Are You Turning Away What’s Best for You? :: From Single Matters Magazine

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Sometimes what is familiar is not what’s best for us.

Maybe we grew up in a situation that we knew wasn’t healthy, or we’ve spent long periods of time in relationships we knew weren’t good for us. Maybe we’ve spent too much time around people we know are toxic, or been exposed to marriages that are more hurtful than loving.

Sometimes what is familiar to us is the exact opposite of what God intended.

And it’s people like us who are most likely to go back to the familiar, to talk ourselves into accepting what we shouldn’t, to ignore the red flags we seeing waving all around us … simply because our comfort zone is a broken place.

A sweet friend of mine recently said, “If God is taking you out of your comfort zone and you’re kicking and screaming, STOP. He’s trying to give you the desires of your heart.”

Read more at Single Matters Magazine . . .

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When Your Something Better is the Thing You Fear Most

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It was one of those days where everything was fine just 24 hours earlier. I blindly went along believing that life was finally settling down. That a new normal was just up ahead. That no matter what was happening around me; I would eventually get through the chaos and to the other side.

Until I received another family court notice in the mail. Another sign that my ex was determined to continue to make this road as difficult as possible. Just another reminder of how alone I was as a single mom.

And I realized that I was falling again.

Or maybe I should say failing again.

Because that’s what it felt like.

Read more at Searching for Moments with Lori Schumaker.

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When You Can’t Get Along With Your Ex:: From Single Matters Magazine

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In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as an Ex. People would love like they are meant to, marriages would thrive and love would win every time. But in the broken world we actually reside in, life throws punches. Sucker punches at times. And we find ourselves single and maneuvering our children through waters we never even wanted to dip our toes into.

In the beginning of this second season of singleness, we often have high hopes of how things will go. We’re all adults, after all. We can all place our differences aside for the sake of the children. We can be kind to one another for the sake of the children. We can respect one another moving forward, for the sake of the children.

Except when we can’t.

Read more at Single Matters Magazine . . .

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When a Christian Girl Breaks Bad (is she a Fraud?)

I’m a girl just like you.

I do my best to raise my children. To excel at my job. To take care of my home. To be a good friend, daughter, sister, and aunt.

I’m also a Christian.

For some reason, that last fact seems to trump everything else when I reach my breaking point of having enough.

Enough.

As if the things that happen in a Christian’s life should all be negated the day they break bad and lose their cool.

Just like happened to me a few days ago.

Maybe you know, or it’s more likely that you don’t, that I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years of my life living in fear. I’ve been stalked. And harassed. And berated on a daily basis. I’ve been humiliated. And lied about. And taunted. My property and the property of those I care about have been damaged. Other women in my life have been targeted. My children have suffered emotionally to no end.

All to show me that this other person wants to harm me more than they want anything else in their life:

More than they want a relationship with others who are close to me.

More than they want to be an upstanding person.

More than they want to stay on the right side of the law.

More than they want to move on from their past.

And yet, it seems to come as a surprise to some, that I would reach a breaking point. That I would fight back. That I would send a scathing, curse-word filled, message to this person on behalf of someone I love, simply trying to protect my child.

As I sat in court this week and heard of lawyers who laughed at my status as a Christian because of my behavior and choice of words in this message, as I watched them and the person who wants to harm me poke each other at the idea that I’m a fraud, as I listened to a DA imply that I was doing things out of sheer ridiculousness instead of actually trying to stop this person from harming me . . .

It stunned me.

As if there was anything left to be done to me that hasn’t already been done.

Because regardless of what I’m going through, and how I react, despite the lies being told, and the victim status I begrudgingly hold,

I am first, foremost, and always, a woman of God.

Even when I fail.

Even when I don’t feel like I am.

Even when my mind is so broken and fragmented in my circumstances that I can barely remember Him.

Even when I break bad and curse at my accusers.

And there’s nothing they can do to change that. No amount of poking fun at my expense. No amount of telling me I’m not a Christian because I’m not acting like a godly woman when I stand up for myself. No amount of shaming me, or scaring me, or threats to expose me will change that.

I am a woman of God.

And I cling to the fact that my God was a man of strength and character. A man who fought for those who were wronged. A man who showed his anger. A man who taught that his followers would all be mocked at his expense. A man who picked up those who made the most heinous mistakes in life, brushed them off, and asked them to follow Him anyway.

That He fights for me, when I can no longer gather the strength to fight for myself.

That He loves me no matter what I say or do.

That He is my biggest supporter as my accusers face me.

And, He is yours as well.

I know there are others whose faith has been questioned in an attempt to tear them down.

I know you’re out there in a boat beside me, riding through this hurricane as well.

You’ve reached out for help only to be shamed, or treated like a bothersome gnat, or simply ignored.

