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Jennifer Maggio Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Maggio

Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and serves more than 1,500 churches and 71,000 single mothers annually.  She is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She also hosts the podcast Single Mom 101, which you can find at LifeAudio.com. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com or check out her Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

         Who are you? On the surface, it seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? But think about it for just a moment. Who are you? What are the first things that enter your mind in response to that question? When meeting a new friend or colleague, we tend to spout off a list of roles and titles we answer to.  I am a mom, wife, sister, aunt, or friend. In some instances, we answer with a job title. I am a teacher, hairdresser, administrative assistant, or business owner. Sometimes we begin by discussing a current or future project, such as I’m writing a book, joining the church choir, or launching a single mom’s ministry in my community.

            When most of us are asked who we are, we respond by stating what we do. As women, we are doers by nature. We are always fixing something or someone. We hold life together, don’t we? I often joke with my husband that if something happens to me, he is going to struggle with knowing what to do next – where to locate the important papers, his socks, or our children!

I recently read an online comic that described the differences between how women and men get ready for bed. A woman determines she is tired at 8:00 pm and begins the journey of putting the children down for bed. This is, of course, after she has cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen, helped with homework, and bathed the children. After thirty minutes of bedtime stories, prayers, and repeated potty visits, the children are tucked in. It is only then that the woman remembers she needs to thaw out meat for dinner tomorrow. While she is in the kitchen, she will start a grocery list for the weekend and jot a few things on a to-do list for tomorrow. Oh, and there is one more load of laundry that needs to be washed, so might as well get that going too. She throws in some detergent and starts the load. On her way to the bedroom, she notices dirty socks on the floor that need to be taken to the laundry and a shirt on the dresser that needs a button sewn on. After handling those tasks, she finally goes into the bedroom, changing for bed; she notices that her fingernails could probably use a quick polish, and her clothes for tomorrow could use a touch from the iron. Finally, at 10:45 pm, she tiredly collapses into bed. The difference with her husband? He determines he is tired at 10:00 pm, and he heads to bed!

Now, of course, this is all in good fun, and many of us are blessed with husbands that help with so much around the house. But the point is, as women, we are wired differently. We see to all the details of the little things that help us (and others around us) function smoothly throughout the day. We are chauffeurs, counselors, dishwashers, consultants, chefs, clothes-washers, and fixer-of-all-boo-boo’s. All of that is fine with a proper perspective. The danger lies in the doing becoming the defining.

Then, he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:29.

I find this verse fascinating. Jesus wanted to know if the disciples fully understood who He is. They were witnessing His miracles and experiencing first-hand His presence. Yet, Jesus knew it was important that the disciples understood, exactly, who He is. The same is true for us. We must fully understand who Jesus is in us and fully understand who we are in Him.

Only one thing is eternal – our relationship with Jesus. Beauty fades. Positions change. Titles come and go. Unfortunately, relationships sometimes fail. Friends and family sometimes pass away. Children grow up. When our marital status (whether single or married) becomes who we are and what we live for, we must refocus. When what our children do and say becomes our everything, we must refocus. When our beauty (whether we see ourselves as such or lacking thereof) defines us, we must refocus. When a ministry platform (such as Sunday school teacher, member of the choir, author of a book, or anything else for that matter) becomes our worth, we must refocus.

When anything – anything at all – becomes the determining factor of who we are, we must desperately seek the Word of God to set our sights on what He says about who we are.  The same is true in how we see other believers, as well. We cannot place worth on how many members are in his church or her Sunday School class. We cannot be concerned with the size of bank accounts or job titles.  None of those things matter. We work not for salvation—it was given freely. We choose to work because we are saved.

We are daughters of the living God, the King of Kings. We are not defined by what we do – whether good or bad – rather by what Jesus did on the Cross for us. We can never earn more love from our Lord. He loves us infinitely. I have a confession. I am a “striver.” There is just no doubt about it. I like to get an atta-girl affirmation. I like to accomplish goals and write out to-do lists just to mark things off the list. I like five-year plans and twenty-year visions. I am hopeful of one-day hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” from my Heavenly Father.  But what I must, must, must understand (and so do you) is that striving for excellence is not about earning a position, title, platform, and certainly not about earning my Heavenly Father’s love. It is not about becoming anything yet knowing I am everything to my Heavenly Father. What defines who we are is simply being. Being a daughter of the Creator of Heaven. Being His beloved. Being chosen to spend eternity with Him.

Photo Credit: © Photo by Ismael Sanchez from Pexels

Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.

The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 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.

 

*** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com. 

 

Ministry Leaders Worn Out and Weary  

      I bumped into a friend a few weeks ago, and she asked how I was doing. My response was, “I’m tired.” We chatted for a while, and I began to think and pondered over how many times I had responded with that same answer over the previous months. How many times have I thought about my exhaustion over the years?  Often, I jokingly say that I haven’t slept in twenty years and hadn’t truly rested since I had kids. Although it is a joke, there is some truth to the weariness we can fall under as ministry leaders. 

