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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

suzie

 

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

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

bravesuzie

 

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The Blessing of This Home

Sometimes a blessing comes when you least expect it.

This last year has seen nothing but changes for my family. None of which I wanted. Most of which I went into kicking and screaming. Certainly not expecting to be blessed in.
Which is why this may be the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. This starting over for me, is not where I would have chosen to start over. But, it’s exactly where God chose.

livingroom

And it’s so much better than what I would have ever chosen for myself.

Isn’t that what a blessing is?

In the weak moments when all we feel like we can manage is the next step—which looks more like a slow dragging of our wounded feet—God’s favor comes from nowhere.

Like this house that feels more like home to me than anywhere I’ve ever lived. In my whole life. A house that means peace. And healing. And blessings for a girl who hasn’t felt like she deserved them.

And I just want to shout to the world that this is what God did for me. That it doesn’t logically make sense how this came to be, and yet it did. Because of Him.

The God who sees.

The God who provides.

The God who loves beyond our imagination.

The God who picks up the broken pieces of our lives and shows us how to rebuild, creating something beautiful in His eyes. Even when we can’t yet see the beauty of it all. Something more than we think we deserve.

And so I praise Him for the broken pieces. And for the blessings He gives us when we give in to him and give up everything we thought we held dear. Opening our hearts to Him in ways that seem so dangerous, and outrageous, that we fear we’ll never recover.

Because He won’t let us. Retreating back to the places of pain is never His intention for us. A “re-covering” of our pain so we can limp on through life is not good enough for the children He loves so deeply. He wants to give us His best.

Which is why this blessing is so precious to me. So beautiful. So perfect.

Just as He loves me. Just as He loves you.

 

 

Check out more blessings through today’s blog hop with Proverbs 31 Speaker, Suzie Eller.

blessing

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What I Hope They Remember: Life is Not a Selfie

Open book with hand drawn landscape on wooden deckA few years ago, a sweet friend of mine battled breast cancer. After a Stage 4 diagnosis, I was shocked at how quickly her life slipped from us even though she fought to the bitter end. She was so convinced that she would overcome it, that even her family believed she was improving and would be released from the hospital just two days before she died.

During those last weeks with her, someone mentioned to me that I should try to get her to write a letter to each of her children. It seemed so personal a thing to request of someone, and though she was my friend, our friendship wasn’t intimate enough to where I felt like I had the right to even suggest such a thing. I mean, this woman was a fighter. And even though I brought my laptop to her bedside, I couldn’t make myself ask her. I didn’t want to do anything that might suggest she wasn’t going to make it. Even when it became apparent that she wouldn’t.

It’s one of my many regrets in life.

For months after, I thought about the letters she might have written. Her funny way of thinking about things, and her deep love for her children. I worried about what she might have wanted them to remember. Words of wisdom she would have wanted to pass on. I became so consumed with it, that I even wrote a novel about a mother who leaves her daughter letters to read as an adult. It overwhelmed me to say the least.

Because of her, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to the idea of what I’d want my children to remember about me. I’ve often considered how the day-to-day duties as a mom can become so overwhelming that we get caught in the getting-it-done mode and often forget that the window we have with our children is a small one. A fleeting one.

Yes, I want them to remember that I stood by them through everything. Yes, I want them to remember the fun things we did together. And yes, I want them to remember the many ways I tried to make their birthdays special.

But, more than anything, I want them to know this about me:

For me, they were the dream.

Though they watched me chase things in life like my design career, my writing and speaking ministry, and even being a business owner, at the end of the day, none of that mattered to me as long as at the end of the day they were there.

They were my dream come true.

The dream I had as a child to be a mother. The dream of our lives together as I held each of them for the first time. The dream of the family I’d always wanted, and prayed for my entire life.

And in a society filled with selfies, and six-second video snapshots, and 140 character tweets that only promote the best side of everyone as if they were living a perfect dream life, I saw every single side of them: the lovely, the brokenhearted, the successes, and the failures—

And they were still the dream.

lifeisnotaselfie_cutoutBecause life is not a selfie. There is not time to pose, and repose, adjusting our lives to look just so, so that we can find the precise moment of perfection and display it to the world. Life can be a mess, with heartbreak, and disappointment, and highs and lows that happen so quickly that before we know it our babies have gone from 16 months to 16 years in the blink of an eye.

It’s more of a picture that exposes slowly. A bigger picture we’ve managed to capture that is so completely, outrageously, and deeply loved that we can look back and see that it was our dream come true. And though we could never even fathom a love like that, they gave it to us without even knowing what they were doing.

