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.

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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….  ❤

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! ❤

Stepfamilies and Change

River-and-fall-wallpaperDuring this time of the year, I enjoy God’s pallet of water color tones among the trees here in the Midwest. Some of the reds, yellow, and oranges are so brilliant, I have to stop and allow my eyes to take it all in. The change of seasons come whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared or not. I think of stepliving as seasons of change.

There is a saying: “Two things are certain: Taxes and death”. I would add one more and that is “change”. It comes whether we like it or not and whether we are prepared or not. Within stepliving, there is always change and here are two areas to help.

One is avoiding expectations. We cannot change or control anyone, we can only do those things to ourselves. Expectations are in our mind and to project them on spouses or children/stepchildren, is setting ourselves up for frustration, disappointment, and even anger. We can plan, anticipate, hope for….which are more harmonious ways of thinking and living. Sometimes we just have to “let things go”. If we ponder situations, pray, and talk to our spouses about it, we’ll figure out if it’s worth letting go or fighting for.

The other is avoiding taking things personally. So many times in stepfamilies, especially for stepmoms (because we are nurturers and FEEL things so much), our efforts, time, and commitments often go unappreciated or unnoticed. It’s very difficult not to want to be valued for taking on this role. It’s difficult to be a stepdad and not be appreciated or respected for paying bills, providing a home, safety, food. I have found the best way for me to handle this emotion is to focus on Christ. If I do things for others in His Name, it takes the focus off of me and what I do….to focusing on loving and serving Jesus, because I know He loves me so much, He died for me!

Embrace the change, choose to enjoy the good changes and pray about the difficult changes. We are not alone. We have each other and we have God.

Blessings, dori:)

 

 

Vacations, Wounded People, Conference Announcement!

Cruise5-Robyn n Me Formal Night Cruise8-Dolly n doriRecently I had a most fantastic vacation, checking off a “cruise” on my bucket list! I am claustrophobic, so the experience tested me in many ways. The trip was to Alaska with a beautiful intimate group of 13 of us. Robyn Besemenn (check her out at http://robynbministries.com/speaking) and I are pictured above on “formal night” and the other picture is of Dawson Dolly and me. I love hats and am sporting a flowery fluffy hat, feather boa, and “the largest nugget in the Klondike”. 🙂 Cindy Godbey aka Dawson Dolly is one of the tours in Skagway, Alaska, and surrendered her life the same year I did…1997… to our Lord and Savior Jesus. This was a God-driven trip, I can assure you! Robyn’s daughter, Tami was our travel agent (check her out at: http://www.momentousjourneys.com/)

The trip was prefaced by a grueling month and week before. I had been busy with planning the Stepfamily Rx conference which is going to be Saturday, September 27th at Peace Church in Eau Claire. That prep was all month of August. That and… a call from four hurting people who needed some Divorce Care help until a sister church began their fall program. That and then the week before the vacay…spending three out of five days with my husband in the hospital with kidney stone procedure, emergency room pain, and a stent. That and a day trip with my dad to a city two hours away for his prostate update and coming out of the clinic to find a flat rear tire. Do I need to keep saying “that and…” Oh boy!! And the other day of the week was spent with my 17 year old grand-daughter for our 11th annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair….it was the only day in 10 days that I could take her.

Overwhelmed? Absolutely. If I would have logged the hours I spent the first four days of the cruise that I rested, napped, and slept, it would likely have shown more of those hours than active hours! I found myself dangerously exhausted.

Families, work, relationships, volunteer work, marriages, ex-spouses, schedules….on and on and on. All I can say is when your body tells you to rest. REST. We cannot over-extend ourselves without paying a price with our spiritual, mental, and physical selves.

We need Jesus. We need the grace of God. We need the strength and discernment the Holy Spirit provides. Today, look at your schedule, cross out the unnecessary things to do. Rather than play a game, check Facebook, or Twitter or whatever else is out there to swallow up your time….pray. Close your eyes and listen to soothing music. Help someone. Slow down. Ask God to guide you to focus on Him and the really important things for today. Blessings to all…..

