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

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.

Stepfamilies: Doin’ It Right!!

The below article appeared in Sarah Stokes’ “Queen of the Castle” February magazine:

When asked to write this article, I thought and prayed about the content. As a stepmom, the owner of Stepfamily Rx, and as an author and blogger, I decided that there is a lot of information out there about “how to” and perhaps not enough about encouragement for all the good, powerful, and positive attributes of living as a stepfamily. So, within this article, I’ve shared some tips and “bravos”.

There are statistics that indicate when children grow up in a safe, positive, and healthy stepfamily with good rapport between biological parents, they can prosper and flourish as adults. Children need to feel loved, wanted, and respected. When emotional, physical, and spiritual needs are met within a stepfamily, everyone can relax and prosper. I realize things can be difficult, but I know there are happy times out there, too!

I am reading an exciting book by Shaunti Feldhahn entitled “Good News About Marriage”. In eight years of extensive research and reading numerous surveys, she has found that marriages hit a divorce peak in 1981, but since then have been on the decline. The higher statistics for remarried couples suggest that there are different situations that can cause stepfamily marriages to struggle or falter and fail. However!  The high statistics repeated by many for redivorce in stepfamilies is inconclusive (62-65% for 2nd marriages, 75-78% for 3rd marriages). Shaunti found that the divorce rates are much lower that what people have previously believed. It is true when issues are addressed from a more positive perspective, hope and endurance can reign. Marriage is a GREAT thing, and THAT is what we should be repeating!

In Ms. Feldhahn’s book, she states that her findings indicate that couples who pray together and regularly attend church and worship services have a higher success rate with happiness and longevity in their marriages. God created us for relationship with Him and with each other. Therefore, having God as first and foremost in your family establishes the relationship harmony…everyone has their focus on loving and serving God instead of dwelling on selfish desires.  That’s why in my book, “Everything Changed When I Said ‘I Do’  – Preparing for and Living as a God-First Stepfamily”, I propose ‘The Marital Perch”, which indicates that under God, husband and wife occupy and exist on this perch alone. Under the marital perch are the children, and under the children, everyone and everything else. This hierarchy is critical and essential, especially in stepfamily homes. Husband and wife must put each other first as the authority in the home for the sake of the children. It’s not easy, but it is important to the success of the family!

The good news in many stepfamilies is the husband and wife’s desire to create something better after a painful decision or event that put an end to the original family. I talk to many stepfamilies that pray together, are involved with school, activities, sports, music. They attend worship together, spend time playing, and make every effort to successfully plan holidays. Stepfamilies create new memories, new histories, and new traditions, while respecting what is important to the children. Avoid expectations, avoid taking everything personally. Celebrate good days, learn from difficult ones.

A decisive action parents and step-parents can take is to be genuinely committed to communication between each other. Seek to understand first, then to be understood. I recommend any disagreements about the children between the spouses never take place in front of the children. It gives them a peek at any issue or weakness between the adults. Strive for peace, calm, and safety. We cannot control other people, we can only control ourselves.  When you avoid negative talk about anyone, you teach the children a very important life lesson about relationships. I know of stepfamilies that strive to have friendly relationships with the ex-spouse! It can and does happen!

Take time for weekly “table talk”, when everyone checks in with each other, schedules are discussed, and highs and lows can be shared. Adults and children take turns, keeping the tone respectful. Create a family mission statement wherein each person in the family contributes. Finally, make a list together during your family table talk time of fun, new, enjoyable things that happened during the week and post it on the refrigerator. Each week you can do a new one.

Now, I’ll bet after reading this, you realize that there are successes in your stepfamily, that you ARE doing some things right! Life is too short, so rather than just survive….you can thrive! God bless ALL families.

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! ❤

When It’s Ok Not to be a Wife to Your Husband

Oh, I wonder what is going through your mind. “What in the world is she talking about now??”

I do a lot of reading and research on relationships with a special focus on marriage, stepfamilies, divorce. Not sure why I put them in that order; maybe because divorce is the least desirable thing to write about.

