Stop Counting Us Out

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Lately, the stats and comments about kids of single moms are coming at me from every direction. What happens to kids of single moms once they become teenagers. Oh, another promiscuous teenage girl. Must be the child of a single mom. And today, a blog post by a well-known blogger saying maybe that shooting happened because he was the child of a single mom.

And I have had enough.

Did you notice that Cain had two parents present? And that he still killed his brother? Having two parents is no guarantee that a child is never going to make a bad decision. I once sat in the living room of a family with both parents in one home and heard them say, in front of their children, that they weren’t ready for kids and wished their kids hadn’t been born yet. Is that really better than one parent who loves unconditionally??

Yes, I believe the ideal that God planned is a mom and a dad living in a home with their children. Raising them together to walk with Christ. But we live in a broken world and it broke a long time ago in a Garden.

So what do we do now? Are we expected to just give up? Is my child at a major disadvantage because she is being raised by a single mom? The world seems to be counting her out.

And I have had enough.

I believe the HOW of parenting is more important than the “how many”.

My daughter is loved beyond measure. I pour my life into her every day. I point her to Christ constantly. And I know so many single moms who do the same. Who pour themselves out day after day for their kiddos. Who do anything and everything possible for their kids. And yes, we know the stats. And we live with the fear. We are only too aware of the dangers that our kids face. But rather than count our kids out and remind us of the struggles they face, or, for goodness sake, suggesting that someone went on a shooting rampage because they were from a single parent home, maybe you could try encouraging us and our kids.

Be the one who notices the great things in our kids and compliments them. Be the one who reaches out and becomes another great role model for our kids. Be the godly man who makes a point of talking to our kids at church and making them know they are valued. Be the one who tells us our kids are going to be ok because they are covered in the blood of Christ. Be the one to remind us that the past does not define us.

I know a lot of single moms. Many of them need to hear this…

YOU can be the one to change the tides. No matter what has happened in your past, no matter if your kids have their dads in their lives or not, your kids are not counted out. God does not look at your kids and see someone more broken than the rest of the world. God sees you. He sees you when you pray over your kids before school. He sees you spending every ounce of your energy to support your kids financially, emotionally and spiritually. And He is cheering you on. He loves you and He loves your kids more than you can even imagine. HE can make up the what we lack. And He will. Just ask Him.

So World? Don’t count us out. God certainly doesn’t.

 

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5


However Long

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So. I’ve been a single mom for 5 years now.

I survived those first few months, on my knees, constantly asking God for strength.

I survived the first couple of years. Grieving the loss of my marriage. Healing from the brokenness. Slowly being redeemed through all of it.

And I finally reached the point where the pain lessened and the days became easier. I stopped struggling so much and believed that we were in a good place. Not ideal, not what I had planned, but we were thriving.

Except for one thing.

I still found myself waiting for a husband. Not consciously. But I guess it was always hiding just beneath my thoughts. I felt like I had proven myself. I had overcome the (seemingly) impossible. I could support us; we were healthy and safe and happy. Now the trial could end and God could send someone to finish redeeming our situation. That we did great, so now this season can end.

Until I heard Jill Briscoe speak a few weeks ago. We were studying James 1.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3

And she said in trials we often ask God, “How Long?”

How long will I be sick? How long will I be hungry? How long will I be alone? How long will I suffer?

 

When what we should be saying is:

However long.

However long, Lord.

However long You want me here. However long it takes. However long it brings You glory.

That’s where true submission is. Not just enduring the trial, and waiting for it to be over. But telling God, honestly, “However long you want to keep me here, I am willing to be in this trial for Your sake. For Your glory. For You to be lifted up and exalted. For Your will to be done.”

Even Jesus asked for the trial to be taken from him. But He stayed in submission.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. Matthew 26:39

I may be a single mom for the rest of my life. And if that is God’s will for me, I’m ok with that. Not what I would have chosen, but the only place I want to be is in the center of His will.

I may always have days where I ask for this to end. But I pray I always remember her words as they echo in my mind now.

However long, Lord. However long.


He Will Wipe Every Tear

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I’m a crier. I wear my heart on my sleeve. For years I tried to stop that, but it’s how I was made. A giraffe can’t take off its spots and I can’t change who I am. And it’s getting worse.

It seems that God has softened my heart even more with all we have gone through in the last few years. Softened my heart for Him. Softened my heart for others who are in pain. Softened my heart for worship.

So, I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine and tears started slipping down my cheeks. I was hurting and sharing it with someone who truly understood. I have apologized to her in the past for crying and she stops me. Tells me it’s ok. Tells me it’s healthy. Tells me it’s healing.

Not this time. This time she wiped my tears.

I don’t know how long it’s been since someone wiped your tears. It’s not a common thing we do for each other. A mom for a kid? Yes. But that’s about it. I was so moved by that gesture. It impressed on me how much she understands and cares.

