Yeah right! Some of you may be thinking. The elusive balanced life that many of us aspire to seems harder to achieve than ever before. We are balancing soccer practice, house cleaning, full-time jobs, family duties, friendships, church functions, and more. How do we manage our to-do lists while still finding a way to enjoy life?
I am a mother of three children. I am a wife, friend, sister, writer, counselor, chauffeur, dishwasher, and much more. And I know you answer to just as many roles in your own lives. Most of us are busier than ever! Here’s what I’ve learned about living a balanced life.
It is okay to say “no”. Whether it be business or personal, we are constantly bombarded with requests to add yet another thing to our list of daily activities. As the old saying goes, “Give the busiest man more to do. He'll always get it done.” Bosses want us to oversee additional projects. Coordinators ask us to volunteer a few extra hours at the shelter. Friends invite us to countless birthday parties. And none of those things are wrong. However, it is perfectly acceptable (and quite mature, I may add) to simply pray about what tasks should be on your to-do list today, this week, and so on.
Have fun. “Are you serious? I am barely managing my day much less squeezing in some fun!” I know. I've been there. Fun wasn't on my list of things to do. It was purely optional, so I chose not to have any! The trick is to have fun while you are accomplishing your daily tasks. It sounds simple, but far too many people have lost their joy in life. Re-learn how to enjoy the tasks for which God has assigned you, whatever your life's path. If you’ve been hired to sweep floors, do it with integrity and enjoy it. Sometimes that's as simple as completing household chores with your kids, while playing a counting game or “I spy”. Sometimes, it means you give yourself a little extra treat at work when you complete a file. When we are making a conscious decision to enjoy our days, we find that our tasks become far easier and surprisingly, we accomplish more, in less time.
Spend time with the Lord daily. Some of you are wondering how it is that you can possibly add Bible and prayer time to an already jam-packed schedule. I recently heard an interesting fact. Studies have found that what we think about during the first seven minutes of our day closely determine the outcome of the remainder of our day. If you awake energized and excited about what God has planned for you today, filled with gratitude for the things you have been afforded, then you are more likely to emit that to others. The opposite is also true. Even on my busiest days, if I can get up a few minutes before the family, sip a little coffee alone, and read my Bible, my mind is refreshed.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of four books, including her latest release Peace and the Single Mom: 50 Moments of Calm in the Chaos. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Here we go! I thought, as I rolled my eyes, crossed my arms, and sat listening to the pastor one Sunday morning. He was preaching on the importance of the tithe. I can’t really tell you everything he said, because honestly, I tuned most of it out. You see, I had not been going to church for long. I had attended as a child, but fell away for some time, and was just now becoming acclimated to my new church…and now this! The pastor had nerve to speak on tithing.
I was a single mom. I had no money. “Someone needs to go ahead and give a good offering to buy this man a new truck, so we can move on to a better topic next week!” I thought to myself. I thought surely that was what this thing was all about – the pastor needing something new.
But as the next several weeks passed, his words wouldn’t leave my mind. The concept of the tithe was not new to me. I was raised in church and knew the Bible commanded giving a tenth of your increase back to the Lord, but seriously?! I was a single mom! I had no money! I was making only a few hundred dollars a month to raise my two children. The use of government assistance was the only way I even made ends meet. The tithe seemed so outlandish. Yet, I thought on it. I prayed about it. I argued with God about it. I knew God was prompting me to give. So I did. I wrote my first tithe check and put it in the offering plate as it passed through. Nothing miraculous happened that day or the next or the next. I just kept giving. I actually felt good about it. I knew I was living in obedience. I knew I was doing was God called me to do. And most importantly, I learned that my giving was flowing from the love I had for my Heavenly Father and not because He needed my money.
The more I gave, the more I was blessed. Over the next several years, I moved away from government assistance, climbed the Corporate Ladder, and made a nice living. All of those things, I whole-heartedly believe, were blessings from my obedience to the tithe. Let me be careful, here. I am not suggesting that we tithe to be blessed – that God is somehow our magical genie that we rub and make demands. I am simply saying that for whatever reason, unbeknown to me, God chose to bless my financial obedience.
