Why You Should Lose that Loving Feeling

Light  heart on rustic wooden background

Being alone can be one the most difficult things we face as single parents. For those who were previously married, the shock of being alone is often made worse by the unforeseen aftershocks of loneliness that sneak upon us and pounce when we least expect it. And while those of us with children in our daily mix may never actually be alone in the true sense of the word, the longing for the next relationship in our lives can be so strong, it can consume us at times.

I’ve battled this a lot over my time as a single parent. It rises up at my most vulnerable moments—especially when I’m struggling to maintain a positive relationship with my ex. Facing that failed relationship is often all it takes to make me want to go out and prove that a positive one is just as probable.

Most times, it feels like a weakness. A major flaw. This desperate need to be connected with someone else. It makes me feel like there’s an emptiness in my life now. Something that I need to work to fill.

But, putting ourselves into the next relationship can be the worst decision we make if we’re doing so to “fill” an area of our life that seems lacking.

We have to stay acutely aware during this season of single parenting that when we feel empty, and long to be filled, the enemy will step in to offer all sorts of things. Things that may not be good for us—or for our children.

And so as I often take this need to God, I’m reminded each time that if a new relationship is to be a part of my life, I want Him to lead through that. I don’t want to flitter into something that looks good on the outside if it’s not God’s will for my life.

The truth is that the most filling relationship we can have is with Him. The one who has loved us through this difficult season—and all the seasons before. And instead of viewing our emptiness with shame and allowing a deep longing to grow there, we need to turn to Him. To view it as an opportunity to be filled.

Because He longs to do that for us. To fill us so completely with the Holy Spirit, that we are in sync with His plan for our lives. That we can see what comes into our path and understand that though it may be tempting, it is not for us. So we can be healed from the inside-out so that when our time for relationship comes, we approach it from a position of strength because our time with Him has made us stronger.

When we allow that emptiness to focus on the next relationship on the horizon instead, we begin to overlook.

Overlook the red flags.

Overlook the comments of close friends and family.

Overlook the buzzer going off inside when questionable things arise.

And focus instead on the person we’ve just met. The one we have no history with. The one that we’re willing to believe anything about because it’s new and exciting, and there’s possibility . . .

Until we have a healthy—and steady—relationship with God in which we are leaning on Him, and asking Him to guide our steps, we need to push back that loving feeling for the simple fact that we’re not ready. Don’t let this be the one area of your life in which you ignore the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Because unless you put your next relationship in the proper perspective, you give it the power to destroy you. And as a single parent, you’re bringing your children along as well.

Instead, let those nudges be a driving force as you allow your Father to guide you gently through this new season. Ask Him to fill that longing.

Then open your heart to His possibilities.

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook!

Join me and other bloggers from around the world on Suzie Eller’s Live Free Thursday Link Up. Read more about being FILLED this week!

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Posted in Relationships, Single Parenting | 3 Comments

Dear Single Parent: It’s Not About You

Today I’m joining Proverbs 31 speaker, Suzie Eller, at her blog hop on Live Free Thursday.

Single Parent: It's Not About You

When I became a single parent, advice from outsiders seem to flow like water.

“It’s your chance to start over.”

“Don’t worry. Children are resilient. They’ll be fine.”

“You won’t be single long.”

“Use this time to have some fun.”

And while all of the comments were meant for good, and at the root, the people saying them were trying to be helpful, I began to notice a trend:

It was all about me.

It sent me back to a time thirty years before, when my own parent’s marriage fell apart and I was a child. At the age of 13, I soon realized that my opinion no longer mattered. That I would be told where to go, who to go with, where to live, and how to spend my holidays for the rest of my childhood. Quite honestly, it lasted longer than that.

I don’t remember anyone asking how I felt about it—without already having an answer they expected me to say.

No one seemed to care that I was in pain over the loss of my family. Instead, all of the adults were moving on, starting over, and having fun. All under the assumption, I’m sure, that my brothers and I were “resilient”. We’d be just fine.

Except that we weren’t.

And, it wasn’t the break-up of the family that crushed us. Because if the truth be told, I begged my mother to leave my father. It was a bad situation that none of us deserved to be in. It was what happened afterwards that changed me.

The loss of my voice.

The insignificance of my feelings.