 

A Mother’s Heart

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A Mother's HeartAs I was scrolling through Facebook postings early this morning, I came across this picture. Immediately, my heart swelled and tears rolled down my cheeks. This was right after I had posted a picture of myself with my two sons taken several years ago, as well as a shared picture and comment from my friend Jeanne. I used to beat myself up regularly with guilt and shame over what I considered to be and also knew to be mistakes I had made as a mom. Oh, if we could just “go back”. And even when I say that, I know God would never let that happen because I am who I am because of the many roads I have travelled and the many lessons I have learned.

I did have to come to that day when I understood that trying to live and “drive” forward while looking in the rear view mirror was taking up precious time I needed to focus on doing God’s will for my life. I had been transformed that same year in 1997 when the picture was taken. I was living with renewed devotion to Him and my family. I am a much different person than I was in that picture and a much much different person than when my sons were little boys. Just a few months prior, I had completely surrendered my life to Christ, freeing myself from the bondage of believing men were my answer to happiness and fulfillment. I turned instead and chose my Main Man Jesus. Previously, I had been trying to live as I thought was best, bouncing around and taking my sons with me as we rode some turbulent roller coasters of experience….twice married and twice divorced by the year 1997. For this, I have many regrets….I’ve just learned where to place them in my life at this point.

We are all sinners. We fail, we struggle, we pick ourselves up and we continue on. However, beating ourselves up does no one any good. I believe women in general, but especially mothers have a tendency to do this. When we repent, when we approach those that we’ve hurt and apologized and sought their forgiveness, all with sincerity and the same grace that God extends to us….well, then….it’s time to focus on our daily living and leave the past behind us. I do not want to die with regrets…and living in constant guilt and shame would be a big regret. 🙂

So, my heart and the Holy Spirit is speaking to me and to all mothers, moms, mommies, stepmoms, 2nd moms, whoever you are!!…..enjoy today, reach out, and love those that consider you a mom in any way, shape, or form. As I said on Facebook, I have loved my sons with every breath I’ve taken from the time they were conceived. I love you Travis and I love you Derek with all my heart. God bless you both, I am truly proud to be your mom.

mom:) xoxoxoxo

Me n the boys

When You Hurt Someone

Boy, I opened an email today and was struck speechless by reading someone’s words. A misunderstanding, a mistake, and I really hurt someone. Never ever would I hurt this person on purpose; but I overlooked a personal request. As innocent as it all rolled out, it hurt someone nonetheless. I sent back an explanation and apology immediately, asking for forgiveness, and making attempts to right the wrong.

It’s been a long, long time since I was held suspended in mid-air, with nothing to hold on to, no excuse, no immediate balm or resolution. Has this ever happened to you? Has something happened that you might have had some control over, but it slipped through the “cracks” and ended up hurting people, especially someone you care about? How do we handle this, what do we do?

First thing we do is humbly repent and seek forgiveness. Sincerity is a must. Then we pray to God for help and seek His Word in Scripture. “Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.” Ps 51:9  Mentally, I am beating myself up, asking “How could I have forgotten, how did I miss that, why wasn’t I more careful?” Most of us do this very thing. We continue to berate ourselves, feeling bad, and inadequate. Then there needs to come a time when we know we’ve learned our lesson and now we need to focus on reconciliation, on recovery, on moving forward. Psalm 51:10 goes on: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

This person is a long-time Christian “sister” friend of mine. We both know I made a mistake. We both know I am humbled and am following an action plan to take care of what should have been done. I will not do any good by continuing to lash out at myself and use negative words in my head. Indeed, what is done has been done. However, I trust that my prayers to the Lord will be answered and guide me.

If you’ve suffered a similar situation, know that God loves you and wants you to experience these times. We all need to pause and take inventory of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. We only learn when we are faced with adversity, no growth happens when we are kicking back, enjoying “easy street” in our life. Know that even though the other person may not forgive you, Christ died on the cross for you and me and we are forgiven! Avoid taking on your emotions alone; talk to a godly friend who can help you find your way as you read Scripture, affirming that the only way, the only truth, the only life is Christ. We grieve the error of our ways and then we continue to serve God.