You’ve reached your breaking point, only to have your accusers then try to steal the last remaining thing you cling to in your life—your place alongside God.

And I see you, sweet friend.

God sees you as well.

So stand firm in the truth that He won’t back away like the others. He won’t believe the lies like the others. He won’t leave you in this mess like the others.

He is yours and you are His. No matter what.

Because we are women of God.

 

 

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Gathering Your Peeps: 3 Friends Single Moms Need :: from Single Matters Magazine

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The strongest friendships are born out of adversity.

There is so much comfort to be gained from someone who is going through the same things we are. I think that’s why it’s easier for children to make friends. At a young age, we all have the same basic life: school, family, play. As we grow older, of course, our lives veer away from what everyone else’s looks like, and our friends become fewer and farther between, based on where our lives take us.

A few years along this single mom path now, I’ve done a lot of thinking about why some friends can stick with single mothers during their greatest time of need, while others can’t. I really want to say “won’t” there. But honestly, we all have struggles in this life, and walking alongside a single mom is not for everyone.

When some of my friends fell by the wayside, I was shocked even though I’d been warned it would happen. Some left me heartsick, while others overwhelmed me with their love and support. The ones I thought would stick with me forever were the first to go, while the ones I least expected to be a part of my new life rose to the surface.

Read more at Single Matters Magazine . . .

 

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When You’ve Been Hurt by the Church: God is Bigger

I’m kind of a scaredy cat. Except that I have a really good game face.

I make all kinds of plans to do things that scare me, for the simple fact that curling up at home isn’t always good for me. And it was that exact kind of plan I made as I attended a women’s retreat this past weekend that was being led by friend I deeply respected and loved. I’d forced myself. I bought a plane ticket to a state I’d never been. I was going to be hitching rides with people I’d never met before. And I was seriously nervous, because—spoiler—I’m not great at making girlfriends.

The closer the retreat drew, the more reasons I came up with as to why I should just cancel. My friend would be crazy busy and probably wouldn’t even notice if I wasn’t there. I’d just gone through the roughest two years of my life. Only recently (at the urging of a sweet friend), I’d begun to come back out of hiding to participate in my community once again. It was hard to be around any people at all because of the way some had reacted toward me when my marriage fell apart. I’d become a recluse of sorts, and quite honestly, I liked it that way.

But, just as I’d pushed myself out into the world again, I had an aching (and by aching I mean painful and nauseous) feeling that God wanted me to put myself into this very large group of Christian women and ease into getting to know them. Honestly, I don’t like these kinds of things. At. All.

But, I forced myself. Thinking I could do it just once more, for my friend.

Then something amazing happened.

From the very beginning, every woman I met at this retreat was loving and gracious. I heard others comment more than once at how unbelievably kind and considerate this group of women were. I made myself talk to people. And add to conversations. And even share my story.

And can I just tell you something? We have a BIG God, girls.

The kind that leads you towards exactly what you need even when you are kicking and screaming away from it. Even when you are hiding under the bed to avoid it. Even when you are looking for every excuse under the sun not to accept it.

I sat around the lunch table one afternoon at the retreat and began to answer a question someone asked me. I can’t even remember who. And before I knew it, I’d spilled the beans. The ugly, stinky, what I felt like were disgusting beans that had become my life.

Then, I prepared for what I knew was coming: the reprimand.

Because in the previous two years, there wasn’t a single time I shared that in Christian circles without one person rising to the surface who made it clear that they couldn’t accept what I’d done by getting divorced. And in my mind, implying that God couldn’t either.

My face was so flushed, I could feel it burning. I literally held onto my chair. And then, the most beautiful thing happened . . .

They leaned in closer. They gathered with me. They cried. They asked about my children. I could see the genuine love and concern in their eyes. Without a single hint of anything else. And the kicker? They actually thanked me for giving them insight into what single motherhood looks like.

They thanked me.

At the end of my story, they offered to pray for me. The same girl who’d sat in church begging God to send godly women into my life, with none surfacing that would stick around the mess I was walking. We gathered hands, as I wept. Praying for me. For my children. For my ex.

It was a deeply healing experience that I know without a doubt God wanted for me. To show me that His church, while not perfect, is still full of people who love as He’s asked them to. With people who are able to look beyond the bias’ some hold, and see the person behind them. With people who genuinely want to help those whom God has brought before them.

And it was breathtaking. And beautiful. And unbelievable to this girl who hides from such things.

It made me rethink the pain I’ve experienced in the church. And begin to sort through the kindnesses and the unkindness’s. It made me want to look deeper into why single moms leave so often. And find a way to help the church understand what’s going on. And it made me want to tell all of you that your bad experience is not what God asked His people to do for you. That He wanted so much more, and wants you to rediscover that truth. To give His people another opportunity to show you where His heart really is in your loss. To show you that His people still care. That you matter to them.

