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.”

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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:)

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 – Helping stepfamilies!

We had more registrations yesterday! StepfamilyRx is dedicated to and passionate about helping stepcouples not only survive but THRIVE.

Here is an important quote:

“People need to know that healthy stepfamilies break the generational cycle of divorce,” explains Ron Deal, head of FamilyLife Blended™. “They can be redemption centers for both children and adults, and they increase the likelihood that the next generation will follow God’s blueprints for the family. Supporting this work has generational impact.”

I met Ron Deal this spring. He is a gifted teacher and also focused on helping us stepfamilies. CALL THE CHURCH OFFICE 715-834-2486 (Eau Claire, WI) AND REGISTER!! God bless all stepfamilies!

2015 Stepfamily Rx Conference_April Final Flyer

Stepfamily Rx Conference – April 25th – Eau Claire, WI

You won’t want to miss this powerful information-packed conference! Exciting speakers with an array of information that will give everyone something to take home and use! Break-out sessions to meet and network with other couples and individuals! Call Peace Church BY April 15th for Early Bird pricing! 25% DISCOUNT!

Church Office to register: 715-834-2486

Email me at dori.pls@live.com for further information.

2015 Stepfamily Rx Conference_April Final Flyer

Are You Discipling Your Children and Step-Children?

This morning, Mark Halvorsen on WWIB radio interviewed Pastor Brian Cole and Jerry Carpenter, the grandfather of a boy who was driving fast and had an accident, killing himself and other teen passengers in 2012.

The conversation was rich in the Lord, speaking of woundedness, honesty, forgiveness, and MOST importantly….speaking to our young people about God and Jesus Christ. Pastor Brian read part of Psalm 78 wherein God is speaking to His chosen people, the Israelites, about teaching and preaching our Sovereign Creator to current and future generations. Verses 4 through 6:

We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.

Dads, stepdads, moms, stepmoms….are you teaching the children in your homes about Jesus Christ? Remember your words and teaching are important, but you will be doing more teaching by your EXAMPLE. Although we are not perfect (I’m certainly not), our actions as a way of life will speak for themselves. God bless everyone….  ❤

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….

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! ❤

Temptation

I apologize…… it’s been too long since my last post. I’m working on a new book for women contemplating marriage and becoming a stepmom, “So You Want to be a Stepmom!”. As I move through meeting new women and opening a dialogue about stepfamilies, I do not cease to be amazed in any group I’m in, how many women are or were stepmoms. My prayer and the Lord’s leading me has resulted in this next publication…not sure when I’ll get it completed! 🙂

Today, the word “temptation” moved into my mind. I stared on the meaning I found online:

temp·ta·tion     tem(p)ˈtāSH(ə)n/       noun

 a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.                        Synonyms: desire, urge, itch, impulse, inclination.
Whether in stepliving or any relationship, the desire to do or say something wrong or unwise crops up regularly. Personally, I fight it all the time. Our emotions and feelings rise up quickly and if not harnessed, they will control us and cause us to do things we eventually regret. The synonyms spoke to me as I pondered how many times I’ve fallen victim to those very behaviors.
My prayer for you and for me:
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
God’s warning:
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.”
                                              ***********************
During this Christ season, may you remain focused on the splendor and beauty of His love for you, His plan for life with Him eternally. We are here for such a brief period. Love each other, forgive ceaselessly, pray diligently.
Merry Blessed Christmas! ❤
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