- 2015Mar 17
It was dark. The silence was deafening. Nothingness. It was my eighth consecutive night of virtually no sleep. I was surrounded with only my thoughts. I had cried so much that there were no tears left. The mourning was still in my heart, but the tears wouldn’t flow. God, where are you? Do you hear me? Do you even care?
I would love to tell you that that night was long ago, when I wasn’t saved, didn’t pray regularly or read my Bible. It wasn’t. Truth is, I’ve had many days or nights like that one. There have been days when my prayers seemed to go unanswered, weeks and months where God’s voice was silent, and His prompting uncertain. My Christian journey has been filled with highs and lows. There have been times of unspeakable joy where God’s hand was so evident upon my life that no one could deny it. And there have been other times when I was desperate to hear God’s direction for my life, and I simply couldn’t.
My testimony of God’s goodness is a powerful one. He rescued me from myself. He rescued me from every poor decision I had made. I was once a homeless, severely abused, single mom who was pregnant four times outside of marriage. I lived in poverty, clung to everything empty, and ran from God for years. It’s not hard to track my story and see God at work in my life. And because I now work in full-time ministry, there may be some who would mistakenly think that my Christian life is perfect – easy, effortless. And then there are others of you who already know…it couldn’t possibly be.
Raising teenagers is hard. Being a wife is hard. Being in ministry is hard. Life is hard. It’s that simple. Jesus told us that in John 16:33, that we would have trouble in this world. As Christians, we’ve all had those amazing moments with the Lord, where the Holy Spirit nudged our hearts in a dramatic way. We’ve felt the joy of knowing where we will spend eternity. Most of us have been on fire for God, where we just wanted others to know about what He has done in our lives. But we’ve also gone through the dry seasons, the spiritual wilderness where we hear nothing but silence.
Over the last 18 months, my family has been in and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices more times than I care to count. An otherwise healthy family, we’ve had to undergo seven surgeries in the last couple of years, endless hours of physical therapies, and mounting medical bills. The fear of opening yet another medical bill has sometimes consumed me. The worries of where my teens would go to college or if they would make good choices with friends have kept me up at night. And frankly, I’ve cried out to God when I didn’t feel Him near.
Too often in our Christian walk we navigate our faith based on how we feel. When God’s moving in an obvious way, it’s easy for us to praise Him. It’s easy to remain faithful, when we are full of happiness and joy, when the new job came through, or a miraculous healing takes place. But if you’ve been a Christian for more than about 60 seconds, you realize, life’s journey brings ups and downs, struggles and joys. Our salvation was and never will be based on how we feel.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
I once heard a pastor say it like this, “Our feelings are a great servant, but a terrible master.” Our feelings help us gauge where we are or how we are dealing with a circumstance, but they aren’t our litmus test of salvation. When we don’t feel God’s presence, it doesn’t mean He isn’t near. When we don’t see active movement from Him in our lives, it doesn’t mean He isn’t working. When we don’t feel like serving Him, it doesn’t mean we don’t.
Thank God our salvation is far deeper than temporary emotions. Thank God that His word is our truth, not the way we feel when we get up in the morning! And that, my friends, is what brings true joy.
** Article first appeared at 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.
- 2015Mar 03
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” Matt 25:40
John 13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.[a] 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas,[b] son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,[c] to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked,“Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
Why is serving others so important? Why does it even matter? Here are a few thoughts on serving:
1. Jesus served and so should we. The very last lesson Jesus taught his disciples before going to the Cross was to wash each other’s feet. Why? Jesus said, “14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.” Jesus is teaching his disciples: Since I have done so much for you, because of me you are saved….serve others. How many times do we look at a situation to see what it is we can get out of it versus what it is that we can put into it? Jesus showed us that his blood paid for our freedom, but that because it did, we ought to desire to serve others. Make no mistake. Our service and deeds do not save us, but our salvation should prompt us to serve others. That service shows others Christ in a tangible way.
2. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. Jesus knew who he was. He wasn’t worried about how others perceived him or what others would think if he served or if he was the most important man in the room by other’s opinion. His service wasn't about being seen, and he certainly didn't run from serving others, because it was beneath him.
