Morning Walk Musings…

 

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Do you ever feel as though you are literally surrounded by weeds? It may seem like everywhere you turn something or someone is trying to strangle your growth, hold you down, or get in the way of your light, but you can bloom even amidst the weeds. On my walk today,  I came across this lovely purple beauty blooming in a not so nurturing spot. But yet, there it stood. A gem among weeds. It found a way to not only grow, but to be vibrant and stand tall in it’s environment despite the obstacles it probably faces in that spot.

You are that flower! Whatever weeds you’re fighting against, you can bloom right where you are in this moment. Just as this flower seeks the sun, you too can seek the light. The light of Jesus that lights the way in the dark, that pushes the weeds aside and allows you persevere in the most difficult circumstances. You are resilient and with the love of God, you’re unstoppable! Be that vibrant flower that makes people pause and see the beauty that can come even through the weeds.

10 Tips On Finding Your Rhythm As A Single Mom

Find Your Rhythm Through the Waves

Find Your Rhythm Through the Waves

Do you have a groove? I have a groove and it isn’t my awesome dance moves :) it’s my rhythm as a single mom. I found my rhythm and it works for me, but it didn’t come without some trial and error. Finding your groove takes time, practice and the ability to think outside the box, but your life runs so much smoother when you do, doesn’t it?

Today, I want to give you 10 Tips that may help you find your rhythm as a single mom and make life a little easier.

  1. Spend Time With God. Nothing, nothing, nothing made a bigger difference in my life than strengthening my relationship with God and spending time in the word and prayer. He is your partner, so go to Him every day and let God be your number one priority.
  2. Get Organized. You don’t have to be all OCD, but a little organization in your life will help you keep your head above water. There are different areas of your life that need to be organized, so start out with the one that seems to give you the most headaches. If it is your house, start a plan to organize it in a way that works for you. Then practice maintaining it by creating boundaries for you and the kids. Put systems in place that will make your day go smoother. Write lists, put up a central calendar with everyone’s activities and appointments, put a meal plan together, whatever will make your life smoother do it.
  3. Create Your Community. You need your people! It’s important to have good, reliable and kind people in your life. Reach out and create a community! Don’t go it alone. It’s important to have a support group and to be a support to others. Don’t be afraid to reach out because I can bet you some mom out there is needing you as much as you need her.
  4. Don’t Run on Overload. You are one person don’t try to be everything to everyone it doesn’t work. Know your priorities, don’t feel bad about saying  no, and know your limits. Saying yes to everything all the time will exhaust you and leave you feeling resentful. Evaluate what is important to you and spend your energy in the appropriate places.
  5. Don’t Compare Yourself. Comparisons are the devil. When you start comparing yourself you lose focus on your blessings. You lose the gratitude for all that God has done for you and instead you spend time wishing for a situation that isn’t yours. I’ve seen this time and again with single moms comparing themselves to other families and not believing their family is whole. Your family is as whole as you believe it to be, don’t allow your perception of others to form your reality. Listen, focus on creating the life you want for you and your family and do it!
  6. Keep Your Dreams Alive.Before you were a mom you had a life. You still have a life and it is enriched by your beautiful children, but don’t forget about the desires of your heart either. Go for your dreams! Be a role mode for your kids by teaching them to be tenacious in doing what they love.
  7. Stop Complaining About Your Ex. Listen, things happen, people get hurt and relationships end. All of it is hard. But, at some point you either make peace with your situation or you live in a state of conflict. This can be a long, arduous and painful process, but complaining doesn’t resolve anything it only keeps the hurt alive and leaves you angry and bitter. You are so much better than that! Take action, be an adult and remember what momma said, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.” Keeping the strife going  isn’t healthy and keeps you stuck. Also don’t get sucked into friendships with other single moms who make it their life’s mission to complain about their ex because it becomes contagious! Know when to move on.
  8. Communicate With Your Children’s Father. Communication is key and not always easy, but if you want your children to have the best life they can in this scenario then it is key. Follow the schedule, communicate about activities, and allow flexibility when it can be accommodated.  Everyone’s life will be better.
  9. Take Care of Yourself. Everything falls on your shoulders, but if you aren’t physically, mentally and emotionally healthy everything will fall apart. Ladies, take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, and rest. Your kids need you more than anything so make loving yourself a priority and you will take care of everyone else by doing so.
  10. Think Outside the Box. When I become a single mom I started seriously thinking about how I wanted my life to look. My heart wanted to be at home. So, I started looking for telecommuting positions. Most people didn’t think it would work, but 3 contracts in and 3 years later it is working. Working at home has posed its own challenges, but I’m happier and I’m content with my lifestyle. Create the life you want and don’t allow anyone to discourage you on the journey. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try new ways that work for you.

