Intersection of Life and Faith

A Single Mom's Mother's Day Reflections

  • Dena Johnson Martin Dena's Devos
  • 2017 11 May
A Single Mom's Mother's Day Reflections

Nearly 18 years ago, I became a mom.

My oldest entered this world a month prematurely, thrusting motherhood upon me before either of us was ready. As the years passed, I was blessed with another boy and my little princess. I was enjoying motherhood, staying home with my kids, teaching them to read, and giving them a firm foundation upon which to build.

I had always imagined the type of mom I would be. I assumed I would spend hours doing crafts with my kids, playing school, decorating for holidays. I always thought I would be the home room mom, have fresh-baked cookies ready after school, attend camps and field trips with my kids. I would be the Pinterest mom extraordinaire!

And that’s when my dreams crumbled.

I became a single mom. I was forced to return to work to support my children. Instead of fresh-baked cookies after school, we existed on a steady diet of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Instead of serving as homeroom mom, I sent my kids to be cared for by someone else while I worked. Instead of June Cleaver, I was the mom who was too exhausted to do anything extra with and for my kids.

For the last eight years, I’ve done this parenting gig all by myself, no one else to pick up the slack. I’ve run myself ragged trying to juggle the responsibilities of work and children. I’ve chauffeured kids to activities at all hours and done my best to stand by them, to support them in everything. I’ve sacrificed my time, my money, my energy to be the best mom I knew how to be. And, occasionally, I’ve had a complete melt-down from sheer exhaustion.

Know what I’m learning?

It’s OK to not be the Pinterest-mom extraordinaire.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I have been reflecting on the last eighteen years of motherhood. I’ve come to realize that—although my life is far from what I expected—there are many valuable lessons I hope I’ve passed down to my kids. Here are a few I hope they have grasped.

God is our Provider. Over the years, we’ve seen God step in and provide for us as only He can. When I first became a single mom, half my income went to child care and the other half to a mortgage payment. I honestly don’t know how we survived.

But we have never lacked anything we needed. Whether it was the $100 someone slipped me at church or an unexpected refund, the money has always been there at exactly the moment it was needed.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Walking by faith is an exciting way to live. There have been many days when we were forced to trust God, when there was no way to get through the current circumstances. But we’ve seen God sweep in and rescue us, make a way through the fire.

Oh how exciting it is to see the God of the impossible make all things possible! And I pray my children have seen how much fun it is to walk by faith!

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Things are never too broken for God to fix. I can’t even begin to explain the brokenness we have experienced. From adultery and divorce, rejection and death, we have seen it all. The overwhelming pain my kids have experienced in their short lives is more than anyone should face in a lifetime.

But here we are. As we emerge on the other side of the pain and anguish, we are amazed to see how God has restored everything we have lost. We have been placed in a family again, complete with a man who loves God and loves us all. Our hearts have been expanded to love in ways we never could have imagined. We have seen a new ministry emerge.

Everything—absolutely everything—has been made new.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

There’s always beauty in brokenness. I’ve come to understand we cannot fully grasp God’s love unless we have been broken, completely shattered. You see, it’s through the pain we experience His healing. It’s through the dark days the light shines brightest. It’s in walking through the brokenness that our eyes are opened to the beauty around us.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lordhas planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

We are never alone in this life. I have come to realize that although I am a single mom, I have never been on this journey alone. As a matter of fact, I’m not even a single mom. My kids have the best Father, and I have the best guide!

Years ago, I quit parenting. I told God I was finished, didn’t want the job any longer. Instead, I asked Him to always do the parenting through me, something I have prayed most every day since then. I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but I am convinced His grace has been sufficient, He has picked up the pieces and put them together as only He can.

And I pray my kids understand they are never alone on this journey either, that God is always their personal guide whatever they are doing in this life.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.>Romans 8:38-39

Love is sacrificial. There have been many sacrifices in our home over the last decade. Finances have been tight, and time even tighter.  

I pray my kids look back one day and recognize the sacrifices that were made to give them the best childhood possible under far less than ideal circumstances. I hope they know my love for them knows no bounds, that there’s nothing too great to give, to sacrifice for them. I pray I have been an example of the sacrificial love of our Father.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

I don’t know what your parenting journey has been. Maybe it’s been less than ideal like mine. Maybe you struggle with insecurities, with feeling like there’s not enough of you to go around. Maybe you are overwhelmed, exhausted, with the many responsibilities you carry.

Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Trust God to do what you cannot do.


Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three amazing kids. Her greatest desire is to use her darkest days—days marred by adultery and divorce—to encourage others to find the joy of a life restored by Jesus Christ.

Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization with a mission of bringing hope to lives broken by the pain of this world. Her first book, Picking Up the Pieces: Rebuilding Your Life After the Storms of Adultery and Divorce, will be released later this year.

In her spare time, Dena works as a Registered Nurse and is a regular contributor at If you would like to contact Dena, please feel free to interact with her on her blog Dena Johnson Ministries or email her at

Publication date: May 11, 2017

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