      Ministry is different from anything else you will ever do. You cannot compare it to working a 9:00 to 5:00 job. Many of you still do that in addition to leading your ministry, bathing the kids, balancing family tasks, and doing homework with the kids. Ministry is, by far, my most demanding task, and there is a big reason for that. Satan wants to make you quit. When you move from being just a quiet Christian to being a Kingdom warrior, Satan gets scared. When you decide that you will impact single mom's lives for Christ, Satan gets it. He understands that you are serious, and he will do anything in his power to stop you. That means, when the kids make a mess in their bedrooms, it irks you just a little more than it used to. When your co-worker responds with an attitude, you are just a little more bent out of shape. Everything just seems harder and heavier than it did before you got into ministry. 

      Many people will simply quit when Satan puts the pressure on.  Why do you think so many pastors quit after twenty years? There have been several studies, and a surmountable amount of research conducted focused on pastors and the weights they carry. You are pastoring! You may not be doing it with the formality of title or behind a pulpit, but make no mistake, it is important work.  

      My best advice? Rest! Rest well and rest often. Put up boundaries with the moms you serve and make them adhere to them. Do not allow them to call you at all hours of the night. Do not internalize a passing criticism as eternal truth. Protect your physical, mental, and spiritual being; do not take on their problems as if they are yours. And yes, I will say it again, REST.  

One of my many favorite scriptures are:  

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. So, let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” Hebrews 4:1, 9 

God wants you to REST! He wants you to be refilled through prayer, worship music, healthy boundaries, quiet walks, sabbaticals, and then…when rested, get back up, pick up your sword and fight on! 

 

Photo Credit: © Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

 

Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.

The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 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 national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and serves more than 1,500 churches and 71,000 single mothers annually.  She is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She also hosts the podcast Single Mom 101, which you can find at LifeAudio.com. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com or check out her Facebook and Instagram pages.

Ten Things We Need to Know About Complaining 

      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 with previously-owned, heavily-used furniture, bedding, and dishes. 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. Whatever was given, she oozed gratitude. Sadly, I cannot say that I exhibit that same sense of gratitude every day.  

      I have become increasingly aware of the lack of gratitude that many of us suffer from. There is a seemingly growing trend among us that we are just ungrateful. As bad as it sounds, this condition is not new.  Just read Exodus 16:1-8. We begin to see the unfolding of the Israelites complaining while on their journey in the wilderness. The interesting part of this particular passage is that it had only been thirty days since God had delivered them out of Egypt! Sounds like anybody you know? Keep reading: 

1. The only thing owed to us is death. According to Romans 6:23, the only thing God owes us is eternal separation from Him. But God, in His amazing grace, chose to send us a Savior. Jesus paid the price for the grace we never deserved.   When we understand that the very gift of eternal life that we have was just that – a gift, then it is much easier for us to avoid complaining about the circumstances of today.  Even if you are living through the worst of scenarios right now with your health, marriage, finances, or children, our lives are temporary. Our eternity will look much different when we know the Lord as our Savior.  

2. Restoring our sense of awe will lessen our complaining. As a child, can you remember possessing a sense of wonder about the world? Do you remember looking at 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, sisters, brothers, a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. At what age does all that shift? When do we stop being thankful for the little things and the big ones that God has provided? When do we determine that only the blessings we deem big enough are worth thanking God for? Furthermore, what gives us the right to even categorize any of God’s blessings on our lives as small? 

3. The pursuit of more will never fulfill us. For far too long, many of us have had the mindset what we have is not enough regardless of what we have accomplished— it is never enough. We always want more. If we are hungry and the food bank is passing out bread, we want two loaves instead of one. If the church is giving away free coffee after Sunday service, we are irritated that they are not giving away Starbucks; it is just a simple off-brand. If we are single, we want to be married. If we are married, we want a better spouse. We want to be thinner, prettier, and richer. We want a good job, then a better one. Now, that job is no longer the best job, so we search for the next job, and we are raising our children who are carbon copies of us but twice as bad. The majority of the time, they are not grateful for a new toy; they want the best toy. They are not sensitive to financial boundaries because culture (us) permeates the greed of more, more, more, and the pursuit of that façade will never make us happy or fulfilled or thankful. The pursuit of Christ is the only true fulfillment we will ever know. 

4. God’s provision is always enough.  Look at Exodus 16:17-18. “So, the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.” Every day God gives what we need for that day.

My provision does not look like your provision. What I need in my life is different from what you need in your life.  Maybe you are in a season where God wants to stretch your faith; you may not have much. That does not mean what you do have is not sufficient. He is teaching you some things about faith.  Sometimes, God has not given us what we asked for, because the simple answer is, we just do not need it, or maybe we have not been faithful with what He’s already give us.   

Sadly, many of us are grateful for God’s provision for about thirty seconds then, we move on to the next thing we want.  God always has a plan.  When the Red Sea was parted, it was not a last-minute, impulsive move on God’s part. He always knew He had to deliver them from Egypt and lead them out by way of the Red Sea and that He would have to open the way for them. He has a plan and purpose for you, as well. Take some time to journal what God is doing for you– write it down and save it.  Create a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar. Look back over the months and years and see how faithful God has been.   