And, most especially, to Him.

If only you’ll give them one more chance to show you.

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about living free. <3

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Single Moms: It’s Time to Move from the Back Pew to the Front

I started slinking into church. Avoiding.

The same church that I’d served in children’s and women’s ministry for years. The same church I’d attended Bible studies, and Bible classes. In a moment’s notice, my world had changed and I was filled with dread about how the people of my church would react. I knew what they thought about divorce. I’d heard the sermons. The comments. The suggestions about others who had gone before me.

I cried through those first services and wondered what people thought, even though most members I’d reached out to were completely supportive of my circumstances. Still, it seemed that eyes were always on me. So much so, that I found it difficult to concentrate on what I needed most at the moment: time with God.

For the first time in my life I thought about the single moms that came before me. I’d seen them slink in, avoiding. And I wondered if I’d been kind or judgmental.

The truth is that single moms leave the church in droves. In droves. According to Jennifer Maggio, founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, some studies suggest as many as 67% of single moms currently do not attend church – many citing fear of being judged as key. And while some will say that the church is not to be condemned when we are hurt by those in it and feel the need to leave, it still matters.

It matters.

Because not only is that mom leaving at a crucial time in her life, she is taking an average of 2 children with her. Children who have also suffered a devastating loss. Children who need to know about a Savior who hasn’t left them alone in this great sadness they are feeling over the change in their family.

If you’ve left the church as a single mom, or even changed churches, there is no condemnation. In fact, I’ll bet that in your specific circumstances, you should have left. Maybe leaving was the only way to keep your faith intact. To be able to leave the door open to returning someday.

God knows. He sees. He is more brokenhearted than anyone at the way you’ve suffered. At the way others have reacted. At the words said that have broken both of your hearts. He’s been sitting with you as you moved slowly to the back of the church, until one day, you simply stopped coming in at all.

Maybe your someday is now.

He longs for you to return. And not to the back pew.

He’s inviting you to the front. Where the focus is on Him. Where the looks fall behind you, and you no longer care about them. Back to worshiping Him. And fellowshipping with Him. And looking to Him to remind you of just how valuable you are to His church.

To bring back not only His daughter, but your sons and daughters as well. Because a time will come in your children’s lives that rock them to the core. They will be hurt by something or someone in the church. It’s almost as if it’s a part of the Christian walk, isn’t it? And in that moment, they need to remember a mother who put the pain aside, and chose to focus on her Savior instead. Who forgave, and forgot, so that she could move forward in Him.

This Sunday, you’ll find me in a pew, with my children beside me.

I hope you’ll join me there.

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about living free. <3

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Why You’re Settling for the Wrong Person :: From Single Matters Magazine

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It was our second date. And quite honestly, one date too many. As I sat across from this man I’d known only a couple of weeks, a million reasons crossed my mind as to why I shouldn’t be there. I’d just witnessed him making fun of someone. He talked non-stop about the other women he’d recently dated. He was arrogant. He complained about the menu choices. The prices. His job. The weather.

Then he reached for my hand and looked at me with the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. “You’re beautiful,” he said.

I started wondering if I was being too harsh. He could be really funny, after all. He had a good job. He was crazy about his children. He made me laugh. We had great conversations.

Read more at Single Matters Magazine . . . 

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Popping the Single Mom Bubble

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve been living in a bubble. In fact, if there were a way to place the largest bubble known to man around my home, car, and person at all times, I’d have already figured that out. And it would be bright pink, in case you’re wondering.

The truth is, this is something I’ve noticed about many single moms in my few years amongst them. This pulling back from life and living in our little bubbles of safety. Because whatever situation occurred that caused our marriages to end, most of us sat in shock and disbelief. Most of us had no intentions of being on this path. Most of us were stunned. And so we did the only thing we knew to do: we retreated from the world in hopes that it would make the pain stop.

Because the world hasn’t shown itself kind to single moms. Even parts of the world we happily lived in before. And so it seems logical, and safe, and really the only thing that makes any sense—this placing of the bubble around us.

But that’s not a good thing, sweet friends.

Because when something of this magnitude happens in your life, you likely realize that the life you were living was a shell of the one you thought you had. You were already accepting less. You just either couldn’t see it, or wouldn’t admit it. And by choosing to live in a bubble going forward, we’re not truly protecting ourselves from anyone or anything. We are simply accepting less than life has to offer. Less than what we were willing to accept before.

As if we needed less than the crumbs we were likely getting.

Now, let me say here, that there is a time for grieving. That’s not the bubble I’m talking about. You need to grieve your loss. Doing so is a good thing. It’s what prepares your heart to move on. But, once that season is over, you need to pop that bubble.

