Just try harder….

Our minds habitually play tricks on us. We ponder, we plan, we expect, and we wait. And then   Explosion Detonation Blast Burst Fulminati.

Nothing goes as planned, as a matter of fact things seem to go even more topsy-turvy than we could have imagined. And so it goes in many stepfamilies.

Trying harder is NOT the best answer. As a matter of fact, emerging research shows less stress, less problems, when we stepparents assess a situation and lovingly step back. It’s not difficult to tell a step-teen (just an example!), “I feel that I’m annoying you right now, and I understand that people can do that to each other occasionally. I respect your space, let me know if you need anything,”

Please do not construe my words as avoiding, detaching, or isolating. We all need time-outs, privacy, quiet. TIME is your very best friend as a stepparent. What’s the rush….the kids never asked to be born, never chose their parents, and certainly didn’t choose death, divorce, or remarriage. Keep your Bible open, talk to God, you will be ok.

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5th Annual Stepfamily Rx Conference Pictures & Feedback!

Some attendee feedback:

“Exceeded expectations…(knowing) we’re living under same conditions (as others)…I will share my experience!…appreciated hearing about being a child of divorce (from adult speaker)…helped me focus on my faith…loved it all!!…awesome to hear different testimonies…event was awesome…(appreciated) raw examples from (speakers’) lives…would love to hear teens’ perspectives.”

This is what keeps me going when the enemy wants to fill my head with any kind of failure or exhaustion. I see the participant’s eyes and faces, I hear the gratitude  in their voice. The room was filled with the Holy Spirit. There was so much prayer on this day! At the end of the day, I asked my high school tech guy what his thoughts were. You know what he said in his first words? “I’d like to hang out in this next year.”  WOW!!!!!  Even though he is not in a stepfamily, he was impacted by the day, the speakers…and I asked him to pray about perhaps speaking as a teen and especially asking some of his step-living or single parent friends if they would speak next year. Honestly, I was STUNNED that he was so open and intrigued. Thank you Father God, thank you!

 

(L to R) Pastor Dave, Matt & Erin/7 children between the two, Dori Pulse/Stepfamily Rx, Krista/Sonset Point Ministries, Kim/LPC, and in back, Brandon/Adult child of divorce.

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People are Hard Work!

This afternoon I was listening to a Christian speaker on the Hillsong channel and when he spoke the above words as he was preaching the love of Christ in us, words began to flood my mind for a blog.

Why would we think this is not true?

Our best friends are easy…really?  We respect them, love, listen, help, encourage, understand, change our schedule to meet theirs, be kind, etc. This doesn’t take effort (work)?? Of course it does.

Courting someone for a relationship we find we work work work and we love it because the chase is often so much fun.

Then comes marriage and before we know it, we left the “work” of the relationship at the altar. Too often we’ve nestled into a groove of apathy, complaining about our spouse, feeling tired, used, bored.

Remarriage and a stepfamily? You say we’ve been married before, we won’t make the same mistakes (No, you’ll make NEW ones, and many of the old ones want to come back!). The kids will get used to it, everybody will get along……Riiiiiiight.

PEOPLE ARE HARD WORK!

Are you a single parent? Stepfamily Rx’s conference has something for you!

Are you a couple contemplating marriage creating a stepfamily? Ooooh, lots for you!

Are you married and in a stepfamily? WOOOOW, even more for you!!

It’s going to be great! Everyone that has attended has left with information, more skills, knowledge, and new friends!

God has blessed this event every year. YAY.

 

Character vs Chaos

human pinball There was a time in my life where I was the the epitome of that little round steel ball, bouncing from one thing to the next. I was wounded, struggling, but pretty sure I had everything under control…..not! Reverand Billy Graham’s passing today prompted tears and a memory of where I believe true change of character in me began.

I had moved to Sacramento, California, in the early 1990’s several years after my first divorce. That is when I became the “pinball”. Not that is was a bad thing or that I was a bad person, but leading the life of a human pinball without the guidance of God is chaos….one thing to the next, to the next. I was trying to chase some kind of peace, stability, and happiness. The second marriage and divorce in the mid 80’s didn’t help matters….but I was trying.

I heard Billy Graham was coming to Sacramento. I believe it was in 1996 that I was made aware. The Holy Spirit put a heavy nudge on my heart one day to call Arco Arena to get a ticket. I ended up sitting in the nose bleed area, but the experience was profound.