The same is true for you, single mom. You can tithe. In fact, I would assert to you that you cannot afford NOT to tithe. God’s command on our finances doesn’t have a caveat that reads “except if you are a single mom”. God says tithe. He says give 10% of your increase. And although I came under criticism from some for tithing to the church while I was taking money from the government, I did it anyway. I would much rather be criticized by the world than to live in disobedience with my Savior.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of several books and the founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She has been featured in countless media venues. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
For years, I lived in a world of fear – fear that I would fail, fear that I wasn’t good enough, fear that my children would mess up. It kept a constant knot in my stomach. It captivated me. Worry flooded my day. Sure, I was a Christian. Sure, I was headed to Heaven, when I died. But there was no freedom.
Guess what? I did fail sometimes. My children did mess up on occasion. Those things happened. And life continued.
If I am being really honest, I still must constantly set my mind on the things above to avoid slipping back into that old fear and worry. I must remind myself often that the condition of my children’s hearts is much more important than clean bedrooms and perfect grades. It’s much more important to spend time with my family, than have a spotless bathroom. It’s less important how organized my dishes are and more important how many I feed from them.
For years, I put more weight on performance than relationship. The same was true with my relationship with the Lord. I wanted to avoid drinking, smoking, or cussing, much more than I wanted to spend time in the Word. I wanted to be perfect more so than receiving my Heavenly Father’s perfect love.
You see, that’s what the abandoned heart is. It’s the freedom to receive our Savior’s perfect love, as just that, perfect. It’s the freedom to be who God created us to be without fear or worry. It’s the certainty that the Lord who gives us grace every day is enough. We are enough through him. We don’t need to strive. The abandoned heart is the rested heart. Rest in Christ, today.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who uses her personal story of severe abuse, homelessness, and single parenting as a catalyst to share the freedom that is found is Christ. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Allison and Greg had been married for more than a decade and had become great friends of mine through the years. Allison was once a single mom who fully understood the challenges of doing it alone. Every chance she got, she raved about what a wonderful husband Greg was and how he had lightened her load when he came into her life. But Allison had been keeping a secret from Greg for some time. She was using credit cards behind his back, and he had just found out about it. He was furious and announced that he was leaving her. He couldn’t take the lies and deceit. I ached with her as she poured out her heart to me and shared of the devastation she was certain would come within the next few days. “But Jennifer…he’s my world. I can’t live without him. He completes me,” she wailed.
In that moment, it hit me. For years, I had heard single girls use that phrase to justify an unhealthy relationship. He completes me. I am nothing without him. I had counseled hundreds of single moms who were certain that the new, eligible, bachelor in our Sunday school class was God’s perfect match for them. But I now realized that this danger didn’t just lie with singles. It was a married couples’ danger, too.
The single mom convinces herself that a Godly man will be the answer to her prayers. The newly-married, young couple (who is so in love that they complete each other’s sentences) think they are destined to a lifetime of marital bliss, since they have found the one that has made their lives whole. Wrong. Completely, utterly wrong!
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:9-10 NLT
How unfair that we put a Heavenly expectation on any earthly being! God created us. He put a God-sized hole in our hearts on purpose – so that we would worship him. He wants us in union with him, first. He completes us. There is not a man (or woman) alive that will complete us. Entering into any relationship with this expectation leads to defeat, hurt, and a lifetime of disappointment. Too often, we carry unrealistic measures that are certain to taint any new relationship. We say things like, “If I ever get married again, I will make certain my new husband doesn’t do that.” We search the world over trying to find that perfect man who will remove all our burdens in hopes that we can finally relinquish life’s heavy load. And when he can’t measure up to expectations that no man could fulfill, we are outta there, looking for the next “perfect” man.
It is the reason divorce rates are high. It is the reason we have multiple sexual partners before marriage. It is the reason for extramarital affairs, when we do marry.
Seeking, constantly seeking. What is that thing we need? What is that one thing that will make us whole?
Do you know that Proverbs 31:11 says that a wife will greatly enrich her husband’s life? Think about that for a minute. Enrich means “to add to, to bring great value, to enhance.” A healthy, Proverbs 31 gal is all about bringing value to the one she marries, not looking for that man to complete her soul. Single ladies, be cautious that you have not put unrealistic expectations that once you find the one he will somehow fill that depression, that hurt, that bitterness, that insecurity. Don’t make the new one pay for an old wound.
Likewise, married girls, evaluate your marriages. Has your husband been pushed to vainly attempt to fulfill a void that he couldn’t possibly fill?
(article first appeared on iBelieve.com on 8/20/2013)
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.