We read a lot of ”share this” or ”copy & paste” posts on social media. Most of those I merely scroll through, but I actually took time to read this.
Holidays, as a single parent, used to present such a challenge to me. A year or so after my second divorce I purchased those Christmas cards where you inserted family pictures. That should date myself as pictures are the cards now! OK! Early 90’s!! Anyway…. when I purchased the cards, I told myself I would be able to send out a nice new family picture next Christmas. I packed & unpacked those cards for years repeating the same mantra. One year my daughter spouted off to me about it as if to say, ”why hasn’t this happened yet?” The struggle of being a single parent is difficult enough & knowing how much it affects our children makes it worse. My children are beautiful, amazing, determined young adults facing the challenges of the world for their own families. My daughter has recently experienced divorce & the unbelievable consequences. She has done so with humility & has heavily relied on the grace & strength of a loving Father.
My son has asked me, in wonder, several times how I ever managed on my own knowing I worked 3 jobs & did the best I could. Adulting101 was now a reality for him, but he & his beautiful wife are amazing. They figure things out together! Observing both of my kids lives & knowing at times what they’re feeling makes me want to rescue them. As an empty nester living on a non-profit income, this isn’t always possible. Aside from offering encouragement or some words of wisdom, from previous experiences, I’ve realized not being able to rescue is a good thing.
Being broken & discovering ourselves in the process doesn’t represent weakness. Bones break & once healed, are stronger. Broken, reinforced pottery, is stronger. I love the picture of the broken pottery filled with gold to represent the value isn’t lost.
The ”copy & paste” below seems long, but I love the story behind it. If you’re a single adult; single parent; empty nester; recently lost a loved one; just dreading the holidays or life in general, please be encouraged today. Even in your brokenness, you are loved, valuable, very important & never, ever alone. I pray you glean wisdom & strength from your experience. One day others may need your support. I wish you the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.
I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady and two kids behind me in the LONG line. One was a big kid, one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glowsticks and the baby was screaming for them so the Mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling, but them the bigger boy took it and the baby started screaming again. Just as the Mom was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glowstick and handed it back to the baby. As we walked outside at the same time, the baby noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said “I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it.” I almost ran because l could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you too show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.” That little baby was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glowstick around in the air because he didn’t understand what it was created to do which was “glow”. There are some people who will be content just “being” but some of us that God has chosen, we have to be “broken”. We have to get sick. We go through divorce. We have to bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child because, in those moments of desperation, God is breaking us but when the breaking is done, then we will be able to see the reason for which we were created.
Last night, after prayer time, this midnight conversation was in my head & heart, so I wanted to get it on paper today. Often times we talk about being Christ-like. What does that really look like? It’s beyond bumper stickers, crosses on our walls, working in church ministries, or speaking Christianese.
So many times people rush through life trying to hang on for dear life or climb to the top rung of the ladder & completely neglect the weightier matters. Matthew 23:23 defines this as justice, mercy & faithfulness. Many of our races to survive or succeed neglect most, if not all, of those. Some people feel being the best parent they can be; supporting their spouse in the most dedicated measure or simply being a good human is their life goal. Others believe that is degrading & are constantly striving for more. There should never be judgement from either category towards the other. The last time I noticed, what we choose to define personal happiness & purpose wasn’t a competition! And….it was just that…..personal.
During raw, emotional prayer time before God I realized & confessed to sounding so double minded it was if I had alternate personalities. I think I would give Sybil a run for her money. Yes, I just dated myself, but……. it’s OK! Being single for 23 yrs has presented a plethora of challenges; obstacles; unbelievable circumstances; tears; fears; anger; uncertainty; doubt; rejection; repetitive failures; defeat; victories; triumph; success; & miracles. The most important factor of all, faith in an unseen God who holds my future.