So, to my beautiful Saige, and my kind Knox, and my sweet Cullen: thank you for allowing me to live my dream. To expand my heart. To learn to love.

Want to hear other stories of moms and what they hope they’re remembered for? Check out the blog hop at Proverbs 31 Speaker, Suzie Eller’s blog.

suziepic_hopetheyremember_oct

 

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My Risk: Trusting God to Stick by Me When Others Ran Away

Free happy woman enjoying nature sunset. Freedom, happiness and

Today I’m linking up with my sweet friend, Suzie Eller of Proverbs 31 Ministries, to talk about taking risks in our lives. Make sure to follow the link below to discover more risktakers in faith. 

It felt like looking over a ledge I once visited in the mountains of North Carolina. As a teenager, I’d gone camping with a group of friends to Hanging Rock State Park. At the top of the trail, was a literal rock-and-a-hard-place. Two sheer cliffs if you asked me, that you had to climb between and wedge yourself into in order to reach the peak to see the best view. It was risky.

I remember being terrified as I approached those cliffs, but having to act like I wasn’t. I remember it being cold in between those rocks. And, I remember looking down as I climbed and thinking no one would be able to catch me if I lost my footing and fell. I did it out of fear, mostly, because after hiking to that point, I didn’t want to be left behind.

Near the top, you had to leap almost from one rock to the other in order to reach the final steps. If you closed your eyes, you risked falling. And so you had no choice but to go through it wide-eyed and scared, knowing that if you made it you’d be privy to the view that had become legendary. Even if standing on the edge of a cliff to witness it was almost as scary as the path that got you there.

Leaving my marriage felt much the same. Stuck between a rock-and-a-hard-place for years. Uncertain of what lay ahead and fearing falling back into where I’d come from as a child. Because where I’d come from was a train wreck. A family so broken by divorce that the pain still lingered as if it’d happened the day before. A father so angry at everyone involved, including the children, that he’d disowned me the day I got married for asking my step-father to also be a part of the ceremony. So broken that when my grandparents on that side of the family (whom I loved deeply) died, I was banned from their funerals.

My greatest fear—and single mission as a mother—was to avoid such a fate for my own family. And yet there I was—between two cliffs having to make a choice to leap to the other side and trust that God wouldn’t let me down. Not easy for a girl who’d learned early in life to trust no one. I felt like I was losing my grip, and that my children and I would surely plummet, hitting every painful crevice on the way down. It seemed out of control. And terrifying. And, more alone than I’d ever been.

I clung to God like I clung to life itself those first few months. And every movement felt fragile and small. Some days I couldn’t move at all. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t do anything, really, except cry to God. That’s when a friend suggested that I ask God for a life verse for this season of my life.

I’d never done such a thing before but at her urging I prayed and asked Him to give me something I would know immediately was His verse for me. As I read my Bible each morning, and came across verses through social media and other avenues, I wondered how on earth I’d even recognize it when it came to me. I mean, I was hanging on by a thread. Every verse I read seemed relevant and necessary in my life.

Until I came across:

“God is within her; She will not fall;” Psalm 46:5

And, you know that feeling you get sometimes in life, where your heart soars because someone has made it abundantly clear that they love you for you, and will always be there for you, and you get all squishy inside at the thought of finally—finally—being understood? Yeah. It felt just like that.

In the midst of this unexpected turn in my life. In the middle of my heartbreak over what me and my children were facing, God made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t climbing that rock alone. We were climbing it together. And God doesn’t fall.

And while moving forward—away from what I’d always thought my life would look like—seemed like the riskiest thing I could do, I knew it was where God wanted me to be. And just like the moment after I reached the peak of that cliff as a teenager and saw from that vantage point that the world was so pure. So beautiful. So simple. With crisp blue skies and treetops that sat so close to one another that they seemed more like rolling hills of green, and gold, and amber. I marveled at God’s vantage point of my life now and how he could love a girl who desperately needed to feel loved, in tangible ways.

Nearly a year into this journey, I realize how big a step that small leap was for me. It was risky in my mind. And how a girl who’d been disowned, and banned by her own family probably should’ve chosen to protect her heart instead. But, I’m thankful that I didn’t. That I jumped wide-eyed into the path that God pointed me toward even though it was the last thing I wanted in my life. Because it’s allowed me to trust Him completely. It’s made me stronger realizing that He won’t leave me in the hard places. And I cherish the fact that we’re climbing this peak together.

Because I understand the risk in climbing while you’re afraid. It’s where the very best views—not seen by everyone—can be revealed. And that those sometimes come at the end of a breathless climb toward the edge of something we fear the most. Because God is always ahead of me, and behind me. And for someone who learned to trust no one, I finally see there is One who is trustworthy.

