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.

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.”

 

Hello Mrs. Olson!

I recently walked into Scheel’s, a well-equipped hunting, sporting, and clothing store in our local mall. I had barely entered the facility when a young voice right in front of me called out, “Hello, Mrs. Olson!”

I stopped in my tracks. I looked down. A family friend’s seven year old son stood there smiling at me while bobbling a football, probably in hopes that whomever was with him would be buying it. I smiled and said “Hi!, where are your folks?” He told me he was with his brother and his grampa.

I found the other family members, we chatted, and I went on my way.

As I entered the mall area, I remembered the specific feeling of hearing “Hello Mrs. Olson” and the face of that innocent boy. I felt like I had been sucker-punched in my gut. Naturally, this emotional spin was completely invisible to anyone else. I just remember stopping and standing for a few seconds.

All this precious boy knew was that his elementary school girl friend’s last name is Olson and her mommy and daddy’s last name is Olson. And so, seeing me and knowing I am his friend’s gramma, he greeted me as “Mrs. Olson.”

However…..that is not my name.

The faded pain, guilt, and sadness of divorcing my sons’ father tried to rise up and flood me again. There are times I do wish things could have been different. I do wish that I had never changed my last name until my sons were grown. I do wish my sons and their families do not have to figure out how to divide time between all the various households during holidays. I could wish all I want; however, my life is the path I’ve chosen after dealing with circumstances. As with most decisions as a single mom, we do the best we can at the time.

As I regained my composure and continued to walk, I realized this experience eased into something I could write about for all of us stepfamilies. I’ve ministered to a divorced woman who is an elementary school teacher and the class called her ”Mrs. Smith”. She finally had to tell them one day after her divorce that she changed her name, and they could now call her “Miss Jones”. She shed tears as that too, brought back painful memories and emotions. Complications of an agonizing event in our lives.

Today I thank God that we’re all healthy, and that MOST importantly, we biological parents and step-parents get along. All of us can be in the same place at the same time for my sons, their wives, and our grandchildren.  Additionally, God has given me the gifts of ministry so that having lived these experiences, I can be empathetic, compassionate, and help others. Some day that innocent little boy and my grandchildren will understand divorce and remarriage and how it’s affected our family tree. My fervent prayer is that they never have to live it.

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.”

Stepfamily Rx interviewed by Chained No More Broadcast on TogiNet Radio

God is awesomely wonderful! I just completed a one hour interview with Robyn Besemann on her “Chained No More” segment via TogiNet radio. For those that tuned in, I pray that my words and passion were meaningful to you. Stepliving is hard work, but worth it! You can make a difference in a child’s life…another person to love, mentor, guide, and support them.

If you wish to contact me for further information or questions, email me at dori.pls@live.com.

Listen to the interview or download the podcast (will be available by 5:30 EST) at: http://www.toginet.com/shows/chainednomore

Peace and Blessings,

dori:)

Marriage and Longevity (of the marriage!)

Although this article is not about stepfamilies per se, it is about marriage. When I completed this article for the Eau Claire Journal, I witnessed the work that marriage involves. It is not the “marriage” itself that holds two people together as I speak of in my conferences, it is the tenacious deliberateness of two committed people as husband and wife!

Enjoy:

It’s Not Just About Toys and Antiques

 I fully intended to arrive at the Toy & Antique Museum near Chippewa Falls to do a story on a 25+ year treasured combination of amazing toys and artifacts. Because of health issues and “it’s just time” as Al and Irene Przybylski put it, they are selling their collectible toys and antique artifacts. I thought a museum article would help them advertise that they were downsizing and selling out, but we enjoyed a completely different interview.

I walked into the shop with Al and took a good long sniff. “I love musty smells”, I said. “Ha, you are just like my wife; she loves the smell of things too.” Irene soon joined us.  As we settled into our chat, the marital banter between Al and his wife Irene became engaging and I began to realize this couple had worked very hard at everything they did together. We were on our way to reminiscing about their kaleidoscope life and marriage of fifty-nine years they will celebrate July 25th.

It began in 1958 when they moved to the area. They were in their 20’s, young and poor, purchasing a dairy farm with old ramshackle buildings. “But everyone back then was poor; we were all on a level playing field.” Irene said. They had a barn fire, sold the cows, and ended their dairy farming. Al then went to work at Uniroyal at the same time they were beginning to build the campground next door.  By the age of 26, Irene had given birth to six children with no running water or toilet facility in the old farm house. Irene said she and the kids all gathered around in the bathroom the day this thing called a “toilet” was getting installed.

In 1972 they began selling motorhomes. Al worked sales for the company and he did so well, that the entire family went on earned bonus trips such as Hawaii, Italy, China, France…basically around the world.  They in turn went into their own RV business which is now owned by their son and is called Countryside RV outside of Tilden. Al and Irene agreed that life here in America was the best compared to life in foreign countries. They also owned a mini storage business.

