Single Mom Survival SUCCESS | Tools & Tips for Your Journey by Linda McCutcheon
My desire is to encourage you in this new journey. I called this blog Single Mom Survival Success because I know without a shadow of a doubt, you are going to make it , not only survive, but have great success. I want to encourage you along the way.
Call me crazy, but I love Body Surfing. Spending many summers body surfing in no more than waist-high water with my family, reminded me that life is a lesson in waves and its counterpart, wind.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14
As wind picks up so do the waves and they are not for the weak swimmer. Even for us who have been doing this for years is always done with great caution, with other people, and close to the shore.
Like the waves I encountered while body surfing, life can be like that as we are hit on every side forcing us to make important choices. It can literally take our breath away. Trying to figure out our next life step, we hear opinions from one, another voices theirs, and then we are grappling with our own thoughts. We can always stand firm in true Biblical teaching while riding the waves. Are you searching the Scriptures and letting it penetrate into your very soul?
Wind and Waves will come. How we deal with it will determine our peace and fulfillment in Life.
Waves can be deceiving
As I stood watching huge waves come rolling toward me, some had no power when they finally reached me. The same is as Scripture says, by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Knowing and searching for what the Bible says is so important. If not, every person’s opinion could feel like truth. With resources like www.biblestudytools.com it can help you identify meaning. Places of worship who teach God’s Holy Scripture and books that are founded on God’s truth can enrich your life to study the waves and wind of life. Cunning and crafty people can try and falsify Truth but with good resources at our fingertips we have the opportunity to be stronger in our faith. Truth will surely set us free.
Waves Can Strengthen us
Those times body surfing, some waves would knock me over and force me ahead by some very powerful and painful ones. I stood up spurting trying to gain my feet on the terra firma. I know sounds crazy.
As I look back and reflect over the years, I was knocked over by huge waves of life situations and I can truly say it strengthened me. I am not the Linda I am today without those waves.
Are you facing waves of loneliness, loss of a loved one, problems at work, or is single parenting just overwhelming right now? Just as I always had someone to scream and laugh with me in those wavy waters and help keep me safe, we need to have trusted faithful friends that can walk alongside us to do the same thing.
Waves will stop
Mark 4:39 “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm”.
The first few minutes of body surfing in waves were fun. My stamina was good, and then all of a sudden, I reached a point of feeling exhausted. It is then I know the wise choice is to walk toward shore to a firm foundation. I can only imagine the dilemma the disciples were dealing with while facing the storm of wind and waves. They knew they were beat unless they got help. We can’t carry the waves of burdens our self. We can do as the disciples did and ask the Savior for a rescue. He can do this.
You and I both know that life will have waves. Some are big trials, others on-going. Do I wish I could be free from the waves that knock me sideways? Humanly speaking, of course!
As I walked back along the beach with the wind and waves roaring in the distance, I reached the grassy field and it became quiet and calm. So it is with our lives. We have times of great trials that can take our breath away and other times we can experience great peace. We need to ask Jesus Christ to be our calming spirit in both situations.
What waves of life are hitting you sideways that you need the Savior to say, ‘Peace Be Still’? I believe we are not exempt from waves or wind. What I do know is that as the wind and waves come, we have our Anchor, Jesus, to keep us in His care.
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX
Define your wind and waves
Ask Jesus to calm your storm and help you
Search the Scriptures for God’s Truth. It will set you free
Summer, though busy, seems to give some opportunity to get re-fueled and refreshed. There are invites to BBQ’s, kids summer programs, times to sit by the water and campfires with sticky marshmallow’s, and long weekends getting caught up on life.
Single parents, you will probably have some time to yourself as you share holidays with your ex. I know it can be hard to separate yourself from your kids, so give yourself permission to enjoy those time to get re-fueled.
As the years went on, I began to enjoy my “Linda Time”. I didn’t do anything super adventurous but I did paint the girls bedrooms (I hate painting but it was a project I needed to get done), I met up with girlfriends, went for evening bike rides, read some good books, and walked the beach. It gave me time to refocus and re-fuel for when they came back through the door.
Don’t feel guilty about it. Enjoy every minute because you need it.
I am not sure where you are on your Faith walk, so may I encourage you over the next few weeks to work through some issues with God.
