Proverbs 31:27-28 “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing to laziness. Her children stand and bless her.” As parents, I think we all have that deep desire that as our children become adults, they will stand and recognize all the sacrifices we made, the rules we implemented, and bless us for it. They will be proud of how we raised them. We hope to see the fruits of our labor.
I read the above passage recently for the 100th time and something stood out to me that had never stood out before. We tend to cling to “her children stand and bless her” because that is the result. But………….what are the four words prior to it? ”…SUFFERS NOTHING TO LAZINESS.”
It is not by accident that the words are placed strategically there. Parenting is work — simple as that, even if you have a two-parent home, but certainly when you are a single parent. It requires intention and planning. This is when children feel secure — no matter their age. Too often, with the weight of financial planning, emotional stresses, and exhaustion, we simply “give in” and do not effectively parent. We lose structure, because we are too tired to implement it. I know I have been guilty.
As single parents, it is crucial to understand that this is a season a life — a short span of time. Even if you parent alone for 18 years, it is still simply a short span of time, considering the length of your whole life. In such a short time, our children become adults. The last thing any of us would want is that our children would look back and wish that their parents had provided them more structure, more discipline, and given them more time.
I want to encourage all the single parents out there that even during your darkest hour, your absolute valley, when you are most exhausted and do not feel like parenting……….when you push through, when you sacrifice, when you muster up that last bit of energy to provide a safe, secure environment for your kids, it is ALL worth it. For one day, they will stand and bless you.
Author/speaker, Jennifer Maggio, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parents and women’s issues. She is an award-winning author and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She currently oversees one of the nation’s largest single moms support groups and has helped to launch more than 1500 others in churches around the globe. She is a regular on radio and television. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
It was Christmas Day and my first Christmas alone. Well, I guess I wasn’t alone. I had my 11-month old with me. It was the darkest of days. I woke up to the inevitable – no money, no family, and a baby who toddled around, not knowing the difference. I cried most of the day. I eventually went to a friend’s home for a couple of hours, but I ultimately finished the day on the sofa in tears, alone.
Perhaps one of the biggest struggles for any single parent is loneliness. It is easy to compare families who are shopping together on weekends or strolling their precious toddler on a bright Sunday afternoon. It is easy to imagine our lives much different than they are, hence feeding into the loneliness that endlessly lingers.
Loneliness is dangerous. It can assuredly lead to compromise. How many times have I sat holding the hand of a mom who was regretful of a decision that stemmed from a lonely night? How many times did I stumble in my single parenting years for that very same reason? Loneliness can lead to further isolation and even depression or alcohol and drug use. It can attribute to bitterness and anger and a myriad of other not-so-positive emotions. So how do we fight it?
1. One of the first keys is to recognize you are never alone. God promises that he will never leave you. “Yeah, that sounds great, but I want human interaction!” You may be thinking. The Lord created for relationship – relationship with each other and relationship with Him. However, the latter is the most important part of our life. The development of our relationship with the Lord is above all else our strength, our comfort, our peace.
2. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 about how his singleness has allowed him to serve God better. Next time you feel loneliness creeping in, consider serving someone else. How can you use your time and talents to serve God by serving others? Can you volunteer at a local soup kitchen or babysit for a fellow single parent? Can you offer dinner at your house for some neighborhood friends?
3. Be certain to stay connected to a local church. I am a huge proponent of this one! The Life of a Single Mom Ministries exists for this very reason. We believe that if we can keep single parents connected to a local support group in a church, we can help with those struggles of loneliness. Support networks give us perspective. It helps for us to hear others’ problems or to hear wisdom from someone who has been where we are. Satan’s plan is one of divide-and-conquer strategy. If he can isolate us from church and loving Godly friends, we begin to see the glass as half-empty. No one will ever love me. I will always be alone. How could the church treat me that way? I don’t need God anyway. On and on the negative thoughts go. Staying connected with a local church helps.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author of four books and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a global nonprofit. She is also the founder of Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
Volunteers are the catalyst behind any effective ministry, nonprofit, or church. They extend the work, the reach, beyond just the doors of the facility. They talk about the work with their families. They advertise for you. They are passionate and work hard because of it.
