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….  ❤

The Boundary Behavior Police

Ok, so I just posted an article about boundaries. I had an epiphany yesterday during my prayer time as to what I had slunk into…..

On Monday March 16th, I decided I was going to stop giving my power to the tv. I drew a boundary. I realized this is what I was doing Monday through Friday: I would get up early in the morning, make coffee, pray, go down and watch the Golden Girls until 9:00. Then I’d go into my office and catch up on emails…then progress to FaceBook. Soon it was noon. Then I would fix myself a salad and watch the noon news. Then I’d go back to work. About 2:00, I’d see what Giada on Food Network was doing, then it was the Barefoot Contessa at 3:00, which took me to Jeopardy at 4:00. At 4:30 maybe I’d go back to work for a bit or I’d watch Entertainment Tonight. At 5:00 it was local news, at 5:30 national news. At 6:00 I’d go back to work until 6:30 and then it was time to watch Wheel of Fortune. At 6:30 I might go back to work for a bit and then back to tv to watch a movie, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, and then the Golden Girls again, falling asleep in my recliner until midnight. Then I’d go upstairs, wash my face, brush my teeth, waking myself up again so I had to read to get tired and fall asleep by 1:00 and then up at 6:00….to start all over again!

Yeah, now you know why I wrote about boundaries! 😉 I had convinced myself that my pseudo-retirement meant I had permission to squander my time while creating a more permanent dent in my recliner. Having a husband that works out of town all week provides unchecked freedom as well. So, I became sweetly aware that I can have fun and I do have the ability to come and go as I please. I did work hard for many years. But I also have a lot to give before I die and my tv certainly won’t speak on my legacy behalf!

I’ve dedicated this week to tv fasting…so far, so good! Detox and cleanse…ahhhh.

Blessings all…..

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….

Whatever Happened to Good Ol’ Visiting?

Although my recent article in the Eau Claire Journal does not pertain solely to stepfamilies, it certainly pertains to relationships. Take a moment, check it out, ponder how you can do more “visiting”….using eye contact and your presence. 🙂

http://www.eauclairejournal.com/news/story.phtml/61E990BF/local/what_happened_to_good_ol_visiting/

Blessings everyone and my prayer that this day be one in service to Jesus. ❤

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! ❤

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! ❤
nativity_sm

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.

Memories

Mom Pulse Bday frnds 2013Me n Mom PulseOctober has become a bittersweet month for me. My parent’s anniversary is the 9th, they would have been married 63 years this year. October 22nd (yesterday) was the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing, her funeral was on my husband’s birthday the 26th. October 10th was my mom-in-law’s birthday. She had her first stroke in 2012 in late September. Many visits to Dove West for a year. Bob and I took her out (via Abbey Van) last October, 2013, for her one and only social outing….a birthday party with her friends Kay, LaRea, Lorraine, and others. About a week and a half later, the second stroke on October 29, 2013, was her last and she passed to heaven on my birthday, November 4th. Even though this month is a month filled with memories of loss, it is also a month of remembering family and celebrating their lives.

Families and stepfamilies are critical components of our life’s journey. No matter how messy, how difficult, how enmeshed, how……anything, we are connected and intricately woven into each other’s lives. One thing we cannot stop and have absolutely no control over is time. As I’ve grown older and better, I embrace my relationships. I forgive much more easily and completely. I have lessened my expectations and take things less personally. I leave judgments to God.

I’ve discovered that I have control over me and that’s about it. 🙂 I pray daily, I seek God’s Word as often as I can, and certainly that’s not enough! I urge you to reach out to others in love if you can, and if you cannot, pray for them. We have no idea when we will be called home….or when a loved one will be called. And….don’t be afraid to tell those you love that you love them. One thing that is really hard to live with or die with….is regret.

God bless you. ❤