The nonchalant attitude that all of the adults seemed to take around us. Nodding at each other as we continued to do well in school, and activities, and seemingly everything—as if to say, “See there, they are resilient. They haven’t missed it at all.”

They were wrong.

So. Very. Wrong.

So, as a newly single parent, I know one thing to be truer than anything else in my life:

It’s not about me.

This family that has fallen apart was not a family of one. This is not my time to throw caution to the wind and traipse through every dating opportunity as if I have something to prove. There are innocents involved.

And their voice matters to me.

Your children’s voices should matter to you too. Because your real role in this season of your life is to not only find healing, but to help your children find healing as well. To focus on them. To listen to them. To stop assuming things about them that are only true for yourself.

To see them as the unique individuals they are, with voices that yearn to rise up and be heard, so they know that their pain matters too. That their pain isn’t something to push gently to the side, but to be brought to the table, and talked about, and cried over.

It’s about them.

These incredible blessings that God has placed right in our very paths. That during overwhelming times can feel burdensome—because our own pain is so much. But, when we allow them a voice, we soon find that we are not alone in our pain. That there are others who feel it too. Just as deeply. And who long for healing just as we do.

When we allow our children a voice we might hear things we don’t want to hear. We might find pain in the words that come. It’s the very reason that so many of us would prefer not to ask them. But, we need to do it anyway. So they can see that despite what has happened, they are still the most important people in our lives. That they are still loved. That their pain matters. And that we want to help them heal.

Just as they were witnesses to their family falling apart, they’re still watching. To see if they matter. To see if their new version of family is still important to us. To see if we love them.

To see if it’s all about us, or them.

 

 

Stop by Suzie Eller’s blog today to read more Live Free Thursday posts!

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.

 

 

Posted in Motherhood, Single Parenting | 2 Comments

Why Closed Doors are Gifts – Guest Post by Lori Hatcher

Today’s post is from a gifted author and sweet friend, Lori Hatcher. Her newest devotional “Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time: Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women” is the perfect answer for single moms who are longing to connect with God, but short on time alone or quiet time in general. These devotionals not only speak truth and encouragement, but New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Kevin Leman, calls them “Real-life inspiration and candid wit. Powerful, five-minute devotions that will change your life.”

I’m so happy to introduce Lori to you today:

lori

Ever have a door slammed in your face?

Not just gently closed, but all-out slammed?

In no uncertain terms, it said, “You’re not welcome here. You don’t belong. We don’t want you.”

It hurts. Especially if that was the door you really, really wanted to walk through.
Perhaps you’ve prayed for months (or years) for a child, a husband, a promotion, an invitation. You picture your life with the object of your prayers and it looks GOOD. Fulfilling. Right.

But the doors. One after another. Like an Avon lady desperate to make her quota, you knock on one, then the next, each time hoping THIS is the one. The month. The man. The opportunity.

Sometimes one cracks open, and your heart lifts in hope. Sometimes a welcoming face or encouraging sign peeks out, and you begin to dream. Sometimes you actually extend a foot over the threshold, only to have your toes crushed by painful resistance.

As disappointing and discouraging as closed doors can be, deep down inside, like the silver lining in the cloud, there is great comfort in them.

Closed doors are gifts.

They are evidence that a loving God is ordering the circumstances of our lives for our good.

Here are five thoughts to bring perspective when you encounter a closed door:
 
1. God has a plan for your life and it is good. “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)

2. No good plan of God’s can be derailed. Job said, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

3. God can use what appears to be bad for good. Joseph is a classic example. Despite being kidnapped, envied by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, stripped of his job (and his robe), thrown in jail, and forgotten by a “friend,” God used Joseph to save his family and an entire nation. “You intended to harm me,” Joseph acknowledged, ”but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,” (Genesis 50:20).

4. There are no mistakes in the Kingdom. And though Romans 8:28 reminds us that “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose,” it’s important to read the companion verse to understand the full picture: ” For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (29). Much of what happens in our lives is less about God accomplishing something WITH us and more about accomplishing something IN us.

Oswald Chambers, in his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest, says this:

“The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us–‘I reckon on you for extreme service, with no complaining on your part and no explanation on Mine.’ God wants to use us as He used His own Son.”

5.  When God says “yes,” it’s because he loves us. When he says “no,” it’s because he loves us. This quote from O’Hallesby says it all. Because God loves us, he will open those doors we are to walk through and close those we should not.

Our job is to knock, pray, and trust.

