School is Here Again! Backpacks and Schedules

Summer went by so quickly. For many, September begins a season of new outfits, new classrooms and newly packed schedules once again.

I found the first week of school tiring.  The three of us were getting used to a schedule again.  Backpacks came home with an unbelievable amount of forms to fill out and signatures needed for the very next day!  I found myself digging into my purse for advance payment for Friday’s pizza lunches.

The girls were excited with their new clothes and backpacks but when the homework starting coming in, they were counting the days until summer break again!

Schedules kept us sane.  We knew what nights were swimming lessons, and youth group.  Weekly visits and every other weekend’s with their dad were then marked on the calendar.   Birthday parties for classmates began and numerous group projects had to be set up. When my girls got older, but couldn’t drive yet, I became the taxi driver to their part-time jobs adding another item to the list.

Schedules and routine will be your best friends in keeping your home from less craziness. Too many nights out can cause exhaustion and frustration if life is not protected. Tensions start to rise and hurtful words are said!

Printing off a monthly calendar for your fridge and filling in everyone’s schedule can ease the tension. If the kids are too young to read, then make symbols so they understand what they have during that particular week.

Some of you may have faced the experience of a child off to post-secondary education. You are excited for them, but you are dealing with anxiety wondering how they will manage.  You miss them dearly.

I used to brace myself in September.  With working full-time and managing a house, I asked God to give me the strength to be the Mom, taxi driver, co-ordinator of events, and weekend driving for the girls.

Late one night, my oldest and I were having a terrible time figuring out her math homework.  All of a sudden we burst into laughter and couldn’t stop.  I don’t think we got the math sorted out, but we still talk about that night and chuckle.

Maybe some are feeling the way I did each September. I felt some deep sadness. I casually mentioned to a friend, also a counsellor, on how I was feeling. (God plants people into our life at just the right time)  What he said put things into perspective and helped me as each September rolled around. My summer months were spent with support from family and friends at the lake. I loved my weekend getaways. Each September, I was beginning this school season as a single mom carrying the responsibilities alone.  September brought schedules and routine but also a new realization to understand and work through my sadness.

Don’t stay far away, Lord, My strength comes from you, so hurry and help. Psalm 22:19

God gave me His wisdom and strength as the September days ticked away to when school holidays began.  As the calendar pages were torn off each new month, God walked with us through all the crazy activities, appointments, and homework.

OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX

  • Print off a monthly calendar and begin putting in your schedule.
  • Let Schedules and Routine be your friend
  • If you are able, ask your ex to help with school projects and driving
  • Remember to plan fun things to do with your kids on mark on the fridge calendar
  • Homework and evening activities can bring you all closer together

YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

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So Pretty!

Beauty is everywhere if we can take the time to look for it.  Flowers tucked into gardens, a beautiful painting at the art gallery, a baby’s smile, a gorgeous view of the lake, a crackling campfire, and yes, even weeds!

During the summer months, I have been riding my bike in the mornings and though I don’t go very far, I have had some ‘Kodak’ moments.

These pictures are of weeds. The red berry plant is poisonous.  I had to ask a retired forest ranger about that one. The other is a field covered in bright yellow flowers or should I say weeds.  All so pretty, but all not good!

It reminded me about life.

There are some seemingly pretty fun and exciting things to do in life.  It’s easy to justify. I hear comments like, “Well everyone is doing it, it is accepted by society, so it is what it is!  That reasoning doesn’t mean it is good for us. It may look pretty and extremely enticing, but bottom line, it could result in bringing chaos and many times heartache.

I hear people say:

  • The person I am dating seems ok and I am tired of being alone so I’ll just stick with them
  • That outfit I just have to have, but the credit card is almost maxed.
  • That TV show or book I am reading really isn’t gratifying but hey everyone else is watching it or reading those books. Must be ok.
  • The party was fun and I know I am drinking way too much but hey everyone else is doing it.
  • I deserve a break, so I am just going to go have fun and see what happens.
  • The guy will break up with me if I don’t sleep with him. I don’t want to lose him but I feel sad that I have to give up my standards and belief system. I feel like the only one who has these standards of purity.
  • God doesn’t seem to be answering my prayers, and someone at work was talking about a new belief system. Wonder if I should give it a try?