When life throws you lemons, it can be easy to:
Blame God and be angry at Him for what your life is right now
Feel dry in your spirit making it easy to feel bitterness and resentment for what life has handed you
Feel exhausted doing life because you are just plum tuckered out
May I suggest:
Be honest with God. He can take it. Tell Him your feelings and disappointments. Tell Him your fears, hurts, but also your dreams and hopes. He is always ready.
Take some time to read Scriptures to begin to re-fuel and refresh yourself in God’s Word. Would you take the challenge? I am working through a reading program right now. Search the world wide web for yourself. Here are just three links I found. I am using the last one.
Make up your own challenge by reading a certain book of the Bible, or read a book about God (www.christianbook.com) and re-fuel your life to be refreshed so you can be all God has created you to be. Remember, ONE is a whole number!
Be encouraged by what God says. Some say the Bible it is an out-dated book. I think you will be very surprised it isn’t.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 (NIV)
You, Lord, are my shepherd.
I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh my life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead me
along the right paths. Psalm 23: 1-3 (CEV)
Dear Ones, are you ready?
Open the pages and begin your summer adventure to be Re-fueled and Refreshed.
Share your heart with God
Challenge yourself to get into God’s Word for encouragement
Enjoy some time to yourself this summer and ask the hard questions
Suitcases were packed, lists checked off, and now it was time to give hugs and say so-long to the girls. Summer vacation had arrived and they were off to spend time with their dad.
Hello and Good-byes are a part of a separated/divorced home. Unfortunately, the children can be the most affected as they pack for one home to another, and then re-pack again.
This time can be emotional for everyone involved. A parent’s heart is heavy saying so long praying the children will adjust. You may find yourself feeling very overwhelmed and anxious. There is a re-adjustment as you return to a quiet, empty house.
This is what helped me adjust.
Schedule a time to talk on the phone with the kids. If the ex is willing, schedule a time to talk to the children mid-vacation. Try to be positive and excited with them about what they are doing. Thank your ex for this time to talk to them. I found it was best not to chat to them before bed so it didn’t get them upset missing me before settling in for the night. Once they left for a holiday, my girls knew they had an option to chat and it seemed to relax them. I assured them I loved them. I let them know I hoped they would have a fun time and would see them soon.
Trust God- Release your children to God because it can be a helpless feeling. Maybe your children have a hard time with adjustment or anxiety. There are new house rules and your ex has to adjust to having the kids around full-time. Maybe you have a fear that the kids won’t want to come home. Single parents have shared their concern about the environment their children are going to. I encourage you if things become negative for your children during this time; you have a plan in place. I wish I had an easy solution but I don’t. What I do know, is that God sees and He says to give Him your worries. Can you ask a few trusted friends or family member to partner with you in prayer? You don’t have to do this alone. Even in the best of situations pray and trust.
Psalm 94: 18-19 `When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure’.
Refresh yourself. Schedule time to read, go to a movie, work on a craft, grab a bike and go for a ride, meet with friends, schedule to go to a local sporting event. Where I live, they usually have movies in the park and band’s playing so check that out and grab your lawn chair and enjoy! It is hard to schedule time for yourself when the kids are home so this is the time to pamper yourself. Make a list of things you would like to do and have some fun. You don`t have to feel guilty about doing this. This is your time to become refreshed. I found myself packing a picnic lunch, getting in my car for a destination unknown with a lawn chair and book. I called it my ‘Linda Time’.
Summer may be a time to pack suitcase, but it can also be a time to have your time to be refreshed.
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX. You have a free pass to refresh yourself.
Release your children to God
Schedule a time with your ex to talk to your kiddos
Make a list of some things you have wanted to do but never had the time
With this list, make sure you do some
Ask a few people to pray for all involved during this separation
He wasn’t a talk show host or an accredited counselor but he had good advice for living life. This is what he said,
There are two things, Lord, I want you to do for me before I die: Make me absolutely honest and don’t let me be too poor or too rich. Give me just what I need. Proverbs 30: 8 (CEV)
Sounds simple enough right? Well…
Living a life of honesty is not only honorable but in obedience to God as a Christ-follower. Sadly, being absolutely honest is not the norm in our society. Agur was wise to ask God to help him to be honest in all he did. Decisions we make, what we say, and how we live out each day need to be God-breathed in us as soon as morning peeks in our window and when we pull the covers over us at bedtime.