What doors are you knocking on today? Which have remained closed?

Will you join me in saying to God, “I trust you, no matter what”?

 

 

This devotion is an excerpt from Lori Hatcher’s new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God is the nutrition women need to get through the day.

Lori knows what it’s like to be busy. And what it’s like to struggle to make time for God. Her passion is helping women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. A Yankee transplant living in Columbia, South Carolina, Lori uses her speaking and writing ministry to equip and empower women. She’d love to connect with you on her blog (www.LoriHatcher.com), on Facebook – Hungry For God, and Twitter @lorihatcher2.

 

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Adventures in Single Parent Holidays: Week 4: Hope

hopeThe days after Christmas can be some of the toughest for single parents. While a month of festive preparation can serve as a beautiful distraction, the realization that the holiday has passed can be a let-down of sorts. Of the realization that life is going to get back to normal. Because many of us aren’t entirely thrilled with our current normal. It’s not the one we wanted. Or prayed for. Or ever in our wildest dreams, hoped for.

But, I want to challenge you in this next week ahead. Because a New Year is upon us. A year that can fill you with dread, or a year that can fill you—and those around you—with hope.

For some of us, hope seems unattainable. I mean, of course we want to rest in that happy place where we can see good things up ahead. But, it seems fleeting. Like something we can’t seem to hang onto. If you feel that way, consider this:

Maybe it’s not hope you’re trying to hang onto at all.

Is your hope melancholy? Are you hanging onto the hopes you had in the past and lamenting the reasons they never happened?

Is your hope something you’re trying to force? Are you trying to cram what you think you want in life into a box you’re calling hope?

Is your hope too shy? Are you too scared to look forward for fear of changes that it might bring?

While we may all hope in these ways at times, hope is none of these things.

In fact, hope is one of the most powerful things in the world for a believer. Because our hope is not in us. It has nothing to do with us. Our hope is in a life-changer. A builder. A dreamer. An eternal optimist because he’s already seen the end and knows—knows—that what we are going through will lead us to something beyond what we would have asked for ourselves.

And though the struggle can be difficult, we are called to stay in it. To bear down with him, and do the hard work of healing and repair so that what comes out on the other side is exactly what he planned us to be.

Something more beautiful that we could have ever

hoped to be in this life.

Because we were willing to be changed. To put our former “hopes” aside, and instead give in to his hope for us.

Hope is more like trust. Like believing with all your heart that what lies ahead is better than what lies behind you. Not because we are especially good at managing our own lives, but because we’re terrible at it, and yet what lies ahead will still be great. Because it’s not us who runs this show called life.

God alone is in control.

And his plan for us is always better than anything we could plan for ourselves. Even when it doesn’t seem that way. Even when we think we’ve totally ruined it all. We’re looking at a small piece of the picture of our lives. We can’t see how all of these ripped pieces will one day fit back together like a beautiful old picture that’s been cracked with age, and wisdom, and a life well-lived.

And though the cracks will still be there, everyone who sees it will think it beautiful. Not only that, but they will be drawn to it in a way that they can’t explain and the closer they come, they’ll realize that the simple piece is even more beautiful than it would have been if it had never been torn.

Don’t you have a few pieces that are already beginning to form a picture? One that is somehow better—and more beautiful—than the shape it held before?

There’s nothing more beautiful to God than the broken. He’s not the God of the perfect—though he himself is perfect. He’s the God of the broken. Of the lovely mistakes that bring us to his feet. Of the hearts that ache, because the ache draws us nearer to him. Of the hearts that hope—even when hope seems fleeting.

Because he wants to show us that our hope is not wasted. That what we wait for, and pray for, and wait for some more—is what he wants to give us all along. A life of peace, and love, and joy. To be filled with hope that though our circumstances may seem torn, we trust in him that they are simply being shifted in order for his light to shine through us more effectively.

Not only in our lives, but in the lives of those around us.

To fill them with hope.

 

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on facebook!

 

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Adventures in Single Parent Holidays: Week 3: Joy

Christmas lights over dark blue backgroundWhen you are going through the end of a marriage, happiness seems a strange and beautiful thing. We watch others—as if in slow motion—as they continue on through the mundaneness of their lives and note the happy moments they may not even realize they are in. We remember how we took those for granted, and we wonder if we’ll ever have those moments again.

