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This is our all-time favorite part of the year and boy, do we have some fresh holiday ideas for your ministry! There is so much to rejoice and be thankful for:

The Christmas music start playing,

The fall leaves begin trickling from trees and changing into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red.

The hot cocoa starts bubbling steamy goodness of chocolate and marshmallow goo.

It is our mission to ensure that no single mom walks alone. We provide tons of *FREE* resources to help in parenting, finances, and spiritual health. Check out our single mom help page HERE!

The trees go up and maybe the turkeys begin to roast.

But the truth is, there can be much to mourn as well.  Single moms may be experiencing their first Christmas alone, after a spouse passed away. Perhaps this is their 10th Christmas alone and the pain of not being married another year is almost too much to bear. Maybe the financial or parenting burden they face this season seems to be particularly hard and almost insurmountable.  This is why we encourage single moms’ ministries to have effective holiday outreach plans.

It’s NOT too late!

Now, before we go further, let us tell you, that it is NOT too late to plan your holiday outreach…even if you don’t have much of a budget.  Don’t overthink it! It doesn’t have to be a 5-course meal and orchestra performing a beautiful symphony of Christmas ballads. It can be simple and easy.  (Hint: Holiday Outreaches are one of the most effective ways to grow your single moms’ ministry long-term. This is a way to create excitement and have regular members invite visitors to come check you out, so…BE FUN!)

Here are a few holiday ideas:
  1. Host a White Elephant exchange with a $1 limit at your church or home.  White Elephant, Secret Santa, or Cajun Christmas (as we call it here in Louisiana) is simply a fun way to have a gift exchange at a low cost.  Have each attendee bring a wrapped gift valued at the $1 limit (or $5 or $10, whatever you decide). You can make something, create gag gifts, or visit the local Dollar store.  Each person selects a number and takes turns drawing gifts.  It’s a fun past-time that can also equal lots of laughs. Each person can bring a dish for food, if desired. Bam, you’ve just created a holiday outreach!
  2. Go Christmas caroling. Okay, so yeah, it can be kinda corny, but it’s really quite fun.  Determine a set night & time for moms (and even their children) to meet.  Rehearse a few Christmas classics, such as Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and the like.  Then, determine, where you’d like to spread your holiday cheer.  As an added feature, you can close the evening with hot cocoa at someone’s home.  Caroling ideas can include neighborhoods, shopping malls, or apartment complexes.
  3. Host a Christmas movie night at your home or church.  There are many wonderful holiday classics that are always worth the 3rd, 4th, or 100th view! Pop some popcorn and create a fun and relaxing environment.  Maybe the moms can even come in their pj’s as an additional source of fun.
  4. Have a game night. Game nights can be board games or Christmas-centric fun, such as gift wrapping challenges (with one hand tied behind the back) or Name that Tune Christmas Edition (while guests listen to one person hum famous Christmas tunes).
  5. Host a dinner.  Whether you choose to simply do a potluck and have everyone bring a dish or petition a restaurant to donate several meals at a local hangout, the point is, those who eat together…stay together! Relationship is formed over a good meal and plenty of laughter.  Be sure to have some ice breakers or use open-ended questions to get the holiday chatter going among your attendees.

There are dozens and dozens of fun holiday party ideas available online via search engines, Pinterest, and the like. You are only as limited as your imagination.  The point is to create a way to show single moms that they are seen, loved, and not forgotten during the holiday season.

Jennifer Maggio is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom,  a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. Having served more than 71,000 single mothers each year, the goal of the organization is establish support groups for single mothers in communities around the world. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s group. Our programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and parentally.

For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

The post Holiday Ideas for Your Ministry by Jennifer Maggio appeared first on The Life of a Single Mom.

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I had just settled into my seat for a short forty-five-minute flight from Las Vegas to Fresno, when I heard, “I’m going to sit right here with you.” I followed the voice up to have my eyes land on what looked like, a softer, prettier version of a real-life Cruella Deville.

Without hesitation, I immediately took this conversation up with God.

“Oh, Lord. This is the first woman you’re sending me. Aren’t you?”

You see, several months prior to this airline experience and about nine years into my single motherhood story, the Holy Spirit graced me with one of those, history in the making, moments.

Sharing that I would be introduced to women.

These key women would be younger and older than me. I would be in the middle, in both age and wisdom. Some I would give a hand up and others would lift me up.

