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!
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
Wow, what a busy week. It started with travelling last Thursday and it has been a rollercoaster since then. I had a ton of work, a sick kid, then a sick mom (me!) so when Wednesday rolled around I was thrilled to be going to church for bible study. I contemplated staying home because I wasn’t feeling well, but my little accountability partner encouraged me to suck it up and get there, so I did. I am so thankful that I went to fellowship with my church family. I don’t know about you, but walking into church, settling into a seat and opening up the word of God just warms my soul. It reminds me of how sacred my relationship with the body of Christ is in my life. I love my other friends too, but there is something so special about that bond.
When we were leaving one of the sisters said to me that she was thinking of me, praying for me and that how I was a blessing. Wow! I needed that encouragement! Lately, I’ve been feeling off. Does that ever happen to you, when you know you aren’t spending the time you need to with God? Life is busy, but I know that if I let it get in front of my relationship with God, it all starts coming apart at the seams. Sometimes I ask myself am I really maturing in my faith? Do I serve? Do I glorify God in my life (there were a few times this past week I didn’t)? It all comes back to me spending time with God and listening to his will for me and being obedient. It isn’t always easy is it? I slip up, I sin, and then I think to myself what is your problem?? That’s when I can get really down on myself, but how does God work? He brings to me a sweet sister in Christ to lift me up. God is good isn’t he? It reminds me how important it is to give encouragement to one another on our walk with Christ and to lift each other up. I also thought about how people are watching our actions, interactions, and words and to be mindful of them because you never know how they can affect someone.
We all need encouragement, so please if you are thinking of someone or praying for them let them know! You will make their day and maybe help them to ease up on their own imperfections and see the good that they bring to others.
I’ve often said I love that thing that happens between women. I especially love that thing that happens between women when they prayer together. Today I experience one of those incredibly beautiful moments. In my ladies bible study class today, our teacher Isabelle asked us to do something different at the end of class. She asked us to do a prayer chain. A prayer chain is where everyone holds hands and says a prayer and/or a prayer request. If you aren’t comfortable you could squeeze the person’s had to indicate that you wanted to pass. In our class today that didn’t happen. Every single woman all unique said a prayer and it was powerful in an overwhelmingly incredible way, that reminds you of the beauty of being part of the body of Christ. The words, the emotions, the intentions seeped into my heart releasing me and blessing me in so many ways. When it came around to me my voice begin to quiver as I prayed for wisdom on raising my daughter. The tears can begin to flow and I know every woman in that room felt my genuine prayer just as deeply as I felt them
I am so grateful for my sisters in Christ and I am immensely awesomely blessed by their presence and prayers. I realized that I want to initiate the chain of prayer outside of church too! We need one another’s support, prayers and love every day. All of us have bondage that holds onto us trying to drag us down and hold us back, but when we join in prayer together those chains begin to loosen and the heaviness starts to melt away. What better way can we support and love one another than through the power of prayer. I want to thank Isabelle today for having the courage to initiate the prayer chain and encourage us to take the masks off and trust God and each other.
2 Corinthians 12:10 – “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
One of things I want to give up for lent is complaining. I want to release complaining and embrace gratitude. I don’t consider myself a big complainer, but I’ve noticed I’m agitated with things a little more. For example, I find myself complaining a lot about Maryland and how I’d rather live somewhere else because the cost of living is ridiculous. Ah see there it is, I can’t even write about it without it slipping out! There are other little nuances too, things that I would mainly like to change have been at the forefront of my complaining.
Today, I was thinking about how God places us exactly where we need to be at least until he’s ready to move us forward, whether it be in jobs, homes, relationships, or anything else. There is a reason for every season in our life. Instead of fighting against it I think it’s better to embrace it and let it evolve in God’s time instead of living in a state of complaining or always wishing for a different scenario. Contentment in all circumstances happens when we have faith and trust in God that he is moving us through every chapter and each scenario in our lives.
Being content isn’t always a simple thing to do. I find myself wrestling with those life scenarios and becoming frustrated because I think wait a minute, God clearly can’t want this for me! Doesn’t he see what I’m facing? How can this be okay with him? Then I have to remember I can’t see what he sees for me, his time is not my time and he doesn’t make mistakes, but I do! So what do I need to do? Well, here is what I think:
- Pray- I need to pray. Pray for his will, his guidance, for patience, to be obedient and for contentment. Contentment in the sense of knowing that God is in control and he will work it out not for my good for me, but his good for me, which can never be topped!
- Choose to Thrive Where I Am-I have a choice. I can either sit around and complain and pick apart everything that bugs me or I can embrace where I am at this present moment and seek opportunities that will allow me to thrive personally and spiritually and also to be a blessing to others.
- Choose Happiness– When I think about the beauty of life even on the worst days there is usually one thing that can put a smile on my face and if there isn’t it, I can look at my child or recall a memory and then I’m struck that life isn’t so bad. Actually it’s pretty incredible and I can create my happiness in the moments I’m still here!
- Count My Blessings– Am I breathing? Is my daughter healthy? Do I have a roof over my head? Is there food on the table? Did Christ save my life? What do I have to complain about again?
- Not Allow my Circumstances to Define Me- Circumstances are not who I am. I am a child of God. Circumstances change, but my identity as a Child of Christ does not, it is everlasting. Who I am will outlive my circumstance. Circumstances will change and that old saying this too shall pass will cross my lips more than once. When we’re in difficult circumstances it is important to remember that God is allowing it and he will see us through it as well and they will change, it is temporary.
- Find Joy in Contentment- When anxiety, worry, fear, negative thinking are all absent from my life I allow joy to enter in and find a home in my heart. Joy in the assurance that my God is with me and when I stumble he will pick me up.
- Know God is Doing Something- I have to remember that in everything God is doing something. I say something because I don’t know what it is he is up to! But, I believe that each experience, each trial, each circumstance he is preparing us for something bigger maybe even something wonderful! Remember we are His workmanship. God is constantly molding and sculpting us into his perfect masterpiece, so be patient you are a work of art!
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!
- 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!