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It can be a chore to get kids to eat well. Busy two-parent families with dual income work schedules, and a host of after-school obligations, can make it difficult to sit down to a family meal together. But our brains and bodies, like high performance race cars, function best on premium fuel. They can’t grow well and perform at optimum unless they’re adequately provided for with the right balance of fresh fruits, vegetables, fat, and protein. Here are some helpful tips to get your kids on the right nutritional path.

 

Breakfast Really Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day:

Any breakfast is better than none, but in general, you should be focusing on giving your children the boost of energy that will carry them through to lunchtime. Protein, such as eggs, nuts, cheese, and yogurt are all quick fix foods that pack a powerful punch. Add in some fresh fruit for fiber.  Avoid sugary foods and starches; these cause a crash in blood sugar that will make your kid want a mid-morning nap right when they can least afford it. You should avoid the traditional morning orange juice as well; fruit juice strips out the healthy fiber in favor of concentrated fructose, causing blood sugar spikes. Plus, it wreaks havoc on the teeth. Kids who eat a good breakfast do better in school and are healthier overall than kids who skip.

 

A Nutritious Lunch:

Federal school lunch standards mandate a healthy lunch, but in practice, they often provide an excess of starch and processed foods. The fruits and vegetables on offer are frequently unappealing and may end up in the waste bin among the fifty six percent of cafeteria produce that goes to waste there. Unless you know your school prepares a nutritious hot lunch, that your child is willing to eat, bag your own. You want a mix of protein, healthy fats and whole grains, with fresh fruit and vegetables that your child likes to eat. Consider egg salad sandwiches, pita chips with hummus, cold salads, or hot soups in a thermos. Include several different items each day and vary your menu so your child won’t get bored. Make sure to include plenty to drink, avoiding sugary juice or sodas. Proper hydration will help your child stay focused all afternoon.

 

The Family Dinner:

One of the most important things you can do with your kids is to sit down to dinner with them every night. It’s a more potent predictor of higher performance scores than academic achievement, sports, or art. It’s correlated with lower risk of dangerous behaviors such as drug use, smoking, and alcohol abuse, and seems to be a protective factor against depression and suicidal thoughts.

Get your kids involved in preparing meals from a young age; this is great for encouraging family communication, fostering independence, and teaching valuable life skills. Pull out your family recipe box and go through it together, discussing what you liked to eat when you were growing up. Talk to your kids about favorite family recipes, and share stories about family meals in your past. Enlist them in feeding the family. Kids who feel involved in meal preparation have a vested interest in the meal’s contents and cooking methods. This helps them to learn to make healthy food choices that will serve them for years to come. Studies show that kids who cook and eat with their families are less likely to become obese in adulthood.

Additionally, teaching children to shop for, and purchase ingredients, reinforces useful math concepts and imparts frugality.  Plan meals together using the week’s grocery ads, focusing around sales on produce. Take your child along to the butcher to learn to select and prepare inexpensive cuts of meat for the entire family. Clip coupons together and get your child excited about budgeting the family grocery list with tips from Plexus. Give your child a stake in the family dinner table, and it will bear dividends his whole life.

Proper nutrition is tied to better academic performance and healthier lifestyle choices in our adult lives. But cooking and eating with our children gives us even greater benefits. Our food ways are part of our cultural patrimony. When we hand on family recipes and cooking techniques, we are passing on family stories and facilitating communication between ourselves and our children. We’re creating bonds with our past, and laying the foundations for our family’s futures.

 

Amanda Henderson

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I have been trying to hop into a shower for nearly an hour at this point, but I cannot pull myself away from the mirror. I am staring, running my index finger over the two dime-size patches of smooth skin at the tip of my widow’s peak where, just weeks ago, I had hair. I am inspecting it over and over again through eyes glassy with tears that want to come out, but remain in an uncertain state on the tear line between utter breakdown and stoic persistence. It was in this very moment that I called to my eldest daughter to fetch my computer.

I’ve been stuck on a blog topic for a while. Life is busy, right? In May, I actually work longer hours than usual, for the bonus income and to prepare for the Fall semester. This summer I am doing so while recovering from ankle reconstruction surgery, so that is adding a level of difficulty and seemingly unmanageable pain to every daily task. But, like always, I soldier on with a smile.