Without a doubt, in my mind, this real-life Ms. Deville look-alike was the first. With a Godly authority, she had a presence my wild, rebel spirit—dare not cross.

Not surprisingly, our conversation went from zero to 120 in that short forty-five-minute flight. Ending with an invitation to meet on one of her return trips to Vegas.

And that, we did.

The months leading up to our dinner date…

Fear met me in the shower.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Oddly enough, the place we enter to wash the sweat and grime from our day, had me feeling like the most unprepared failure.

Each time I entered that shower, an army of invisible militants bombarded my mind with scenes from the worst of my past choices.

Choices I was most ashamed of. Day after day, voices of my past and current friendships wrote out a script defining me as unworthy to pick up my cross and carry out a calling I had been running from.

Like too many of us, fear held me hostage.

Fear that I didn’t have what it takes to step into the role God had called me to fifteen years ago.

In need of encouragement through your rainy season? Check out Peace and the Single Mom: 50 Moments of Calm in the Chaos HERE!

Fear that I was too bound to the decisions I had made.

Fear of what people would say who knew who I “really” was.

Fear has kept me from writing this.

Fear is a liar.

To me and to you.

His redemptive power. 

That militant of darkness knew something I didn’t. I was about to embark on a rare experience.

In the middle of an ordinary day on a flight I had made several times, God placed in my life, not just a Cruella Deville look-alike, but a woman of stature. A woman with faith and courage enough to be used by God to set one of his children free.

She and I had met one other time and yet God, in all his graciousness, had set her in motion to do his bidding as she helped walk me out of a heavy, broken place. She opened the door for me to receive his promise. Freedom.

And one mid-September evening, in the home of a stranger, I was humbled and brought to my knees.

I wept and I mourned as the years leading up to that moment flashed through my mind.

I was finally assured…

There was no mistake in my journey. I was being healed and restored. The weight and the pain of all the years slid off my shoulders as I felt his presence pour in.

Right there, in that moment, I was being rejuvenated, repaired and restored.

What did I learn that evening more than any other day in my walk with Jesus?

That all the while I was waiting on Him to move and wondering if he would…He finally did! He was moving when I would find myself exhausted beyond measure. God would move when I would find myself broken beyond my own repair.

My friend, God shows up in our life in ways we never would imagine. To do amazing things that only he can create.

He desires us to have peace of mind, peace of heart and peace of soul.

And….just around the corner from fear is freedom.

Had I not said yes to an unscripted invite by a random stranger, I wouldn’t have the authority to authentically step into the role God had for me; a living example walking others out of the messiness of their pain and into the same freedom I experienced.

Single mamma..

If you find yourself worn out for too long, if you are continuously weighed down with fear, guilt, shame or addictions, and you have tried too long to escape it, I promise you God didn’t intend for this to be your permanent residency.

But seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

Can you seek him with all your heart with the expectation of receiving this gift of freedom?

He sent His one and only son to pay the price for our insults, injuries and poor choices. God broke those chains. He has made the way to freedom.

Cassie Rajewich is a life coach to single moms as well as a writer and speaker of the heart. She is the creator of Unconventional Motherhood: Helping Single Moms Master the Mess. After ten years of mastering her own mess of single motherhood, she ditched the security and comfort of the life she had built, upped and left her residence of Las Vegas and made the move to Southern California where she began a new adventure, blending a family. She now helps other women navigate the sometimes difficult journey of single motherhood through her grace filled approach that develops order and organization within the heart and home. 

The Life of a Single Mom is a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. Having served more than 71,000 single mothers each year, the goal of the organization is establish support groups for single mothers in communities around the world. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s group. Our programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and parentally. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

The post A Story of Redemption and a Call to Freedom appeared first on The Life of a Single Mom.

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I have been blessed to attend dozens and dozens of marriage ceremonies through the years.  Never does the beauty of a blushing and glowing bride or the look on her soon-to-be husband’s face, when she appears, get old.  I get butterflies as I think of the exciting journey they are about to embark upon. The joy of marriage is not talked about often enough!  In fact, I might venture to say that because I work in single parenting ministry, the marriage beauty can be overshadowed by the hardships that I often see in divorce or failed relationships.  Yet, the reality is, there is something wonderful about having a partner to do life with, to share experiences with, or to bounce ideas off of. But what happens when you are carrying extra baggage with you?

