- 2014Oct 21
The holiday season is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude. It is a time to reflect. We gather around fires and giggle with family. We host parties, give gifts, and drink hot cocoa. We visit friends and tell old stories. We roast chestnuts on the open fire. (Has anyone ever actually done that?) We thank God for our blessings and often look for ways to bless others.
1. Sometimes, that blessing comes in the form of financial giving. It is a vital part of giving back to others. It is important that we understand that God often works through us to bless others. Maybe you think you don’t have much to give. It’s ironic how God uses what we deem to be insignificant to change the lives of others around us. I am sure that the little boy whose mom prepared his lunch of five loaves and two fish in John 6 didn’t receive his lunch and exclaim, “Wow, Mom. What a blessing!” He likely grabbed it and went about his day. He had no way of knowing that later that day his little contribution would become a blessing that not only blessed thousands that very day but many for generations to come.
2. Be faithful in your tithe to your local church. Do it because your Heavenly Father has already given you everything. May I challenge you to take it even a step further?
3. Go above the tithe and bless a charity, organization, missionary, or family this holiday season. Do it even when it doesn’t seem like much. Your little bit put in the hands of the more-than-enough God will be stretched further than you could ever imagine.
Beyond financial blessings, some of the most valuable blessings come through those who bless others with their time. To me, there is nothing worse than walking into a women’s Bible study when you do not know anyone. Okay, maybe there are a few things that are worse, but that ranks pretty high on my list. Walking into a new environment, convinced everyone has been lifelong friends and you are the only outsider, is like some type of ancient Chinese torture in my book. Nothing can make this girl feel more awkward and self-conscious. You stand there, unsure if you are in the right building. They stare. And then…it happens.
4. Be that one woman in the group - that one kind, friendly, smiling woman - to arise warmly and welcome others into the bunch. It makes all the difference.
Just like the smiling woman who greets a first-time visitor at a ladies’ Bible study, your time means something to someone else. For years now, all I’ve wanted for my birthday or Mother’s day was simply to spend time with my family. Having two teenagers who would much rather spend time with friends than family right now, their time is so valuable to me. An undistracted conversation with them (sans cell phone) is worth more than gold to me. And guess what? Someone feels that way about your time, too.
Working with single mothers, many of whom are financially stretched, they often have a heart to serve and want to know how they can do more, serve more, and bless others who have blessed them.
5. My response is always “your time.” Give of your time. They are thousands in nursing homes desperate for a chatty visitor. There are neighbors who need a cup of coffee with a caring friend. There are grandmothers who would love an unexpected visit from grandchildren, widows how need a hug. Read a book to a child who may not otherwise get that time. Spend uninterrupted time with your own children. Your time is a blessing.
Blessings to others come in a variety of packages – your time, talent, and treasure. What can you do to bless others this season?
** Article first appeared on ibelieve.com.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms’ and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.
- 2014Oct 07
Eighteen years ago, I gazed into the eyes of my unbelievably beautiful first-born. I sat in that hospital room alone. It was the first of many nights, many years, that I would spend parenting my son alone. It wasn’t long before I found myself curled in a ball in the middle of my cold, bathroom floor, crying hysterically. I was convinced that no one could possibly understand the depths of my pain. When would this misery end? I was broken. I was exhausted. I had no money, few friends, and no hope. How was I going to raise a child alone for 18 years? How could I make it financially? Would my circumstances ever change?
That is my story – the story of a lonely teen mom, living on government assistance, running from God, and feeling I couldn’t push through. The next several years brought a winding road of highs and lows, victories and defeats. But I did push through. I made it through those early years of parenting alone, even when I wondered if I should’ve given my children up for adoption or had an abortion, even when I was way too hard on myself to not always making the best decision. I made it through.
Although I hadn’t been in years, I became involved in my local church, rededicated my life to the Lord, and slowly began the journey of digging myself out of a financial and emotional hole. At first, I felt very uncomfortable. By this time, I had had two children outside of marriage. I was embarrassed. I felt there was no one like me. But my heart slowly found rest in a local church. I leaned on the Lord, when everyone else had failed me. And I never forgot what it was like to be that lonely, overwhelmed single mom. That little baby I held oh so long ago is now eighteen, thriving, and the joy of my life.
I hope that as you read this you think of a single mother (or hurting friend), that you can walk with through the certain loneliness she has felt, but also to be a guide to her of God’s faithfulness, to wholeness, to humor, and ultimately, to peace.
Single moms don’t need just another sermon preached at them. They don’t need another book that makes them feel they are light years away from being a good Proverbs 31 woman! They want to hear about God’s grace, His faithfulness, His unconditional love. They want to learn to laugh again. That hope is found through you and I, the body of Christ, being a living, breathing example of the Christ in us.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker whose personal journey through homelessness, severe abuse, and single parenting leaves audiences riveted. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
- 2014Sep 02
Hurt feelings. Misunderstood words. Angry reactions. It happens daily to all of us, so why should we expect that the church is immune to such situations? We have this expectation of the church staff or pastoral team to handle every situation perfectly. Sadly, many have used a difficult encounter with church personnel as an inefficient excuse to fall away from church, quit serving on a ministry team, or gossip incessantly about a sister or brother in Christ. Truth is, we’re all human. We all make mistakes. The pastor does. Your womens’ ministry leader does. The Sunday school teacher isn’t perfect.
Can we all just recognize that Satan’s master plan is to kill, steal, and destroy? This includes stealing our joy in ministry, killing our desire to serve others, and destroying Christian community. Can we lay down our pride and expectation that we be handled with kid gloves and get busy about our Father’s business? I am convinced that there is no better place for Satan’s ploys of destruction to run rampant than in the church. Why wouldn’t he target us there? If he can divide and conquer, we are less effective. If we are busy licking wounds because a sister in Christ mistakenly, unintentionally spoke to us a bit harsh, how can we counsel with the single mom in the corner who truly needs it?
Too often, I have spent time sulking because I didn’t like what “they” said or how they said it. I was preoccupied with the misspoken word or how I was handled and far less occupied with how much hurting is around me. Ministry leaders, body of Christ, can we just extend the same grace Christ afforded us to others in ministry and keep on keeping on?
Jennifer Maggio is the award-winning author of several books. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has been featured in countless media venues and has a passion to see hurting people live a life of total freedom in Christ. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.