In our trolling of Facebook, we might happen upon a surprise marriage proposal, or a 30th wedding anniversary celebration and ache at the very sight of it all. Even if we don’t know the people involved, it can hurt. Because the separation and end of a marriage is a death of sorts. Of dreams we once held. Of believing that someone loved us deeply. Of looking forward to the next phase of life with another person whose known us intimately.

And it’s incredibly hard.

Even harder when we see our kids struggling through it too. In fact, it’s at that point that we most likely feel like a failure. That we’re selfish for choosing this path, even though we may know that God has led us here.

Why? Because as parents, we typically want one simple thing for our children: to be happy. And if we’re honest, we simply want the same for ourselves. And it may be that we’ve been in a position in recent years in which we walked away from the hope of ever being happy and instead chose to do our “duty” by staying in a broken marriage. Then, lamented the willing handing over of our happiness.

I’ve thought a lot about that. I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be happy again. I’ve wondered even more if my children will still be happy in their marriages someday. If, as we all look back on our lives, this will be the moment that broke our spirits. Or, the moment where we saw God move.

And in all that considering, and wondering, and thinking deeply, I’ve come to this conclusion:

Happiness doesn’t matter.

Because wishing for happiness for ourselves and our children is aiming too low. It’s like filling the spot God has held for something else in our lives with a substance that is lesser than. More importantly—I’m going to let you in on a little secret about God—he isn’t concerned with our happiness. That’s too small. Too fleeting.

He knows that his best isn’t happiness. Because what he has for us is so outrageous. So undaunted. So unbelievable, that it blows our minds to consider it.

Unwavering . . . joy.

And like most gifts from God, it’s never what we expect.

Joy can’t come from other people. It doesn’t fill us up when we’re given a compliment or complete a goal. It doesn’t make our heart leap when we see something we like, or feel accepted by others. It doesn’t have anything to do with who we are, where we are in life, or what we’re going through. Because it has nothing to do with our circumstances.

It makes no sense. At. All. Which, makes me understand why it fits so perfectly into my life right now.

Joy is like a found gift on our porch that we weren’t expecting to be there. Something that sneaks up on us and surprises us in our darkest moments. That despite what we’re going through, we still feel it deep inside.

Not only do we feel it, but it can be seen by others. Others who may comment how “happy” we look. Or, how much more relaxed we seem—even in our difficult time. And, we wonder at it too, and can’t believe it’s there.

But it’s there because we’ve chosen to give up. To surrender. To allow God to come into our broken hearts and transform them. To allow the creator of joy to give us what we can’t create for ourselves. And the closer we come to him, the more obedient we are to his leading and promptings, the more we experience his joy.

And that, sweet girls, is not only visible to everyone around us, but glorifies God. Which—the very thought of being a part of anything that glorifies God—fills us with more joy.

So, give in this season. Give up. Surrender.

Then, be prepared to have your hearts filled. Be on the lookout for those moments when you realize you are not only at peace with your life, but filled with unexplainable joy in the midst of a trial. That you are so filled with the spirit, that the overflowing of it inside you creates something much better than happiness:

Pure joy.

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.

 

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Adventures in Single Parent Holidays: Week 2: Love

Winter landscape,branches form a heart-shaped patternThere’s something about Christmas time that brings it out. After nearly a year of commercials that focus on every insignificant thing from potato chips to car wax, the holidays are suddenly a bombardment of the other kind of commercials: the happy couple kind. Couples riding on sleighs. Couples giving extravagant gifts. Couples madly, deeply, forever in love.

In many ways it feels like a poking of our wound. As if someone is trying to come into our homes and mock our loss. Even if we never had a relationship that looked anything like those couples. They can be painful to watch. And we can find ourselves longing to be those people.

It’s when these thoughts cross my mind that I’m brought back to one thing: the enemy is playing with my heart.

Remember what this season is about? A child. And a parent’s great love for that child. A love so outrageous that unbearable sacrifices were made so that the whole of the family could become stronger.

And while it’s tempting to look around and imagine all that we’re missing out on, our focus needs to turn to the love sitting before us, beside us, and possibly on our very laps—our children. Because this season offers a unique chance at healing that only comes once a year. Where children become front and center in our lives in tangible ways that have the potential to fill them up for the next twelve months. To love them extravagantly. To fill them with wonder, and hope. To teach them about love, and why Jesus was born, and how the expansion of our hearts during this time is really about him.