The twists and turns of life can often leave wounds. Our life experiences can help us to grow in wisdom and maturity, which are beautiful attributes that will enhance a future relationship. But life experiences can also cause gaps in our emotional bank that create danger zones for any future spouse. It’s important to recognize what those things are.  We all have a past that we bring into a new relationship. Recognize the baggage we and learning how to fix it can result in a one-day beautiful happy marriage journey. It is possible.   

If you are single now and not on the dating scene, this is a perfect time for you to evaluate your baggage! (The same is true if you are already in a relationship! It’s never too late to grow!) Baggage we bring into relationships can include:

Abuse.

Every year, Child Protective Services works with approximately 6.6 million children with allegations of abuse in the home, including physical, sexual, mental, and emotional.   1 in 5 women in the United States have been raped.  1 in 71 men.  1 in 3 women have been victim of violence by a partner.  The list goes on and on.  Abuse is everywhere. Whether it stems from a dangerous or unhealthy childhood or a recent relationship that went terribly wrong, both men and women can bring the baggage of abuse into the relationship, leaving a wound that can last a lifetime, if not addressed.

Finances.

College credit cards, previous divorce, medical bills, or simple mismanagement of money can all result in a financial baggage that is heavy.  It takes only a matter of moments to ruin a credit history through obtaining too much debt load, applying for too many accounts, or over-utilizing credit cards, just to name a few. It can take months and years to rectify poor credit.  Financial history usually isn’t a deal-breaker, when honest. Poor spending habits or inability to learn better money management can be weighty in a marriage.

Past Relationships.

Rarely today does someone enter into marriage that has not been involved in a previous relationship of some sort, even if a jr. high sweetheart or puppy love, of some sort. Many of us have experience deep wounds from a relationship that we were deeply involved in (or marriage) that failed. We felt like failures. We were hurt and angry. And if we aren’t careful, we get the idea that someone must pay! We don’t do so consciously, but subconsciously our spouse must prove to us that he/she isn’t willing to do the same things to us that a past partner did. Often, we make them prove that truth repeatedly.  We compare.  If there is a marriage set back through a disagreement, we sometimes drudge up the past of the old relationship and how the previous partner “did the exact same thing.”  We must be careful with the past.

Childhood.

Whether we had a childhood that was bustling with laughter and joy, family devotionals and regular vacations, or whether we were riddled with the pain of abuse, death of a close family member, or other trauma, our childhoods shape us.  And those experiences can bring baggage into the marriage.  The traumatic experiences of our childhood (when applicable) can bring obvious pain and wounds. Perhaps less obvious is a positive childhood.

If we were blessed with fantastic parents who created a healthy home environment, that is an awesome gift we’ve received. However, we have to be careful that we don’t make a habit of comparing our childhood experiences with the performance of our spouses.  Our husbands may not mow the lawn as faithfully as dad once did or make the money that afforded a more comfortable lifestyle. Your wives may not be the dynamic cook or seamstress your mom once was.  Let’s be careful that we allow our childhoods to shape who we are without exerting baggage they may have created.

…and here’s how to fix it!

Now that we’ve uncovered some of the pitfalls of baggage we can bring into the relationship, let’s consider how we can find wholeness from the baggage.  Here are some helpful tips:

Communicate.

Our partners don’t know the whole story. They don’t know about the intricate details of our relationships, pasts, or childhoods. Even when we explain some of the trauma we’ve experienced, it’s still hard for our spouses to fully comprehend what that may have done to us emotionally.  We must talk. Do not ignore the elephant in the room that is causing disagreements, rage, lack of sexual empathy, depression, or even more.  Tell your partner how you are feeling. Tell them that nightmares have suddenly surfaced from a decades-old wound. Talk about how a certain behavior triggers a reminder for you of a past hurt.  Don’t assume that your spouse already knows what you are feeling. The more you talk about that dark thing, the more light of healing is shed on it.

Want to show your appreciation to a special single mom in your life? Check out our Single Mom Calm & Quiet Gift Basket HERE!

Seek help from outsiders.

There are wounds that, sometimes, we are simply not equipped to handle. Trusted pastors, licensed counselors, or sexual therapists are not only a good idea, they are often necessary to begin the healing process. Not only are all meetings private, but they have been trained with skills (and anointed for the task) that you can implement into your day-to-day life. I’ve also found that just being able to talk through baggage offers great release from the burden it brings with it. There is no shame in recognizing you need help beyond your own expertise.