Numerous times I’ve prayed that I wanted a husband & other times I’ve been beyond happy not to risk having another possible heartache or having to answer to anyone for anything. My dog, Sven, is all the responsibility & accountability I want! Then I want someone else to make decisions because I’m tired of making them. But… what if he’s not making the right decisions?? What if he’s a worse procrastinator than I? What if…..
I clearly don’t need to be rescued, but sometimes want to be, but don’t want to appear weak or appear as a damsel in distress. Can someone just fill up my tank with gas & wash my car??? Or…..help me unload the groceries??? The simplest decisions & activities really suck sometimes. How can God answer any of my prayers when I’m so wishy-washy??? My pride or time honored independence totally creeps in wreaking havoc on my humility! I can just picture God probably scratching His head wondering, “What in the world does she really want?!?!?!?!” At any given moment He could be directing angels to act on my behalf only to have to call them back to wait…….. I’m so thankful He knows what’s best for me regardless of my fickle mindedness!
In 2009 I was sitting on my love seat petting & talking to Marshall, my son’s Cairn Terrier. The conversation with Marshall happened after talking to a friend having marital problems. I admitted to Marshall I didn’t want to deal with any of that stuff ever again. My life was complete & for that I was extremely thankful. If I felt the need to fill a void, all I needed was a dog! Marshall loved that idea! A dog would love me unconditionally; be happy when I returned home; make attempts to please me; offer emotional support; provide companionship; allow me to spoil them rotten; & most of all…..never question my loyalty to it. Perfect! Marshall proved all this while patiently & lovingly enjoying his time of being petted. Notice a pattern? There was more focus on me being happy with the current situation rather than waiting for someone else to make me happy.
Suddenly….. I had a stark revelation that, for the first time after being single 15 years, I was content in my state of singleness. It was a very painful, yet surreal moment. My best friend, Kayline would tell me, “You’ll find love when you’re not looking.” I used to become incensed that she would say that & finally asked her never to tell me that again. I was always looking for love! I loved the union of marriage. I immediately called Kayline to apologize & ask her to forgive me for being a tyrant when she’d mention that. I could honestly tell her I was content & not specifically looking. The morning after my stark revelation, on my way to church, I made a pact with God. If I could fulfill my purpose & complete my destiny as a single woman, then I would happily live the rest of my years contently single. If said purpose & destiny could only be completed joined with a husband, then I would trust God would direct our paths to meet. According to simple math, that was 8 yrs ago. I haven’t stopped pursuing my purpose or just sat around for a mate to suddenly appear. This reminds me of a famous quote:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt
What do I really want? Besides giving angels whiplash??? In this raw prayer time I determined exactly what I truly wanted. To leave a beautiful legacy just as Jesus did. To be servant minded; a cheerleader for the underdog; be civic minded within my community; love the unloving; participate in social justice; be present & involved more in with my loved ones; be supportive & influential to those walking the same path I’ve walked. To be sincerely Christ-like, not perfect. I simply want to leave a legacy. Like the words of one of my favorite Nicole C. Nordeman’s song…..
I want to leave a legacy, How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to you enough? To make a mark on things I want to leave an offering A child of mercy and grace Who blessed your name unapologetically And leave that kind of legacy.
Regardless of my state of contentment with my relationship status, when the time comes, I want to hear His voice welcoming me home. Simple. Clear. Precise. Decisive. Unwavering.
What does your raw prayer time look like? What have been some surreal moments for you? What type of legacy would you like to leave? Please share!
Happy Mother’s Day to YOU!! I love Bible Journaling (others, not mine!!) so I’m adding some of my favorite scripture passages for you! A couple may be the same scripture, but I love the different artistic concepts.
As a single mom of 23 yrs., now empty nester of 7, my heart always gravitates toward single mothers. I do admire & respect single dads equally, but afterall….I am female & this is Mother’s Day, so please don’t think I’m purposely leaving you guys out!! Each day has the potential to present rewards & challenges. Some days you are the best friend; confidant; coolest neighborhood hangout; the styling & profiling everyone’s favorite! Other days or often even within the same day you can be labeled as the hateful boundary maker; wicked witch; rude; mean; disinterested; uninvolved; clueless; old fashioned troll.