My paternal Grandma Slaby listened to Reverend Billy Graham. I used to hear him occasionally as I entered her apartment. Turning the corner into her tiny living room, I’d see Reverand Graham on her black and white television; holding up a Bible, preaching with passion and a loud clear voice to thousands of people. I remember being rivoted to the sound of his voice and then watching as many people would stand up and walk down to the front of his stage to accept Christ. Over the years, I’ve heard him several times and I also read a biography on Reverend Graham. He was so aware of the human condition that when he travelled with men and women as part of the ministry, he insisted they stay on opposite ends of their hotel and that men and women did not go out one-on-one casually while travelling.

He obviously planted in me the seed of character, decency, and a subconscious awareness that I was living dangerously. In early 1997 I surrendered my life to Jesus and have given my heart to Him. I had finally found the deep sacrificial unconditional….agape love I’d been searching for. This testimony is for you, Reverend Graham…..the sun seemed a little dimmer today because you’ve left us and entered the realm of your heavenly home. I’m feeling a tad envious, but that’s ok….I know I have much work left to do here.

Thank you, Lord, for Billy Graham and his passion for Your Word…it sure made a difference in my life.  God bless America. Billy Graham

 

A Cry and A Crown

Childhood memories in a dentist’s chair have forever remained with me as a hugely negative thing. I abhor needles in my mouth. I have a high tolerance for pain…but in my mouth? Uh Uh.

Recently a wonderful new dentist I started with did new x-rays and said my lower right molar needed a crown. And an upper smaller tooth needed a replacement filling. Horrors! No matter how much reassurance….that novo-needle hurts! The appointment was made. The crown temp completed and I left after an hour. I chewed away.

The next week, the temp came off, the new crown was glued on and the awful novo-needle stung my upper right to replace the filling. That appointment lasted an hour and 20 minutes. I couldn’t WAIT to get out of there. I was reaching my dental limit. The novocaine wore off and the new crowned tooth ached. Nooooooo……

I gave it 3 days and no chewing on the right side….rest, little tooth, rest. Eggs, avocados…ok. Toast? No. UGH. A week and a half later I called my dentist and told them about the ache, no chewing on the right. They said “come in”. I did. After meticulous examination, Dr. said….I am so sorry, but I see a tiny gap that may be causing the crown to move and cause the aching. I asked, “What are we going to do?” He replied, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I am very particular and we will need to cut it off and replace it.” AAAAGGGHHH!  Each day I would try to chew on my right side, praying and pleading with God to relieve me of this ache. I know, “cry baby” you’re thinking. 🙂

My Stepfamily Rx conference was coming up in a couple of weeks on April 1st. So much to think about. For whatever reason, registration was so low, I was going to postpone the conference for another time. I felt a Divine voice whisper. “Dori, you stated publicly that Wednesday, March 29th was the cutoff.” That was a week away. I recommitted to trusting the Lord and letting time pass as planned.

I went to collect the registrations from the church office after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29th. More had registered…it was really good! I went home feeling emotionally exhausted from all the hubbub. I treated myself to a cold brew and some peanut butter filled pretzels. I was on my second handful when I realized I was chewing/chomping on my RIGHT SIDE. Crunch, crunch, crunch. NO PAIN. I sat straight up in my recliner, pushing hard with my finger on my newly crowned molar. Nada. Nothing.

That was almost two weeks ago. I went to the dentist yesterday, he shook his head in wonder as I told him what happened. He will take care of the tiny little gap, but the crown is secure and PAINLESS. God is good and faithful. What do you think?

Some will say “Meh”, some might say “Wow”, some will say “Oh, took a couple of weeks to heal.” But me? I believe in God winks…He is so evident in my life. God is always with us. He hears us. He wants us to “grow and become”. He has wonderful plans for us.

God bless you….stay the course, believe, endure, persist. I did and felt blessedly “crowned”.

May this Easter Season bring you peace, joy, love, and a celebration of the Risen Christ!!

 

Are Smart Phones Smart For Your Kids?

The 4th Annual Stepfamily Rx conference is coming Saturday April 1st!

Returning speakers and NEW speakers are joining the line-up. One of the new speakers is Brandon Sutherland.

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When we met and discussed becoming a part of the conference, Brandon gave me his background. He previously worked for a well-known cell-phone service provider. He loves the newest and fastest gadgets. However, he also recognizes the pros and cons of smart phones especially as it relates to young folks. Additionally, Brandon will update us on websites that are dangerous and inappropriate. We are again offering the open mic panel discussion for YOUR questions. REGISTER NOW! You do not want to miss this!