It’s easy to want pretty things, to desire to lead an exciting life because goodness knows, single parenthood is tough.  I get that.  I struggled with trying to make right decisions and unfortunately, I didn’t always do the right thing.

It’s like what the Apostle Paul struggled with when he said,

In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. Romans 7:15(CEV)

I am so grateful for God’s mercy and grace.  When I choose to walk toward what was right and God-honouring, He was happy to help me move forward. I also realized that temporal things don’t last, don’t make me feel pretty, or give me peace.  Pretty can be lovely, but it can also be as useless as weeds.

Remember Eve in the Garden of Eden? That fruit looked so pretty, but the rippling effect of her decision continues today.

When we follow in God’s footprints, we will have true peace. That is really pretty!

Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. Philippians 4:7(CEV)

When life issues and invites come along, we have the choice to step back and realize it may look pretty but evaluate if it is good. When we choose what is right and good, peace will control the way you think and feel.

…and that my friends is so pretty!

YOU CAN DO THIS!

OPEN YOUR TOOLBOX:

  • Look around for things that are pretty.
  • When life gives you options, evaluate if it is the kind of pretty that is God-approved.
  • Memorize Philippians 4:7
  • You are not alone. Get some advice if you are struggling with a decision. I did and it was so grateful.

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT

“He loves me, he loves me not”.  Remember playing that game as a kid? I just HAD to know if that boy in my primary class really loved me!  What a silly game! I was reminded of that on yet another bike ride by our home.

Truth is, sometimes we do that in real life. Everyone desires to be loved and appreciated.  When a relationship and marriage breakdown occurs, it leaves scars and questioning if it was all our fault or if we will ever be loved again.

Let’s visit our own ‘Whoville’

Who I was

Many of us regret our past. We question ourselves, wondering If I had just listened, if I hadn’t rushed, if I had trusted God more, if I had used my words better, if I was thinner or  if I was a better parent,  IF, IF, IF….

Many are living with the consequences of their own choices. Also, many are living the consequences of someone else’s poor choices. Some of us are living both.

Our self-esteem has been knocked down and we stand there saying this phrase wondering who really loves us.

Who I am

I am a twin, but I still have my own DNA set apart for me. God decided that I am right where I am today. He believes that for you. You have your own set of DNA and you are living in 2018!

Today marks a new day, a new beginning, and a new sense of self-worth. Will you take the challenge? Life won’t become all roses and fairy tales.  It is hard work, but the foundation for you to get out of bed every day is knowing God will walk with you. He knows how you tick and how you think, so ask Him! 🙂

I don’t need to play that silly game of ‘he loves me, He loves me not’…there is no need to question God.  He is trustworthy, He passionately loves me, and believes in me. Others may fail, but He does not. I can rest assured, whatever comes my way, He is rooting for me to do what is true, what is right, and what is God-honouring. You can be assured too.

I have loved you, just as my Father has loved me. So remain faithful to my love for you. John 15:9 (CEV)

Who I will become

That is the bottom line.  For me, I had to start at ground zero.  What were my likes, dislikes, my giftedness, my strengths and weakness, beginning to  love myself for who I really was, and make some new goals to work toward.

If you take some time to do that, it will be worthwhile and fulfilling. It’s not a race, so take your time. Sit with a cup of coffee or tea, and be still before God.  Sharpen your pencil and begin. You will begin to heal, begin to enjoy life, and have purpose.

How do you do that? Here are some suggestions that helped me.