Because a tremendous amount of healing can come from a loving parent.

See, it’s no coincidence that the greatest mission of our lives lies right within the walls of our home. Nothing is more important than the building blocks we place in our children’s hearts as they grow. And despite the fact that everyone is rushing to tell us how resilient they are—they need a hero.

That hero can show up in a red suit with white fur and lavish them with gifts. Or, that hero can show up with bedhead and socks with holes in the toes, to snuggle in with them and help them work through their own pain in this season. Someone to step in and help them find healing, belonging, and hope.

Someone to simply love them.

We can be the type of parent who lets this failing of our marriage beat us down where we take on the role of victim and tell our story to anyone who will listen. Or we can do the incredibly hard work of moving on and approaching life differently in order to end at a better place. In order to bring our children to a better place.

Because while we’re busy stepping in and loving them through, God is doing the same for us. And a tremendous amount of healing can come from a loving parent.

He’s taking care of us during this season. Working every aspect of what we’re going through into something good. And while we may feel left behind, or even forgotten, we have to remember that we are still his children: looking at our lives and the world around us through the eyes of a child. Eyes that won’t fully mature until the day we come face-to-face with God. Children that have to lean into our parent at times, and let them hold us, and soothe us, and love on us like only a parent can.

Someone who sees us with the bedhead and torn socks—and thinks we’re precious. Someone who simply loves us.

 

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.

 

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Adventures in Single Parent Holidays: Week 1: Peace

When I became a single parent I was given one warning: the holidays would be a struggle. At first I was taken aback a little. I mean, of course I knew they would be a struggle, but to put it out there as if it was set in stone? Obviously they didn’t know I like a challenge.

See, I’m a firm believer that all life struggles are 5% what happens to you and 95% what you do with it. And, I know that no matter what I’m going through, God goes before me and behind me. Clearing the path, and catching me if I stumble.

So, I’m not having it. I’m not choking down that spoonful of self-pity. Instead, I’m taking the path I’ve chosen throughout this journey of single motherhood: the one that God’s walking with me. And I want you to do the same. We’re not only going to get through this holiday, but truly enjoy it. Cherish it even. And it all begins with our focus.

So, this month I’m focusing on a 4 week series of single parenting through the holidays with peace, love, joy, and hope.

As the holidays grow closer, I can see clearly up ahead. I know that there will be a lot of firsts for me: the first time I put together a tree alone, the first time I celebrate alone, the first time I will sit back on Christmas day and watch my kids play—alone. And while I might not actually be alone (because my kids are there, family will stop by, even my soon-to-be-ex will be involved), in my mind I could convince myself that I’m alone. But that would be something I’m choosing to believe, not a reality.

The truth is that I’m only as alone as I want to be. Because I’m only as close and connected to God as I want to be.

During those times when my life becomes hectic and I feel like I’m doing everything alone, I realize one thing: my focus has shifted off of God.

From the moment I wake up in the morning, I know where I stand with him. If I wake up with my mind racing, or I’m already worrying about something down the road, I know that I’ve moved too far away from him and my peacefulness is slipping.

It’s during those times that I have two choices:

  1. I can push past those feelings because I’m too busy to add another thing to my plate like prayer time, or Bible study, or even a conversation with God.
  2. I can push past whatever else is up next on my plate and make a conscious effort to focus on God instead.

If I choose #1 (which I have at times), life begins to feel panicked. Hopelessness can set in as I realize that I’m only living one day ahead of what needs to happen in my life. That I’m barely hanging in there emotionally at times.

But, if I choose #2, life begins to slow somehow. It doesn’t happen instantaneously, but in the coming days I’ll realize I’m sleeping better, and worrying less, and enjoying my children more.

Romans 8:6 says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

That’s a promise. When we make a conscious effort to choose against the grain—to push past what the world is shoving at us and instead reach toward God, he honors that. He joins us in those moments, thankful that we are reaching toward him. When we keep our focus on him, allowing him access to our deepest hurts and fears, he replaces them with not only peace—but life.

Obsession with our struggle leads to nowhere. It does nothing but encourage us to focus more and more on ourselves. But, putting our mind back on God leads to a freedom in our lives that can only come from him. A freedom that is not determined by our circumstances or our feelings.

But, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t have a pity party one minute, and then snap our attention back to God the next. We must make a conscious effort to keep him in the forefront of our mind.