Be patient.

Healing takes time. We are an impatient people, aren’t we? We want an instant everything, but the human spirit isn’t a switch we can turn to a higher level of performance. It takes time and the presence of the Holy Spirit daily working on the wound to bring healing.  Healing will come. In the meantime, it may mean that you have to have more discussions about a topic than you think or necessary. It may mean that the healing you thought would take weeks take years. Issue grace and be patient in the process (for both you and your future spouse).

Forgive.

It’s time you forgive your past offender, if you have suffered a wound. Forgive yourself for a past failure that has haunted you in your marriage and for that parent that wasn’t around. Maybe you are carrying bitterness about the death of a loved one or a failed marriage. Forgive God. Forgiveness is a daily choice we make. The more we practice it, the more freely we can give it.  There’s great freedom, when you master the art of forgiveness on a regular basis. Satan no longer has a hold on you, creating a burden that you carry day-to-day.

Take classes together.

There is an explosion of technology. That, coupled with the cognizance of many churches to address the practical needs of its congregations. There has never been more access to life skills classes to grow.  Whether you are carrying a financial burden due to lack of money management techniques or the wound of a sexual assault, there are classes both online and in person in many communities around the United States. Many are low-cost or no-cost, but even if they aren’t, it’s worth the sacrifice of saving money. Think about hosting a garage sale to invest in your future marriage.  Grow with your partner. (And if he isn’t willing to grow with you, that should be a huge red flag for you). 

Jennifer Maggio is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom,  a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. We have served more than 71,000 single mothers each year. The goal of the organization is establish support groups for single mothers in communities around the world. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s group. Our programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and parentally. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

The post 4 Types of Baggage We Bring Into a New Relationship by Jennifer Maggio appeared first on The Life of a Single Mom.

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Do You Trust Him

If you’ve been following my series of articles we have been on the Holy Ghost carpet ride, had intimate conversations with God, and dared to be “all in” while we shine for Christ! All of this is good but means absolutely nothing if you don’t trust Him. You have to know God for yourself. Yes, we’ll read the book, hear other’s testimonies, and read biblical stories on how He supernaturally provided for others, but how many of us really believe He’ll do it for us?

God is calling us to be immediately obedient and trust Him to provide.

I can personally relate. I “accidentally” received instructions to move to my next level last year. Nothing is ever by accident when you’re God’s child. In other words, God hand-delivered instructions that it was time to leave a place. Instead, I was too focused on external circumstances and was confused about the timing so I did not move. Basically, fear sabotaged it all. I had lost focus on the Who. After much prayer and an encounter with God, I learned that I was, indeed, supposed to take this leap last year.

Need help parenting effectively, managing finances, or securing emotional health? Check out Overwhelmed HERE!

As a result of not moving, this past year has been complete torture, at times, in the place God was calling me out of. And with a schedule so jammed packed of working a full-time job, running a business, leading a ministry and active in two others, higher than normal doses of family drama regarding siblings, and my daughter being in her senior year of high school, I was barely able to keep my head above water. BUT GOD!!! I THANK GOD for his grace and mercy that got me through it all. I had to repent and ask for forgiveness for being disobedient.

Let It Go and Take the Leap.

When I look back, I kept moving the dates of my leap and waiting for certain circumstances to happen so that I could have a more comfortable next level experience. I was making it all about me and trying to control things. What God calls us into won’t always be comfortable at first because there are lessons attached. How will we ever experience His provision or grow our faith if we don’t jump? What I failed to see was that God was doing a new thing just as He told me (that year) in Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

God will speak directly to you through His Word. He was saying the following: Forget the past. Look at what I am doing, Kenya! Don’t you see it? He is working it out for you in what everybody else would say is the impossible. I get chills and confirmation every time I read that scripture. But I also want to hit myself upside the head too (haha). I cringe because I didn’t trust Him.

…And Obey.

It’s paramount to be immediately obedient to what God is telling you to do. There is a bigger picture that we are unaware of. God is the conductor and we’ve got to move to his beat. There are divine connections to be made. That’s not to say that He won’t bless us in the state where we are. He’s God and He can bring opportunities back around, although they may not look the same, but it’s best to be obedient the first time. There will be consequences if you don’t. I heard a sermon by Pastor Karen Pressley last year—the same year I was supposed to take the leap. She said, “Always be where God is and not where He was.”