3. Serve because of what God did for you, not because of what you can get from it. I’ve been pouring into single moms around the country for years. I’ve sat through labor & deliveries. I've often given more money than I had. I've considered it an honor to babysit their children through the years. Our ministry has counseled and prayed for and with women. And the ministry has grown beyond expectation But it's never been about number or who would know us or making the name of an individual or ministry famous. The root and heart of ministry - the very core of who we are- has been about no single mom walking alone. The same has to be true for you. Your service should flow from a pure heart, not a title or accolade.
4. Everyone has something to give. Some of you have money to share right now. If so, you need to give it to a worth cause. But all of you have gifts, talents, and skills you can offer to others. All of you can leave a situation better than you approached it. You can pick up trash in your neighborhood or apartment complex. You can have a friendly conversation with someone to brighten their day. You can stop and pray for others. You can have a potluck dinner and game night for a group of people.
Too often we approach situations with What’s In It For Me? By nature, we are self-absorbed and self-centered. Only Christ in us makes us self-less and servant-minded.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker and founded The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is a happily married mother of three who has a God-given passion to see the body of Christ living in complete freedom. For more info, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
- 2015Feb 24
Is that a joke? Finding rest as a single mom? Motherhood is a full-time, 24/7, 365 days per year job and there’s simply no vacation. We love those babies more than anyone else on earth possibly could. They bring us joy and laughter and our hearts could almost burst when we see them hit a new milestone. Mothers love like no other, but we also serve like no other. The role a mom plays in a household is irreplaceable. Many moms often struggle to find time to sneak in a shower or sit down for thirty seconds, much less actually rest. And if you factor in that single moms have no reprieve offered by a spouse, it’s easy to see why single moms are exhausted.
Moms are the boo-boo kissers, chauffeurs, schedulers, advice givers, organizers, cleaning ladies, homework helpers, cooks, sock locaters, problem solvers, and defenders. We iron, wash dishes, make the phone calls, throw in a load of clothes, apply lipstick, and cook a meal – and that’s usually before the kids even wake.
As my older children have aged into adulthood, there are a few things I have learned to be critical for me to be the best mom I can be.
Don’t stop dreaming. When I found myself a single mom of two children at nineteen years old, it was all I could do to simply survive. The day-to-day tasks of caring for children, working, and cleaning seemed to be unbearable. All my childhood dreams went on the backburner somewhere and were forgotten for many years. As the years passed, I began to recognize that the dreams God gave me were not lost, they were stifled. The more I embraced who God wanted me to be through those long-ago dreams, the most at rest I found myself. I stopped striving and simply rested.
Take time for you. I talk to so many single moms that feel guilty for taking any time for themselves. They work full time and have an endless to-do list, so when they do get a few minutes of downtime, they are convinced they cannot spend it on themselves. Yes, it is crucial that your children receive quality time with you. But also recognize that taking the time to rest, to work on you, and to grow as a woman of God isn’t slighting your children. It actually serves them well to have their mom running at 100% versus barely functioning at 50%.
Join a single mom’s Bible study. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more. We all yearn for fellowship. Single moms are no different. Single Mom’s Bible studies give single mothers the opportunity to share experiences that are unique to them. They network, share ideas and best practices, celebrate the victories, and pray through the hardships. Single Mom’s Bible studies are growing in popularity around the country. Find one near you.
Enjoy a girls’ weekend. Even if it’s a stay-cation, you can find great rest in gathering girlfriends and enjoying some special time! Get a few friends together and plan a weekend. It doesn’t have to cost much.
And….. if you are single mom looking for that perfect girls weekend for this summer, consider attending the 2015 National TLSM Single Moms Conference June 19-20, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Single parenting experts from around the world are flying in to invest expertise and wisdom into single mothers. This faith-filled two-day weekend is complete with free childcare, 2 meals, worship, breakout sessions on everything from Healing Damaged Emotions to Raising Boys Alone, and national speakers. Single moms from more than two dozen states have already registered. Find out more at www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and founder of The LIfe of a Single Mom Ministries. Through her own mistakes, Maggio is passionate about sharing her journey with other single parents to encourage and equip them, teaching them to embrace the love of Christ. She believes the body of Christ can make a significant impact in the lives of single parent families. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.