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.
Do you remember when, as a child, you were told to sit still when it seemed like there so were so many ants in your pants? Learning to be still in our world can be like catching the wind!
For the last two years, my theme words have been, BE STILL. Yep, I needed to work on it again this year. I find it hard to be still. It isn’t so much physically being still, which I do find hard to do, but working on being still in my spirit.
When life’s arrows are being shot every which way and life is demanding being still can take a back seat many times. I have a card seating on my window ledge in my office that says, BE STILL. I want to see it often making me stop to breathe and ask God to still me. Do you find that?
It’s not only trying to be still, but to do as the rest of the verse says below.
“Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a (NIV). The Contemporary English Version puts it this way, “Our God says, Calm down, and learn that I am God.”
Every day, week, month and even years I need to claim that verse. It may seem funny to say that being still is an action word, but it is. It is a conscious effort to stop and work at being calm. It is also an action word to know and learn who God is. When we understand how awesome, how powerful, and how loving He is, we can begin to calm down and be still.
Life circumstances may or may not change, but for sure God never changes. We can rest in the fact that we need to trust Him.
This past year, my one daughter moved overseas to work and travel. There was times I found it hard to be calm, especially when she was pick- pocketed in a country with a different language. My other daughter and her husband did some traveling this year overseas as well. I told them I was giving them a crocheting hook and yarn and they need to do that for excitement instead of all this travelling. Ha ha
I know of many others who are going through a separation or marriage break up. I know of those that are standing by their spouse’s palliative bed wondering when their loved one will leave this earth. Others are heavy heart-ed with children who are living a life not up to their potential. Some children don’t have faith in Jesus and parents long for the day when their children will see how important they need Jesus in their life. Others are in dire need of financial needs met.
It is tough to BE STILL and trust God. You know, nothing gets passed Him. We just have to keep taking His promises, pray, and learn more and more about God. He will help us be still. I have found just finding a quiet spot to pray and talk to God has been a wonderful comfort for me. This was one of my spots. Maybe you have a place you go to be still. A favourite chair, a walk in the park, a drive or a quiet place in your home. (if you have small kids it may mean your locked bathroom door!)
Jesus and his disciples were out in the boat when a terrible storm came up. The disciples were terrified and felt they were going to drown. Jesus had it all under control.
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be Still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:39 (NIV)
Let’s allow Jesus to take our storms of life and work on these two words, BE STILL. Know that God asks us to BE STILL and is waiting to hear from you. He has wonderful things to teach us.
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:
Feeling like it is hard to breathe? Its OK, you are normal
Ask God to help you breathe and be still before Him
Talk to Him about your storms of life
Be still and learn who God is each step of the way
I would have to say that Autumn is my most favourite time of year. I live where there are four distinct seasons with weather changes to match. I enjoy this one the best.
Autumn seems so short and before I know it the cold wintry weather is here. I often sit and view the splash of hundreds of coloured leaves that look like a gorgeous patchwork quilt. A strong wind will come up leaving naked branches! So I take the time to walk through the crunchy leaves, take pictures of the scenery, and realize that change is coming.
As much as I wish the patchwork view would stay, I know that another season is coming which I can’t stop or change.
The fact remains, change is always inevitable. Sometimes we change, other times change makes us change.
I like the challenge of change most times. It is refreshing like a cool autumn breeze.
Over the years
I have sat in an evening class and cracked open my new textbook ready to learn
I was given a new job description at work and was pumped for it
A new tradition began for my family and I was all over it
After being a alone as a single mom for 12 years, I was proposed to and given a second chance at marriage during the Autumn season
However, there has been some changes in my life that hit me sideways and keeping my balance was difficult.
Suddenly became a single mom
A heavy financial bill that needed to be fixed quickly
Downsizing in the workplace and found myself in the unemployment line
People that said they would be there…weren’t
My adult girls grew up and moved away (even though it was exciting it was hard on me!)
Aging has brought changes in my body…and that isn’t funny!
I am sure you have your own list of changes that you have no control over. The good thing is that Jesus Christ never changes.
Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:5 (CEV)
When life is continually changing, we can count and trust on Him to be our constant. He will be our stability.
Accepting that changes will happen will go a long way in moving forward in your life. Some will be positive while others not so much. Asking God for direction understanding He never changes will give confidence that He is there to help and listen.
Autumn is here and with that changes are coming. Good news is that it can be a very rewarding season for some positive changes. When faced with unexpected and tough changes, we can reach to God for help and guidance to make wise and right choices.
OPEN YOUR TOOLBOX:
Believe you can face changes head-on.
What do you feel would be a good positive change in your life?
Have a positive plan of action.
Remember God never changes and He is always constant.
Grab your camera, and take a walk through the leaves.
I hate wearing hats! Some people look amazing in any kind of head-wear, but me….not so much! If necessity calls I will sacrifice and get a bad hair day.
There is another kind of hat or cap we need to wear every day. It’s called The Thinking Cap.
Each week, there are many decisions to make as a parent. Then there are stressors in the workplace, numerous relationship issues, and financial burdens to calculate in our mind. If I didn’t have the Lord to help me process things and calm me down, I am not sure where I would be today.
Life hands all of us decisions and a many we have no control over. God is willing to filter His true wisdom and guidance in our life. For me, that is always the first place I need to go with decisions whether large or small.
With God’s wisdom we can have confidence in wearing our Thinking Cap. Unfortunately, some say, “I do myself” and run ahead of God and later regret their decision. If we can remember that God is good all the time, it will give us a secure foundation to trust Him with life. As single parents, needing wisdom is part of the journey. Sometimes that Thinking Cap needs to look like a hard hat to handle some of life knocks!
But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. James 3:17 (CEV)
There were times when all I could say to God was, “I have no idea what to do. I need help”. Sure enough, He came through. Sometimes He brought a person to help, sometimes the problem was solved on its own, and other times I had to be brave to stand up for what was right and true.
Being a parent doesn’t always make us popular with our children, but if we ask God to help us keep this Thinking Cap on so we can make choices like James 3:17 said… pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.
What are you facing today? This week? Grab your Thinking Cap, put it on securely and ask God to guide you, as James said,
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. James 1:5 (CEV)
OPEN YOUR TOOL BOX:
Do you have your Thinking Cap on?
Ask God for wisdom as you make decisions this week.
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
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.
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