When I was 9 years old, my twin sister and I sat alone in a church service on a Sunday morning in a small Baptist church in rural Louisiana. The pastor delivered a message and when he began the altar call, I got up and timidly walked down to the front of that church. It was in that moment that I realized the weight of my sin and my desperate need of this Savior he spoke of. It was a deep realization (as deep as a 9-year-old could have) that I needed Jesus’s help to get through my life. Life had already been quite hard for me. My mother had been killed. My dad was an alcoholic who had married many times. I had endured much abuse. And there was something about this Sunday morning that was made clear by the power of the Holy Spirit that I could not do life without Jesus. Life’s weight was far too heavy a burden to bear.
I’m not certain that I understood the brevity of my decision way back then. I’m not certain I fully understood what it was to be a Christian or how do that well. I assuredly did not understand what it was to walk in my God-given calling, to live a life set-part, or to operate with the fullness of the powerful authority of the Holy Spirit. No, that journey would be a life-long one. It’s been a journey that has taken many twists and turns, no doubt. It’s a journey that I’m still on – to learn, to grow, to rest, to lean in.
As I sat down to write this letter of holiday encouragement to the many single moms out there who may stumble upon this, the Lord reminded me of that motherless little girl sitting on a pew a long time ago and the pain I endured, even at such a young age. And He reminded me of the many pains I have suffered since. I immediately thought of you – the single mom who is juggling a few gifts under the tree with mounting bills alongside, the single mom who feels lonely today, the single mom who carries unspeakable weight and feels unseen, the single mom who sits silently hurting. I asked the Lord what I could say. He brought me here:
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! Luke 2:8-11, NLT
Single Moms, the birth of that Savior – the one we celebrate this holiday season – is the hope of the world, and He changed everything.
- He came to shine light in darkness. Some of you sit in a dark place today. There is hope for you.
- He came to restore sight. Some of you sit blinded in grief & pain. There is hope for you.
- He came to heal the sick. Some of are sick in body, others in spirit. There is hope for you.
- He came to set captives free. Some of you have been bound for too long. There is hope for you.
Jesus came so that that 9-year-old little girl would find strength to endure hard seasons. He came so that you – single mom – could find joy and peace in the middle of your hard season, too. He came to restore right standing with the Father. That is the type of hope that endures – the type that lasts beyond the fleeting moment of a hard holiday or a difficult season.
So often, we struggle during the holidays, because we’ve lost sight of the hope that was brought a long time ago – the hope we encountered with Jesus, perhaps as a little girl. Jesus isn’t a band-aid on a bleeding wound of pain or disappointment. He’s the Great Physician who comes to heal it. His intention isn’t to leave us suffocating and drowning and limping and bleeding all over the place. His intention is to set us free. His intention is that we’d have hope – despite the challenges that persist.
Mom, you are seen by the hope of the world. He values and loves you. You are royalty – a daughter of the Most High King – and it is time you start living like it. Your life’s portion isn’t depression, rage & anger, bitterness & unforgiveness, anxiety & worry.
Your portion is:
- abounding peace
- hope & wholeness.
You may have been knocked down countless times. You may be bloody and bruised from the weight of multiple jobs and countless disappointments. You may be exhausted. And you may be tired of suffering. But hear me.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
This Christmas season I want to challenge you to walk in the fullness of the joy of the Lord. Rise up with great expectation. He is restoring, supporting, and strengthening. He is lifting your foot to a firm foundation, planting it on solid ground. He is giving future beauty where ashes lay now. He is redeeming, transforming, and renewing. There is never a hopeless moment, when you know the Savior of the world. Sit in His presence today. Walk in intimacy with Him. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t. Focus on His promises, not the broken ones of man.
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. A former single mom, her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO and Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and ministries, totaling over 1,750 roups currently. The Life of a Single Mom has served over 750,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. Maggio is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.
- 2022Nov 23
How to Be a Blessing
By Jennifer Maggio
The holiday season is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude. It is a time to reflect. We gather around fires and giggle with family. We host parties, give gifts, and drink hot cocoa. We visit friends and tell old stories. We roast chestnuts on the open fire. (Has anyone ever actually done that?) We thank God for our blessings and often look for ways to bless others.
Sometimes, that blessing comes in the form of financial giving. It is a vital part of giving back to others. It is important that we understand that God often works through us to bless others. Maybe you think you don't have much to give. It's ironic how God uses what we deem to be insignificant to change the lives of others around us. I am sure that the little boy whose mom prepared his lunch of five loaves and two fish in John 6 didn't receive his lunch and exclaim, "Wow, Mom. What a blessing!" He likely grabbed it and went about his day. He had no way of knowing that later that day, his little contribution would become a blessing that not only blessed thousands that very day, but many for generations to come.
Be faithful in your tithe to your local church. Do it because your Heavenly Father has already given you everything. May I challenge you to take it even a step further? Go above the tithe and bless a charity, organization, missionary, or family this holiday season. Do it even when it doesn't seem like much. Your little bit put in the hands of the more-than-enough God will be stretched further than you could ever imagine.
Beyond financial blessings, some of the most valuable blessings come through those who bless others with their time. To me, there is nothing worse than walking into a women's Bible study when you do not know anyone. Okay, maybe there are a few things that are worse, but that ranks pretty high on my list. Walking into a new environment, convinced everyone has been lifelong friends and you are the only outsider, is like some type of ancient Chinese torture in my book. Nothing can make this girl feel more awkward and self-conscious. You stand there, unsure if you are in the right building. They stare. And then…it happens. That one woman in the group - that one kind, friendly, smiling woman - arises to warmly welcome you into the bunch. It makes all the difference.
Just like the smiling woman who greets a first-time visitor at a ladies' Bible study, your time means something to someone else. For years now, all I've wanted for my birthday or Mother's day was simply to spend time with my family. Having two teenagers who would much rather spend time with friends than family right now, their time is so valuable to me. An undistracted conversation with them (sans cell phone) is worth more than gold to me. And guess what? Someone feels that way about your time, too.
Working with single mothers, many of whom are financially stretched, they often have a heart to serve and want to know how they can do more, serve more, and bless others who have blessed them. My response is always "your time." Give of your time. They are thousands in nursing homes desperate for a chatty visitor. There are neighbors who need a cup of coffee with a caring friend. There are grandmothers who would love an unexpected visit from grandchildren, widows how need a hug. Read a book to a child who may not otherwise get that time. Spend uninterrupted time with your own children. Your time is a blessing.
Blessings to others come in a variety of packages – your time, talent, and treasure. What can you do to bless others this season?