The challenge is to MAKE ME ABSOLUTELY HONEST.
No one wants to be poor and having riches seem so less stressful for living life. Lottery ticket booths are lined up in hopes of gaining financial freedom. A new title and pay raise at work give us room to breathe and even excitement to buy some new toys. It would mean we don’t have to rip our wallets apart looking for that ten-dollar bill we thought we had, or peek at our bank account in hopes we haven’t gone into overdraft.
So why did he say JUST GIVE ME WHAT I NEED?
This unknown man understood the problems that come when too poor or too rich. He wanted God to take care of him. When people leave God out of their desire to balance life for honesty and provisions it goes off kilter.
As an aside, you might be interested in this article of very wealthy people who use what they have for God’s glory.
Those who are single parents, you are most likely in the ‘don’t make me too poor’ lifestyle. Prayers for help to make ends meet, a working vehicle, kid’s braces, or some cash to take the kiddos on a little excursion are all needed in life. I have been there. What I found in Agur’s statement, just give me what I need, has been true. An unexpected car repair, an upcoming mortgage payment, and stress from the work place to live a life of integrity were apart of my life. He gave me what I needed and then some.
Agur knew the true meaning of life by placing things in perspective. Living a life of honesty and letting God give us what we need equals a life of peace and a prosperity that money or status cannot buy. As David Green of Hobby Lobby says, “It’s God’s anyway”.
Without a doubt, life will hit us as we try and live an honest life while asking God to us give us just what we need. I appreciate Agur’s Reality on life. We have the same choices as him.
I am working at doing two things: Holding On and Letting Go. Yes, it has been a teeter-totter ride.
While a single mom, I had to take charge. Taking care of a home, raising my children, and working full-time meant it was all about schedules and routine so our life could hold some sort of saneness. For me, I had to hold on or I felt I would fall off the perverbal teeter-totter that our lives where on.
As the years have ticked on, I am still working hard to know when to Hold On and when to Let Go. It is a tough exercise. Maybe you are working through this as well. We can work on this together!
Promises of God
Google estimates at least 3000+ promises in the Bible. Whatever the count, that is a bunch of promises to claim! Sadly, in our world, unkept promises are the norm. Possibly, one being your marriage. What a comfort that God, who controls the world, gives us so many promises to help us Hold On.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
We all need hope because it drives us forward. Having a balance of hope with reality can be tricky. For myself, facing reality meant understanding there were things I had let go of even though I didn’t want to. For other decisions, I knew I needed to hold on with hope and fight for it. When I felt so defeated and sad, I claimed hope and partnered with reality checks.
Things we cannot control
Even though I know I cannot control everything, I still want to do that. Some days it is one step forward, and 10 steps back!
I understand that my life could be less stressful, more calming, and peace-filled when I can release it. Be encouraged, we all can do this with God’s help. Understanding it is a work in progress can help take the pressure off.
Jackson Kiddard said, “Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go”.
How about you?
Are there things your loved ones need help with and yet you have to stand back?
Is your ex making choices that you have no control over?
Are you adult kids making decisions that you feel are unsafe or unwise?
Is your co-worker a pain in the neck?
I have learned when I try and take things into my own hands and control things, it can backfire. It has taken a while for me to learn this. Truth is if we can go to God and trust Him, we are well on our way of letting go. The situation may not change, but we have let go and let God take over. He knows all about it and knows best anyway.
Past hurts and habits
These can dictate our thought patterns and how we react to situations. Sometimes, we like to stuff those emotions and hurts away, but until it can be faced and worked on, they will keep re-surfacing. I was grateful for the time I spent with a counselor to work through issues and hurts so I could face forward.
The first step is to identity the destructive hurts and habits. Then the following steps will begin to free yourself as you let go.
Just when we get a grip and start to have victory, WHAM…life happens. Just when I think I’m at the top of my class in LETTING GO 101…I am fighting to hold on instead of letting go.
But’s that’s okay. Remember we are a work in progress. Just keep Holding On and Letting go. It may take falling off the teeter-totter to our knees so we can ask God to help us work through it. Just keep at it. You will begin to have your feet planted on the ground as you HOLD ON and LET GO!
I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. Philippians 3:12
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX
What things are you facing right now that having you feeling like you are on a teeter-totter?