Then yesterday, I was reading Revelation. The first 90% of it is pretty scary. Earthquakes that shake mountains into nothing, seas and rivers turning to blood, awful plagues that overwhelm the earth. Not pretty.

Until I got to chapter 21.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV Revelation 21:1-4

He will wipe every tear.

I remembered that there will be no more crying in heaven. I’ve heard that a thousand times. But as I had so recently had someone wipe my tears, the intimacy of this moment etched itself on my heart. God, who will send plagues and destruction and will have a battle with Satan and all of his forces, will then come to be with me. To live with me.

To wipe my tears and make all things new.


The List

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It’s official. We have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”. We have been through 7 months of interviews and paperwork and approvals and fingerprints and government seals. And we are finally on the list. The elusive list of waiting families who have conquered a mountain of paperwork are rewarded with. The list that lets us take a break from paperwork (for the time being). The list that lets us rest in the goodness of God and how He has already brought us this far.

Now we get to wait. We get to plan and prepare. We get to dream about the day our little one is finally home with us. We won’t know her name or see her precious face possibly for many months. But we have overcome such hurdles already.

My daughter and I climbed a mountain together when she was 5. I can hardly believe we made it, but we did. Clingman’s Dome in Smoky Mountain National Park. It was a long, hard climb. And we took many breaks. We would catch our breath for a few moments, look at the road we had already traveled, then look ahead at where we were going. And we would start climbing again. It was so important to me that we make it to the top.

ClingmansDome

And we finally did. We took pictures. We laughed. We cheered. The view was great, but the best part was really accomplishing it together.

So here we are with another mountain to climb. We have been walking diligently, faithfully. We have made amazing progress and can look back at the path we have covered so far and how God has walked with us every step of the way. And we get to look ahead to the great adventure before us, knowing He will continue to be with us, every step of the way.

But for the moment, we get to rest and celebrate.


For Days Like This

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You know those days when everything is hard? The days when the cavities come and water runs down the walls and ice covers the inside of the door and the job that was supposed to start keeps getting delayed and it’s way too cold to go out and the past keeps jumping up and making you feel like a failure?

Yeah. Those days.

The days it’s hard to do it all on your own. To know that no one else is around to pay the bills while you dry the tears. The day the wall cracks and you just move the furniture away from it, for lack of anything else to do.

Those are the days you have to hang on the hardest. Fight through it. Even when you feel you have no fight left. You can do this. I am talking to each and every mom sitting in front of her screen right now, exhausted at the end of another day and wondering when it will get better. I know when it will get better.

Right now.

The moment we choose to focus on Jesus, not on our surroundings. The moment we pull ourselves out of it, just enough to grab our Bibles. And read:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31

“This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: Forget the former things; do not
dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and
streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:16-19

That’s God’s promise to you. And to me. He is doing a new thing. He can and will create streams in our wasteland. Streams to refresh and renew and give us abundant life. Life in Him.

So next time you are at the end of your rope, grab your Bible and hold on. Read God’s promises. He wrote them for you. He wrote them for days like this.


I’ve Got You

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My daughter and I were watching Cousins Undercover the other night. The cousins fixed up the house of a man, a teacher who has impacted so very many lives. So many of his friends and family and students were there to help with the work.

When they were showing him the finished house, his dad was there and at one point, someone’s microphone caught him quietly say, “I’ve got you” to his 30 year old son. It was such a beautiful moment. And I am so glad they didn’t cut it.

I’ve got you. I am holding on to you and you will be ok. I am your parent and I will always be here for you. That’s what our kids need to hear. They need to know that no matter what happens in life, we have them. When they have horrible days and don’t know why. When they are ornery or happy or mad or sad or joyful. We have them. WE are the ones who will never let go. Never walk away.

And it’s what God says to us. I’ve Got You. The great I AM has you. And me. He’ll never let go. Once you are His, you are His forever. No matter what. And I believe He is there beside us in our best moments and in our hardest moments, whispering, “I’ve got you”.


Crazy for my kid

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“In order to develop normally, a child requires activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with the child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last, and always.” –Urie Bronfenbrenner (co-founder of Head-Start)

What a beautiful idea. One of the best things we can do for our kids is be absolutely crazy about them. Celebrate them. Let them know how very special they are. Notice when they get it just right. Encourage them when they don’t. Help them find their talents and develop them. Remind them daily that we are their biggest fans.

Yesterday, my daughter had a difficult incident with her best friend at school. The girl found something my daughter had lost and wouldn’t give it back. My daughter was very upset and angry with her friend. When she got home, she asked to go to her room to deal with it. She disappeared into her room for about 20 minutes then came out and got a hug. She asked to watch her favorite movie and later worked on lots of crafts. Throughout the evening she would mention that she was sad about what her friend had done.

I was amazed. She handled that so much better than I would have ever guessed a 7 year old could. What a victory to be faced with a hard lesson and to handle it with grace and calm. When she told me she was sad about it, I made sure to tell her what an amazing job she had done in handling it.

