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!

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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

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~

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.

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.

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.

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! ❤