Have hope as you let go and allow God to help you.
You are not alone…we are all having to HOLD ON and LET GO.
Claim those two Bible verses to help you move forward.
Doesn’t it feel good to be snuggled in a warm blanket, or given a warm, tight hug from someone? When the weather becomes nasty and the wind is circling home, it feels nice to be tucked inside. So many nasty storms have affected our world even as I type. Storms come whether it is a weather system or a storm in our personal life. Both can affect us greatly.
Having a strong and safe shelter surrounding our heart is comforting with life storms hit and we find it hard to stand. Over the years, I have found that the Shelter of the All-Mighty God has given me peace and great comfort when I don’t understand why the storm had to come in the first place!
He promises in Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
[BTW, rampart means a thick, defensive wall of a city]
When covered by His Wings,
God Protects Us: No one will have a perfect, trial-free life. God asks us to come to Him and rest under His wings. If we are Christ-followers, we have the promise of eternity someday with Him. We also have the assurance that He will never abandon us in our personal journey.
God gives us Peace: When everything is whirling around us, He give us His peace that we cannot explain. But, we can feel it in our hearts. What a wonderful gift.
God Provides: He gives us what we need in times of life’s storms. It might not be the answer we think we need, but He knows what is best. We have to trust Him in this.
I remember singing an old hymn growing up. I think the older I get, the words become dearer to my heart. William Orcutt Cushing wrote,
Under His wings—what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blest. (verse 3)
I’m so excited to see my perennial plants start to peek through the ground. It means a new season is upon us.
Just like the re-starting of my little plants, new starts and a fresh perspective can perk us up. For me, it is time to dust off my bicycle seat, replace my winter boots with running shoes, and put away the heavy winter wear in exchange for a wind breaker. I love when the stores display Easter lilies, bright place mats and napkins, and sell pretty potted plants and herbs to sit in the window sill.
While a single mom, it meant breathing fresh life into my lungs as the girls and I struck for the outdoor adventures. It was also a time to re-new some goals and plan ahead for the next few months.
Grass can look greener on someone else’s life in comparison to what life was handed to us. For some it was a choice they hadn’t asked for. For me, I took some time to pause and gain a refreshed perspective and work on the shade of green that would push me forward. To be honest, some times that shade was pretty brown and dead looking. It meant a determined decision to work through some tough issues.
Was I working at being content as a single parent?
What attitudes could I tweak to have a better view of what life had handed me?
When others seemed to be moving on with some exciting happenings, could I stop looking over the fence saying the grass is greener for them and saying ‘poor me’?
What positive words could I use to encourage my children in their development?
Was I trusting God to lead me through this stage in my life and believe my shade of green was going to be OK?
Truly, grass is green on our little spot in the world; we just have to look for it. Being thankful for little things and grateful for day-to-day happenings can make our shade of green special and richer. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything, but we can choose to have a make it or break it view on life.
What shade of green life grass will you grow in the next few months?
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:
What tools will you use to help you grow this season?
List some new shade of green attitudes for your family.
Brush off your shoes and make some new memories with your kids.
For most of us, day-to-day routines and doing life become like a pair of well-worn slippers or a comfy sweatshirt. Most times, we can adjust to upcoming changes and work through it. Other times well, it is pretty tough.
Sometimes life hits us sideways, knocking the air out of our lungs. Single parenting is not for the faint of heart and changes can come faster then the speed of lighting. It happened to me when my ex-spouse said he loved someone else, had found his soul mate, and left.
Changes can come in a variety of ways.
Your spouse has decided to ‘leave the building’
You can’t make him/her love you
You and your kids struggle with grief and adjustments (that can be an understatement)
The gossip people say about your family
The emptiness and loneliness inside your heart
Loss of friends and his/her side of the family
Feelings of shame and feeling not good enough
A move or giving up a home because of the divorce negotiations
Health issues appear and you don’t have someone to be with you
Learning to do things on your own without a spouse
I have just touched the surface, but I think you understand and know that change is part of your life for a time. It was for me. It was like starting at ground zero to figure out who I was, how to parent alone, and what on earth would I do for a career as the bread-winner for the three of us.
I have to say, and I know it is hindsight, but the CHANGES that happened in my life made me who I am today. I will never agree with the choices I was left with but I took these changes and began to make a new life. Many times, changes have been forced because of someone else’s choice and that can be a hard pill to swallow. News Break! You don’t have to be defeated, but a winner!