  1. Seek God with all your heart.
  2. Forgive yourself.
  3. Make a list of what you like to do or think you might like to do.
  4. Ask a good friend for some perspective and then take time to analyze that.
  5. Seek a counselor or spiritual leader for some wisdom.
  6. Take a step forward and then,

…let the adventure begin.

OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:

  • Next time you walk by a daisy, smile and know that God loves you without a doubt.
  • Make some time for you to re-visit personal goals, personal needs, and family issues.
  • Ask God for His help. He is already waiting. He loves you, He loves you!

YOU CAN DO THIS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roots Matter

While on my bike ride the other day, I came across this tree by our property. The main tree had either fallen down or was cut for some reason years ago. Can you see the main tree trunk smack in the middle?  All the little branches circling it are the new saplings growing from the main tree. All healthy and getting taller every year.

It struck me that single parents are like this tree. You have been cut down, weather storms, and feel a part of you is gone. But look again! You are still standing! Your roots are strong.  Now that is something to celebrate!

Not only that, you are producing saplings (that would be your kiddos) that are growing and maturing into adulthood.  Just as that tree is producing new ‘offspring” to grow, you have the opportunity to invest and help your children grow.  These saplings need the main rooted tree, and so do your children.  You are their lifeline. Children are watching and will  be imitating the way you live your life.

These precious children, whom God has entrusted to you as their lifeline, need your guidance and help. They will take from your strength (the strong root).  Teach them to be all they can be, to love Jesus, and grow into people of character.

If you love Jesus, it is like what the Apostle Paul said,

Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful. Colossians 2:7 (CEV)

Letting Christ be your foundation, will keep you striving to be strong in your faith and then able to pass it on to your kids.  Paul also said to be grateful. He wasn’t just preaching that.  He lived it because he was thrown in jail, shipwrecked and betrayed. So when he says be grateful it means we can try to do that as well!  Some days won’t feel like it, but deeply rooted and trusting Christ will give you the strength needed. Believe me, some days it is just plain hard!

But you must stay deeply rooted and firm in your faith. You must not give up the hope you received when you heard the good news. Colossians 1:23

My children are adults now living out their own journey.  For me, I pray that the roots that are the foundation of my life in Christ will be their foundation as they walk on their own path.

Now as I peddle by that tree, I am reminded that I still need to be the mom that is deeply rooted and firm in my faith as an example to my kids.  Roots matter!

OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX

  • Have HOPE even when you feel like you have been chopped and cut down in life
  • Be rooted in your faith as a firm foundation
  • Be a support and example to your children at whatever age
  • Appreciate the analogy as single parents how you can help give life to your kids
  • Memorize Colossians 1:23 and Colossians 2:7

YOU CAN DO THIS!

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Such a Hibiscus!

It’s a compliment, really! And I’ll tell you why.

It never fails, my Hibiscus plants faithfully peek through the earth every spring. With each year, they get bigger and bigger.

This year, I split them in half or you would never find our home!  (Just kidding)

Even with me attacking it with a shovel and cutting into its roots to half their size, they are back to what they used to be! When the wind storms and rain beats down on these plants, they stay firmly planted.

I want to be just like a Hibiscus.  Despite the ‘wind storms’ and ‘downpours’ of life’s situations, I want to be strong and keep growing in size (no, not my weight) in character and spiritual blooming.

Life storms and heavy winds don’t stop and seem to be never ending. Single parents, you have a unique life. Of course you already know that.

Single moms take on jobs and roles that both parents used to share, deep loneliness invades their heart, and sadly some ex-spouses’ puts the kids in the middle (which is so sad), and they seem to have endless costs. They find it hard to move ahead and watch when their ex gets to be the fun parent and seems ‘so happy’. I would say that is a windstorm!

That is when they feel the roots of their life struggling to stand firm. God, our Father in Heaven, asks us to trust Him. Just hold on and ask for His help, His protection, and His strength. There were times, I didn’t want to stand firm or I didn’t have enough strength to face the day.  I praise God that He was there helping me to stand against each storm.