Soldiering on is easy when everyone around you is patting you on the back. Days filled with proclamations such as, “Of course you are up and about already! You are a rock star!” “You are Superwoman!,” and social media comments extolling you as #momgoals will have you believing that you can do everything.

But, the jarring truth is that I am balding from the stress of it all. Yep, you read that right: I. Am. Balding. I have stress-induced Alopecia Areata. I still have to let that sink in… And, it is pretty ridiculous that THAT is what shook me so deeply. I also have hypertension - at a healthy weight with an active lifestyle, at age 38. My body is quite literally rejecting doing everything.  

I am not sharing this for sympathy. In fact, the prospect of someone reading this and then asking to see the patches that I so carefully tuck away with strategic parting, is terrifying. The thought, even in this moment, that someone would offer to help me accomplish even menial tasks, reeks of humiliation. It makes me want to hide away on my couch for eternity. I am only sharing this, because I am certain I am not alone. And, I want someone else to hear that they are not alone.

The truth is, being a single parent is unfathomably difficult. Yet, we are yoked with feelings of shame that come from asking for help. It is a difficult line to walk for friends and family, between recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of a single parent, and making that parent feel as if they must maintain that perfect balance in order to be worthy of such praise. The people in our lives don’t realize that they are helping to construct that albatross of expectation and potential shame, when they are so quick to recognize what we are doing right but fear offending us by offering help.  

We need help. I need help. To hold down a full-time job with any degree of success and raise happy humans as a single parent is overwhelming. It is a constant tension between feeling like more of a parent and somehow less of a parent than our partnered household counterparts. It is wanting to prove to ourselves that we can do it (anything, that is), while knowing that, in reality, it is physically impossible. But, who would ever want to stop trying? Once you fall into the glow of sentiments being thrown your way, how do you acknowledge your real limitations without losing the community of affirmation that keeps you going?

I don’t know these answers yet. All I know is that, in my life, God has been screaming at me. I have been sent message after message that I need to make changes, but I have not listened. I arrived at a point where the fear of not exceeding expectations (of not being admired) outweighed my concern for my own health…my own life. And that is the only thing more embarrassing than the balding.  

You are not alone. I want to make sure you hear that. You are not alone. God loves you. God roots for you. Perhaps more importantly in this moment, God knows that physical limitations are not illusions as so many Instagram motivation posts try to have us believe; nor are they arbitrary. God sets limits (Genesis 2:3) and He created us to work within them (Genesis 2:7). Limits protect your well-being and you need to find a way to respect them. I need to find a way to respect them. Together, by joining hands in the reality that we are falling apart from pushing past our limits, I hope that we can find a way through the noise of expectations and back to God’s vision for our lives.  

By A. Smith

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Sometimes I feel as though I can step back from my life and see the story of my most recent years unfolding before me. The beginning so full of excitement and wonder, while the middle unravels with unpredictable turns, leaving the ending to wrap up my story. There’s just one problem. I am not at the end. Just treading water in the middle until my perfect ending decides to show up. Sounds tragic but it is actually quite beautiful. Perspective defines your middle.

In the middle I am learning how to respect myself and love myself more. It wasn’t until I went through some very challenging circumstance that I learned to love myself enough to fully respect myself. This meant deep reflection and setting boundaries for my life. Truly learning who I was, what I wanted and what I wasn’t going to allow into my life. A key part of that was men. The best advice I received after my divorce was to seek God for guidance in the kind of man he intended for me to have as a spouse and to make a list. So, I prayed and looked to his word for what a Godly husband should be and complied my very lengthy list. That list has allowed me to keep my heart focused on the Lord and kept me from searching for a spouse. Because of that list I could recognize immediately when God placed someone in my life. And not just anyone but someone that met every single request I had made known to God. That is something only a loving Father can orchestrate.

In this part of the middle, I am now having to learn how to let someone else love me. It sounds simple, but many times the damage others leave behind keep us from turning the page. We can be stuck on the same page, reading the same story over and over like this time we will be able to move past it and into our ending. But we take that broken middle into our beautiful ending and shattered it to bits. So, I am pausing right in the middle of my story and cautiously learning to let someone love me just as I am. I am loving myself and accepting every good thing God is trying to give me. There are many moments I feel underserving because I lived in that state for far too long. A state of always asking and needing from God to fix my mess and heal my heart. To use my brokenness for something beautiful. The brokenness has led to many beautiful things. One of them being acceptance. Accepting my circumstances just as they are and not rushing into my ending. Just resting in his peace and thanking him every day for all the unpredictable turns that have come along the way, because now I can stand at a straightway and smile. He never left me and he is turning the page.

