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….

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.

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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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.

Generosity in Stepliving

And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. (NIV)
At our church, we have finished up a series regarding generosity. I know you are probably thinking, “Oh, more money talk.” Yes, tithing is one of Scripture’s lessons, and money is important for the successful survival of a church; however money is not all that generosity is about. Generosity is also about our attitudes, and especially about our heart.
When I speak to stepcouples or stepmoms, I really try to hone in on what is going on in their hearts. If we serve our spouses and our families with a generous heart, the propensity for feeling “used or taken for granted” doesn’t grow at the speed it can if we give of ourselves while looking to get it back. Being generous is a learned behavior, it doesn’t come easy! It is not natural in our sinful flesh to wantonly give of ourselves to others, especially to a cranky spouse, a difficult marriage, or disrespectful stepchildren. I have to be among other God-loving and God-fearing Christians and married couples to be reminded that marriage is work.
But more importantly in the context of generosity, Jesus was the perfect example…He selflessly suffered and died for me and for you, on a rugged cross. Today, do something out of pure unconditional generosity for your spouse or child or stepchild, especially for the one having the most difficult day. It doesn’t matter their reaction, it matters that you gave of yourself with love and a pure heart.
Here is my daily mantra and reason for serving Him through serving others with love and generosity:

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
God bless your day! ❤