But I will bless those who trust me. They will be like tree growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach down to the water, and with leaves that are always green. They bear fruit every year and are never worried by a lack of rain.
   Jeremiah 17:7-8

I have seen single moms who live a life of character and integrity. They are fighters who, despite the storms, keep moving ahead to be the best they can be and be an example to their children. No one likes storms. I am not a fan, however, through my experiences, it has made me a stronger and more confidence woman.  Storms still come but if you are deeply rooted you will keep growing and growing….

So if I would say to you, You are such a hibiscus, that is a great compliment!

OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:

  • Despite being up-rooted and hit by storms, stand firm like a hibiscus.
  • Trust God, our Heavenly Father, who will help you weather the storms of life.
  • Memorize Jeremiah 17:7-8
  • Plant a hibiscus in a planter or in your garden as a reminder that…..

……..YOU CAN DO THIS!

WHEN A MOMMA MOVES ON: Part 2

We all need hope and a sense of purpose. A good prescription for hope and purpose is when we can make:

A. (new) CHOICES

Sometimes choices are left in our lap and quite frankly didn’t want! I had to re-enter the work force, take on all household chores, and pay the bills. The kids and I had to work through life changes.

I am sure, like you, there were so many new choices. I had to decide my next steps and define my attitude. I definitely didn’t want to bitter placing blame all the time because I knew I would never heal.

Bless those that encouraged me to trust God to help me in all my decisions. I had a choice in my conversations, and choosing a positive attitude when I really didn’t want to have one.

At the end of the day, I wanted to be at peace with my choices that were God-honouring and God-centered.  These kind of new choices will make a Momma Move Ahead!  What kind of choices do you feel would help you have a healthier lifestyle for you and your children?

B.  (new) CHALLENGES

Step One is to make new choices, but the challenge comes when it is time to turn that into an action plan.

For me, that meant going to night school, working full time, packing up and moving to another city, seeing a counselor to get some REALITY focus, and heal in positive ways.

I know some have shared if they should pack and move somewhere else.  Should they start to date again? What about starting a brand new career and how to go about it?  Some have children that are not dealing with the marriage break down and wonder what to do. Legal issues never seem to end.

No wonder God said He hated divorce.  It is not just two people splitting apart, it is a rippling affect and brings many challenges.  For me, I had to take a step back and evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.  I asked:

  1. What is good and in the best interest for the children?
  2. What will be good for the future in employment with benefits, retirement plans, what skills do I need to accomplish taking care of my little family?
  3. What about dating? How are the kids reacting? Do they need me more than I need a boyfriend? Am I just trying to show up my ex that “I still got it”? Am I running to a guy because I am lonely? I see many single parents start dating right away. I would really encourage you to take time to heal, take time with the kids, and take time to found out who you are now.  Don’t be afraid to be alone. If you feel you are in a good spot and the kids are OK with it, then enjoy the ride and bless you in the journey!
  4. Another challenge is to set some positive boundaries for you and the kids. Working to keep everyone in a good routine and a good schedule will go a long way in reducing stress.
  5. Would you consider some family counselling or individual counselling for you and your kids? Something to think about. I did it for all of us and it was helpful.

Some days my body ached just trying to make good choices and facing challenges. Don’t despair and keep having HOPE.  It will pay off.

C. (new) CELEBRATIONS

Life can be tough day-in and day-out…so take some time to CELEBRATE!  Healing and positive decisions in your family means celebrations!

Do something special with your kids, have a girl’s night while the kids are away, or go see a movie. When you finish a hard task, do something fun!  It doesn’t have to be big, but it’s a WAY TO GO moment.

It’s Time Dear One!  ….to make (new) CHOICES and (new) CHALLENGES and that lead to a time to CELEBRATE.

OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX

  • Try the 3 C’s….CHOICES, CHALLENGES, CELEBRATE! It will be amazing.