I’ll take that risk again any day.

What about you? What risk is God asking you to take in your life?

risktaker

 #takearisk  #risktaker

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How to Make Mom Friends that Stick by You

Happy mother

It’s one of those little secrets about motherhood that people won’t tell you: making mom friends is hard. In fact, it can feel impossible at times. Years after leaving high school, moms often find themselves going through the same feelings they struggled with as a teenager: anxiety about fitting in, and feeling like there isn’t a “group” they want to be in anyway. The truth is, moms can be very competitive, and it’s difficult to find ones that are sincere.

The bad news? There are a lot of moms that are simply trying to be the queen bee.

The good news? There are a lot of moms just like you that want nothing more than a good girlfriend.

So, how do you find these gems?

Faith Matters

Moms of faith have an advantage in friendships: our hearts are similar. While you will certainly have friends that don’t share your faith, make sure you surround yourself with some that do. Approaching life with the same world view can remove a lot of barriers that exist in other relationships.

Start with Your Children’s Friends

You can learn a lot about moms through their kids. Since your children likely reflect your values, they will tend to make friends with kids who do as well. In turn, their parents will likely have qualities you admire in a friend. Start by looking at your children’s friend’s moms (say that three times, fast) to see if there is one that you wish you could get to know better. This is called improving your odds.

Wallflowers Should Rule the World

Let’s face it, the moms who aren’t tackling the teacher to get to bring the cupcakes on party day are typically the nicest ones in the room. While some moms long to befriend the cupcake-bearer (because she wields power?) it’s the moms who don’t get into the fray that can make the best friends. Why? They know how to avoid drama, Mama. Priceless in a friendship.

If You Want Something, Get it Yourself

Moms live by one hard and fast rule: doing it yourself guarantees it’s done right. This can become a problem in things such as housework where you need help, and showing a little grace can actually allow others to contribute. But, with friendship? It’s the answer, baby. To find a friend worth sticking by, you have to make the effort and take the first step.

So, don’t wait any longer! Find that mom that you’ve always admired and ask her to lunch. Maybe she’s the one who is friendly to everyone but doesn’t necessarily have a “mom-clique” (hint: she probably chooses not to be in one, just like you), or the mom who has mentioned getting together before, but the two of you never got around to it (social anxiety is real for many moms). Putting yourself out there is the first step to a lifelong mom friendship you’ll turn to again and again.

Looking for more mom insight? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thechristiansinglemom

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The Land of Not-Where-I-Want-to-Be

Open roadIt’s been nearly a year of taking a break. Of withdrawing from ministry, and blogging, and essentially life to heal the broken parts of me. It was not too long from this date one year ago that I realized my marriage was ending, and that I would soon be plunged into the land of Not-Where-I-Want-to-Be. I wanted the dream. The happy family. The loving husband. The growing old with someone I’d spent a life with. But instead, I was looking into the future in shock. Barely holding on as I faced my new reality.

It’s been a year of growth, and learning, and revelation. Of learning how much I can do that I never thought I would even attempt (can you say fix a washer/lawnmower/toilet? Woot!) Of realizing that there are people who really care deeply about me, and others I thought cared who have slipped out of sight. Of growing up abruptly as rumors flew through my small community and I had nothing to stand on but my integrity.

It’s been harder than I ever thought it would be. And yet, I’ve not done it alone. Beside me, behind me, and in front of me, God has been there holding my hand. And holding my children.

If you’re a single mom you know. You get it. And your heart probably breaks for me, just as mine does for you. There is no one that should have to go through this. And yet, here we are, nearly 16 million of us, struggling to raise more than 22 million children.

And it’s harder than we ever imagined.

But only nine months in as a single mom, I feel God leading me to help others walk this path as well. That seems ridiculous because I have no idea what I’m doing in this role. Except that I hear him whispering to me that I’m exactly the kind he uses for such a thing: someone who is willing, but doesn’t know how. Because that allows room. Room for him to work. For him to lead. For him to change me.

I don’t have to have all the answers on this path. Neither do you. In fact, we shouldn’t even try to. Instead, we need to follow his lead. To leave margin for Him. To pull up the roots that have been our lives even if it knocks us on our rear because it’s time to start with fresh soil.

A new beginning.

And so I step out, knowing that the things I dread most in life are always the things that God uses. The most painful moments in my life become the most beautiful in his story. I hope you’ll join me here and at my new Facebook page for single moms of faith: https://www.facebook.com/thechristiansinglemom

Sweet Blessings,

Laura

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