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The Challenge: Combat “BUSY”

busy    AAAGGHHH…..this one little word…my newest most UNFAVORITE word… has been the culprit of my absence as well as the angst of my family and friends’ lives.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this word in the past six months, I’d have a good stash for Christmas shopping! What is going on? Are we really that consumed? Is it an affirming word for our existence? A quick answer to explain why we’ve not called, come over, spoken to each other? Sadly…..I believe all of these or a combination is true.

A recent short video I saw on Facebook and posted to my timeline about a family too “busy” to see their elderly father at Christmas until they all received a notice that he died. All showed up at his door and on time. When he presented himself from around the corner, everyone’s face displayed shock….but thankfully, they were happy he was living and able to spend at least one more Christmas with them all.

I hear “busy” a lot and I’ve challenged myself NOT to say it when someone asks “How’ve you been, what’s been going on?”, and also to not let “busy” run my life. It’s become annoying, snarky, and the excuse of excuses. I know if I dropped dead right now or a loved family member or friend, schedules suddenly wouldn’t matter…you know it’s true for you all as well.

I speak about living the 3 R’s…Respect, Responsibility, & Reverence. I’ve added another to that speaking gig….REGRET. I do not want to live nor die with regret. None of us know when our moment will come. No second chances.

Family and friends….our God-given gifts to help us, love us, teach us, pray and play with us. Jump off the busy train, this is your challenge…stop using that word…for 30 days. Develop boundaries and priorities. Let not your last word to a loved one be, “I was just too darn busy.” God bless you, each and every one.

 

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.

Summer’s On!

It’s amazing how flexible time is….yet it never changes. It can feel anywhere from superspeed to snails-pace. Yet we know…tick, tick, tick…it’s always the same. God started the pace in creation with the sun and moon and man developed hours for measurement. Being a servant of the Lord lends me out to various needs and once the weather turned nice and people ventured out, the needs multiplied. The sensation of superspeed surrounds me.

I find myself immersed in many issues: People divorcing, fighting cancer, enduring difficult marriages, teen suicides…and the simple need to be heard. Compassion and an empathetic listening ear is soothing to many. They just want someone to care. I won’t even begin to mention what is going on in our country! Satan is truly on a rampage.

My speaking on Boundaries and the Power of Silence has been well-received and appreciated. Every day all day long, we make choices and if we do not have healthy boundaries, we set ourselves up for exhaustion, depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger.

We cannot control anyone else. We cannot expect others to like/want what we do. If we work hard at something and expect to be appreciated, we again have set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt.

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10        Oh blessed quiet with God!! Take the time God has blessed you with and spend some of it with Him. Ask him to prune off those behaviors in you that cause angst and discord. Stop gossiping. Build up, encourage. Invest time in being fruitful!

Blessings to you, dori:)

 

 

Stepfamily Rx Conference update

My brain in finally settling back down after the consuming details of wanting to present a successful day for the other speakers and attendees.

The biggest feedback was parenting issues and co-parenting issues. For stepdads…some questioned whether they might be falling in love with their stepchildren and focusing on them more than their own because of the split and occasional visitation days. This is a real concern for some!

For stepmoms, the same issues exist with having a clear understanding AND support of their role in the family. Biological parents set the boundaries and rules for their children and decide on discipline consequences, but many times, the stepmom is left with caring out the actions because she may be with the children and stepchildren more hours during the day. Children need to understand what roles the adults have and what roles they have. Being in control and “the boss of the house” is not in the rulebook for children.

For other couples, they’ve allowed the older children, aged about 10-13 years of age where they want to live with a residence change each year. What? One poor father said the month before the annual “decision”, he walks on broken glass wondering if his kids will feel he is “good or fun enough” to live with for the next year.

Adults need to set the parameters and rules for the best interests of the children. Yes, age appropriate children can determine which parent they want to reside with; but then there is a stipulated agreement wherein the other parent will get sufficient time for visitation. The stressed dad of the “annual decision” said he made a terrible mistake to agree to that arrangement.

Parenting today is much different than it was just a couple of decades ago. Spouses always come first under God in the marriage. Children always come first under the parents. Such a relatively simple concept, yet many adults/spouses want to tangle up the two definitions. Kids do not need pals….they need PARENTS. And parents should care about raising respectable, responsible, reverent children that know and love God. If you think “spoiling” them is benefiting them…you will need to keep them in your household the rest of your life, or follow them to every employer and explain to them why they need to continue the spoiling. NOT!

Take care, God bless you, and stay strong and consistent!