They bought land in Donna, Texas, and developed an RV campground. This town is near the Mexican border, so they began to coordinate and offer Mexican tours for RV vacationers. Al said they’d have up to twenty-five RVs, take the tour convoy through site-seeing places in Mexico and then return to the campground. Al and Irene would always be the “tail gunners”, bringing up the rear to be sure everyone was in the group. All six children were young at this time, and for ten years they travelled back and forth during the winter months to operate and maintain their Texas business. When the kids got older and into their teens, Irene said the times and memories were good, but it was time to sell that business.

Then they bought three other farms and rented out the buildings and the land. Al said with a twinkle in his eye, “I don’t know how we did it, we didn’t have any money.” They also bought and managed home rental properties. One day Al said he wanted to build a new house (where they now live). Irene said it was very difficult to leave that old farmhouse which had a lot of character and memories of all their children being raised there.

Family includes twenty grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren. As they both reflected, they thought they might have worked too hard, too much, and probably missed out on some things. Irene said the kids all worked at the O’Neil Campground and museum. Their children were raised with the concept that if they wanted spending money, they needed to work. Pride shown on both of their faces as they spoke of their kids.

When I asked what their most favorite memory was, they both responded, “the game farm”. They began to buy various animals and kept them near the O’Neil Campground. Groups, kids, and adults all enjoyed coming to view and pet the animals for free. The animals included elk, deer, buffalo, antelope, camels (two were named Bonnie and Clyde); however, pot-bellied pigs stole the show. There was a time when these little creatures were worth a lot of money. Al mentioned anywhere from $5000-$7000 per baby pot-bellied pure-bred piggy. They raised these cuties for fifteen years. Irene described how she would mid-wife the birthing moms and how one time even their ten year old son assisted. Interestingly, pot-bellied pigs can be house-broken because they only eliminate in one place, such as a litter tray.

Al said animals were wonderful, they loved you no matter what, never talked back, and were always happy to see you. Irene said the animals provided free “therapy” on many occasions. They also said the pot-bellied pigs were never a money-making goal, but a real labor of love. And that is exactly what I listened to for about an hour. A labor of love that encircled their marriage, their children, their adventures….their lives. I listened to a story about commitment, hard work, love, forgiveness, and plenty of fearlessness to living.

“The kids have told us recently, NO MORE PROJECTS!” Irene said. She and Al had a good laugh. The museum is located 4.5 miles north of Chippewa Falls next to O’Neil Creek Campground. You now have to call for an appointment to view the collection at 715-829-1104, because they are going to be enjoying time off and travelling. Call, visit, and buy that one piece or many pieces that you’ve been looking for.

Pay It Forward

COST + SHARING= PAY IT FORWARD

May 1, 2015

By Dori Pulse

When I thought of “Pay it forward,” the first image that came to mind was the movie starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey that premiered in 2000. A young boy, who took his teacher’s project seriously, came up with an idea to help people that really needed it. The concept was that if good fortune came to you, you would help three others and they each in turn, would help three others and so on. Ultimately, behavior like that would make the world a better place in which to live.

I really liked the movie and its message, but I was heart-broken by the way it ended. However, that component also lent itself to the movie’s overall message and to my life’s meaning: giving selflessly wasn’t always easy and the cost may be more than you thought.

As I write this, the Easter weekend has passed and I am filled with the awe and wonder of Jesus who took horrific punishment for our sins. He “paid it forward.” How can I take this gift I’ve been given and share?

Attitude. I believe it all begins with attitude. It isn’t what happens to me, it is how I react to what happens to me. This “knowledge” didn’t come right away or at a young age. Cost had to come first, then gifts, and then I could be helpful and share.

In school being a farm kid, I wasn’t one of the popular crowd, wasn’t a cheerleader, a book brain, or a sought-after date. I was one of those kids who slid through high school untarnished and unnoticed. My attitude was one of an old-fashioned childhood including: obey your elders, no sassing, homework and chores.

Adulthood offered many more lessons within the University of Hard Knocks. Marriage came after high school graduation, then bearing children, divorce, remarriage, divorce and remarriage into a stepfamily. I felt shame and guilt for a long time about my divorces and the effects on my sons. Certainly, there was something wrong with me! I couldn’t hold it together. Life was handing out some very painful experiences and my attitude was, “Why and why me?”

But then one warm spring Sacramento evening in 1997, everything changed. I realized I could not manage my life by myself, couldn’t “make” things work the way I wanted them to. I surrendered my life to the Lord. A new realization enveloped me that I didn’t have to feel guilty or be ashamed anymore. I had been given great gifts of forgiveness and mercy. Now I could turn and give to others….pay it forward. My life became shaped by my experiences and my resolve strengthened by my pain. Today my attitude is love like Jesus and help hurting people.