Changes made me realize
Who I yield To. My life is about being a Christ-follower. That is first and foremost and I can work through life with Him. It was during that time, I learned what my faith was all about, learned from the Bible, and trusted God to help me move forward.
Who I am Today. I am divorced, single mom, re-married now, author, mentor, business owner, farmers wife and book reviewer. This change gave me the opportunity to spread my wings and learn to fly as the God-gifted Linda I could be. New opportunities continue to come and I am forever grateful.
Who I can Encourage. With my past, I can help others who are walking this journey. I believe I understand some of their heartache, their struggles, and their new journey. I also mentor women who are struggling with life and pray with them. What an awesome opportunity. I wrote a book to help single parents (and for those who are walking beside them) to help them understand they are not alone.
Single Mom Survival Success: Tools and Tips for the Journey. (Check out Amazon)
A lady approached me a few weeks back and said she had bought the book for her daughter but read it first because she was a widow and had been in a new relationship that didn’t pan out. She said it really helped her in her Christian walk.
Dear ones, changes can be so positive and exciting. Single Parent, you have a journey ahead of you that is unknown and it may be tough right now. Don’t give up! There can be so many positive changes despite the negative ones. Soon they will outnumber the yucky ones. Use this time to build up your life, make new choices, and let God be your Tour Guide. He is awesome!
We can be assured as it says in Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ never Changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Let Him help you through all these C. H. A. N. G. E. S.
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:
Identify your hardest change
What steps can you make to make some positive changes?
Understand that some changes are not your doing
Do you trust God to help you through these changes?
I have a colony of dust bunnies in my home and they are only to happy to take up residence. I am often astounded when I get down on my knees to vacuum under the bed and couches. It seems as soon as I get rid of a family of dust, more arrive. With busy schedules and appointments, sometimes they accumulate and I have to take them head on!
Isn’t that just like life. It is so easy to collect dust bunnies and clutter which take up unnecessary space in our heart. With that dreaded chore of spring cleaning (what is that anyway?) why don’t we also take time to de-clutter that unnecessary life dust and clutter that keep our heart from healing and bringing a ‘spring’ in our step.
Do these dust bunnies clutter your heart?
Dust Bunny #1: Bitterness– allowing painful and hurtful situations to harden the heart without dealing with it.
Dust Bunny #2: Bondage to lies – not believing what is Truth so issues are kept in bondage.
Dust Bunny #3: Beauty-less– feelings of worthlessness and comparing to someone else.
Dust Bunny #4: Blaming God- not willing to accept that God isn’t to blame despite unfair situations.
Dust Bunny #5: Brashness (attitude)- Letting stinging thinking cloud perspective on life so there is no option to see beauty and positive situations.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Jewish victim of the Nazi Holocaust, experienced horrific life experiences but chose to get rid of dust bunnies in her life. She said,
Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something we make inside ourselves.
Life isn’t all rosy and many times unfair. We know that for sure. Honestly, there are days when I am tired of fighting the dust bunnies and clutter that keep true freedom from reigning. It’s too hard, too much work, and too painful. I want to throw up the white dust flag of defeat. Sometimes it is hard to remember the past positive experiences that brought peace. Do you feel that way?
God never promised us a perfect life here on earth but a life He would walk alongside us and help us through it. It is with that belief, we can be well on our way to clearing the clutter whether of bitterness, brashness, blaming, and selfless-love to understand we are worth fighting for. Each victory, whether small or large is a success.
Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. Ephesians 4:23
Spring cleaning can begin right away even if the wintry weather is still fighting to stay. If we can let the Holy Spirit change our way of thinking and look at what life can be, Springtime has arrived!
So instead of:
Bitterness choose Joy.
Bondage to lies choose Truth
Beauty-less choose inner Beauty and Self-worth
Blaming God choose Trusting in His goodness
Brashness (attitude) choose a Positive outlook
It’s time to fight the Dust Bunnies and clutter….
GRAB YOUR VACUUM CLEANER AND DUST RAG
What dust bunny do you struggle with the most?
What steps can you take to begin to vacuum up and get rid of it?
Do you trust God to help you de-clutter and have victory?
Begin to know and believe you can have victory, one step at a time.