I recently ran across a response that Emerson Eggerich gave to a woman who wrote to him saying her husband didn’t care about her, wasn’t showing affection…was basically disconnected and she was getting tired of it and wondering if divorce was on the horizon.

Here is where my post gets its title. When your husband is acting aloof, cool, pulled back, distracted…it’s a good time to stop being a wife and instead focus on being a friend to your husband. Stop and think about some of the things you do for your very best girlfriend and apply to your husband. Without asking, do kind things for him. When he says things that are irritating, you don’t have to respond. When he makes mistakes, you don’t have to remind him. Stop talking so much and listen (this one was the hardest for me)…just hang out with him. Say something nice and complimentary. Practice letting go.

Years ago I was reading the “Love and Respect” book by Emerson and going through a similar season. As I read this concept, I thought “How can you tell ME to do this work when HE is the one checking out?” It was tough stuff to read, absorb, pray about, and understand. I’ve done this, it works. I would caution to avoid expectation and immediate response.

I’m not going to tell you this is a 100% success effort. There are no guarantees. Unfortunately, there are some spouses who do not want to engage and nurture a marriage….and that is a post for another time.

Sticks and stones….

Words…may break my bones, but words will nev….  Oh Yes, they will! I saw this post on Facebook this morning and thought what a great way to start my day. The book of James speaks of the uncontrollable evil a tongue is capable of: But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b] “

Previously I used a visual of thinking any hurtful words I would say would fly out and strike the first person in their path, causing great pain. But the above visual of words on flesh gives me a more powerful image…MY SKIN would be the billboard for the words I say…all of them. Would I be Christ’s example or feel safe to walk among any of you with my language visible? Hmmmm.

Stepliving is very complex and often challenging to the point of words falling from our lips that are regularly held in regret. Take a breath, practice silence, pray, avoid taking things personally. I want to close with this beautiful finish from James Chapter 3. God bless you, husband and wife as stepcouple united as one…may your words be sweet and uplifting to each other and to all the children in your family. ❤

“17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.[d] “

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:)

 

 

Don’t Give Up!

Stepliving has so many complicated and intricate components involved in daily living, that to try to explain it to someone who has never lived it is almost impossible. It is arduous and constant work and commitment. Is it impossible work? No.

However, it takes a completely different level of the fruits of the Spirit: Love: unconditional, unbiased, often with difficult people. Joy: comes from within and we make the choice to embrace it and not depend on someone else to give it to us. Peace: integrating and creating methods of harmony, understanding different family roles. Longsuffering: DON’T GIVE UP! We harvest what we plant, we rest in Christ and have faith it’s darkest right before the dawn, so we await the harvest. One day your stepchildren may admit you were very important to them. Kindness: acceptance and calm, hurting children and family members need assurance. Goodness: giving of ourselves to exemplify Christ, sharing ourselves with mercy. Faithfulness: Cling to Christ, having God at the helm of your marriage, “…And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose…: Romans 8:28. Gentleness: soothing, patient associations within the family and for the extended family. Self-Control: We all have personal access and control of our “emotional buttons”. Practice silence before responding or reacting. Breathe, pray.

There are seasons in any marriage, but the seasons within  stepfamilies can be very intense. Sometimes I envision a spider web to show the connections and associations within families, especially in multiple divorce or relationship situations. Past histories and loyalties can stir up jealousies, dissension, and chaos. Even when things appear to be at their worst, hang on….Don’t Give Up! Spend time talking it out, seek counsel or a mediator, or your pastor. This morning’s passage from Galations 6:7-10:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, [a]while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Jesus never said life would be fair or easy….He did say it would be worth it!

Blessings in Christ!  dori:)

Jesus loves us!

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This past week we finished up Vacation Bible School. I have been blessed to bring my third grandchild to this beautiful event. The latest is Abe, who is my 4 year old grandson. He is creative, vivacious, and was sooooo excited to go to his first “school”. I have to admit that after the first day I asked myself if I had the energy to continue with the week. We had at least 160 children overall, with three groups of 4 year olds, averaged six in each group.

