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.”

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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

The Boundary Behavior Police

Ok, so I just posted an article about boundaries. I had an epiphany yesterday during my prayer time as to what I had slunk into…..

On Monday March 16th, I decided I was going to stop giving my power to the tv. I drew a boundary. I realized this is what I was doing Monday through Friday: I would get up early in the morning, make coffee, pray, go down and watch the Golden Girls until 9:00. Then I’d go into my office and catch up on emails…then progress to FaceBook. Soon it was noon. Then I would fix myself a salad and watch the noon news. Then I’d go back to work. About 2:00, I’d see what Giada on Food Network was doing, then it was the Barefoot Contessa at 3:00, which took me to Jeopardy at 4:00. At 4:30 maybe I’d go back to work for a bit or I’d watch Entertainment Tonight. At 5:00 it was local news, at 5:30 national news. At 6:00 I’d go back to work until 6:30 and then it was time to watch Wheel of Fortune. At 6:30 I might go back to work for a bit and then back to tv to watch a movie, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, and then the Golden Girls again, falling asleep in my recliner until midnight. Then I’d go upstairs, wash my face, brush my teeth, waking myself up again so I had to read to get tired and fall asleep by 1:00 and then up at 6:00….to start all over again!

Yeah, now you know why I wrote about boundaries! 😉 I had convinced myself that my pseudo-retirement meant I had permission to squander my time while creating a more permanent dent in my recliner. Having a husband that works out of town all week provides unchecked freedom as well. So, I became sweetly aware that I can have fun and I do have the ability to come and go as I please. I did work hard for many years. But I also have a lot to give before I die and my tv certainly won’t speak on my legacy behalf!

I’ve dedicated this week to tv fasting…so far, so good! Detox and cleanse…ahhhh.

Blessings all…..

Boundary Steps

Boundaries are so important today. Have you thought about your boundaries? Do you even have any? Raising children requires that invisible “edge” where the existence of personal identity of one ends and everything else begins.

Parents need to have boundaries and then also help their children develop healthy boundaries. This crucial habit will create in them a person of integrity, with established morals and values, and true character.

I never used to think about boundaries until my third marriage into which I also stepped into the world of stepliving. I had myself so spread out, it was like adding a lot of acetone to my nail polish. The result? A faded and translucent color. Not much left of substance.

This self-deceiving behavior can promote a false feeling of being loved, needed, important. It is difficult to change (pride), but we can! Establish prioritized lists/responsibilities and focus on them to completion. Leave the “urgent but not important” stuff like Facebook, Instagram, or personal emails to your extra time or just plain “leave” them. Be really good at a few things instead of trying to be everything to everybody!

Check your boundaries today. Think about healthy ones. Do you feel used? It is ok to say “no” to some things….you are not super-human. Do you feel compromised? Square your shoulders, stay the course, remember who you are. How about your prayer boundary? Spend time with the Lord every day, first thing if possible, to pray and give thanks.

Blessings to all….

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.

Contentment and Redirect

I pray that all my readers had a most beautiful and blessedly happy Christmas. When times are tough, when seasons become stressful, I’ve learned to pray and pray diligently….hanging onto the belief and faith that God is in control and hears my groanings. This Christmas I experienced answered prayers….I have more requests and more prayers, but I have learned patience too. 😉 God’s way in God’s time is in my very best interests!

I listened to a wonderful sermon lately on contentment and I began to think about that and the power of positive thinking and a strong will. I am sure we all have things we want or want to happen; and we’ve struggled and stressed and stopped at almost nothing to get them. As time passes, I have learned to redirect my thinking and attitudes and embrace contentment. After all, I cannot change one solitary thing except myself.

So, my prayer for you is to seek God’s Word on peace and contentment, knowing God Says that no matter what you say or feel….God has it covered. I saw the above image on Facebook, and it spoke volumes to me. I copied it onto a word doc, enlarged and printed it so that I can keep it in my Bible. God bless you for a Healthy Happy 2015! ❤

Temptation

I apologize…… it’s been too long since my last post. I’m working on a new book for women contemplating marriage and becoming a stepmom, “So You Want to be a Stepmom!”. As I move through meeting new women and opening a dialogue about stepfamilies, I do not cease to be amazed in any group I’m in, how many women are or were stepmoms. My prayer and the Lord’s leading me has resulted in this next publication…not sure when I’ll get it completed! 🙂

