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.

brandon-nelson

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!

2016-halvo-speaking       2016-speaker-panel

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!

Co-parenting Panel at Stepfamily Rx Conference!

Co-parenting can be a tough challenge after any divorce and really difficult after a nasty divorce. However, it is the most important thing you can do for your children! They didn’t ask for the divorce (1) and (2) they love both of you, even if they say they don’t! Here are some quick tips: Children need the freedom and permission to love both of you. They should never be spies or messengers. Do not argue about the children in front of the children. Avoid harsh gossip or cruel words in front of the kids about your ex…which is their parent. Be civil with each other and share schedules often, update as needed. No secrets to control or manipulate.

The 3rd annual Stepfamily Rx Conference is coming to Peace Church in Eau Claire again! Call now to register and take advantage of EARLY BIRD pricing…715-834-2486.

In the afternoon, there will be a panel of six individuals who SUCCESSFULLY co-parent and you will have a chance to ask them your personal questions! Don’t miss this!

Here is the announcement video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBiwA8Nw8qY

 

Blessings….

Today’s WOW: Silence can be powerful.

Quiet image      Isn’t it great to have the last word? With your spouse, your kids, a friend, or on Facebook? I know I used to believe I had the best last word and I used that privilege often.

Not so much anymore. I have learned that in some situations, leaving someone else’s words “hang” in the air is more powerful than my adding to it. I’ve learned that silence can enhance my integrity and honor because in some instances, my response can lower me to the other person’s level. I’ve learned that I can learn something if I’m not always preparing a response.

Being a step-parent provides many opportunities to want to have that last word or to jump in with an opinion or chastisement. Today, practice taking the higher road. Ask God to help keep your lips closed, to help give you strength, endurance, and wisdom. Avoid gossip, avoid bashing the other parent or their household. Words can build someone up, but so can meaningful silence.

If you need to protect or defend yourself and it’s the right thing to do, then say what is necessary. However, I challenge you to seek the power of silence as often as you can and see what a difference it can make in your day.

“Do the right thing in the right way for the right reason.” God bless you~

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.”

 

Boundaries = A Step in the Right Direction

fence  I’ve been doing speaking gigs lately and have chosen “Boundaries” as a topic that works for all audiences. It is not something we habitually think about, but having good healthy boundaries in place is absolutely necessary. I have been seeing a real need lately as I facilitate Divorce Care at our church, and as I coach stepmoms. Most of these individuals have poor or non-existent boundaries.

Boundaries help define who we are and help keep us accountable for our behaviors. They help us remember we are only in control of ourselves. They are not walls, since God created us for relationship; boundaries need to open and close to protect us as well as allow good things in and good things out. Think of yourself surrounded by a fence with a gate.

Stepfamilies need to focus on additional boundaries because of previous histories, loyalties, and relationships. New and previous family members will require “boundary review and changes”. As my book title begins, “Everything Changes….”, indeed it does with a remarriage.

Stay tuned for additional boundary posts based on Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s books.

 

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.