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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.

January is National Sanctity of Life Month. President Ronald Reagan declared National Sanctity of Life Day back in 1984 in commemoration of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Ruling, declared in the same month 11 years earlier. As a result, the National Sanctity of Life Month commenced and has been celebrated ever since. National traction for the pro-life movement has taken place, as a result of the declaration, including local and national venues that host rallies, events, and the like. Consequently, millions of babies' lives have now been saved.

I am a supporter of the pro-life movement. Every child has value and God’s plan for his life is that of a future and hope. Our babies are the leaders of tomorrow, the hope of bright futures, and the evidence of God’s miraculous works. So to all of you involved in the pro-life movement in an impactful way, I say “yes” and “amen”. 

However, there is a big problem with this movement. It isn’t enough. The local church, for years and years….and years, has had no problem advocating for the right to life for the unborn in our country. But sadly, the church hasn’t been as vocal about ministry to single mothers and their children, after they choose life. We fund pregnancy crisis clinics and right to life rallies to encourage mothers to choose life for those precious babies. And again, to all that, I say “yes” and “amen”. But, why do we stop there? Why do we struggle to find ministry opportunities for single mothers who often drown in the parenting and financial responsibilities necessary to raise these children well?

Overwhelmingly, one of the biggest reasons women choose abortion is because they do not think they can parent alone. It seems an overwhelming feat that many can’t comprehend, so abortion seems like a reasonable option for them. Could it be because we, as Christians, haven’t opened our loving arms to welcome those precious babies and mothers into our pews? Is it possible that we have done a phenomenal job of saving millions of babies from abortion, but failed them miserably, as we ignore the staggering statistics single mothers face in raising their children alone? 

I’ve been doing single parent ministry for over a decade and frankly, I’ve heard some of the most ridiculous arguments against establishing a single mom’s ministry. Such arguments include accusations that single moms' ministries somehow advocate unbiblical behavior. Let me stop for a moment and be clear. No, I don’t advocate for single parenting, divorce, or pre-marital sex. But drug recovery programs are never accused of advocating for drug use. They simply minister to people, where they are. Church, that is all a single mom’s ministry does -- ministers to moms where they are. Single mom's ministries see the overlooked, minister to the broken hearts of failed dreams, and provide fellowship for women who often need a sisterhood of women surrounding them. 

Single moms arrive at single parenthood in a variety of ways, including death, fostering, unwed birth, and many others. These mothers are drowning. They are falling away from the churches in droves, as they don’t see us (the body of believers) as a viable option for hope. Consequently, their children fall away, also. They see as judgmental, finger-pointers, who want to shove the Bible down their throat. And Satan does a masterful job of convincing them that lie is true. 

Let us embrace compassion, grace, and hope. Let us show Jesus to those who desperately need a loving, friendly, face. What are you doing to minister to the 25 million children who live in single parent homes in the United States? What are you doing to radically transform the lives of the 15 million single moms who live here? Does your church have a single mom’s ministry? Do you have a formal outreach plan? Two out of three single moms are not attending church nationally. What are you doing about it? 

The Life of a Single Mom Ministries is a national nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walking alone by working with churches around the United States to formalize, grow, or establish a single mom's ministry and outreach plan. Currently, the ministry has worked with 1,500 churches nationally and serves approximately 50,000 single mothers through its expansive support group network. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

 

The more hurt I was, the more I wanted to run. The more I replayed the past, the more I wanted to simply stay underneath the covers and not get up in the mornings. It seemed the harder life was, the more I wanted to isolate myself from others. And life got darker….and darker…. and darker. 

That’s the danger with isolation. When we’re going through hard times, it is easy for us to isolate. We don’t want others around. We don’t want to cry one more tear over the situation. We don’t want to explain our emotions again and again. But the more we pull away, the darker the situation becomes. God created us for community. He created us, so that others around us can encourage us when we are down. He uses people to speak life into us, when we are too tired, or broken, or emotionally weak, to even read His word.

The problem is, when we are really hurting, it can be much easier to isolate, than to reach out to others and really address the layers of emotions we’re battling. But the easy route isn’t always the best route.  In fact, the easy route is usually the temporary fix anyway.

For those of you who may be reading this and saying, “I don’t tell anyone what’s going on, because they won’t understand. Or people will judge me.” Don’t believe that! Those are lies the enemy of your soul would whisper into your ear that would keep you doubting and lonely and isolated. Will there be someone on occasion who will not understand or maybe even judge you? Yes. But we can’t allow that one person to keep us from creating community that enhances our lives. Many of my very best friends were met at church. And it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen with just one gathering.