So, as we enter into this holiday season, let’s cling fast to the Father who loves us. Because doing so will ensure that we are filled with peace this beautiful season. What better gift could we ask for?

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook!

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The Prayer Fail

pray_simply

About three months after I became a Christian, I came to work one September morning and sat in front of my computer watching the Twin Towers fall on MSNBC.com. I was supposed to be on a plane that day. But, I’d recently accepted a promotion that changed my customer base and so someone else took my place. Every other manager in our Design Department was in the air at the same time that planes all over the world were possible terror targets. Except me.

As we stood in clumps throughout the office, watching what we believed to be the beginning of the next World War, we were stunned. And terrified. And all I could think to do was thank God that I wasn’t on a plane. As we clamored for what to do next, my coworkers turned to me for guidance.

I knew two things:

  1. I desperately needed to get to my small daughter.
  2. I was going to let everyone go home to gather their families as well.

“You’re the only manager here today.” A voice said behind me as I turned to see our Office Manager standing in my doorway. “I think it would really help everyone if you could get us all together and say a prayer.”

My heart literally tightened. I shrank in fear at the thought of gathering 20 or more people from my office and spitting out incomprehensible thoughts that made no sense to anyone. I didn’t know how to pray. I hadn’t been told the rules yet. I mean, I’d literally just met Jesus a few months before. I wouldn’t be ready for prayer of that magnitude for years. Decades even.

“Um. Just tell everyone to pray at their desks,” I said.

Yes, I really said that.

And I shrank from God as He asked me to stand up. A pivotal point in everyone’s life that they would remember for the rest of their lives. It was our generations “moment”. One of those times that each of us would recall with great clarity, being able to list every single detail of the day.

I let fear rob me of that opportunity to shine light into one of the darkest days in history.

As I spent time with my family that night, I couldn’t get my missed prayer off of my mind. And in my sadness and disappointment in myself, I reached out to God the way I had since I was a child. That night, I said the only prayer I knew at that time:

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Guide and guard me through the night. And wake me with the morning light. Amen.

But as I lay there in the dark, repeating words that had become my regular nightly routine, I realized something: prayer wasn’t meant to be complicated. And this same prayer that carried me through difficulties in my childhood, the same prayer I prayed even when I didn’t know God, was powerful.

Because prayer should be simple.

And a simple prayer gets right to the heart of God.

We make it complicated when it doesn’t need to be.

We chase this idea of the perfect relationship with God, when the perfect relationship is only a conversation away. Our expectations of His expectations can throw us so far off the path that we’re afraid to even take the first step. When in reality, all He is hoping for is a simple conversation.

And when we can’t find the words? To simply join Him in silence, allowing our hearts to pour out to Him. Because even in those moments where we can’t find the words, He still hears what we are saying. Which also means that a simple prayer said with an honest heart has just as much meaning.

A simple conversation.

I still pray this every night. At the age of 43. And, I’m not kidding. There is something about it that connects me to my Father. It’s a nightly handing over of my life to Him. Something that is powerful to a girl whose daddy rejected her. Because her Father delights in hearing it.

So, just talk to Him, sweet friend.

He’s waiting to hear from you.

 

Want to hear more stories of simple prayer and the impact they can have in your life and in your relationship with God? Stop by the blog hop with Proverbs 31 speaker, Suzie Eller.

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Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.

 

Posted in Prayer | 3 Comments

Letting Your Children See the Ugly Side of Loss

Sad And Upset Woman Deep In ThoughtLoss of any kind is painful.

If I were to round up a group of my closest girlfriends, we could literally spend hours cataloguing the combined losses in recent years. I bet you could too. If you are a mom, dealing with loss can be complicated. Because in the middle of our ugliest ugly, sometimes we’ve glanced to our side, or down the hall, or around the corner to discover our sweet children watching us—waiting to see if we’re all going to make it through.

Sometimes we’ve held it together despite how we felt. And sometimes we’ve taken part in what can only be described as a glorious meltdown. You know, the one where we’re crying so hard we can’t catch our breath, and we’re talking gibberish, and flailing our arms, and slimy things start flowing from our faces.

Just me? Ahem.

It’s during these bouts of uncontrollable anguish—where I’ve typically hidden in the basement, or the nearest closet, or even my car—that I’ve struggled deeply with this question:

Should we let our children see our pain?