Daisy

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SingleMomzRock Blog by Gwendolyn Irene - 2M ago

When I ask, “who are your crazy friends?” Who comes to mind? What names flash right through your head?  

After my divorce, I met a lady at church, who pretty much made it her mission to make me laugh again. And, boy did she ever! We would get together, watch movies, go shopping, talk about men, and scout out the single guys in church. Just picture two ladies, cruising around town, laughing, and listening to Taylor Swift very loudly!

               “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.

                Everything will be alright, if you keep me next to you.

                You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to.

                Everything will be alright, if we keep dancing like we’re 22…”

We were Thelma and Louise, just without the sad ending!

There was once a man, who was very sick. He needed help and he needed it desperately. He had four friends who wanted to help him. They heard of a healer, but their friend couldn’t walk. Well, these guys had an idea. “Let’s take him.” They carried this man to Jesus, but the house he was out was so crowded, they couldn’t get in. But, these guys were just crazy enough to find a way. And the only way into that house was through the ceiling. So, up they go, take off the roof, and lower him to Jesus. The Bible says in Mark 2:5, “Seeing their faith.” Jesus saw the faith of these guys and He forgave and healed their friend.

So, I’m going to ask a question. Who do you have in your corner who is crazy enough to do something wild and outside the box, just for you? Who can you count on to go all the way with you? Who is your tribe? Who are the ladies you can count on for anything and everything?

I’m pretty much an open book. I tell people about things in my life and things going on. But, it’s not the deep stuff. Not the things that are under the surface. My deepest feelings are only shared with a few. Just those ladies that are crazy enough to cheer me on or kick me in the butt, no matter what’s going on. They are also the one’s I like to hang around with; the ones I pray with, talk to, and text.

If you don’t have friends like this, go look for them. Ask God for some divine connections. You may meet them at church, at work, or at the grocery store. These are the friends who will hold you when you lose your job, who will laugh at your corny jokes, who will schedule a day trip when you need a break.

And although everyone needs four crazy friends, I believe single moms need them even more. At times, when the weight of all we do is weighing on us, we need the friends who are willing to go cray-cray when needed. Just think about that one man with four crazy friends! I’ve got to wonder what these guys did after their encounter with Jesus. The laughs they must’ve had. “Remember that time you couldn’t even walk? Dude, we carried you for miles! You owe us big time!” And, I’ve no doubt that man returned the favor, in whatever way he could.

Find your tribe, ladies.

Find the one’s who will be there when you need to cry.

Need to laugh.

Need to go crazy.

And, after you’ve found them, allow yourself some crazy, memory-making times! Take the pictures of you laughing and having fun. Show your kids how life can be absolutely amazing, even if the circumstances surrounding you may not be. Show them how God-ordained relationships really work!

Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

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Mother's Day has become a Facebook contest. Who got the biggest bouquet? Who got a spa day? Who got breakfast in bed or didn't have to make dinner? Who got new jewelry? I'll be honest. Getting on social media on Mother's Day when you're a single mom kind of sucks. I envy the women that get to do and enjoy these things. Meanwhile, my daughter picked me some dandelions out of the yard that I still need to mow, put glittery lotion on my back that I know will never come off, stuck her dirty fingers in the cake batter that I was making for myself, and the closest thing to jewelry I'm getting is one of her plastic tiaras while we play princesses. Don't get me wrong, I am all for supporting mothers no matter what their situation is - single, married, one kid, ten kids. It's hard on all of us. But being a single mother is an entirely different ball game. Single moms don't get luxury days, and Mother's Day is no exception. We still have to work, do homework for our night college courses, cook, clean, do the laundry that's been piling up all week, and try not to stress ourselves to the point of a mental breakdown.

 

It's easy to be bitter, to pity yourself, to get wrapped up in the day-to-day, and envy those that have help. This year I've chosen to look at things a little bit differently. I know that at some point on Mother's Day, my daughter will get caught up playing with toys that I bought her, and the smile on her face will be more beautiful than any flowers you could buy. She'll want to bake or help me make lunch or dinner, and though I know it will be messy, her eyes will shine brighter than any diamonds in the world as she watches a lot of nothings become something we can enjoy together. And when we go to bed that night, we'll snuggle up and argue about who loves who more, and those words will be sweeter to me than any Hallmark card could ever dream of being.

