Tell Your Story Now:: (Giveaway)

It’s important to tell our stories.

There have been times during my last years as a single mother that I’ve wondered if I should speak out at all. If I had the right to do so. Or if it would hurt someone I didn’t intend to. Sometimes I wondered if it would be better to wait until I was through the deep water to encourage people from the other side. Or if I should bother to say anything at all to a society who seems to have their minds made up about who single moms are as a whole.

But in the beginning, when I couldn’t breathe from the grief that pulled me under, there was nothing out there for me. No wise words. No encouragement. Nothing from a Christian perspective that spoke the truth of what I was going through.

There was plenty from the world’s point of view telling me that it was “my time” to have fun, that my kids were resilient and would be fine, that I should “sow my oats”, and even use a few men along the way out of spite. It made me angry, and deeply sad that this is what women were being told. Women who desperately needed a friend.

I felt a calling to write about it. To speak about it. To tell the truth no matter how ugly, because there were others just like me who were drowning in grief and needed just the tiniest thing to hold onto to keep them afloat.

And so I did. And as I suspected, it’s not been without repercussions. But, along with those has also come deep gratitude from other Christian single moms who have reached out to me and thanked me for being their voice. Along with it has come a determination to encourage those whom everyone seems to shy away from. Along with it have come some beautiful friendships that I cherish deeply.

This past week I read a book that made me want to reach out to the author in the same way others have reached out to me. I wanted to thank her for being my voice. Sometimes the book you need isn’t the one you expected.

I found that to be true when my friend, Melinda Means, gave me a copy of her latest book, “Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting”. I read it mostly because she’s my friend and I knew parts of her story but wanted to know more. I had no idea that it would also be partly my story or that it would encourage me at a point in this journey where I feel lost in my faith and left by God and so many others.

There were so many parts of it that spoke to me that I literally had to create a notes page on my phone where I could write down the thoughts that flooded my mind. By reading her story, she began to make me see that not only am I not in this alone, but that now—right now in the midst of my pain—is the time to talk about it.

I hope you’ll read it too. So much so that I’m giving away a copy of it today on my Facebook page, The Christian Single Mom. If you leave a comment here or on that post, you’ll be in the running to receive a copy. I truly, truly, wish I could give each and every one of you a copy because I think you may find healing in the stories she tells of seven other women, their struggles, their hidden wounds, and how they found healing.

Trust me; you’ll connect with at least one—if not all—of them.

And I hope you’ll be encouraged to tell your story as well. To come out of hiding as soon as you’re able and to reach a hand back toward the next single mom in line. We all need each other to make it through this, to celebrate our families together, and to grow stronger as we heal through the encouragement and friendship that comes with community.

If you haven’t checked out our new online community for Christian single moms, I pray that you will. It’s new and a little clunky as I try to figure it all out, but I can tell God is moving there. It’s going to be something amazing.

Stop by Melinda’s blog to learn more about her journey, or grab your copy of this wonderfully encouraging book here. And don’t forget to stop by my fb page today for your chance to win a copy of your own.

invisible

 

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It’s Not Them. It’s You. :: From Single Matters Magazine

It's Not Them It's You

When I started online dating, it was fun — at first. I loved the sheer number of people who were also hoping to find love. I was fascinated by how people presented themselves. How they approached me. How they spent time getting to know me before meeting me. It was easy to log in during the down times of my day and chat with a friend. Or plan a date. Or simply flirt.

But as the weeks turned into months, I began to realize that while it was fun, I wasn’t using it the way I should. There was a lot of flirting going on with no real thought to the people behind the scenes. It seemed like a game to all of us — the new way things were done. Until I found myself completely sick of it in every possible way … just six months later.

It was then I realized something: It wasn’t them. It was me.

Read more at Single Matters Magazine . . . 

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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.

 

 

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

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

Gathering-Your-Peeps

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 . . .

 

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

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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

When-youre-settling-for-the-wrong-person

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 . . . 

Posted in Relationships, Single Matters Magazine, Single Parenting | 2 Comments