Well, there are my tips! I hope you groove your way through this journey and find the rhythm that makes your life work for you!

Leaving a Spiritual Legacy for Your Kids -Create Sermon Journals

A few years ago I wrote an article for Just Between Us Magazine entitled, “The Legacy That Matters Most.” I wrote about the spiritual legacy my grandma left me and how it has inspired me to be intentional about the leaving one for my daughter. I’ll be writing more in-depth about how I think you can do this in the future, but today I want to share one simple way. When you go to church, if you’re like me I write notes about the sermon. I have a journal and I’ll write the name of the sermon, the date and my notes. It is amazing how these journals start to increase as each year passes and I’m always blessed when I read back over them. So I’m building a library of sorts for Anya of ‘Sermon Notes’ that I’ll eventually give to her. I think this is a wonderful way to pass down a blessing to your loved ones and all it requires is  going to church and taking notes to enrich your spiritual life as well!

Just a couple of my Sermon Note Journals

Just a couple of my Sermon Note Journals

Guilt Free Shame Free Single Parenting as a Christian

My daughter is my heartbeat. She’s a part of my fiber and intricately entwined in the essence of who I am. I’m a mom. Yes, I’m a single mom, but more importantly I’m a mom, a Christian mom who loves God and wants to raise my child in his will and give her a firm spiritual foundation. I’ve met and heard from many other single moms who desire to do the same thing. Unfortunately, I also know of Christian moms who feel guilt and shame for not raising their children in a nuclear family with mom and dad under the same roof and my heart aches for them. I will be honest and  the first one to tell you I took the nontraditional route when it came to having a child. I wasn’t married and to be frank I didn’t have the kind of strong and stable relationship that you should have when you decide to bring a child in the world. My life was different back then, I wasn’t a Christian, although I believed in God, grew up with strong faithful mentors I didn’t fully understand or step into my faith until after I had my daughter. I do not for one second regret my daughter, but I do understand the consequences involved for everyone when our actions are not well thought out and not rooted in Christ. With all that being said, being a single mom actually feels very natural  for me. I think it’s because I’ve come to accept that God is my partner on this journey and I’m extraordinarily blessed with a daughter that doesn’t see me as”the single mom,” but as a mom who loves the stuffing right out of her!

Unfortunately, some of the harshest criticism and judgment that single moms face occur from their brothers and sisters in Christ. This isn’t always the case, but it is hurtful when it does happen. I remember a woman at church criticizing me because I had mentioned  that I had to call my daughter who was at her dad’s house for the weekend. She thought that was selfish, that he should have his time with her without me calling. Little did she know that it was the first full weekend she had stayed and to ease her into the transition, we had agreed on me calling to say hi. I hope she is never put in that situation with her family, and usually people really don’t understand until they’re walking in your shoes.

If you find yourself succumbing to guilt or shame because of any of these reasons, I want you to stop immediately and give yourself permission to enjoy your life as a single Christian mom and kick guilt and shame to the curb!

  1. God is disappointed in me– Sweet sister friend, nothing is further from the truth! God is not disappointed in you. His love for you is unconditional and is impossible to alter. God knows your life, your heart, your desires and whatever circumstances led you to where you are today. When you hold onto this false belief you’re only hurting yourself and putting a wall up between you and God. Our Father wants you to draw nearer not further away because of our own faulty thinking. The disappointment you  experience is not coming from God it is probably being on yourself from yourself. Please, treat yourself with kindness, gentleness, patience, and most of all grace.

2. My family will never be a “real family”- I know so many women who struggle with this myth. You’re family is absolutely a real family! I’m sure you do everything that ‘real families’ do. You love one another, you take care of each other, you eat dinner together, you cry together, you laugh, you play and everything else. Let me share something with you, I know of a two parent home where their child will come to my house and not want to leave because she said, “it’s a real home.” What I’m saying is don’t allow anyone to define your family for you, when you do that you’re stepping into dangerous territory. If you don’t feel like you have a real family then your kids won’t feel it either.

3. My kids are at a deficit Let’s face it the statistics for kids of divorce aren’t pretty, but do you look at your kid and yourself as a number? God is in control of your family and if you are in his will and in obedience I truly believe that you can raise your children to be happy and healthy. I don’t feel that my daughter is at a deficit, are there challenges absolutely, but every family has them. God has equipped you with everything you need to raise your children, never forget that!

4. I will never have enough to give my kids what they need- God sustains us and in his divine providence he will provide. I’ve had people say to me, “how do you do it?” “Aren’t you afraid you can’t do it on your own?” Well, I’m not on my own and that’s key for you to know. I have seen God’s providence in ways that brings me to my knees. Don’t let anyone plant this negative thought in your mind. Live in abundance, in God’s abundance. Watch him work you’ll be amazed.

