

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!!

 

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.

Today’s WOW: Honesty is STILL the best policy!

I have a new goal to do a WOW (Wild on Wonder) Wednesday each week. The dictionary defines wonder as including, “marvel, awe, admiration, ponder, meditate, and to be thunderstruck”!

My WOW word for today is honesty. It’s one of the “top ten” from Exodus 20:16 NIV: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” I interpret that as no false testimony to anyone. Honesty is part of our soul (Mark 8:36), our character and integrity.

I would rather tell the truth, it’s easier to remember! And I would also rather be hurt by the truth than “murdered” by a lie.

Stepfamilies need honesty within family members and co-parenting becomes more civil and trustworthy when parents and stepparents make a commitment to be honest and open. Children need to be coached and disciplined why honesty will enhance their adult lives and relationships.

 

“Do (and say) the right things in the right way for the right reason.”

 

Holidays, Chats, Emotions, a Lot of Listening….

How easily time slips away. Quietly, quickly. The Christmas season is full of preparation including activities such as baking, planning, figuring out family gifts, shopping, and the stress that always seems to come. I’ve become more seasoned at how to handle all of it, learning that if I focus on anything or anyone else other than Jesus Christ, I fall into a consuming pit. I’m not perfect, I still have to face many issues that range from pure joy to retching aches. It’s a true test of trusting God when we all want to shout, “You’re hurting me!!” at various times to various people….but we choose to remain silent.

I met with several people during this season that have relational and emotional issues going on in their lives. People saying hurtful words without thinking. Parents wanting more love and acceptance from their adult children…that four letter word “busy” hampering quality time. Separation and divorce wounds open and bleeding. Children of divorce favoring the parent that caused great heartache to their other parent…the bruised spouse/parent wondering why.

Listening to someone pour out their hearts is one of the most therapeutic things we can do for each other. I greatly value the trust gift that many individuals give me. Praying that Jesus heal hearts and soothe aching spirits is the only answer and my gift back. We cannot fix, we cannot expect, we cannot change others.

My prayer for all of you is that this year of 2016 with the world’s issues and our country’s unrest constantly reminding us of our sinful condition…that Jesus remain FIRST in your life, that you know the joy and peace that only He can give…..because: Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

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.

Sometimes It Takes a Funeral

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 really 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 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.”

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….  ❤