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.
Many of you know I’m ready to put down roots in San Antonio so…the home buying process has begun!! One of my neighbors is selling her house & wanted me to look at it today. It’s a small 2br / 1 1/2 ba; living room with a fireplace & built ins; original wooden floors with ceramic tile in kitchen & bath; huge walk-in pantry; a bonus room; located on a corner lot with decent sized, well established shaded yard with some of my fav plants & trees. Favs as in crape myrtles; mountain laurel; desert willow; oak; pecan; bamboo; pittosporum; agave; prickly pear type cactus; purple jew; jasmine; firecracker plant; roses; privet hedge & more.That was just my quick glance inventory!
I think every room in the house was painted the colors I’ve used to paint past houses, especially my house in Libuse. Exact same colors! My neighbor is very artsy & eclectic. She did the coolest thing to the kitchen ceiling by hanging assorted vintage, various sized lamp shades across the entire ceiling. She wasn’t even taking them down!
The house desperately needs updating & the only major room is the kitchen. It actually had a fireplace that had been covered with sheetrock. I went gaga over that thought! Master bedroom & half bath needs to be resituated, but that’s an easy fix. Plenty of room on the enclosed front porch will accommodate that change. The roof is brand new & foundation was worked on last year. It’s built on a hill backing up to the railroad tracks meaning it’s low in the front & very high in the back. Also that the nearest back door neighbor is in the Alta Vista neighborhood across the tracks. She’s lived there 14 years; has always felt safe; knew all her neighbors & has moved a street over. That’s really what you want to hear. The City just upgraded the corner portion of the yard installing nice, textured, raised sidewalk entry points.
Here’s a kicker… the dryer was outside under the house & of course I had to see the back yard too! We walked down the outside stairs & underneath the bonus room where she opened a door that I thought was a utility room. She turned on a light & it was a regular storage type room & then the entire underneath of the house. I kinda freaked & froze in my tracks. It’s the same reaction I have to dark water in swimming pools. A stop-breathing kinda thing!! I explained the reason for my sudden halting; regained control of my emotions; took my phone; turned on my flashlight & it was very cool. Most of the beams/piers of the house were literally cedar trees cut to fit. Seriously original to the house & they’re still good! The actual enclosed room area was large & tall enough to finish out as a legitimate room. I immediately thought it’d be great storage for ferms! The rest of the underneath space was fair for quite a bit of distance & a workspace would be awesome. And….. it was the perfect dog space for fosters. They would be in their own condo protected from the elements! When we began walking back out, the dryer was situated under the back stairs, but there’s plenty of room to create a real laundry room upstairs.
You can already imagine that my creative senses were off the chart!! In my mind, I’ve already knocked down walls; uncovered the kitchen fireplace if for no other reason than to have a gorgeous textured wall; created a laundry room & pantry; repainted every room neutral colors; installed new ceilings; trimmed bamboo; put up Sven escape-proof privacy fencing & automatic opening entry gate……..
It’s technically a few minutes closer to work & definitely closer to the Pearl. But….. I wanted a property with income potential!
I definitely need to pray for God to show me His wisdom, guidance & direction. I’ll keep you updated!
Today is a bittersweet day.
Today a very sweet, funny, caring, loving friend is dancing with the angels.
Today my friend of 38+ yrs, Linda Marrie Cheveallier, has looked in the eyes of her Savior.
Oh the memories!! Raising our daughters together; sharing joint custody of a friend’s 2 small kids while she attended boot camp; attending a kazillion church services; hours of prayer and small group meetings in my home; cooking; having parties; family get togethers; struggles and much more. Through our friendship, I became even closer to one of her sisters, Kayline. I can’t even begin to say how beyond thankful I am of that.
Linda was big hearted and would do whatever she could to help anyone. Nothing was too small or large for her to contribute to. She didn’t let too much bother her and was often referred to as ”Scarlett O’Hara ” from Gone with the Wind, because everything could wait and be done tomorrow! Many, many years ago her next door neighbor had a garage sale. She knew I loved vintage leather suitcases and purchased one for me. Not only was it vintage, but her neighbor was the librarian from my elementary through junior high school days. Through the years and what seems like a thousand moves, the suitcase was always moved with me. She was tremendously thoughtful.
Years ago, during one of our girlie get togethers at our fav Mexican restaurant, El Reparo, we discussed peri-menopausal symptoms she was having. I begged her to have a thorough checkup and a hysterectomy if necessary. I know this is a controversial subject for some, but it changed my life, so I speak from experience. I can still remember the details like it was yesterday. Over time I’d inquire about how her symptoms were and what treatment she had chosen. I’m not certain if a pap smear had been done, but I know a hysterectomy was never an option.
Years later she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian /abdominal cancer. Would a thorough checkup have discovered this? Would a hysterectomy performed years before have prevented this? We can never know for sure. Only God knows the length of our days.
She fought valiantly through multiple surgeries, chemo, complications from diabetes, and more. Finally the doctors could do no more. Did we pray? Absolutely. Accepting that death is indeed an answer to prayer is a hard pill to swallow, but we have to believe His infinite mercy is compassion in the finest measure.
Anytime I thought of her poor prognosis it caused me to just cry without seconds notice. This was completely out of character for me. During my nursing career I’ve experienced hundreds of deaths. I’ve prayed with family members and over patients for God to show His mercy. Many times, death was an answer to prayer as death was kind by ending earthly suffering and misery. Out of character because Heaven is always in my view. Often I’d prayed prayers of salvation with my patients sometimes moments before death. Once I joined forces with a friend praying for a man in ICU who had such a debilitating stroke that all he could do was blink his eyes in agreement to prayer. His daughters literally broke down in tears when I shared the news. They had been concerned for many, many years over the state of his salvation. Again, out of character because coping with death is second nature to me.
These crying spells continued for several, several weeks and one morning, while getting ready for work, I received a beautiful attitude adjustment. Through the tears and prayers, the precious Holy Spirit enlightened my eyes and heart to see Linda would be accomplishing everything we believed in. I know that seems very simplistic for someone who claims to keep Heaven in their sights. All those years of praying, believing that Heaven is our reward and greatest accomplishment was going to happen for Linda. I immediately repented for being selfish. Yes selfish. Selfish about losing a friend and even though we hadn’t seen each other for a few years, she was one of my dearest friends. Selfish about feeling forlorn that she’s the first of my ”sisters” that was leaving. Selfish and maybe even a gut-wrenching, fearful, reality check because we’re so close in age, my own death was iminent. I became thankful. Thankful that we had amazing times through the good, bad & nightmarishly ugly. Yea, some events require inventing a new word!!! Thankful that through all the years, one constant remained…. seeing our Savior face to face was an ultimate desire. Thankful that my joyful friend was now laughing and finally enjoying immeasurable love, peace and eternal life.
I pray grace, peace and comfort over Linda’s children, who recently lost their dad to cancer and sadly, a day or so after Linda’s death, also lost their step-mother. Praying for her husband; her family and most of all her sisters, Mary and Kayline. Our pack has lost a member, but I am convinced we will be together again.
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. –Philippians 1:21