No one knows or comprehends the sacrifices made. Between juggling the finances of your one income; balancing the emotions of anxiety, stress, depression, or sanity; fighting with ex-spouses regarding child support & visitation; making sure food & everyday necessities are adequate; school uniforms & supplies are purchased; being the chaperone; nurse; teacher; coach; mentor; spiritual advocate; mediator; counselor; chef; handyman; lawn care provider; mechanic & let’s not forget……veterinarian. That sounds like a lot, but in all honesty, there’s probably some duties left out. Multiply all those tasks times the number of children one has & you’ve just taken multi-tasking to a whole nutha level.
I look back on my early days of being a single parent & can’t even fathom how my kids or I survived. The only way to describe it is, ”Except for Grace!” Once someone told me I functioned in a perpetual survival mode mentality & I guess they were right. In my eyes, it was far better than being a co-dependent; weak minded; vulnerable; victim who easily surrendered or cowered to the weight of responsibility. I’m not being judgemental of anyone, but this is a polar opposite description of what I was. I sincerely didn’t know any other way. I worked as a nurse & had four jobs. Add juggling four work schedules on top of all the duties listed above & I should’ve been a robot. Because I could make more money per hour by working options such as Per Diem, Float Pool or Agency, I chose this option over being a staff nurse in an attempt to make ends meet. I also worked some travel nurse & strike assignments out of state. Ends never seemed to meet, but… This also meant I had zero medical benefits & if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. My son developed asthma at fifteen months old. He was in & out of the hospital, often Pedi ICU for status asthmaticus attacks or pneumonia. Once divorced, making sure he always had meds & keeping him out of the hospital was the ultimate goal. His pediatrician used to lecture me on the lack of insurance benes, but he soon learned it was a futile attempt. He also learned & later appreciated that I knew every trigger, early onset warning signs of impending attacks & exactly what the best method of treatment was for him to quickly recover. When he got sick, taking off work to nurse him back to health always meant there’d be a reduction in income & jeopardizing my job security. None of that mattered. His health & well being was my number one responsibility. Add this to the ongoing list of dealing with school situations & honestly just typing this gives me a headache!! You see, not only was I a single parent, but I had no familial safety net because both of my parents were deceased. My daughter was eleven years older than my son & she was a fabulous resource. She was an amazing daughter, excellent student, teachers favorite, was taught household responsibilities at age nine & loved kids. She used to beg to not be the only child. Although he referred to her as the ”Drill Sargent” I can’t tell you how fortunate I was to have a brilliant; mature; responsible; reliable; low-maintenance; trustworthy child who didn’t add drama to our fragile world. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always her favorite thing to do & she often reminded me he wasn’t her son, but….Everyone pitches in & there’s sacrifice at every level. We were a family & that’s what families do. Now she’s a single mom & trust me, she’s in my daily prayers.
Fast forward to 2017 & the world has evolved exponentially adding even more pressure & responsibilities for single parents. Just the technological advancements & addition of social media alone has altered the single family nucleus significantly. Staring at tiny screens has replaced looking into the eyes of tiny faces. It’s supposed to help is stay in constant contact, but oh my goodness the drama!! Then….the changes, requirements & expectations within the educational system alone makes me dizzy. My grandkids are soaring, but to be honest, I’m so thankful to have all that behind me!
I’ve said this before & it bears repeating. The struggles I endured, whether self inflicted or just happenstance, made me who I am today. The lessons were often repeated until learned, but I grew from them. It is hard. It isn’t fair. It is lonely. It is sad. It is frustrating beyond measure. It is extremely & unbelievably exhausting. It is confusing. It is heartbreaking. It is sometimes moment by moment devastation. It is cruel. It will cause you to discover or develop layers of emotions you’ve never even dreamed could co-exist in one human. You can do it! It isn’t easy, but I can now tell you it’s worth it.