 

I know Mother's Day will just be another day for a lot of us. Most of us won't get cards or boxes with pretty bows or a massage, no matter how desperately we all deserve it. But I'm choosing to see Mother's Day as a day to remind myself of all I've accomplished, all I've been able to give my daughter, all I've taught her, and to remind myself of all the love I get from her every single day. Flowers die, cards get thrown away, spa days are over as soon as you walk out the door, but spending the day reflecting on all I've had since becoming a mom and all I've learned by being a single mom is worth more than anything money can buy. As single moms we don't usually get the recognition we deserve, but we get all of that back tenfold in a love that some people will never know. And in case no one else tells you... Happy Mother's Day, mama. 

Jamie Arnold

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SingleMomzRock Blog by Christina Snider - 2M ago

I've sit here and tried to think of what to say and write about moms.

I mean Mother’s Day is coming up soon and for one day everyone focuses their attention on the mom in their life. We get cute thank you cards, flowers, and sometimes someone even to wash the dishes.

This past week has been super emotional for myself and my girls. We are in the process of moving after the school year so their last time of doing things have been very hard. Last night my oldest dealt with her first broken heart and I did not know what to say. My initial reaction is all men suck and he isn't worth your tears. And yet as I sit there watching this young girl who is bigger than me I was reminded she's still my baby. 

What makes a good mom? Is it because some of us volunteer countless hours at school, doing crafts, making Pinterest worthy costumes, or make it to every single activity they have? Is it the mom who is late all the time because, like myself, some days you just can't get it together? Or is it because no matter how our day is going or how much we want to hide and cry and deal with our own things we push that aside for them. To remind our children of who they are. 

I can't lie. There are days I let my kids eat carbs and sugar and veg out unmonitored in front of a TV. And you know what? That's ok. Because there are days when they are feeling unworthy, unloved, and need that extra push that I remind them I am there. 

My oldest graduated 8th grade, lost her dog, went to her 8th grade dance, and got dumped this week. Her dad never texted, called, or showed up to any of her things. And the best compliment I got was from her this week. She told me it was ok because she knew no matter what I would be there. 

We judge ourselves so harshly on how other moms do things that we forget God gave us the kids he did because they needed a mom like us. So, I did what I would always do. I let her cry. Then I said suck it up buttercup. You are better than them. They don't deserve you. And I finally got a smile. 

Being a mom isn't some words strung together for a definition. We need all types of moms. However, we must learn that we are doing the best we can as well. So, if you didn't get those cupcakes made it is ok to go buy them. Chances are that smiling little face will beam just as brightly just knowing you are there. 

Christina Snider

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SingleMomzRock Blog by Chari Schoen - 2M ago

Oh wow, this month of April had been a crazy month. I decided to finish my book and I was so excited when the month started to complete it. However, the night before Easter I was so sick I couldn’t eat. Then a few days later there was a fire in my childhood home. It was crazy and surreal. Then a week later I came home from work to set my things down and head back outside. When I turned around there was a snake entering through my doorway. I haven’t been a fan of snakes ever. Then a few days later I got word someone dear to me had died. These unexpected things just kept coming one after another.

It has been hard not to give up. A few years ago when I had a broken leg and arm, had a two-year-old, and lost my job. It was hard not to give up when I really wanted to.  When I had those days, that life threw me sideways for a day, week, month, or a season I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to try anymore. I was exhausted and ready for a new start. I don’t know what you a face in this season of life that has knocked you flat on your face. We all deal with unexpected things in life. It is hard put on a smile or just to make it through the day without crying.

Sometimes we lose our job,

become homeless,

the relationship crashes,

sickness comes in,

or a loved one dies.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” Jack Ma

 

There is a time and season for everything but never give up. Don't stay in the place of loss and pain. You must keep fighting for your life even if it is moment by moment. There is only one thing that has kept me moving through all this pain and loss….it is God. When the tears are coming down my face and I am not sure how I will make it through another day, I turn to Him.