Then I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the glitter creations she was making.

Sometimes being crazy about her means I celebrate her creativity. Sometimes it mean complimenting her on great choices. Sometimes it’s letting her chase me around the house playing one of our games. Sometimes it’s doing an incredibly silly dance to celebrate a moment.

Sometimes, it’s cheering because our living room carpet is now sparkly.

Whatever form it takes, my kid knows I am crazy about her. No matter what happens in her life, she will always know that her mom is crazy about her. It’s a beautiful thing.


Standing in the Gap Day

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Just so you know, I am ridiculous about remembering dates. Not that I necessarily remember to send birthday cards (sorry!), but actual dates that things happened in my life don’t tend to leave my head.

April 9, 1991 – Our first date

Easter morning, 2000 – woke to the news that my Grandma had died

November 24, 2000 – My dad died

March 1, 2003 – lost my first child to miscarriage

AUGUST 22, 2006 – MY BABY GIRL ARRIVED!

March 2009 – lost my second child to miscarriage

October 18, 2009 – my husband left

Hmmm. Yup. 4 years ago today. It’s amazing the perspective shift that can happen in four years. At times, I am still sad about it. It’s still not what I wanted. But the pain isn’t anywhere near as deep.

I remember a story I heard in church after he left. (if I’ve told you this before, please humor me!)

A man was stuck on a desert island. He had nothing but the clothes on his back. He lived off the land and worked hard to build himself a hut with what nature on the island had provided. He worked and worked and worked. It’s a lot of work to build a hut by yourself. The day after he finished building it, he was fishing on the beach and looked back towards his hut. It was completely engulfed in flames. He was distraught. All his work. His only worldly possession, completely destroyed. He couldn’t take any more and was ready to give up.

Several hours later, a massive ship appeared on the horizon. When they got him on board, he asked how they knew he was there. They told him they saw his smoke signal.

The very thing that threatened to tear him apart and destroy all hope was the very thing that delivered him.

Sometimes our lives are the same. We are stranded alone on a desert island, fighting with everything we have to save something. We pour all we have into it and it still burns to the ground. And it IS devastating. But it just may be the very thing God uses to rescue us.

He knows what He is doing. It’s so much easier to see it from here. So if you are in the middle of your catastrophe, please remember that God always does what is best for those who love Him. For those who are called according to His purpose. He has a different perspective. He sees the whole picture, knows what is best for us and will use everything to fulfill His divine plan. And He won’t forget about our good in the process.


Five Minute Friday – Ordinary

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People all over the world blogging on the same topic on the same day for just five minutes and linking up at Lisa Jo’s place. Today’s topic: Ordinary.

Five Minute Friday

GO.

We have big events coming up. Unusual events. Fundraising concerts, piles of paperwork, trips to Ethiopia. Bringing a little one home. They are life changing events that will stand out in our memories forever. Shared moments that will mark our life and bond us in new and wonderful ways.

And I am excited for all of them. Well, maybe not the shots and the 30 hour travel.

But what I am most excited for are the ordinary things. The ordinary days. Looking in the backseat mirror while driving and see my TWO girls sitting together. Making pancakes on a Saturday morning and filling THREE plates instead of two. Tucking two little ones into bed at night and kissing two little heads before I turn in. Taking a walk and watching my girls holding hands and laughing together. Even the moments I won’t enjoy, like teaching them to share.

I am looking forward to the ordinary days of an ordinary family, brought together by God’s great love and mercy.

 

STOP.


What Kind of Day Has it Been

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So, what kind of day did you have. Was it fabulous? Did every single thing go your way? Did you take on Goliath and win with one stone? Did Prince Charming meet you with a hot cup of coffee (or as I would like, cold Diet Pepsi) first thing this morning?

Or…

Was your day more like mine? Did you feel like you were running on a treadmill and you couldn’t get off? Getting hammered from every side, while trying to finish the obstacle course with some dignity intact? Did you run a marathon of appointments, no-shows, hurt, sickness, crying kids, messy house and exhausted mom?

I have some good news. Even if it WAS the day that tested your limits, beat you up and left you crawling across the finish line, guess what. It’s over. You made it! Put your feet up and have some chocolate. You did it! We all have days that take every ounce of our strength. Days that are emotionally, physically, mentally exhausting. Give yourself a break. Read a book, zone out in front of the tv, go to bed early. You deserve it.

Many moms have the tendency to burn the candle at both ends. I think single moms are especially prone to this as there is no one to pick up the slack.

But tonight, I am giving you permission. Leave the dirty dishes. The laundry can wait. Relax. Tomorrow is another day. A brighter day, perhaps. A day that holds all the promise of a fresh start. A day we get to try again. And fight again for the best life for our little ones.

So if today didn’t go as planned. Don’t worry. You have another chance.

Now. Get some sleep!