Many of my friends have watched their children succumb to various addictions; become involved in tumultuous affairs; develop relationships with the wrong influences; become estranged; never find themselves outside of their parents circle of provision; attempt to take their own lives or have even lost their children at an early age. I thank God on a daily basis for my family. Through all my mistakes, misunderstood tough love & some right decisions they are beyond amazing. I treasure & love spending time with them. I used to pray for God to at least let me live long enough to make sure they were alright. This was selfish & conceded because He’s the only one who could do that. I’m just an earthly guide. I can honestly say…. they are more than alright.
Some of my single parent friends have just experienced watching their children graduate from high school, begin college or even get married. It’s an entirely new season & portion of your journey. Take a deep breath, look at yourself in the mirror & say, ”Good job Mom!” Embrace the moments ahead & be thankful for every step. Please remember…. you are never alone.
Just a little background before I begin. Every year I participate in the Daniel Fast for the first twenty one days of the year as a first fruit offering to God for my new year. It’s been my practice for 13 years & I look forward to it. Not only does it give me clarity for important decisions & direction about things God wants for my life, but it forces me to exercise healthy eating discipline. This year I also participated in a weight loss challenge at work. I’ve purposely resisted the last three challenges, but decided it was time. Once my twenty one days of DF were completed, I chose to attempt the Autoimmune Protocol diet, or commonly known as AIP. This discipline was more toward eliminating constant neuromuscular pain rather than weight loss, but if that was a side effect, hey…. I wouldn’t mind. I determined two weeks would be enough & began the journey. The biggest hurdle was not to focus on what I couldn’t eat, but rather the lonnnnnng list of things I could have. I realize some foods trigger intestinal problems & that clearly wasn’t my problem, but nevertheless….. I was all in. Once I got past the first week, I decided two weeks wouldn’t nearly do my body justice. It’s like the book, Slight Edge says about the one donut not causing long term problems, but a donut a day over time would. I didn’t eat a donut a day or per week or month for that matter, but the foods I was ingesting, over time, led to the current problems I was having. Some, I felt, weren’t relative, but I was so wrong. Two weeks couldn’t begin to help in the measure I needed.
Yesterday I was talking with a coworker about how much better my body feels since being on AIP. I’ve just completed week five & will continue toward the suggested three month cycle.
How does this make me feel better?? Primarily I was in constant & continual neuromuscular or fibromyalgia type pain completely unrelieved by up to 2500 mg. of Naproxen Sodium daily. I say ”type pain” because I’ve never been clinically diagnosed, but as a nurse, I’ve treated hundreds of patients exhibiting fibro symptoms, so…. I know. The pain was so debilitating, I was to the point of asking my doctor to run tests & put me on meds. Those who know me know this was obviously affecting more than my muscles. It had affected my brain & thought processes because I’m the antichrist of Big Pharma & prefer natural alternative medicine.
My daily activities, primarily on weekends, were geared around how much walking or standing I would have to do. Shopping was virtually out of the question. My visits with my family were so anticipated because I miss them dearly, yet I had to psychologically prepare myself to endure the pain. How horrible! This constant pain began limiting my desire to do anything but stay at home, binge watch TV & that only made things worse. Inactivity only accentuated stiffness & pain, so it was a freaking vicious cycle. Yet…. my recliner won. Those who know me know I’m not a sloth!
Also…. I had developed this wheeze that only occurred when I reclined or went to bed. Again….being a nurse…..I was in the process of diagnosing this. I simply blamed it on being morbidly obese. That’s how the BMI chart defined my weight category. Well… last night I actually noticed it was completely gone. The only pain I have is caused from osteoarthritis, specifically in bilateral knees. The neuromuscular pain has been eliminated. I won the weight loss challenge in the most pounds lost category & am never hungry. Seriously I am satisfied by sticking to the allowed foods. I must confess I never gave up coffee & the only dairy product I allow is a reduced amount of half & half used in my coffee. I’ve mixed coconut cream with that, so technically I’m not ingesting the normal amounts I typically did. Trust me when I say my psyche had a fit with that adjustment because my coffee had to be a certain cream to coffee color, so…. it’s an ever bigger sacrifice than I expected. So worth it!