I get fired up when I am around people, giving my best and giving it all. For these little people, I was animated, engaged, and provided a lap for any small person who would need a little encouragement or comfort. Two little girls in our “class” figured that out. 🙂 We learned this week that “no matter what…Jesus loves you!!” Whether we are wrong, can’t understand, afraid, or whatever we are feeling, Jesus never leaves us and always loves us.

I wondered how many children at VBS who ranged from 3 years old to 5th grade were from single homes or stepfamily homes. I know the percentage is high based on statistics of today’s world. I gave my all each morning and then collapsed upon returning home for at least an hour to have lunch and rest. The songs still play over and over in my head.

Yesterday at worship service, one little boy from my group saw me at communion and tugged at his momma’s sleeve saying, “That’s my teacher, that’s my teacher!!”, as he pointed and jumped up and down. Then he ran toward me. My husband and I were returning to our seats, but I scooped him up and his little arms snapped around my neck and squeezed as we walked up toward our pew and out of the way.

I am reminded of the tender hearts of our children…they are just as and perhaps even more….tender than ours. Children living in single homes or in stepfamilies need extra measures of love, hugs, and laps. We must remember that they did not choose any of what they are living through. Talk to your children, check in with them, ask about their day, what they are thinking about and feeling. And most of all, hug and hold them. Tell them you love them, are proud of them. This is true of ALL children…biological or stepchildren…they all need love and assurance. They need to feel accepted, protected, and wanted.

Last night I sat and watched a video of everyone and Abe dancing and moving to one of the VBS song videos, I smiled and my heart swelled. That little boy yesterday along with Abe’s discussions and singing songs from the week made it all absolutely fulfilling. Beautiful. Precious.

God’s blessings,

dori:)

Secretariat and Stepliving

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I own the movie “Secretariat”, I love horses. Each time I watch this dramatic film, I weep during each race, especially the final one. Secretariat wins the Triple Crown. There is a particular image that the jockey and horse have as they pull away from the other horses that is etched in my mind. The one above is close, but not “the one”. The horse’s legs are splayed out as the above picture, but his head is more stretched out into the wind, his mane and tail flying straight out, nostrils flaring, muscles tense…a look of incredible determination on Secretariat’s face. Well, at least I thought so. And the endurance of not only pulling ahead of the other horses, but each stride pulled him further and further ahead until he was 31 lengths ahead and crossed the finish line in record time.

I recently watched the movie again, thrilling to each race as if I’d not seen the story before. The feelings I experience are indescribable and I began to think this last time how much Secretariat’s last race that won him the Triple Crown reminded me of us stepmoms in our marriages and families. Here are a few thoughts:

We run the race each and every day, seeking to win our husband’s and families’ hearts.

We stretch ourselves to the limit with attempts to manage and organize and take care of and do.

We may start out lagging, but with efficiency and purpose we focus on the goal and accelerate as needed.

Our faces are in the wind as we strive toward accomplishments.

Our muscles and legs are operating at full capacity, running, stretching, enduring.

Secretariat’s look of determination with nostrils flared and eyes gleaming and every muscle attuned to what lie ahead…the finish line, the accolades, the accomplishment. That animal had the look of pure beauty..he knew what his purpose was. Stepmoms are beautiful and we know what our purpose is too.

We are capable of multi-tasking, juggling several things at one time, running full speed, aware of our goals and striving hard for them…with the finish line in mind. Most of the time the finish line is the end of the day! It’s difficult to raise ourselves above the schedules and routines to see that the true finish line is when we cross into heaven.

Marriage and raising a family is really hard work…raising children that must co-exist in another household can be even more hard work. I am reminded of one of my favorite verses…in a way it is what I am running toward, body fully engaged, face in the wind, nostrils flared, arms open wide, determination in my eyes and heart:

“His master replied, ‘Well donegood and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”    Matthew 25:20-22

This is what I live for, strive for every day.  When I die and meet Jesus, I pray the above is what my Savior will say to me.