I can remember joining a Sunday School class and feeling, very much, like I didn’t fit in. I didn’t talk much and I looked around and feared others were judging me.  But I did make the decision to go back again and again. Although it took many weeks and months before I felt comfortable, I started attending socials at some of the members houses. I would call them occasional for prayer. I would reach out.  See, that’s the key. I didn’t sit back and wait until someone else reached out to me. They may not reach out, because they think you don’t want to be reached out to.  Sometimes, we will take them not reaching out as a sign that they don’t like us or care or want us around.  When in reality, they do care, but they simply don’t know what to say or maybe have an insecurity of their own. I’m so thankful, oh so many years ago, that I began to reach out to make friendships within that class. Some of those very people are my best friends now. They came at a time when I desperately needed an ear. And they’ve been with me ever since.

God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Ps. 68:6

I don’t have much in the way of physical family. Many of my family members died when I was very young, and several had died through the years. But God has placed my lonely heart in a spiritual family – the local church. And it changed my life. It kept me from isolating and becoming more depressed.  And although it didn’t happen overnight, I slowly found the strength to move on past my past. You can do. Whenever you feel the desire to isolate, fight it! In fact, push harder to get out and do things with other people:

Take your kids to the park or mall, even when you don’t feel like it, and bring a friend along too.

Invite a friend over to dinner, even when you aren’t in the best of moods.

Get out and serve at a local homeless shelter or food bank and invite your Bible study group to come alone. 

There are dozens of ways to keep yourself busy and involve others while doing so. Not only will it help keep you from slipping into a dangerous depression, but you may just make some new friends during what could’ve been the darkest days of your life.

Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife to Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about helping hurting women and single mothers live a life free in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com

There is something exciting about the new year, isn't there? The possibilities. The potential. The old is gone and new is here. It's the reason that so many focus on fresh goals each January. We love the idea of having a fresh start. Let 2017 be a fresh focus for you, an opportunity to re-evaluate your goals, dreams, hopes, and day-to-day tasks. In order for us to refocus, we must first be aware of what we may be focusing on that distracts us. 

There are three areas that far too many of us get distracted by and they take way too much of our time and energy:

Comparison --- Unfortunately, we are often so busy worried about what somebody else has, does, sees, or gets, that we can’t stay in our own lane and be truly grateful for the work God is doing in our own lives. Comparison steals our joy. It robs us of our gratitude. How can we be thankful for what God’s done in our life, when we’re so busy looking over to the left or right at what He's doing for someone else? Comparison causes division. Be thankful someone else is getting blessed, that their influence or opportunities are increasing! God is unlimited in resources, plans, or supplies. We can be thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ and also be hopeful of our own futures. Comparison often distracts us from what God wants to do with us. God can’t bless us, because we won’t be faithful with this little thing. Maybe Sally has been faithful with her little and that is why she's being blessed. Choose to focus on what God has given us, not someone else. 

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Gal. 6:4-5

I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Phil. 4:11-12

Comparison does nothing but leave us miserable. 

Social Media --- Technology is a wonderful thing, but only when used appropriately. And frankly, I don't even know if we know what appropriate usage is anymore! We’re often more concerned with followers than true friends or likes or re-shares or whatever else social media tells us is valuable. We’re walking zombies, scrolling through cell phones, wondering what somebody else is doing, while often lacking in true relationship and intimacy with others. We’re more concerned with status updates that sanctification. We’re more concerned with the perfect selfie than we are about serving others. We’re more worried about what everyone else is doing and who they are doing it with than understanding that we’re supposed to busy about our Father’s business.

We don’t value the art of conversation, the joy of sun shining on our face on a beautiful spring day, or the freedom of holding hands with our children, minus the iPhone or Android. Often, we can’t put down technology for fear we will miss something. Meanwhile, we miss life. Let us make this year different. Let us truly embrace the moment, enjoy the season, hear the birds, and smell the flowers. Let's take time be with one another, rather than reading about one another. 

Status --- We’re busy pursuing platforms, prestige, climbing the corporate ladder, our marital status, or someone giving us a handclap. We're busy pursuing financial success or if someone will hand us a microphone and that becomes our focus.

When a thing, becomes the thing, it’s the wrong thing.  

Jesus came that we may have an abundant, wide-open, expansive, spacious life or freedom in Him. 

So What is life? What are we supposed to focused on this year?

Living is about being sold out for Christ. It’s about a pure heart. It’s about serving that homeless man a warm meal. It is looking a friend in the eye, as she shares her heart and soul with you. It is holding the hand of a loved one. Living is about laughing, when your children laugh. It’s about grace and joy and forgiveness and tears. It is feeling and doing. It is resting. It is being fully present in every moment. It is knowing the depth of the love of a Heavenly Father that created you for his enjoyment. And the best way to honor that Father is by fully living, each day, in the glory of his honor and name. Let's allow 2017 to be about that type of focus and living. 

Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom of three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about helping single mothers and hurting women find hope in Christ. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

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