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.

2018 Conf Spkr Group2018 Conf Dori spkg2018 Conf Brandon spkg2018 Conf MattErin spkg2018 Conf Dave spkg2018 Conf Krista spkg2018 Conf Kim spkg2018 Conf Panel spkg

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

 

Q.T.I.P.

It’s been difficult to come up with a topic to blog about because there have been so many life things that have popped up lately. Books, movies, calls and texts from stepcouples and divorced folks….so much to talk about!

In speaking with a counselor friend lately, we discussed the ups and downs of feelings. Feelings are extremely powerful and yet are temporary, unreliable, and ultimately can do great damage. Feelings include the depth and beauty of unconditional love to the precarious depths of rage. For me, my feelings are usually expressed in my eyes. One can see great love, happiness, sadness…and yes, anger. I’ve come to know myself very well….and that is with humility, honesty, and truth. Age has a way of doing that.

With that said, I know I have to monitor my feelings. I am easily hurt. I used to react more often without thinking, but that taught me lessons about the beauty of silence and patience. I’ve learned that like President Trump, no matter what I do, not everyone is going to like me. As a matter of fact, no matter what I do, there will be those that see “bad” in everything about me. It’s a journey of acceptance I continue to work on.

Broken to mended

QTIP = a good acronym for “quit taking it personally”. I will tell you it is one of the most challenging and difficult things to do. In family, with friends, spouses, kids, stepchildren….the mantra “one hurts those they love the most” is sadly very true. We all ache for love and kindness….respect and honor. There is a way, however, to work on not taking everything that happens to us personally.

I leave you with this…..a good book I am currently reading has a wonderful chapter on choices. I have embraced this word because it has made my life better. I live it and teach it. I understand no one can “MAKE” me happy, sad, angry, etc. Actions can cause my feelings to rise up, but then I can choose what I do with them. In my mind and heart, I can choose to not take things personally, to let go, drop it, stop it. And a big hint is to stop replaying a painful situation over and over and over in your head.

Today, I pray that you choose to live with gratitude, see all that God has blessed you with. Instead of choosing to think bad or negative thoughts about someone close to you, begin to look for and think about their good. Pray, talk to God, read Scripture, read good books. Stop watching so much television.

God bless America….it’s the greatest country on earth and we get to live here!

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!!

 

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.

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.

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.