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.

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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.

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….

Whatever Happened to Good Ol’ Visiting?

Although my recent article in the Eau Claire Journal does not pertain solely to stepfamilies, it certainly pertains to relationships. Take a moment, check it out, ponder how you can do more “visiting”….using eye contact and your presence. 🙂

http://www.eauclairejournal.com/news/story.phtml/61E990BF/local/what_happened_to_good_ol_visiting/

Blessings everyone and my prayer that this day be one in service to Jesus. ❤

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.