And while my inclination is to say “Yes, of course. We’re not robots.” The reality is that I’ve been where they are. I’ve been that child watching my mother struggle through the loss of a marriage. Through the crushing reality that her dream for her family has been shattered. I’ve watched my mother suffer hopeless, while those around her left her to struggle alone. And it’s a heartbreaking thing to witness as a child.

Heartbreaking.

And, so I’ve hidden everything I can from my own children because I never forget the simple truth that they are also in pain from the same loss. And yet, I’m beginning to think I’ve been wrong on this point.

As I’ve been travelling down this path of single motherhood—the one I NEVER wanted to go down—I’ve decided to let my kids in on a little secret: their mother is human. Yeah, it’s hard to believe. I mean, I rock a mean pot of spaghetti and can blow through ten loads of laundry without breaking a sweat.

But loss? It turns out I’ve had enough of it in my life.

And hiding how I feel? Well, I guess I’m over that too.

Because more than the fact that I want them to know their mother is healthy, and that we are all going to be okay, I want them to know this:

In my struggle, I turned to God, and he carried me through it.

I want them to see that despite the pain, and heartache, and desperation they may feel in their lives—if they ever experience loss beyond what they think they can handle—they can turn to Him as well. And He will carry them through it.

2 Corinthians 4: 7 says,

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

I want them to remember that in the broken days when they worried for me, when they comforted me, that they were not alone. Because inside of me—and each of them—was the remaining flicker of a light, that pushed me forward toward healing. A power that came from God.

And that it’s a power that heals.

And it lives in them as well.

 

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Single Parenting | 4 Comments

When You Stop Being Brave

It starts somewhere in our childhood. The first time we realize that we’re really scared. Maybe it’s sleeping without the nightlight for the first time. Or riding our bike without the training wheels. Or facing a bully alone.

Young pretty woman opening her shirt like a superhero. Super gir

We put on a brave face—because that’s what strong people do—and suffer through something alone and scared knowing that we must because our parent’s hand is just out of reach.

As we grow older, we perfect the skill. Through middle school when we feel like we have to say things we don’t want to say. Through high school when we’re pressured to do things we are certain we shouldn’t. And even through college and our first job when how we handle scary situations become part of our success or failure.

We hone our brave faces until they mold perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that we begin to forget they’re there and they become our fine that helps us through life’s painful moments.

  • When our marriage is falling apart and we tell everyone we’re fine because the pain is too much to talk about.
  • When our health is struggling and we tell everyone we’re fine so they won’t feel burdened by us.
  • When our financial situation is desperate and we tell everyone we’re fine so we don’t further embarrass ourselves.
  • When our children are struggling and we tell everyone we’re fine so we don’t let them know that we think parenting is really hard.

Until one day we just can’t lift the mask again. Our arms are suddenly incredibly weak, from years of holding it in place. We look around at those who would mock us (and maybe at some we know are mocking us) and decide that we don’t care what they think anymore. We’re sick to death of pretending and we let the mask drop.

Offering the rest of the world a look at what God already sees.

It’s in those moments of surrender—those broken moments where we feel we’re just a shell of who we once were—that He finds us most precious, and that we open ourselves up to a life that’s real. When we come to him with the same passion we had for pretending to be brave and instead admit that we’re scared to death—that we need Him to hold us—that we begin to feel again.

Because there is freedom in admitting we’re scared.

In a world that competes through social media, and friendships that can’t bear anything deeper than an excuse to get together and gossip, we’re masters of the brave face.

In a society where we agree with things we don’t believe for fear of being judged, and are scared to fight for things we do believe for fear of being outcasts, we’re masters of the brave face.

Until we begin to see it for what it really is:

Nothing more than a barrier between what we have and what we really want.

A mask that keeps a wall between us and the people in our lives that we wish would dig deeper. People that won’t know what we’re going through unless we let that mask drop. And allow them the chance to see us—possibly for the first time.

And there’s beauty in watching that mask fall. In seeing a friend give in so that God can have room to work. Beauty in seeing them realize that His hand is not so far away after all.

Ironically, that may be the bravest thing of all.

 

Want to hear other stories of women being brave? Stop by Proverbs31 Speaker, Suzie Eller’s, blog hop.

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Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on facebook to join the conversation!

Posted in Faith | 4 Comments