5. Are we still good Christians– The worst thing you can do is get caught up in a label. Being Christian is not a label, it is our life in our walk with Christ. No one has the right to rate your Christianess! God got rid of the law and replaced it with the love of his son. Don’t put standards on yourself that God doesn’t put on you. Be firm and confident in your faith and in your relationship with Christ and nothing can rock you.

6. I deserved to be judged by others because I messed up- No one has the right to judge you, but God. Friends, be so careful who you associate with and don’t allow judgment from others to cloud your view of who you are as a mom and as a child of Christ. Those who judge typically do so because they don’t want to look in the mirror, so do keep them in your prayers.

These are just a few of the ways we feel guilt and shame. My prayer is that you free yourself of those chains and let God work. Know that you are a wonderful mother and that your family is just as beautiful as anyone else’s. Don’t rush to change it, allow God to guide you and find peace and contentment in your circumstances as they are right this second. Be kind to yourself and if others do judge you that’s not your problem. Lean into God where there is no shame or guilt only freedom!

Love my family

Love my family

Some Things You Want Your Kids to Catch You Doing

My mini me! Those aren’t prescription glasses, but she bought them from Claires so she can look like me :)

Do  you notice how your kids mimic you? It is amazing how many habits of mine I see Anya forming, some good and some not so good! It makes me really check myself. When they say kids are sponges they aren’t joking. Our kids are soaking in everything and we hope they’re soaking in all the good stuff right? But, we’re human and not perfect so all we can do is try to do our best. Here are a few things I think our kids should catch us doing that hopefully they can soak up:

Make God Your Priority- God has to be #1 and we should encourage our children through our actions to put God 1st in their life and to love him above all. When they see us doing this and the joy that comes from it they will want that kind of joy in their life.

Being Kind– Kindness is underrated in our society. Being kind goes a long way and can change someone’s day in a minute. Let them catch you giving a compliment and just plain old being nice!
I’ve also seen kindness change a person’s course and direction.

Persevering- When we push forward regardless of obstacles we teach our kids to never give up.

Laughing-Let your kids see you laugh and enjoy life! Laugh at yourself, laugh in good times and especially laugh during the rough times it always makes life easier.

Take Risks– Don’t be afraid and don’t breed fear in your home. Risks can lead to amazing outcomes, but if you never take them you’ll never know or grow. When your kids see you take risks they are more apt to not be fearful.

Standing up for Your Beliefs– Sometimes our beliefs aren’t popular among everyone and we can even be ridiculed for them, but when you stand up for them you build character. Let your kids see you take a stand and encourage them to do the same.

Pray-Prayer is so crucial in every aspect of our life. Praying with your kids is wonderful, but let them see you in prayer about all circumstances this is something you want them to have a mental picture of in their mind so they can draw from it when they are not with you.

Going to Church-When attending church is a priority for you , your kids will see the significance of fellowship and develop their own way of fellowshipping with their friends and the comfort that comes from being in a church family.

Volunteer- Serve, serve, serve! In a society where entitlement is running rampant modeling for our children service through volunteerism is a gift. Let them see you volunteering at school, church, in your neighborhood and I bet you they follow suit.

Being Generous-Generosity that comes from the heart is a blessing. Let your kids see you giving freely whether it is your time, your money, or your home.

Being a Good Friend- Teach your children about friendship by being a good friend. Let them see you interact with your friends in a way that that is loyal, kind, and meaningful.

Being Patient- Patience is a virtue that I struggle with every day. I believe modeling patience to our  kids leads them to have a calmer spirit and helps them to develop healthier relationships.

Reading the Bible- The scriptures are our blueprint for life and it’s important for our kids to know that and be guided by those verses.

Being Financially Smart-Our kids are watching how we spend our money. Being responsible with money, sticking to a budget, and showing how to give it away also is going to effect how they handle money when they get older.

Being Forgiving-When bitterness takes root in the heart it has the potential to destroy our lives. Be forgiving and explain to your kids why forgiveness is key to happiness. Especially as single moms and our relationships to the father of our children. Forgiving is all part of the healing process and they need to see this modeled so they can develop healthy relationships.

Being Healthy– If we have good eating and exercise habits we are teaching our kids to honor and respect their bodies.

Keeping Your Word- It is so important that our children know that they can rely on us and that we mean what we say. When we keep our word we are building a stable relationship with them that makes them feel safe and secure.

Being Positive– If we’re positive our household is happier. When we’re negative we are creating a dangerous energy. When life is giving us lemons and we can make lemonade we are teaching our kids that it is important to change your perspective and not dwell in the can’t do’s.