I am 56. I am even more consciously aware of the natural deterioration of the human body. I am also more consciously aware of mortality. Constant pain robs me of my zeal for life. I had to overcome the root cause. Even though I ate relatively healthy, some of those foods were greatly exacerbating my pain. I used to love the saying, ”nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Today I can say that’s only half true. Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels. I can’t wait to see how I feel after completing the third month.
If you’re struggling with any type of ailment, I strongly recommend AIP. Three months of my life to identify & eliminate triggers that cause me to feel absolutely horrible has been the greatest gift I’ve given myself. It’s totally not giving up anything, but gaining control & feeling better!
I have to share with you what I experienced last night. I began attending a new church in November 2014. I knew the moment I walked in the building I was home. There was a familiarity about it that just caused me to take a deep breath, exhale & smile. Since that first day, there hasn’t been a time that I’ve left unaffected. You have to understand….I’ve served in the local church faithfully since 1984. Now that I’ve totally dated myself, you can gather I’ve seen quite a few trends come & go. Real. That is what I’m gravitating toward now more than ever. Real people; real faith; real purpose; real motives; real love; real acceptance; real challenges to help me grow spiritually; real life; real humility; real servant leadership; real Jesus. Real. Now that I’ve typed that word so many times it looks like it’s spelled wrong!
Every week I find myself telling my daughter, “I’ve never heard that taught like that before!” or “OH MY GOSH!! I’m blown away finding out about yet another ministry they offer!” Seriously it’s like a new experience every week & yet at the same time, such a feeling of belonging. Hope that makes sense!
Last night is no different. There are sooooooooooo many connect groups to become a part of that every excuse for not developing relationships within the church body is completely annihilated! There is a group for women, named Journey. Within that group are options for different nights of the week or lunchtime meetings, prayer groups, & etc. Any of these choices promises to fulfill whatever you are searching for. They planned a combined meeting for all the groups to come together & it was awesome.
Actually…..it was my first time to go & what a time to pick! After praise & worship, four ladies were introduced. Normal ladies. When each began to give explain their ministry, I was awestruck. How is it possible for me to still be finding out about things to participate in or know what gifted talent is here? I’ll give just a summary of what they disclosed:
Lady #1- Founded Disciples 4 Christ Prison Outreach Ministry. She was incarcerated for 5 years & now the DOJ contacts her to hosts meetings & conferences across the state. She decided to offer hope to those who are walking in her shoes.
Lady #2- Published the book, God of all Comfort, describing the loss of two of her children within a few months apart. They already had a special needs child & this new grief experience was certainly overwhelming. Instead of this journey destroying her life, it changed it.
Lady #3 -For the past 15 years, along with her husband, has developed a ministry of devoting time & attention to pastors children. If you don’t think these relationships are vital & beyond priceless, talk to a PK.
Lady #4 – Corporate Executive who wanted to bridge the gap between the churched & unchurched. Created a YouTube presence called Real Issues. Real Jesus. She addresses common questions in normal, everyday terms while exposing the listener to the Bible.
These ladies were just the opening part of the meeting! As you may or may not know, I want to write two books. I felt so beyond empowered being surrounded by these phenomenal women! Each of them were so humble & simply began pursuing their purpose while walking through their valleys & finding their passion. Their obedience, however small it may have felt in the beginning, is an enormous act of faith for many women to emulate.
