‘Tis the Season to…

stop judging.
Fah-lah-lah-lah-lah
la-lah-lah-lah

I mean it. Stop it!

For many of us the holidays are a wonderful time of the year.
It’s a time for celebration and togetherness.
For others of us it’s a time of survival.
A time of trying to get out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other.
A time that we long to end.

I don’t know what place you are in today.
I know where I am. I know from whence I came.
Therefore I can tell you that I have experienced both extremes.
The pain of uncertainty and the joy of security.

My prayer for you today is peace and rest, contentment and delight, meet you right where you are. For an overwhelming sense of well-being to fill your soul. Tangible evidence of love so deep and wide and unconditional that you can’t help but give thanks for the moment.

For my friend who is facing the holidays without her mother for the first time, I pray for the kind of comfort that only a mother can give. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to document a day in the last few weeks of her life. What an incredible honor.

For my friend who’s husband left her a single mother by choice, I pray for God’s provision and protection in the coming year in a way that no earthly man could provide. Thank you for sharing your story with others in hopes of being a light in a dark time. I know that in time, your heart will heal.

For my friend who is explaining thankfulness to his two children who lost their mother six months ago, I pray for words of wisdom to flow from your lips into little ears of understanding. Thank you for accepting “Happy’s” from me wrapped in crazy patterned duct tape and filled with things like “happy hearts” with arms for hugging. I will never forget how during one of the darkest moments in your life, you took the time to tell me about her love of the clinging cross, helping me feel like I was there with her during the agonizing pain even when my physical presence was not.

For my friend who would be less than a month away from celebrating her baby girl’s 1st birthday, I pray for peace as memories of the days that she had in your arms are relived. Thank you for allowing me to be one of the incredibly fortunate ones who got to meet her during her short time on earth. What a gift!

For my friend with a heart aching for the man she loves who was taken too soon. My prayer for you, dearly loved, is that you will dream big! That the purpose in your sorrow would be made known as I believe it is unfolding before us now. I pray that your story would impact others in a way that no one else can. I pray that you will love again and have a long, passion filled, beautiful life. Thank you for letting me come alongside you on this journey. You are teaching me so much about what true strength is and what faith really means.

There are more of you. Please know that you are loved. You are prayed over, you are lifted up, you are thought of.

For those who will be making mad dashes to cash in on the black Friday sales, good luck.
For each of us, may we remember to stop and think before cutting our eyes at the lady with the screaming child or cutting in front of the driver going too seemingly slow. This is a time of reflection. It’s a time to look to the left and the right and ask what we can do for someone other than ourselves. In the end Darling, it’s really all that matters anyway. What we do for others, I mean. Next year you won’t remember what you purchased at the “sale.” For me, I always remember the feeling of doing something for someone else. There is nothing better.

Blessings to you in this coming season and the new year that will follow. May all that is good and true and beautiful be yours.

 

Single Mamas

When the thought came to me that I needed to write about this sensitive and often misunderstood topic, I dismissed it as something that someone else would do much better than I.

I wonder if God grows weary of me trying to talk Him out of things that He makes abundantly clear are part of His will for my life?

Reluctantly I sit down before you, feeling very inept in my attempts to speak about such a fragile thing. At the same time, my heart is heavy and I know that once I listen and follow through with what I feel I am being led to do, the burden will be lifted and hopefully someone will be encouraged.

I know that there are many fathers out there holding everything together with their kiddos. I’m not going to talk about them. Reason being, I’ve never been a single dad. I have, however, been a single mom. I can speak from experience and hopefully share strength and hope as well.

Recently there have been a slew of things flooding my mind, but few reach my heart. The other day I was talking with a friend who asked if I would be willing to meet with an acquaintance of hers who was going through a difficult time. Without thinking or praying about it, I quickly said, “Sure!” (side not: that’s never a wise thing for me to do. Answer quickly. It usually means that my motives are selfish.)

This beautiful, young woman and I met for coffee. As I listened to her story unfold I began realizing that I had completely abandoned a part of my life that was a significant part of who I am.

I watched her eyes fill with tears though she would not allow herself to cry. I listened, I watched and I remembered. Suddenly I was taken back to a time in my life that was more difficult than I even realized at the time.

Some people choose it. Others are left. I chose it.

This woman had chosen it as well. Without telling you details of her story, without needing to, I can tell you that she’s in for a difficult road in her immediate future.

This got me thinking…now that I’m happily married to someone I adore and I have a beautiful family, does that exempt me from walking beside someone who is in the midst of the wreckage?

No. If anything it equips me to provide encouragement and a safe place away from the attorneys and bill collectors, accusers and mockers. I know first hand that she is misunderstood, judged, ridiculed and rejected by former friends and family. I know that she is scared. Fearful of not being able to pay the bills, of ever getting sick, of losing her low income housing. There is so much fear and doubt and uncertainty.

Have you ever been in that place of not really knowing from day to day what your life will look like? Do you know any single moms? Many of them have residence in that place of relentless uncertainty.

With Father’s day upon us, please be mindful of your words and intentions when speaking. Especially to children. There are some moms out there who are making it happen in both roles. Please don’t make assumptions or judgements.

If you’re a parent, you know how difficult it is raising human beings that will hopefully be productive members of society. There are days when I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t say to Chris, “Tag, You’re it!” so that I can have a few moments of sanity.

Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. We are pulled in so many directions. When you have more than one child it can be stressful even with two of you trying to make all of the school functions, sporting events, dinners around the table as a family and quality time investing in the relationship and future of your child(ren).

Imagine trying to do all of those things by yourself. Raising children alone can be one of the most isolating things out there. It’s difficult to explain, except to say that it’s not what you think…she’s not who you think she is…things are not as they appear to be.

May I encourage you to do something extraordinary? If you know a single mom and you want to help, offer to keep her kids (at no charge) while she runs errands or takes a shower and blow drys her hair or takes a walk. Send her a handwritten note of encouragement. Offer to take her grocery list, go shopping for her and deliver her groceries. Let her know by your actions that she’s not alone.

It’s not enough to say, “What can I do?”
There are so many things. It’s difficult to know where to start. The question will usually elicit one of two responses; “Oh, nothing, I’m fine.” or “Just pray.”
We must take the initiative.

I challenge you to make an effort this week to positively impact the life of a single mom in your community. And after you do, I want to know about it so that I can thank you.

Are you a single mom? What are your top three worries, struggles, concerns? What would be the biggest help to you from an outsider? Please leave a comment below or if you would rather remain anonymous, you can email me at the address found here.