Love Yourself- Not in a vain way, but in a content way. Loving yourself with all the imperfections is a beautiful gift to give your children that teaches them about accepting themselves as God created them.

Being Loving to Others– This goes along with kindness and compassion. Our kids learn how to love from us. So if we love with an open heart chances are they will too!

Admit Your Mistakes– Kids need to know that parents screw up too! When you’re wrong apologize and make amends. It humbles you and allows your kids to see you in a vulnerable and honest light that helps to make  your relationship authentic. Teach them it’s okay to say sorry and admit to mistakes because there are no perfect people.

Showing Grace- Not everything has to be punishable. When we show grace to our kids we model the grace Jesus gives us. Our kids will appreciate that undeserved grace and give more freely to others.

Lastly make sure your kids catch you being adventurous, having fun and enjoying life! A happy momma makes for a happier kid.

Parenting Advice from Paul… Encourage, Comfort and Urge

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own child, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Although Paul was addressing the people of Thessalonians,  I find this scripture a hallmark of great parenting advice. Let’s look at the 3 pieces of advice that Paul give us in raising our children today.

1. We should be “Encouraging.” If we want to raise children who are confident and not afraid to take risks and be their authentic self then we need to encourage them and not just once in awhile when circumstances call for a pep talk. We should intentionally encourage them every day so that our positive words are ingrained in their minds and hearts so it will manifest in their actions. Encouragement can be subtle, but I say be blatant about your encouragement! Let your children know how they are special, they are uniquely created by God and that they can do anything when they have Christ in their lives. In a world where are kids are groomed to compete it is important that we allow them to be themselves and encourage them to do so. When they are about to give up its up to you to be their cheerleader. Give them the words that affirm their confidence and raise their self esteem not in a haughty way but in a way that reminds them that they are a child of God and are capable of amazing things! A mom has the power to build up and edify their children, but unfortunately we can also tear them down and break their little spirits. Choosing encouragement gives them the inspiration and motivation to flourish in all circumstances.

2. Let us “Comfort,” our children. The one thing I love about being a mother is the ability to comfort my daughter when she is feeling scared, unsure, or sad. Our kids need our comfort and as moms I believe that god has graciously given us the gift of nurturing. I can still remember when I was younger being upset about what some kid did to me and running to my mom. It was summer and I can still remember lying my head against her bare arms and feeling safe and loved. The first person I still go to at 42 when I need comforting is my mom. By letting our children know that we are there for them unconditionally we provide a refuge, a safety net, and a haven for them to seek solace in so they don’t try to find comfort in the destructive places, people or things that are so ready available in our world.

3. “Urge” them to live lives worthy of God who calls them to his kingdom and glory. This is an invaluable piece of parenting advice that has an impact on their eternal life. How do we urge our children to live lives worthy of God? Well, first we have to be a role model. Are we perfect? No. Will we sin until the day we die? Yes. But, can we try to show our children our love for Christ and our desire to live a life that pleases him? Absolutely! We have tremendous influence over our children and we can use it to urge them to live for God. We can do this through making our home one that honors God, we can take them to church and be an active member of the body of Christ, we can encourage them to love the scriptures by reading the bible to them or teaching them to set aside time to study the scripture by doing it ourselves. Teach them the power of prayer by praying with them and not just before bedtime and mealtime.

In urging our children its necessary to utilize the other two pieces of advice. We must encourage them to be counter cultural in a world that is is direct opposition to God and the scriptures. We also need to be there to comfort them when they fall and they will fall. Just as our heavenly father comforts and forgives us. We need to exemplify his grace and explain to our children how gracious the Lord is to them in their spiritual walk. Nurture those gifts you see in them that will build the body of Christ and bring awareness of those gifts to your kids. Tell them what you see in them that will urge them to continue on their own God path.

I can not stress enough how this last piece of advice is the cornerstone in my opinion to Christian parenting. We can’t make them follow any path and ultimately God is in control, but we can be obedient and do whatever we can to excite our children about living a life for God and to inspire them through our encouragement and through our own lives.

Again, I’m always astonished at the how the scriptures continue to guide us and provide us with sound instruction in parenting and all aspects of our life!

Does Your Church Have A Single Mom Ministry?

I’m curious to know if your church has a Single Mom Ministry. I posted a poll on the side of the blog, so if you have a minute to answer please do so! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I believe that single Christian moms need to be supporting one another and church should be one of the main places this happens. It could be that there aren’t many single moms in your church, but if there are, I would love to hear your comments on some of these questions:

-Would you start a ministry or a single Christian mom group?
– If you did what are the kind of topics you’d discuss?
-Do you believe you’d face resistance to starting a single mom ministry?
-How would you get moms interested?
-What type of events would you have? For example, bible studies, outings, speakers, etc. 

Thanks so much and have a great evening!