 

1.     I turn on YouTube and search for worship music lately Elevation Worship is my favorite.

2.     I sing even if I don’t know the words in my mess.

3.     I start praying about every worry and pain I have and give it to Him.

 

By the time I hit the last step I am usually not crying anymore because I believe in God’s love for me.  I change my mind about my circumstance and choose hope. I know I have a purpose and a future. I know my life will not end because of unexpected life events. I begin to stand on these words and memorize them.

 

Keep praying

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Remember God is Good

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

 

He will never leave you

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

 

All thing He works out for Good

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 

He still knows everything that happens and is not surprised.

9  remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10  declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose, Isaiah 46:9-10

 

So, momma if life is dishing out more than you can handle know God is still ever present in your life. He stands beside you, holds you, and tells you how much He loves you.

Stay Strong,

~Chari

http://vestigespirit.com/

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The world calls me so many things. Words that may never have been spoken aloud, but somehow echo in my mind. Theses voice have pierced my heart and left their mark, which the enemy uses against me to lead my mind right into a trap of self-destruction. Words like fearful, weak, unqualified, anxious, unloved and alone react as my default setting in times of doubt causing my mind to derail me. These words have claimed power over my life and stolen my peace many times. As I began to realize the impact of unspoken words over my life, I asked God to reveal to me how he sees me and not how the world sees me or I see myself.

 He is the only one that sees every part of me. He knows my weaknesses and my breaking points and yet he still calls me worthy. He has called me by a new name, Qualified. I am undeserving of his love, but I am so thankful he shows up every time I feel weak to qualify me for my own life. What he has placed before me, he will also qualify me for. Mother, teacher, leader, head of household, friend, sister, daughter and writer. And what he has spoken over me will drown out the echoes. These promises are what I know to be true and I share with you, so you can claim them as your own when doubt takes hold of your mind.

I am yours and you are mine. You will restore all that has been stolen. I am forgiven and unashamed in you. I am daughter of the Most High God. I am not alone. You are with me and you see me. I am more precious than rubies. I am a vessel for Grace. You love me just the way I am. My anxieties are covered by your blood. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You give back in abundance. When I am weak, you are strong. You have blessed me with talents to bring glory to your name. You have given me a God given purpose. No tear shed will go unnoticed. You are the author of my story. I have a Father who loves me. I am confident in the person you are molding me into. I am designed for such a time as time. I am walking into my destiny. I am an overcomer. You will give me all my heart desires which brings you honor. I am set apart. I am unshattered.

Take heart and know that his voice covers it all, speaks life into our darkness and sets us apart. You are called by a new name. Ask him to reveal how he sees you and step into the promises he freely gives. He will qualify you for the purposes he has set before you.

Daisy

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SingleMomzRock Blog by Gwendolyn Irene - 3M ago

The coin is up in the air, twisting and turning as it falls to the ground. Everyone leans forward to see how it’s going to land. Heads or tails? Which team will go first? One team moans and another cheer! Time to start the game.

There’s been plenty of times that life as a single mom feels like we’re just flipping a coin to see which direction to go. What decision to make. Which school to put our kids into. What job to apply for. We’d like to just flip the coin and do whatever it tells us to do.

But, we are adults here. And flipping a coin isn’t an option.

So, we get out a piece of paper. Label one side “Pros” and the other side “Cons.”

Or we brainstorm and fill a paper with circles full of options.

How about the days we call six of our closest friends and get six different options?

Kind of makes you want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers.  This adulting thing ain’t easy. As single moms, the choice lies in us, and us only, to make. No coin can direct us which road to choose.

After my divorce, I thought of leaving my church and finding another one. Seriously! It seemed so much easier to run from all the memories and all the questions. After all, we were Sunday School teachers to 9th and 10th graders. And, I had to look at those parents and just shrug my shoulders.

“Yes, we are getting a divorce.”

“No, I really don’t want to talk about it.”

Many Sundays, I felt like hiding under a pew. It seemed that life would be easier if I left my church. The church I grew up in. The church that supported me. Just so I wouldn’t have to let the people I loved see my tears. Flipping a coin seemed easy. My pros and cons list were equal. My circles had circles! And, everyone had an opinion. My friends. My kids. All of it.

There’s just one problem. I wasn’t praying about it. I wasn’t seeking God. I was tied up in my own disappointment and hurt. I wanted everyone’s opinion except for the One who actually mattered. I couldn’t focus. It was like being at the eye doctor. “Option 1 or option 2?”