Aside from moving through different seasons of life, many volunteers leave their position because they feel they are undervalued or underutilized. Therefore, it is important that we train volunteers well and use them!
- Get to know your volunteers. How many children do they have? Where do they work? What are they passionate about? What is their cat’s name? People want to know you care. They want to know they aren’t just a number.
- Learn the skill set of your volunteers. Maybe you have an immediate need for data entry at your organization and someone steps forward to do that. However, if we make the intentional effort of learning the skillset of the volunteer that serves, we may find that they are gifted in graphic design, Bible teaching, website development, etc. We like to get a resume on every volunteer to help us with this task.
- Have a plan. Please. Have you ever volunteered with a church or at an event with dozens of other people? Maybe there was a big push to get volunteers at this big 5K Fundraising Event and so you showed up and found that most of your time was spent standing around with nothing to do. Ugh. I have volunteered countless times when I literally was digging for something to do. Don’t let this be your volunteers. Thoroughly plan the needs you have for your program. Do you need more prayer warriors? Babysitters? Food service team? Facebook gurus? Whatever your needs are have them listed. Assign volunteer coordinators and leaders to different teams to help with organization.
- Praise your volunteers. People go where they are valued. Take time to take them to dinner. Take time to host a private lunch for them. Text them. Call them. Let them know that their service is important to your ministry.
- More IS merrier. Never, never, never tell a potential volunteer that you have nowhere to use them. Sometimes this volunteer opportunity is the very thing they need to move into a leadership role. Maybe it is the very thing God has called them to do. Maybe this volunteer was called to launch a single moms program in another church and this service will give them the confidence to do so. Volunteering gives value. Don’t miss an opportunity to bless someone else with the opportunity to serve.
Jennifer Maggio is the founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. TLSM has helped more than 1200 churches in 19 countries better minister to their single mothers. She is the award-winning author of several books and has a heart to see single parents and hurting women living a life of total freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
You woke up this morning in a great mood. Everything seems to be going your way. Those new shoes you bought this past weekend have added a little bounce in your step. You are convinced your jeans make you look ten pounds lighter today. Your hair is doing just what you want it to, finally. You’re feeling confident.
And then, it happens - whatever it is. Maybe you notice that your waitress at lunch is gorgeous. She’s thinner than you. Suddenly, those jeans that made you look ten pounds thinner, you now hate. Maybe there’s a new girl at work who is receiving countless accolades, and you’ve been doing your job well for five years without so much as a thank you. Or maybe you have been super-grateful for your 1992 Honda Civic, until a tall, blond chick rolls up next to you at the red light in her 2014 Mercedes.
What does she have that I don’t? Rarely would any of us say that aloud, but we have surely all thought it. We are in constant comparison of what someone else has and what we don’t. Comparison is a joy-stealer. It’s a bottomless pit of self-doubt and self-deprecation. Comparison is coveting, and it replaces gratitude. It allows us to turn our thoughts selfishly inward. I wish I had her body, her job, her life, her husband. The truth is when we struggle with comparing our lives to others, her life, her job, and her husband would still never be enough. The grass would always be greener somewhere else.
If you find yourself in that pit, here’s some Biblical wisdom on how to handle it:
1. 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. Galatians 6:4-5
In other words, do what God has called you to do. Run your race. Stay on your path. Focus on doing your thing well rather than focusing on where someone else’s path is taking them.
2. Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Philippians 3:1
Genuinely rejoice with others when they get blessed. When your friend gets married, be thankful for her new spouse that you know she prayed for, rather than focusing on your own loneliness. When a neighbor gets a new car, rejoice with them. Be excited when you see God move in someone’s life. He has great plans for you, too. It may look different. It may be on a different timeline. But the plans are great, nonetheless.
3. 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. Philipppians 4:11-12
Learn to be thankful for what God has put in our hands, not what we think we should have. Trust that God has our best interest at heart. He knew us before we were ever born. He chose us. He loves us.
Comparison causes division. It causes us to dislike the pretty waitress serving us, the new girl at work, and the Mercedes-owner. We all have our own crosses to bear. We all have triumphs and defeats, joys and heartaches. Don’t secretly wish for her life. Be filled with gratitude for your own.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see the body of Christ live life in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.