- 2017Aug 16
By the time I was 21 years old, I had suffered a lifetime of disappointments. Both of my parents were dead, as well as all my grandparents, and most of my aunts and uncles. I had seen more death than most do in a lifetime. I was pregnant multiple times outside of marriage, which carries its own shame and embarrassment. I had been homeless, lived on government assistance, and struggled to put food on the table as a single mom. I had already parented alone for several years and had no way of knowing that I would go on to parent even more years alone. And all of those things shaped me and molded me with fear.
But the journey I embarked upon a few years back was far worse than I could have even imagined. Eight years ago, I decided to walk away from Corporate America and accept this call on my life to minister to single moms nationally. I was scared and felt ill-equipped, but I did it anyway. And the ministry quickly grew. Before long, our ministry was ministering to thousands around the globe, but for every success I experienced in ministry, there was an even bigger attack personally. First, my husband lost his job and there was no money. Then, my children were plagued with countless unforeseen surgeries and there was even less money. Eight surgeries later, our family was pressed from every side financially. And then there were the difficult teen years, where I failed miserably in parenting. And the times I secretly wanted to quit ministry altogether, because I didn’t feel I measured up. It was during this difficult time that I actually declined every invitation I received from churches to speak. The enemy had accomplished exactly what he wanted. He had taken my voice.
Fear had beaten me down and strangled the life from me. It was gradual and I usually masked it well. But most days, I spent my time crying uncontrollably. That’s what fear does. It strangles, immobilizes, subtracts, withers, crushes, and shatters. It grips our soul and snatches every dream. What once was the joy of the Lord somehow becomes replaced with anger and hopelessness. Fear encourages us to give up and accept the misery of existence versus the excitement of a God-led pursuit.
Many Christians are struggling with fear and allowing it to take our voice and strangle us – secretly and slowly. Yet, our Father in Heaven paid for us to have an abundant life, free from fear and worry and anxiety. There are three things that we can do that will allows us to master fear and move into the freedom Christ paid for us to have.
Acknowledge what fear is. If fear didn’t come from the Lord, then who gave it to us? As Christians, we must understand that fear was given to us by Satan as a mere tactic to keep us distracted and off course for the plans the Lord has for us. We must understand it for what is, then realize we have the authority to dispel fear with the power of Christ’s shed blood.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7
Seek God until he takes away our fears. Keep pursuing freedom from fear, even when everything around you seems scary and hopeless and endless. Keep asking God to deliver you from the fear that is being forced upon you.
Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will open. Matthew 7:7-8
Speak truth. Speak truth over your fear, even when you don’t feel like, even when it seems impossible, and even when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. When Moses died, I am sure that Joshua was afraid of what God was now calling him to do in the book of Joshua. I am sure he had no idea of how he would lead the Israelites. He never expected to be in that situation. Do you find yourself in an unexpected situation today? Are you fearful of your future? Your kids choices? Your finances? Your marriage? Your singleness? God’s word promises you victory, authority, and strength. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Joshua 1:5
Don’t clamor in a corner like one with no hope. You are a daughter of the King of Kings. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. That challenge, that thing you are facing, is not bigger than your God. He will never leave you. When fear comes for you, don’t retreat and allow it to strangle you. Get ready for war. Wage war against the evil one who has attempted to lie to you and steal the joy God has paid for you to have. Take authority and stand against it.
Jennifer Maggio is a wife, mom, chauffeur, counselor, dishwasher, carpooler, soccer mom, and daughter of the King. She is passionate about seeing single parents and women living a life of total freedom. She is author to several books and Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com
** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.
- 2017Aug 02
All of us, whether young or young at heart, married or single, mother or not, will encounter conflict in our lives. The way we handle conflict becomes either an amazing opportunity to give God glory in how it is resolved, or a thorn in our side that we struggle to get right.
Many of the hurts of my past resulted in a great deal of conflict in my life. And all of you have had events in your life, both negative and positive, that have shaped your ability to resolve conflict and more importantly, your willingness to do so.
Proverbs 11:2 says Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
I was once a poor girl from Mississippi who used government assistance just to makes ends meet. When I landed a job in Corporate America and became successful, I didn’t bother to guard my heart against pride. Humility wasn’t my first goal, if I’m being completely transparent with you. Conflict wasn’t viewed as an opportunity to give glory, but rather a welcomed opportunity for me to boost my own ego. So when I told someone off, or gossiped behind their back, or ranted for ridiculous amounts of time…. It made me feel better about me. It helped me to mask old wounds that had been left undealt with.
What are some of the things in our lives that cause conflict? There are many, but here are just a few:
- Insecurity – (Whether our own insecurity or someone else’s, it can cause major problems.)
- Misunderstanding - (Sometimes we simply misunderstand someone’s intention.)