Today, I can say with complete confidence that I won’t miss it the next time around—which is very soon. I’m ready for a new Christ-filled adventure and I’m ready for the next level. I’m ready to be used at capacity for His Kingdom agenda.

Beloved, my prayer for you is that when you hear Him speak, you will be immediately obedient (no matter what) and watch God do the impossible in your life!

Meet Certified Life Coach, Forthcoming Author, and Speaker Kenya S. Ulmer. Kenya teaches women how to ditch the drama and distractions to get on the road to their destiny. Nothing bothers Kenya more than seeing women not understand their true worth in Jesus Christ. Her approach is aimed to get at the root of and unearth the deadly foundations that we create and live on. These foundations prevent us from living a more joyous and purpose-filled life. Kenya resides in Maryland with her daughter Sydney—queen of the selfie. To learn more and connect with Kenya, visit her at www.singlemamawithnodrama.com 

The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. Our primary focus is in helping churches and communities launch single mom’s ministries and have done so more than 1,500 times! Our support groups connect 71,000 single mothers each year to a local church.   We are a one-stop shop for all things single mom ministry related. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

The post Taking the Leap When God is Doing a New Thing by Kenya S. Ulmer appeared first on The Life of a Single Mom.

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Am I helping or hurting?

This question is one I have wrestled with over the years. It can be difficult to know when to step back and allow my kids to experience some struggles. I don’t like seeing them hurting, sad, disappointed, or discouraged, yet life is messy and full of challenges.

I know hardship and heartache have strengthened my tenacity, stretched the perseverance muscles, and expanded my capacity for compassion. Other qualities like patience, satisfaction, and hope are fostered in the times of waiting and delayed gratification. Personal experience tells me failure and mistakes spur on creative thinking and moves one to problem solving thus producing success. Perhaps a kinder and smarter way to approach life’s difficulties is to train our kiddos to persevere and persist in the pain and pits rather than protect them from it.

What are some remedies to enabling?

If you need help with skills and tips on how to parent those babies no matter the age or season in life, check out Kids and the Single Mom HERE!

Here are 5 ways experience allows children to be empowered.

  1. Allow kids to wrestle with issues rather than being rescued from them. Ask questions to help kick start the problem-solving mind-set. Come alongside your children, let them know you are with them, and they have the ability to manage life’s struggles.
  2. Squelch impulsiveness and build delayed gratification.  Waiting and working for a desired item allows kids to think through impulses. (Clearly a good thing for our teens, yes?) The side benefit is that children begin to distinguish between a need and a want.
  3. Appreciate the uniqueness of family members. Notice each one’s giftedness. Avoid comparing siblings to each other. Competition among sisters and brothers breeds contempt and rivalry.
  4. Provide kind correction so they learn correction is not rejection. Show empathy and love by listening, understanding, and sharing experiences where you have learned something when you received correction.
  5. Be the coach rather than the referee when your children squabble. Train them how to work through disagreements agreeably. If the children receive no guidance in this area, jungle rules prevail and the older and smarter one will always win.

We empower our kiddos when we support them through encouragement and equip them with the tools to build their internal motivation, “Way to go! I bet it feels great to have your blood, sweat, and tears effort rewarded. Congratulations on a job well done!”

Just as joy and happiness are good things– struggles and challenges are valuable as well. Join me in trading in that enabler cap and replace it with an empowering parent hat. 

What ways have you found to empower rather than enable your kids? 

Parenting is Lori Wildenberg’s passion. She speaks nationally and has authored four, soon to be five, books. Those books include, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home and Raising Little Kids with BIG Love. Lori is the co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, a ministry for moms and dads. Her easily applicable, relevant, relatable, and cutting edge material is presented with warmth, humor, and transparency. She admits she is not the perfect mom and openly shares stories of parent fails and successes.  Lori, a licensed parent and family educator, loves to coach parents to be the parents their kids need. The Wildenberg family resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her husband, five kids (four plus a daughter-in-love), and the family labradoodle, Murphy.  You can find out more about Lori at www.loriwildenberg.com.

The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. Our primary focus is in helping churches and communities launch single mom’s ministries and have done so more than 1,500 times! Our support groups connect 71,000 single mothers each year to a local church.   We are a one-stop shop for all things single mom ministry related. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

The post Am I Helping or Hurting My Kids? By Lori Wildenberg appeared first on The Life of a Single Mom.

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