I could’ve left at that point & been full of courage & strength. Of course…there was more. The main speaker was a lady who grew up so intimidated she literally became beet red & broke out in hives while reciting her wedding vows. Her description of herself growing up was a fair complected, red haired, overweight, shy girl named Lucretia. Talk about having a complex! She felt like God had given her a story within this past year that she wanted to share with all the ladies. She is recently a widow & yet found strength to continue walking in what God is doing in her life. Amazing.
Her message was straight from Revelation 2: 12-17. I’ll give you the short of it! God edified & then chastened people from the church in Pergamum for partaking in the practice of the Nicolaitans. God hated the deeds of Nicolaitans. Strong words, but He hated, nonetheless. In essence, the Nicolaitans straddled Christianity & paganism. This rendered the people powerless preventing them from fulfilling their identity. He mentioned giving those who overcome a white stone with a name written on it that only He & that person will see. In that particular dispensation of time stones were used in the judicial system. White stones signified acquittal while black stones sentenced condemnation & guilt. Throughout the Bible you can find God changing the names of people. Those names are what He sees in them or anticipates who they’ll become. Many times people don’t know who they are or their true identity because they’ve been called everything else. We also tend to wear badges that identify seasons in our lives. Single, widowed, divorced, rejected, depressed, bitter, angry, forlorn, etc. Such badges lead to entitlement mentality in how we expect people to treat us. We are holding black stones. God doesn’t see us in that sense. As a child of God, He sees us through His son, Jesus. Acquitted. Black stones & badges prevent us from fully embracing who He’s called us to be & prevents us from elevating God to the place He belongs. God wants to do an exchange of stones & show us our new name.
Relationships can enable certain identities to mask who we really are. Even if we have left certain people or severed all relational ties, we are still “in bed” with those things that were spoken over us. We are an overcomer & God already calls us that.
At the beginning of the message we were handed black stones . At the end, we were encouraged to take our black stones & exchange them for a white stone of which had names written on them. The names were not visible, so we didn’t know what we were picking up. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the name I received was exactly what I needed to see. My daughter already had a name in her head & that was the exact name she picked up. Not only did the name mean something special, but it was a major confirmation that God is ever present in her life. From a mother’s perspective, it’s a huge blessing to see your child being well so taken care of & honored.
Here’s my name. Chosen. Of course you could say that’s nothing special! The Bible calls Christians a chosen generation or states how we haven’t chosen Him, but He’s chosen us, so….big deal. Well….I beg to differ. Lemme splain…..Being single now for 21 years & currently believing God for my husband to suddenly appear lets you get a glimpse of the rejection I combat feeling. Seeing friend after friend get married & microscopically picking myself apart as to what could really be wrong with me. I’m too picky with unrealistic expectations. I’m healthy, but not skinny. I’m middle aged. I’m not pretty enough. I’m whatever! Or…..what about applying for a new job only to get a rejection email the same exact day of this meeting. Of course…I’ve spread my net far, but….still. For more years than I dare admit I’ve quoted, “I am accepted in the Beloved.” Anytime anything attempts to separate my belief in how much I’m loved by the perfect Father, Husband, Friend I have in Jesus, I quickly remind myself of this. Getting the new name of “Chosen” takes that to a whole nutha level & was applicable in more areas than I dare to explain. Besides…..even if all those badges were non-existent, I still love the fact that out of all the people in the universe, God chose me. After all….I am His favorite daughter!
Whew……I mentioned loving my church for being real & I just word vomited my negative self talk. Trust me…..I have a mantra I repeat as often as necessary to combat any / all of those words. I refuse to become identified with them.
I encourage you to lose the black stones of guilt, condemnation, unworthiness, hopelessness, abandonment, rejection, low self esteem & confidence, deception, or whatever haunts your thoughts & see yourself acquitted. See yourself loved, forgiven, chosen, accepted, capable, beautiful, wonderful, gifted, talented, & etc. This blog was lengthy, but I’ve learned it’s times when I don’t share my “eureka” moments that someone could really use one of their own.