Right before I made the crucial choice to leave it all behind, I remembered to pray. Something I should’ve done the month before. I asked God. I showed him my lists. Then, I got quiet. And I took some deep breaths. In the quietness, I got my answer. The peace deep down inside, was the answer. I was to stay and not go. A month after this, a friend literally dragged me into the singles Sunday School class. And, it was exactly where I needed to be. It was where the healing was. The place I learned to laugh again. Friendships formed that surrounded me when I needed it.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23

There’s nothing wrong with the lists and circles and the coin flips and asking opinions. But, there is a disservice to our Father when we try to make the choices without Him. He loves us and delights in every detail of our lives. He wants to lead us. He knows the best path to take! Before you do anything, ask Him for direction. Follow that peace deep down inside. Do things in the right order.

For single moms, our paths may be different. I know some who chose to start over at a different church or move to a different town. I know some who stayed put. Some have regretted it. But, those who followed by faith, were more at peace then the one’s who chose to follow the coins. Because even if they stumbled or got off track a little, they were holding hands with a Father who wants only the best for them and would lead them gently back onto the road they needed.

Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

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SingleMomzRock Blog by Janelle Reed - 3M ago

 My how a year can change things.

Not like we were the perfect couple by any regard but I sure as hell was going to give it my best shot. 100%. If I can do one thing well, that is to love someone fiercely.

You see, him and I had been friends for a while. So, I knew of this Saintly woman they called Maureen, but I had yet to meet any of his family. It hadn't been the right time. He wasn't ready. Maybe I wasn't either, but I sure wanted to be.

So for Easter, we had made plans to go to their family cabin nestled deep in the country in Northwest AR. Newly renovated, she was so proud of that project. A retreat for her and her soulmate to spend time together with their grandchildren. And moments like that day, where the whole family came together to enjoy each other.

Unfortunately, it almost didn’t happen. I failed him more than once during our time together because of letting my insecurities get the best of me.

The first time was the night before Easter. When I woke up Sunday morning, I didn’t even know if he would still be at my house. He was hurt, I had broken his trust. I was angry and upset by some truths that finally came out. It was a sleepless night.

I heard him talking on the phone as I was trying to find him and he waved for me to come over. He said, “here, do you want to talk to my mom?” So, one year ago, I heard the sweetest voice on the other end of the phone who genuinely knew I cared for her son and that he cared for me.

She was not upset at me. In fact, I think she actually understood my crazy thought process of why I did what I did. It didn’t excuse it but giving her some of my background story helped her see me and know me better. She also let me know how much her son cared for me and whatever we needed to do to get through this and to still make it down to Easter dinner then it better happen. Then she prayed for me. I immediately felt like I had a connection with this woman.

I also appreciated the fact that he wanted me to talk to her. They were best friends. So, for him to allow me into their conversation made me feel like I actually meant something and was being respected, not kept out of the loop.

We talked through it. It wasn’t a fun conversation by any means. Sometimes in life we have those, and they still need to happen. We decided we would go and enjoy our day. And we were glad we did. It was a beautiful day for an Easter dinner in a newly renovated cabin in the woods.

Immediately, his family came to greet us. I brought flowers and wine as a gift. She squeezed me and I squeezed her right back. I got the official tour of the place. We had an amazing lunch and the kids got to find eggs. I got to visit with his family and tell them some of my story and it truly was a wonderful day.

I texted her later and told her thank you for the hospitality and how much I enjoyed meeting everyone. I also told her that I had no idea where things would go with her son and I but that if things went well that I would love for her to be my spiritual mother. I explained to her that I hadn’t grown up in church and so I never really had that. She said she would be honored and felt the immediate connection as well.

That day started a relationship between two women who have been through some similar stories, who love both their families with all their might. Authenticity and love of the Lord, we also shared.

She would pray for me. We would text each other and she would encourage me, give me insight that no one else could. She was a true treasure.

My girls and I got to spend Mother’s Day with their family. I was treated with flowers and gifts and cards. I couldn’t tell you the last time someone went out of their way to make me feel that special on Mother’s Day. I will never forget it.

By the end of the month though, the relationship between her son and I would end. It was hard. It was painful. I felt like I was losing part of my family. She knew the struggles I was facing. Again, she prayed for me.