- Satan’s plan of division – (Why wouldn’t he cause conflict & division? He’s masterful at it).
- Exhaustion – (When we are doing too much, too often, and not resting, conflict arises.)
All of us will face misunderstandings or exhaustion and many have dealt with insecurity, so, what do we do to resolve these conflicts well?
1. Issue grace.
Most of us would rather receive grace than issue it. It’s easier for us to see all the reasons why God should give us grace, because our heart is good and we’re good people and we didn’t mean to fail Him – than it is for us to see the good in others and just give them a break. Maybe they are completely unreasonable. And maybe you are completely right. But it’s so important for us to look at how we can maintain and mend relationships than how we can be right. (Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit, binding yourselves together in peace.)
2. Take your offense directly to the person.
(See Matthew 18:15.) Girls, it is unfair to assume others in our lives know what we are hurt about, when we don’t talk to them about it. And it is even more unfair to discuss it with others when you haven’t discussed it with them. And we do both. Don’t gossip about it. Don’t fester about it. Take it to them in love. And when you take it to them, take it to them in hopes of resolution with a pure heart - not in hopes that you can convince them how right you are.
3. Speak life over the situation.
The power of life and death are in the tongue. (Prov. 18:21) Most of us are church girls. We get it. We understand about keeping our tongue in line with God’s word. Yet, we struggle to do so. When we want to resolve conflict, we must speak honor over those we are in relationship with. If you think you can speak negatively about your girlfriend, your sister, your pastor, your boss, your Bible study leader, and NOT grow division in your heart, you are wrong. Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we could just watch our mouths? Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said. Ecc. 10:20
4. Battle your thoughts.
Phil 4:8 says to fix our thoughts on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. You cannot keep playing in your mind over and over and over what they said, what they did, an expect resolution. You cannot keep negative thoughts from coming into your mind. But it is your choice what you do with them, when they get there.
Friends, we are all armor bearers of something. Whether it’s your spouse, a friendship, your pastor, your boss, a ministry you are passionate about, your kids --- you are championing the cause for something and someone. And as such, you must begin to see yourself as mightily carrying the armor for someone else in your life to complete their mission – just as there are those in your life bearing armor for you.
What’s at stake if we don’t battle well? Rest assured, the conflict will grow. It becomes bigger than it ever needed to be. It shapes us. We become bitter, anger, and offended and no one can stand to be around us, instead of humble and graceful and strong. And we will also be so distracted with the conflict that we don’t focus on fulfilling our purpose. How could we be busy about our Father’s business, when we’re telling anyone who will listen about our conflict?
Let’s decide today that we are going to problem solvers, not problem seekers. And when conflict does seek us out, we’ll be strong women of God who see it for what it is and determine in our hearts that we’ll overcome it with God’s help.
Jennifer Maggio is an author and speaker whose personal journey through abuse, death, single parenting, and homelessness has left many around the globe riveted. She is CEO and Founder of the Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has a passion to see the body of Christ living in complete freedom. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Image Credit: Unsplash.com
- 2017Jul 19
Twenty years ago, I found myself curled in a ball in the middle of my cold, bathroom floor, crying hysterically. I was convinced that no one could possibly understand the depths of my pain. When would this misery end? I was broken. I had no money, few friends, and no hope. How was I going to raise these children alone for 18 years? How could I make it financially? Would my circumstances every change? How could I ever get over all the abuse from my past?
There were a million questions and I had no answers. That is my story – the story of a lonely single mom, living on government assistance, running from God, and feeling I couldn’t push through. The next several years brought a winding road of highs and lows, victories and defeats. But I did push through. I made it through those early years of parenting alone. Although I hadn’t been in years, I became involved in my local church, rededicated my life to the Lord, and slowly began the journey of digging myself out of a financial and emotional hole. My heart found rest. I leaned on the Lord, when everyone else had failed me. I learned to dream again. I learned that God planted things inside me that only I could do, that my past didn’t have to dictate my future. And I never forgot what it was like to be that lonely, overwhelmed single mom.
Moms and dads, the best thing you can do for your children is dream again!
Employers, the best thing you can do for your staff is dream again!
Daughters, the best thing you can for your future husband is learn to dream again!
When you were a kid, do you remember dreaming of becoming the next world-champion figure skater or the next President of the United States or the coach at the high school? When did we lose that dream? I understand it's difficult to get excited about dreams, when you're barely keeping your head above water. When our kiddos are small, we do our very best to encourage them to dream, to hope? So why then, do we allow our own dreams to die?
We can dream! Maybe it has been years since you've thought about those things God placed in your heart, oh so long ago. Maybe you feel you are too far off course or the dream is too far gone. Maybe you are too scared to even utter aloud the hopes you have for your future. Learn to dream. Learn to ask God for big ideas and vision! There are things He wants you to do in this life, so go back to him and ask him.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.