November and December are my two favorite months of the year. Mid-November usually ushers in cooler weather, here in the South. Pumpkins and hay make their way onto front lawns. And holiday dinners are celebrated. I love hosting large holiday gatherings, trying new recipes, and baking and delivering cookies to the whole neighborhood. (I am a regular Betty Crocker!)
After the hustle and bustle of holiday busyness, I usually have down-time for the months of January and February. If I am not careful, my down-time turns into depression. Every year, I "hunker down" and just pray for March - spring flowers and warmer weather. My detest for colder weather doesn't help my mood, most would tell you. I have often been caught saying, "November and December are cold to make the holidays more festive, but January and February are cold for simply no reason!"
For many, this holiday dreariness hits long before January. The Thanksgiving and Christmas season can often serve as a reminder for single parents of everything that has gone wrong in their lives. Often, they must share their children with the opposite parent during the holiday season. They mourn the loss of a failed relationship. Financial woes mount, therefore limiting any gift purchases. I have been there. I have eaten holiday meals alone. I have purposefully slept the day away, hoping it would soon be over.
Here are a few tips that I learned to help me enjoy my holiday season:
1. Be intentional. Recognizing that this time of year is a struggle for year helps to eliminate the desire to alienate. Map out a schedule for the next few weeks of activities you can accomplish on the weekends or during the evening, when loneliness can be particularly hard.
2. Host gatherings - however big or small. Having a meal at your home can really brighten your mood. Friends help lighten the load and can deter your thoughts from the woes of the season.
3. Decorate your home. Oh, what a big ol' stuffed Santa Claus can do for your mood!
4. Serve someone else. You are surround with others less fortunate than yourself. Serve at a soup kitchen. Visit a nursing home. Spend time with women in a battered women's shelter. There is nothing like purpose that changes perspective.
5. Journal your blessings. The more you focus on what God has done in your life and all he has given you, the easier it is to remove focus from any lack you may have.
6. Talk about it. Take a friend to coffee and be vulnerable. Share about the sadness and grief you are experiencing. Let people know. And if need be, make an appointment at your local counseling center. (Many churches offer lay counselors and some even offer professional counselors, free of charge).
Author/Speaker Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parents’ and mothers’ issues. She is the founder of Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine and The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs and has a heart to see that no single mother walks alone. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
As I sat to ponder my son's upcoming eighteenth birthday, my mind was flooded with memories from his childhood - the first time he swung a baseball to bat, his first words, first steps, the first time he said, "I wub you."
I could not believe that the last eighteen years had flown by, just as others swore they would. I wondered how I would mark this special occasion in his life. And so, alas, as a writer, what else would I do, but write? Here are the twenty tidbits of advice I offered him and thought you may would day appreciate for your own children:
1. Gratitude is attitude. Always thank God for your blessings.
3. Practice good personal hygiene. Bad breath and dirty armpits are gross.
4. Clean up after yourself.
5. Pay your bills on time. Your credit will follow you everywhere.
6. Work hard.
7. God's word is the only thing that won't fail you. Read it.
8. Be a man of high integrity. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't steal.
9. Do not give up on church. You need it.
10. Profanity defiles your spirit. Watch what you feed your soul.
11. Money won't make you happy.
12. There's no substitute for time with the Lord. It fills our soul.
13. Sexual immorality has life-altering consequences.
14. Be whole in Christ before you search for a wife. She will never complete you.
15. Voting is a right and a duty. Participate.
16. Look for ways to serve others.
17. Take your time finding a life-mate. Marriage is forever.
18. God is good. He loves you, won't leave you, and extends grace to his children.
19. Don't forget to call your mom.
20. It's my greatest joy to call you "son". I love you.
Author/speaker, Jennifer Maggio, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parents and women’s issues. She is an award-winning author and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She currently oversees one of the nation’s largest single moms support groups and has helped to launch more than 1500 others in churches around the globe. She is a regular on radio and television. For more information, visithttp://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
How can we, as loving, compassionate, members of the global body of Christ, reach out and show love to single parents? Maybe the single parents in your life seem like they have it all together. There are some amazingly, strong single parents today, and many are achieving success parentally and emotionally, while finding great freedom in their walk with the Lord. But even those strong, amazing single parents, could use an occasional helping hand.
Here are a few practical ways to brighten a single parent's day:
- Babysit for free and do it often. Single mothers often work many hours per week and do not want to ask for help. They may even work a second or third job, or be attending a local college, too. Babysitting can be expensive. Encourage single mothers in your life to take the night off. They need it.
- Offer to grocery shop for them. Shopping is a simple task, but shop alone with three children hanging from the buggy and you'll see the challenge many single parents face weekly.
- Give her some girl time. Sometimes the best way to serve a single mom is to invite her for coffee for some adult conversation.
- Start a single parent support group in your church. What a way to be the body of Christ! Start a Bible study or Sunday School Class just for single parents. Give them a place to feel comfortable and welcomed inside your church walls.
Author/speaker, Jennifer Maggio, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parents and women’s issues. She is an award-winning author and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She currently oversees one of the nation’s largest single moms support groups and has helped to launch more than 1500 others in churches around the globe. She is a regular on radio and television. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
I was eighteen years old when I had my first child and had no clue how to parent, much less, how to do it all alone. I had never boiled bottles (do people even do that anymore?), changed diapers, or dealt with cholic. Fear quickly permeated every area of my life. What if I couldn't do this right? What if I didn't have enough money to feed him? How was it going to affect him to not have a father around?
Those early years were not the end of my fears either. As time went on, I became increasingly worried that my children may choose the wrong friends, fail a test, or make the same mistakes I once did. Fast forward several years. I met and married the man of my dreams, secured great employment, and purchased a lovely home. Occassionally, I feared that that man would one day leave me, like so many in my life had, or that I would lose that great job and not have the ability to pay my mortgage. What was this? Fear. Fear. Fear. I was inundated with the What-ifs of life.
Fear can grip our very soul. It can dictate how we live our lives. I was completely oblivious to how much fear I was carrying, until I sat in a sermon one Sunday morning by a local pastor. He asked us to write down the things we feared. He, then, asked us to share our list with a neighbor sitting next to us. Tears streamed down my face. I was embarrassed that even though I had been on my Christian journey for years, I had lived a life of bondage to a long list of fears.
2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear is faith in the wrong things. What you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least. Learn to take authority over your fears:
1. Acknowledge the fear and choose to trust God with it. If you fear that you will always be alone, confess it to the Lord and trust that he knows far better than you what you need. If you fear you will never purchase a home, trust God. If you fear your children may be killed in a plane crash, trust God. Begin to openly acknowledge what you are carrying.
2. Seek God until he takes away all your fears. (See Ps. 34:4). Keep pursuing freedom. Keep Praying for him to deliver you from it. Keep professing God's truth over your life, not your feelings.
3. Recognize that they can't do anything to you. You belong to the Lord. Do not listen to what they say. Do not listen to those who say you won't make it, you won't win, you can't do it. Satan whispers in your ear that your forgiven sins will hinder you from future successes. Don't listen.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her personal story of homelessness, abuse, and teen pregnancy. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.