It took some time but him and I did want to try to be friends after ending things. But there were a lot of hurts on both sides. Healing needed to happen.

He told me one day his mom hadn’t been herself. Had hurt her back somehow and just wasn’t bouncing back. Anyone that knew this lady knew she would run circles around ya, even the grandkids. After 6 weeks of being in back pain, in July, she decided to go to the doctor and check it out. We were all thinking it was probably a pinched nerve or a slipped disc.

Once the test results were back, it was concluded that she actually had cancer. Stage IV. There was a spot on her lung and also spinal cancer. This is where her pain had been coming from. The cancer had actually eaten away some of the bone and had broken one of her vertebrae.

I had several text conversations with her while she was going through this initial stage of probably shock and disbelief of what was happening. Her faith never wavered one bit. She even told me that we were going to have one big shindig when all this was over to celebrate! She loved entertaining friends and family, and she knew I did too. I agreed and we each said we loved one another.

Radiation started immediately, but after several weeks she was transferred to another hospital for more intense care in late Aug. They performed surgery on her back on Sept 6th to help heal her spine.

A week later, she was strong enough to start the chemo. Everything had started taking a toll on her body. She was of course losing weight, and she was already a petite frame to begin with.

They said she was the perfect patient. Always smiling. Never complaining. I told you, she was a Saint.

The next round of Chemo they did had to be a smaller dose, they didn’t think her body could handle a full dose. Many trials and bumps in the next days. They started radiation at the new hospital and things were even looking up and plans of releasing her to a rehab place then home were talked about.

We have a local hospital that has a store inside of it that sells merchandise for cancer patients. One day, I decided to stop in and I was going to send sweet Maureen a care package. She was losing most of her hair so I decided to get her a cool head wrap. Now this woman, isn’t like any other granny. She had style and I was not going to disappoint her in her head wrap either! I also found an inspirational scripture piece that I thought would be perfect for her to keep next to her bedside.

One of the ladies that works in the store came up and asked me if I needed any help. I just burst into tears. I didn’t want to be buying cancer accessories! I didn’t want to be here at all. But this wasn’t about me. I just wanted to make her smile, even for a brief moment, for her to know that I thought of her daily and prayed for her fervently. My initial plan was to make a trip to go see her during the day sometime and surprise her. But that didn’t happen so I ended up putting the items together in a box and was just going to mail it to the hospital.

The next update wasn’t as good as the last few we had received. The last PET scan showed more spots, her body was weakening and her pain was increasing. They decided they were going to bring her home.

They released her from the hospital on Oct 16th and she got back to Northwest AR that evening. They brought her to a hospice center, all her local family was able to see her that night. I hope she truly knew how much she meant to every single one of them.

The next morning, I got the phone call. Maureen had passed. This Angel on Earth was now with the Angels in Heaven. I got home from an appointment I had and there it was, sitting on the table, ready to be mailed. Her care box. I dropped to my knees sobbing. I was angry with myself that I had not taken it to the post office earlier.

There were days I was so angry and thought how could you go into a doctor apt for a hurt back and come out with a stage IV diagnosis? She was so healthy and exercised, active and happy.

Throughout this process, him and I had not spoken much. I had kept up on updates through the website they set up for friends and family. It was closer to the end that we started talking a little more.

I knew no matter what I wanted to be there at the service. She meant the world to me and he knew that. And, to be honest, I wanted to be there for him too. He just lost his best friend, the person who was always there for him. Every time he would speak of her, you knew how much he loved her and would do anything in the world for her. He was crushed.

It was such a beautiful tribute to the woman she was. Some of her grandchildren had written stories of their favorite times with her and the Pastor shared them. After the service, we toasted Coke’s with limes (her favorite drink) and got to visit with all the people that came to give their condolences.

For me, I was there for more selfish reasons. I wanted to feel close to her one last time. I wasn’t part of their family anymore and I needed this closure in a couple different ways. I hugged everyone when it was all over and said my goodbyes, to make the couple hours drive back home.

So for whatever the reason this man was put in my life, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out for us, I know in my heart of hearts that I met an Angel on Earth for a reason. Even if it was for a short time. I can only imagine how she influenced the people she knew for years or her whole life.

Maureen, until I see you again on another Easter, keep welcoming people into heaven with that million dollar smile of yours.
 An Angel on Earth to being just a True Angel.

-JLR

 

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