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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.

                One of my dearest friends and I have known each other for more than twenty years. Years ago, we both lived in the same apartment complex and often shared meals to save money.  We had very little to call our own. As young single moms, we had furnished our government-issued apartments, albeit sparingly, with previously-owned, heavily-used, furniture, bedding, dishes, and the like.  Often, we were the thankful recipients of other’s throwaways. We stretched every dollar, farther than imaginable. We worked long hours and often had more debt than dollars. We clipped coupons, worked multiple jobs, held garage sales, etc. – whatever was necessary to ensure we provided for our young families. There is something about my friend that struck me years ago, and it is still true today.  She is the most grateful woman I have ever met. I mean, she is truly, truly grateful. Whatever the season, this girl just oozes thanksgiving. Sadly, I cannot say that I exhibit that same sense of gratitude every day.

                In recent months, I have become increasingly aware of the lack of gratitude that many of us suffer with. There is a seemingly growing trend among people who have a sense of expectation that something is somehow owed to us for our very existence. What we have is never enough. We always want more. If we’re hungry and the food bank is passing out bread, we want two loaves instead of just one. If the church is giving away free coffee after Sunday service, we’re irritated that it isn’t Starbucks. If we’re single, we want to be married. If we’re married, we want a better spouse. We want to be thinner, prettier, and richer. We want a good job, then a better one. Then, that job is no longer the best job, so we search for the next job. And we’re raising children who are just as bad. They often aren’t grateful for the new toy, they want the best toy. They aren’t sensitive to financial boundaries, because culture (that’s us) permeates the greed of more, more, more. And the pursuit of that façade will never make us happy or fulfilled or thankful.

                As a child, can you remember possessing a sense of wonder about the world? Do you remember looking to the sky in awe of how big and blue and impressive it was? Do you remember saying childhood prayers where you thanked God for the flowers, the trees, and the very air you breathed? We were thankful for moms and dads and sisters and brothers, a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. What age does that shift? When do we stop being thankful for the little things and the big ones? When do we determine that only the ones we deem big are worth thanking God for? In fact, what gives us the right to even categorize any of God’s blessings on our lives as small?

                If we aren’t grateful for this thing, we will never be grateful for that thing – whatever that thing is. It’s true. That new hair color, promotion, ministry opportunity, job, car, house, or friend will never do. We will always be looking for the next best thing.

                Here are some tips I’m using to ensure I have a gratitude attitude every day:     

Choose to be grateful for what you have. It’s a daily choice. We may not have everything we are praying for right now, but God is our provider and there are others who suffer with greater lack than we do in almost every hour. God is a good god, who has given us good things. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God’s plans for us are for a hopeful future. What do you have that you can be thankful for today? Do you have access to worship in a local church? Do you have access to transportation, food, clothing? Do you own a Bible? Do you have your health? Do you have children? A best friend? A loving pastor? A job? Education? Breath?

Keep a journal. It seems simple, but there have been many times in my life that I cried out to God, begging him for something. I was overwhelmed or distraught about a situation that seemed huge at the time. But I can’t tell you how many times God answered a prayer that I completely forgot that I had even prayed! Being able to refer back over years of journals allows me to see the evidence of God’s hand at work in my life.

Keep your head from swiveling. Yep, stop looking left and right at everything everyone else has going on. Don’t worry about how much money they make, how eloquently the speak, how beautiful they sing, or how pretty they are. God made you, your life, and the plan He has for you completely separate and unique. The constant comparison of what she has that we don’t is the very reason we can’t be thankful for God’s blessings in our life.

Remember that we deserve death. We aren’t owed anything, but eternal separation from God. (See Romans 6:23). But in God’s amazing grace, He chose to send us a Savior in His son, Jesus. If God never does anything else for you in your lifetime (which is unlikely), understand that he’s already paid the ultimate price, so that we don’t get what we deserve!

Jennifer Maggio is the author of four books and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is a wife and mother of three who is passionate about seeing single mothers and hurting women live a life of freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.

***Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.

 

I remember the first time I saw a cell phone. Actually, I’m not certain it was called a cell phone. It was an analog, portable phone. At the time, I worked for a small furniture store, and there was an analog phone in the delivery truck for drivers to use in case of emergencies. It was stored in a large leather bag and was approximately the size of a large briefcase. I’m not kidding. It was huge and heavy and awkward. Some time later, my cousin got her first cell phone. It was large and had limited features, compared to today’s standards. I didn’t even know she owned one. We were standing at a checkout counter at the grocery store, when we both heard a strange noise for several minutes. Not knowing what it was, a customer behind us tapped my cousin on the shoulder and said, “Miss, I think your purse is ringing!”

Cell phones have come a long way over the last 20 years, as has all modern technology. We don’t have to wait until we are home to call a friend for a quick girl chat. We can do that in the car en route to our next destination. No longer do we access internet with a 20-minute dialup process, hoping we get some use, before being kicked offline. Cars are faster and practically drive themselves. Computers can now be carried in our purse.  Encyclopedias are something of the past, and we have access in a matter of moments to almost any facet of any topic we could ever want to know. We no longer lose touch with childhood friends, thanks to social media. The list of advances in the modern-day world that make our lives more convenient is endless. And I’m thankful for them all, as they have certainly enhanced my life and ministry.

But in an age where technology has given us access to almost anything within moments to make life easier, we have slowly stopped living. Have you eaten in a restaurant recently and took a look around the room? It is sad to see the number of patrons who are buried in their phones, endlessly scrolling status updates of others’ lives, completely ignoring the guest they dine with. Somehow, along the way, we’ve become so obsessed with having “followers” on social media that we stopped making friends.  We’ve become walking zombies, glued to our phones, and obsessed over perfecting the next update for others to read.

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 skipping hand-in-hand with our children. Often, we can’t put down technology for fear we will miss something. Meanwhile, we miss life.  There’s always a new project – whether ministry or work or school-related. There’s always a task to be accomplished. We’ve lost a sense of self, the meaning of life, and the art of simply living. 

Living is about serving that homeless man a warm meal. It is looking a friend in the eye as they share their heart and soul. It is holding the hand of a loved one. It is enjoyed a fresh breeze on your face while taking a walk around the neighborhood. It is laughing, when your children laugh. The art of living is grace and joy and forgiveness and tears. It is feeling and doing. It resting. It is being fully present in the 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.

And I’m on a mission to help you (and me) combat the dying art of living and begin to embrace life, living it to its fullest every day.  Here’s a short list to get started:

  1. Put down technology every day for a set amount of time.
  2. Fast from social media on a regular basis.
  3. Refuse to access social media, when you are eating with friends or having a conversation with others.
  4. Schedule extended times of rest from technology.
  5. Establish strong boundaries for work, including times you will take calls and answer emails.
  6. Make it a priority to get outside on a regular basis, leaving the phone indoors.
  7. Opt for board games or a book, instead of the tv or cell phone.
  8. Commit to having one real conversation every day with a friend, neighbor, family member, or stranger in the supermarket.
  9. Create a bucket list, as a family, and do it!
  10. Write a letter to 5 people who have greatly impacted your life and send it to them.

What others can you think of?

I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about living recently. Maybe it’s because I’m quickly broaching a milestone birthday. Maybe it’s because my parents, grandparents, and most of my aunts, uncles, and extended family are all deceased. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had more and more friends recently diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Whatever the reason, I’m thinking about it. And I hope I get you thinking about living.  But more than that, I hope I encourage you to live!

Jennifer Maggio is the author of four books and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is a wife and mother of three who is passionate about seeing single mothers and hurting women live a life of freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.

** Article first appeared on iBelieve.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

 

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