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Jennifer Maggio Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Maggio

 

Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.

With approximately 15 million single parents in the United States alone and the numbers growing daily, it is imperative that every church across our great nation understand this demographic well. It is suggested that 2 out of 3 single moms do not actively attend a local church (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). And whether you are a single mother or simply know one, as Christians, that statistic should concern all of us. Our heart's desire should be to find those who have been alienated from a local church body, so that they can find the healing and loving arms of Jesus in our local churches. We believe a critical way to do that is to launch a single mom's program in the church. Here's why:

 

1. There are approximately 9 million single parents not attending a local church. What a huge opportunity to grow your church!

2. The single parent family is the modern-day widow and orphan. The Lord has a heart for the fatherless. Single Moms Ministries do NOT endorse divorce or unwed pregnancy. It merely provides support for the 15 million mothers who find themselves there.


3. A single moms’ ministry IS NOT the same thing as a singles’ ministry. Single moms need a place to connect that is gender-exclusive, where they can share the real-life concerns they carry when parenting alone.


4. Divorce Recovery is a great class offered at many churches (and we recommend it for any divorcing mom) but there are two problems. After the class is over, what do the divorcees do then? They need long-term support. Additionally, not every single mom is a divorcee.


5. A 10-week class offered to single moms isn’t enough. Single moms need to connect long-term, so that they may have support when parenting their toddler, pre-teen, or teen. We highly recommend long-term support ministries, in hopes that single moms’ feel connected to their local house of God.

Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parent issues. She is the founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a nonprofit developed specifically to equip churches on how to best launch or grow a support group for single parents, meet their needs, and develop single parent events. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more info, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Eek, dating as a single mom. Should you? Shouldn’t you? It’s a tough question that requires a great deal of thought. There is a line of thinking among some Christians that all dating is wrong and leads to heartache, so the only dating should be “courting” with the intent to marry. There are others who would say that dating is perfectly natural and certainly okay, but strong boundaries should be set forth in Christian dating.

Whether you agree with the first group or the second, one thing is certain. Dating with a child is much more complicated than dating without. And the purpose of this article is not to make the argument for courting versus dating or vice versa, but rather to give some advice on making healthy dating decisions, if you find yourself venturing into the dating world.

Only date when healthy. My goodness, I can’t tell you the number of single mothers that I have counseled that moved far too quickly from a divorce or break-up into a new relationship. It’s easy to do. Overwhelmed and exhausted with the weight of the world on your shoulders, why not find a man to fix the loneliness? Your pursuit of a new relationship won’t erase the existing hurt of an old one. It won’t heal it. Unfortunately, too many second marriages or new relationships pay the price for a broken-hearted mom who didn’t take the time to mend.

Set boundaries early. Don’t wait to be head-over-heels for a guy before deciding what your boundaries will be. Too little too late. Pray about what you want from a relationship. Pray about what God wants. Then, outline what are the healthiest boundaries for you and your child(ren). List them out long before you decide to date again.

Proceed with caution. The devastation of a divorce or failed relationship can take years to heal. The remnants that remain can have lasting effects. The worst thing that could happen to yourself or your precious kiddos is to have to go through it again. Don’t throw caution to the wind. Pray. Seek. Listen. Be still before God and hear what He has for you, not what you desire for yourself.

Don’t ignore the red flags. We all have the friend who is dating the wrong guy and everyone knows it but her! Newsflash: she knows it, too! If you embark upon a new relationship and the guy is constantly rude, late, unemployed, untrustiworthy, not kid-friendly, pushing sexual boundaries, or anything else you deem inappropriate, don’t make excuses and pretend it will go away. It won’t.