Because bubbles exist in a state of suspension. They float above life’s surface, unable to connect with anyone or anything. The surface is blurred and doesn’t allow things to be seen clearly. It’s at the mercy of the wind, and therefore has no real direction for moving forward.

And each of us deserves and needs to move forward toward living the life our earlier selves dreamed of. Did you know it’s still out there for the taking?

God hasn’t left us in this mess. He hasn’t forgotten His plans for us. He hasn’t witnessed what happened in our lives and decided that we can no longer have the good things He wanted to give.

Instead, He has grieved with us. No one has been more heartbroken than Him over what we have suffered. That we suffer still. No one has ached more as we cried. No one has risen up to protect us more quickly as we sat in fear. No one has held us closer as we begged to simply fade away. He’s been with us through it all, and wants us to come through it to the other side—outside of that bubble.

Because outside of that bubble is the life He planned all along. He’s not surprised by this turn of events in our lives. And He more than anyone wants us to know that it’s ok to live again. That we still have work He needs us to do.

That it’s ok to want more.

  • To make choices about how our new lives will be that may go against every choice we’ve made in our past.
  • To cut ties with those that no longer need to be in our lives, and find encouragers and supporters instead.
  • To choose pathways for our families that veer off from the path we were once on.
  • To rise to the occasion. To be who He has called us to be.

Just outside of that bubble, He wants to show us that His promises remain.

Hebrews 11:1 says,

“Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.”

Because faith takes risk. Faith takes courage. Faith takes stepping out of where we feel safe so that we can not only be served by others, but serve them in return.

So, let’s step out of our bubbles of safety, moms. Let’s put in our ear plugs as we place a collective pin into our bubbles. Let’s pull ourselves back into life with no fear of the past. But full of hope for the future that God has planned all along.

It’s where He wants you next. Living life to the fullest measure.

I’m ready. Are you?

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about living free. <3

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When the Waters are Deeper than You Thought They’d Be

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It felt like I’d just stepped into what I thought was a puddle, only to discover I was sinking below the surface. In my first days as a single mom, I was grasping to stay afloat. I looked everywhere for support and encouragement for single moms of faith—and found next to nothing.

And so I did what I’d been doing for the previous twelve years: I continued writing about my life and prayed that God would use me to encourage others, even when I felt I had nothing to give.

I was just . . . worn. You know?

My particular set of single mom problems built and built until I felt like the burden I carried would push me right under the water’s surface. I began to ease off of the things that I needed most. Like going to church, and reading my Bible, and reaching out to others who would support me in love. My faith was at a standstill—even as I continued to write about it. I felt like I was becoming two different people: the one who encouraged others, and the one who barely held enough hope to get her own self through her situation.

You see, I’d come to realize a new truth through my ministry. As story after story of others just like me whose attempts to move on past their battered marriages were met with discouragement. With people who had no real understanding. Who offered condemnation instead of hope. Who spoke of faith, while pointing out our lack. Of friends who’d chosen to step away. Of whispered rumors, and made up ones. Of emotional abuse and harassment: of sometimes them, and sometimes their children. A myriad of problems that no one would talk about, but most experienced. Alone.

It was the hidden norm. And the magnitude of it exhausted me.

And yet through it all, I kept telling myself that I’d chosen to step into these waters with Jesus. And because of that, even if I were to sit in a corner away from the world, in an attempt to hide from everyone including Him: He still wouldn’t leave me there alone.

That I AM would fight for me. It became my mantra, in fact.

And yet, I still just felt . . . worn.

Then somehow, and for no apparent reason at all, with the tiny bit of strength I had left, I reached out to a godly group of women on Facebook that I barely knew. Telling them the truth of my situation. The truth I’ve hidden because I didn’t want to speak badly of my ex for the sake of my children.

And a sweet friend replied:

“As I read your words, I’m imagining Jesus holding out his hand and saying, come with me. Just the next few steps. Just today. My yoke is easy.”

And as I read her words, I wept. Because it spoke to my heart of hearts. The broken one. The battered one. The one that felt like life would never move forward despite everything I was doing to heal and help those around me to do the same. The one that wondered that if Jesus came to me and held out His hand, would I be too weak to take it now and follow.

Too . . . worn.

And I felt a spark ignite in my heart, sweet friends, as I realized another truth:

The reality is that all any of us has to offer Jesus is the same:

The next step.

Just today.

And accepting that and taking His yoke in place of our own is really the only way any of us has enough weight lifted off of our shoulders to be able to balance back on our own two feet so that we can step forward. Even the tiniest of steps. Even the smallest easing back into the waters with Him.

Even though we’re worn.

And, so I’m taking His hand again. I’m coming out of my corner. I’m giving Him just today.

I pray you’ll join me.

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about living free. <3

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Posted in Prayer, Single Parenting | 8 Comments