YOU CAN DO THIS!

When a Momma Moves On: Part 1

It’s Time!  After life have settled somewhat, there comes a decision.  Drum roll please! ….

WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO MOVE ON?

I have seen single parents react in two ways.

  1. BITTERNESS, BLAMING, and BUNGED UP (I don’t mean needing fiber!)
  2. (new) CHOICES, (new) CHALLENGES, and (new) CELEBRATIONS                                              Their choice will not only affect themselves but their children.

I don’t have all the answers but I’ve walked the walk.

Those that live with bitterness in their heart are trapped as they place blame on others and everything that touches their life.  End result: This type of poison leaves them Bunged Up! On the other hand, I have seen those living out #2 option and reflect as Scriptures says,

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Fact #1: MOST TIMES LIFE IS UNFAIR leading to painful situations.  Truth is, I hate that!  Some can handle it way better than me and their faith and trust is such an example. I have to work at it step by step.

When my heart was crushed due to a broken marriage, I wanted it fixed but it didn’t happen. Just getting myself out of bed, getting the kids to school, making meals which made me feel nauseous, and continually wiping my stream of tears had me weary.  I didn’t bounce out of bed one morning, put on a cheer leading outfit and decide to turn everything around.

It was a process. With positive choices, I began to fight for new challenges, and celebrate when I had victory.  Some were small, while others were huge. The truth is, we all struggle with negative thoughts and feelings.  Other days, we feel like we can take on the world singlehandedly.  It’s human, it’s normal.

FACT #2: IDENTIFY YOUR FEELINGS

I find it good to ask questions. How am I feeling these days; is it positive or negative?  What situation has brought this on?  That is the start….

I can’t even begin to know what you have gone through. For some, you are working through infidelity, some  have had emotional or physical abuse, others are left alone penniless, countless court fees, new health problems, loss of old friends, and helping your children through their pain. On and on…. Nothing can sugar coat it.

We need to own and identify our thoughts, realize what they are, and then work through them. We can live a much bunged up lifestyle when we live with guilt because of our thoughts and feelings.  We can also let our stinkin’ thinkin’ be a part of our every day.  Don’t stay there or it will have you emotionally paralyzed. I called a friend, talked to my Heavenly Father, saw a counselor, and CHOOSE to make positive steps for myself and my children.

For some, just writing your feelings down or talking to a wonderful friend, will not be enough. It may mean some professional help and perspective. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of it.  Dialing that number could be the greatest decision for true healing. It changed my life for the better.

Don’t know where to start?  Try this link.  www.findchristiancounselor.com

Sadly, I have listened to single parents (both men and women) years later who are so trapped in past pain that every decision and every attitude breathes bitterness.  Their stance and facial expressions have become hard. They used to laugh but now everything is a chore and I hear comments like, “Why did this happen to me? Life isn’t worth living? He/she ruined my life!”  I am saddened that they live a bunged up life because everyone has good news!

FACT #3: THERE IS HOPE!

We all have new choices, new challenges, and new celebrations.

To make that happen, it means we all have to take some time to identify the thoughts and feelings we are facing–head on.  If you are bitter, or blaming everyone for your life situation, step back and see if you can see some positive steps that will leave you less bunged up. You will feel a ton better!

We all need Hope with a capital H. Would you be willing to write down some of your feelings? If you pray, begin to pray over this list. Find a friend, pastor, or counselor to start working on your list. God wants you to have victories in your life!  Remember Isaiah 61: 3… crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

This blog has been long enough, so next time we will continue with Fact #3. Then let’s see what new choices, challenges, and celebrations can come from it! Questions like; to date or not to date, moving or staying where you are, setting some boundaries, and how to react to challenges…and then a time to party!

OPEN YOUR TOOLBOX

  • Accept that life is sometimes just plain unfair
  • Identify your feelings
  • Live with HOPE

You can do this! Until next time. When a Momma Moves On:  Part 2