We live, we learn. Above all, we love. During this Easter season, we remember that our human sinfulness tortured and put Jesus to death. We all had a hand in His crucifixion. But through His death and resurrection, we are gathered up and promised eternity with Him! Hallelujah!

God be with you.

Stepfamily Rx seminar – Taking things personally.

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One of the issues that was discussed and that the stepmoms had difficulty with is taking things personally. Especially in regards to our relationship with the stepchildren. Let’s unpack this a bit. Women are nurturers, lovers, God created us to be helpmates, we are sensitive, we are loyal…we can become momma bears if you get too close to our children! God created us to hold and carry seeds of humanity, His mighty hand works within us to form our precious babies. In Jeremiah 1:5 NIV) “…Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” and from Psalm 139:14 (NIV) “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are well made, I know that full well.”  We women who love and worship God realize the task at hand with children. Fathers are crucial for leadership, protection, security, guidance, a firm and loving hand in discipline and boundaries.  Women hold things in, we embrace emotions because that is quite simply, how we are built.  Our challenge, then, is to learn how not to allow our emotions to run our lives. Oh yeah, ding ding ding….but how do we do that?

 Jan Silvious, Women of Faith speaker and author, in her book “Big Girls Don’t Whine”, gives a pearl of wisdom: “Until you take responsibility for yourself, you cannot become all God hopes you will be.” I love her book and it was one of the stepping stones that helped me understand that I have the power to control all of me…every inch of me.  I can control my thoughts, actions, words. I can choose to feel, I can choose to let things go.  You know what my measurement for “Do I go for it or do I let it go?” I ask myself, “Am I or someone going to die or get sick as a result of this?” “No?” Then, I let it go. I used to take so many things personally, let the memory run wild in my “personal recorder”…that part of my brain that plays and replays over and over and over what happened…. what I should have done, what should I have said, what I maybe should do!! Oh help me!!!  And that was a big part of my recovery out of getting myself dragged into emotional drama and turmoil…. I cried out to God, “Help me.”  And, of course, He did.

I regret some things that happened between my husband, stepdaughter and I over the years. I have repented and God has forgiven me and I’ve forgiven myself.  Today, much less bothers me, much less is running rampant in my “personal recorder”, and much less is taken personally, therefore, much less stress.  I have an enjoyable relationship with my stepdaughter and I continue to seek peace and harmony with her.  I agree, the years when stepchildren are woven tightly into the daily living of a home, it can be overwhelming. Jesus understands. Other stepmoms understand.

Practice seeking to understand, being full of gratitude, model the love of Christ. Teens especially have so much going on in their body, much less a life they did not choose (divorce or remarriage). Let things roll away…little things that want to annoy you…let them go. It’s not worth the battle. If you need to vent, call a friend who is a godly woman and holds you accountable. My friends do.  They love me and accept me and listen compassionately when I am hurting….but they would not allow me to whine mercilessly about trivial unimportant things.  They listen and they correct me when I need it. They are so important to me!

One day I was folding my husband’s work laundry from the dryer. Why in the world he cannot turn his shirts right side out when he takes them off is beyond me. So, I think to myself…if he doesn’t care, why should I? I began folding the t-shirts one after another. Suddenly, I was brought to an abrupt stop. In my mind a thought settled…. “What if Jesus were standing next to me?”  I quickly realized my husband doesn’t do this t-shirt thing to upset me…it’s just the way he takes the shirts off.  Why was I taking it personally? Well, friends…I now do laundry, cooking, studying, sales…..all those womanly things….for Jesus. Focusing on Him in my life and my efforts in His Name has helped me grow and gain wisdom.  When you feel left out, disappointed, disrespected, sad….take a moment and ask God if the situation is serious (“someone’s going to die or get sick”…figuratively speaking). Ladies, I believe if you consciously choose to take a step out of the emotion, don’t allow the drama, you can view it for what it really is and let it go.

I pray today’s post helps you.  God bless you.