Today, the word “temptation” moved into my mind. I stared on the meaning I found online:

temp·ta·tion     tem(p)ˈtāSH(ə)n/       noun

 a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.                        Synonyms: desire, urge, itch, impulse, inclination.
Whether in stepliving or any relationship, the desire to do or say something wrong or unwise crops up regularly. Personally, I fight it all the time. Our emotions and feelings rise up quickly and if not harnessed, they will control us and cause us to do things we eventually regret. The synonyms spoke to me as I pondered how many times I’ve fallen victim to those very behaviors.
My prayer for you and for me:
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
God’s warning:
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.”
                                              ***********************
During this Christ season, may you remain focused on the splendor and beauty of His love for you, His plan for life with Him eternally. We are here for such a brief period. Love each other, forgive ceaselessly, pray diligently.
Merry Blessed Christmas! ❤
nativity_sm

Generosity in Stepliving

And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. (NIV)
At our church, we have finished up a series regarding generosity. I know you are probably thinking, “Oh, more money talk.” Yes, tithing is one of Scripture’s lessons, and money is important for the successful survival of a church; however money is not all that generosity is about. Generosity is also about our attitudes, and especially about our heart.
When I speak to stepcouples or stepmoms, I really try to hone in on what is going on in their hearts. If we serve our spouses and our families with a generous heart, the propensity for feeling “used or taken for granted” doesn’t grow at the speed it can if we give of ourselves while looking to get it back. Being generous is a learned behavior, it doesn’t come easy! It is not natural in our sinful flesh to wantonly give of ourselves to others, especially to a cranky spouse, a difficult marriage, or disrespectful stepchildren. I have to be among other God-loving and God-fearing Christians and married couples to be reminded that marriage is work.
But more importantly in the context of generosity, Jesus was the perfect example…He selflessly suffered and died for me and for you, on a rugged cross. Today, do something out of pure unconditional generosity for your spouse or child or stepchild, especially for the one having the most difficult day. It doesn’t matter their reaction, it matters that you gave of yourself with love and a pure heart.
Here is my daily mantra and reason for serving Him through serving others with love and generosity:

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
God bless your day! ❤

Just Whose Fault Is It?

I received several comments from my post yesterday and as I sat here this morning at my keyboard, another very important thought arose in my mind. I always attribute these “winks” as a nudge from the Lord. When there is trouble and angst within a marriage, blame and justification and pride come forward quite quickly. They begin to form a wall, a boundary to protect one’s claim or position. Certainly the problems and challenges in a marriage is responded with “not MY fault”….

Christian marriages devoted to the love of and service to God are under attack. From the outside, many good and solid marriages are struggling. Especially in stepfamilies where the dynamics are more intricate and complicated. Because this may be a second or third or more marriage, the propensity for the couple to “hide” their problems and put on the “mask” and feel embarrassed is strong. “Why can’t we get this right?”

“It’s your fault, you are too protective of your kids, you need to stop mothering them!” “It’s your fault, if you were more of a man around here, we wouldn’t be having these problems!” “It’s the kids’ fault…if we didn’t have them around all the time, we’d get along better!” Ow, ow, ow. Let me assure you…the fault is not all flesh.

From Ephesians 6:12:  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We who love Christ are fighting Satan. In his diabolical ways, he enters the minds of spouses and can cause disputes and anger through our emotional channels. This is where the “blame game” gets dicey. We need to recognize the reality of Satan and his ploys in our lives and marriages. We need to get on our knees to pray and seek spiritual cover. Silence, calm, and a request for discernment from the Holy Spirit are powerful during hostile or chaotic times.

Here is a wonderful excerpt from:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/spiritual-warfare-lesson-1-understanding-the-battle-11554631.html

“Part I: The Spiritual Battle   How do we know that there is a spiritual realm? If we cannot see it, should we believe in it? Many believers and unbelievers today do not want to “deal” with a world we cannot see when the world we do see is hard enough to “deal” with. Before we can discuss the spiritual battle, we have to believe in the spiritual realm. We have a tendency to act like a two year old child who closes her eyes and places a blanket over her head, really believing that no one can see her because she cannot see them. Just because we cannot see the spiritual realm does not mean it is not there. Keith Green, a Christian song writer, wrote, “I [Satan] used to have to sneak around. But now they just open their doors. No one’s looking for my tricks because no one believes in me any more.” However, if we choose to ignore or not believe in the spiritual realm, we will find ourselves confused, frustrated, and quenching the peace that God has promised to each of us. The best defense is a strong offense. Just educating ourselves about the spiritual realm is half the fight and God gives us everything else we need to be victorious with the other half.”

Amen and Amen. We need to be cautious and conscious of the harm that Satan can throw our way. Pray, read Scripture with your coffee in the morning. Protect yourself!

Blessings, dori:)