Don’t be ruled by emotions. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches us that being ruled by our hearts can be misleading or deceitful. Jumping into the water with both feet, because he gives you the “tingles” will likely leave you disappointed in the end. Again, take your time. I remember hearing a women’s pastor share about how she met her husband. They met in college and he was totally not her type. He was a “preppy” kid and she was definitely more into cowboys with a bad-boy persona. She only went out with him as a favor to a friend. Although he was nice, she found herself uninterested and waiting for the date to be over. When she arrived back to her dorm room that evening, he had sent her a dozen roses with a card that said, “Thanks for the amazing first date.” As time passed, she went out with him a few more times and God slowly changed her heart, as she sought the will of her Heavenly Father. The man that she once had no interest in suddenly became the man of her dreams. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw him. They have been married more than 10 years now. Thank God, she didn’t let her emotions ruin God’s good thing for her life.

And lastly, when God speaks, respond. The Holy Spirit gives us a “gut check” when things aren’t quite right. Go with that. It is the leading and guiding of the Spirit that gives you clear discernment. Don’t discount its significance.

Jennifer Maggio is an author, speaker, mother of three, wife of Jeff, and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has a passion to equip women, particularly single moms, to live a free life in Christ Jesus. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com. 

The Mom I Yearn to Be

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Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I grew up without a mother. Well…let me rephrase that. I grew up without my mother. My dad married a total of six times and had plenty of girlfriends and mistresses in between and during his marriages, so there was never a shortage of mothers in my life. Yet, none of them were my mother. My mother was killed when I was only a year old. Consequently, I was left to be raised by my dad and a string of less-than-desirable mother figures. Through the years I convinced myself that if my mom had been alive, my life would have been completely different. You see, no one else on earth loves you quite like your mom.

When I found myself pregnant at only seventeen years old, I was determined to be a great mom. I had no idea what that looked like (or how I would do it), but my children would never have the hurt, lack, and disappointment that I had experienced. I can’t even remember ever having held a baby before giving birth to my first-born. Twenty-one hours of labor and a few parenting books doesn’t quite prepare you for the challenges of parenthood, and certainly not single parenthood!

The next several years brought great struggle. I moved into government housing, worked a full-time job, and attended college full-time at night. I added a second child to the mix (because I wasn’t busy or overwhelmed enough) and many nights, wondered how I would ever make it. The exhaustion, disappointment of a failed relationship, and financial burden became too much to bear. At only four years old, I found myself slapping my sweet, innocent boy across his little face in a moment of parenting frustration.

It was in that moment that I realized almost everything I had vowed my children would never experience, I had duplicated in my home. They weren’t getting a great mom. They were getting an exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, faithless mom who was struggling just to get up every morning. I made a decision that night that I had to fully surrender to the King of Kings and stop “dating” Him.

Although raised in church, I had fallen away from regular attendance years earlier. I just didn’t feel like I belonged. I had two children outside of marriage. My sin was public, and my heart was devastatingly private. I did not see others who were like me, so I just stopped going. Sure, I would attend on special occasions. I still proclaimed my Christianity, when asked. But nothing in my life bore fruit – and my precious little ones suffered.

However, the moment I decided to begin walking out a new life for me – for my children – God radically transformed my life. Through hard work and faithful tithing, the Lord brought me out of the projects, off government assistance, and into financial freedom. He showed me his grace and his love in a new way. He taught me patience with my children. He removed bitterness and offense and filled my heart with forgiveness and peace. My love for Him grew and my desire to be a great mom grew.

That was many years ago. My son is now 20 years old. And although I dare not tell you that I have “arrived” on my parenting journey, I know that the abounding grace of my Heavenly Father has grown me into the mother I always wished I had. His love for me covered a multitude of sins and failures. Understanding his love for me has helped me parent my children well and allowed my children to thrive, in spite of my own inadequacies. My Christian growth has translated into my parenting growth. And I would like to extend some parenting advice your way:

Seek the Kingdom of God, above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 NLT

 

Jennifer MaggioJennifer Maggio is the mother of 3 children and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is an author and speaker who considers herself a regular girl who loves an extraordinary God. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.

 

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