God will always do more than we think. He will provide in ways that we are unable to imagine to even think about asking Him.  He will do things that are substantial, miraculous, earth-shattering, and life-changing. He knows what He is doing. Trust Him to do it and just be grateful for it.  

5. What you choose to focus on matters.  Exodus 16:9-10 says, “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Announce this to the entire community of Israel: Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your   complaining.’ And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.”  Just a couple of verses before, they had been complaining about what they did not have. Their focus was not on the glory of the Lord, His provision, His grace, or the fact that He had just rescued them out of decades of bondage. When their focus shifted, all of a sudden, they saw the glory of who God truly is. What would happen in your life if you chose to focus on the awesome glory of the Lord every day?  When we choose to shift our perspective, we can see God’s handiwork all around us.  We may not have everything we are praying for in this instant, but there are others with greater needs, greater lack. God is a good God who provides.   

6.  Our obedience matters.  In Exodus 16:19-20, “Then Moses told them, ‘Do not keep any of it until morning.’  But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then, it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.”  What is in our lives right now that was meant to be a blessing but is now beginning to stink because we have failed to obey God or taken care of the provision?  Children are a beautiful blessing from God.  When we fail to follow the Lord’s instruction in raising them in the way they should go, because of our disobedience, those same children can cause us to have many sleepless nights, shed thousands of tears, and suffer great pain, heartache, and grief.  Sex within marriage is a beautiful thing, but outside of marriage, pain and heartbreak are ultimately involved.  A godly husband is a blessing from the Lord, but when we step outside of God’s will to find one, there will likely be many hardships and sleepless nights.   

When God gives us a command for our lives, it is not a suggestion. It is not optional. We get into trouble when we choose not to obey, and our disobedience often creates a disgruntled, complaining attitude that pushes focus away from us and redirects it to others in our lives.  We find ourselves complaining about our bosses, pastors, spouses, family members, friends, and others.    

7.  Complaining is a choice. Contentment is a choice. Choose to be grateful. What do you have in your life? Do you have healthy children? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have access to transportation? Do you have a best friend? Do you have a loving church? A job? Education? Breath?  Paul writes about this so famously in Philippians 4:11-13, and I’m paraphrasing, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have, whether a little or a lot, empty stomach or full… and he finishes with, For I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”  In other words, God is going to give me the strength I need in the season I need it, so I’m going to choose to be thankful for where I am and what I am doing right now. 

8.  Complaining impacts others. If we are not grateful for the things we already have in our lives, we will never be grateful for these things we are asking God for. That new hair color, promotion, ministry opportunity, car, job, house, friend, and boyfriend — none of those things will ever do. Because we are always choosing to focus on the next best thing.  When we have this attitude, we negatively impact others. We exhibit to our children that complaining is acceptable. Have you ever noticed how you may be having a perfectly good day at work when a coworker comes over to complain about the boss or another coworker, you leave the conversation feeling crummy? Our words have the power of life and death. Always ask yourself if the words you are speaking to your spouse, children, coworkers, or friends are impacting their lives positively or negatively. 

9.  Complaining impacts your relationship with God.  In Exodus 16-6-7, there are multiple references as to how the Israelites complaining was against God.  In fact, Moses and Aaron said on several occasions, “Your complaints are not against us. They are against God!”  Consider this.  What is the last thing you were complaining about?  Your job? Boss? Church? Children? Dirty laundry? Chores? Difficult financial decision? Whatever it was, there was a blessing attached to it. Those dirty clothes are evidence of God’s provision in your life.  The fact that you even have a boss means you have a job. The difficult financial decision likely represents at least some finances coming in.  In other words, God’s provisions are all around us, but when we are constantly complaining, it distances us from intimacy with our Lord. 

10.  Complaining changes nothing.  Recently, the air conditioning service went out in our building. We are in the South in more than 90-degree temperatures right now.  The repair process took much longer than expected, and we ended up having to endure the heat for two weeks.  My complaining every morning about the problem did not solve it. It did not change anything; it probably made other staff members uncomfortable, ill-focused, and more disgruntled.  Friends, we need to shift our perspectives today — we need to be focused on gratitude. Think about the things in your life that you can choose to be thankful for instead of complaining about?

The truth is:  We have all we need for today. You may be in a place in life where you have no idea where the rent is coming from yet, but you have all that you need today.  You may not know where the next meal is coming from for tomorrow, but you have all that you need today. You are blessed and highly favored; there are others who would love to be where you are in your life, in your season. Let go of complaining today.  

Photo Credit: © iStock/Deagreez

 

Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.

The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 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 national voice for single mothers and hurting women. 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/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and serves more than 1,500 churches and 71,000 single mothers annually.  She is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She also hosts the podcast Single Mom 101, which you can find at LifeAudio.com. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com or check out her Facebook and Instagram pages.

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