Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sun breaks

How can I be thankful when it seems the world is crashing in?

It has been a rough two months at my house. It feels like just as I adjust to the latest crisis another one is in the wings…kind of like the rain storms that line up off the Oregon Coast to keep Portland in the dark, dreary, rain-filled days of winter. The storms come one after another, with maybe a brief sun break in between the onslaught.

My task these days is to focus on the sun breaks. It is so easy to fall into the trap of looking at the crumbling economy, newly identified health concerns, ongoing parenting challenges, and inconsistent work contracts. But instead, on the eve of Thanksgiving…I need to remember the sun…the Son. I think sometimes all we get is a sun break; a brief moment of respite, a brief moment of hope in an otherwise dreary season of life. It is the hope that is important to remember today.

Karen and I often debate how much to include God in our blog. After all, Eve’s Daughters is meant for all single moms regardless of their faith. As much as I struggle with it, I can’t take God out of it. It isn’t possible. For me, God is the reason I keep going. I am committed to helping all single moms, and the only way I know how is to share my hope. Until God came into my life, being a single mom was one storm after another…no break in the deluge. Then I started asking questions about God…and one day there was a sun break, and then another.

So in the middle of my current string of storms, I am guessing (because I can’t really see through the fog to the end of the path) that God is preparing me for helping other single moms. How else can I understand if I haven’t experienced it? Now, I must admit, I was really hoping that I had done my time. It looks like there are more lessons, more experiences, more challenges. So I must focus…focus on the sun breaks.

Today I am thankful…

for my life…I am living
for my kids…they are smiling
for my family…they are my support
for my friends…they listen
for my home…it is warm and cozy
for my God…He gives me sun breaks

Friday, November 14, 2008


My daughter is at that age where more is always better. More friends. More attention. More doodads. More colors. Choices. Options. Chocolates.


We've had many discussions, now that we've stuck a toe into The Drama Years, about how lucky we are to have one good friend--one who builds up instead of tears down, one who listens, one who's trustworthy, one who's got our back. Maybe even one more than we deserve.

My daughter listens, but I think she secretly believes that more is still better. She wants to know about this popularity thing. I need to let her figure that out while waiting patiently nearby.

Recently, when I was going through a really tough time, I asked a very wise person in my life how in the world I would make it through. He said one:

One friend.
One cheerleader.
One timely phone call.
One dose of comfort food.
One Kleenex passed.
One laugh, black or otherwise.
One walk.
One nap.

As single moms, we've got a lot going on and, usually, we ourselves fall to the bottom of the list. But the old adage is not only true but wise: If you're going to pour into someone else, best to dip from a well that actually has water in it.

So...what's your one? What's the thing or person that helps keep you going, that opens the earth so your well recharges again?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Helping the single mom

What is it to be the parent of a teenager? It is to do what you think best – when really you have no idea what is best. It is to ride out the storms and be back again the next day. It is to give love to a child who does not seem to want it, to a child who five minutes ago seemed to deserve a punch more than anything else. – Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D, “Get Out of My Life...but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?”

I remember when the kids were younger and friends and relatives told me to enjoy the early years…because it was going to get harder. It does get harder, but in a weird sort of way. It isn’t so much the physical exhaustion as it is the mental exhaustion.

I tend to second guess myself a lot, and it doesn’t help that I don’t have a spouse to help focus me and make decisions. Outside of taking the garbage out and dealing with the car maintenance, help making decisions is the biggest thing I miss about not having a loving spouse. When the kids were younger, I liked the autonomy, the decisions were easier. I felt a bit more in control, or should I say it seemed easier to gain control. Now…I am constantly asking myself if I am saying the right things, doing the right things, or making the right decisions. I need help.

I think decision making is one of the hardest parts of being a parent, let alone a single parent. When I talk to other single moms, decision making is always a big concern. “How do I make a good decision when I don’t have a partner to bounce my thoughts off of?” Ultimately, the responsibility is mine and mine alone. There is no one to pass the buck to…it is up to me. When they were younger it was easier, they weren’t as saavy and I could more easily justify my position…”Because I am the mother and I said so”. That same argument doesn’t work with a 14-year old or 17-year old.

Now that my son has turned 17 (it seems so much older than 16), I wonder if I did an okay job. Did I instill the right values? Did I focus enough on God? Did I love him enough? Did I discipline him enough? Being a single parent is a lonely job. In the workplace I know how to get feedback to determine whether or not I am successful. As a parent, I thought I would get it from my husband. Without a husband, where do I get the feedback? Family?... friends?...sometimes. But they have busy lives and are trying to answer the same questions for their own children.

Being there for other single moms as they wrestle with decision making is one of the big reasons that I think Eve’s Daughters is so important. Single moms need reinforcement, they need support, and they need to be heard. Karen and I struggle with the idea of “just being there”. Is it enough? Of course, we want to offer other services as well…spa days, parenting classes, career skills, resources when needed, connections to other single moms, and hopefully a deeper understanding of how walking a life of faith can make the entire journey better…not perfect, just better.

Single moms are parenting kids of all ages, with all kinds of challenges, and with varying levels of support. The dilemmas change depending on the day. The only given is that the journey will be bumpy. What do you need to help you along the way? We need to hear from you…let us know your thoughts. How can we support you? If you aren’t a single mom, but you walk alongside a single mom, what is her greatest challenge? How do you think we can help moms take care of themselves so they can take care of their kids? We look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

He is enough...

Before I became a Christian I was pretty judgmental about the "Jesus freaks", as I used to call them. In fact, I vowed to never fall in with such a narrow-minded group of people that preached Bible verses and used big words to describe their holy walk with God. Somehow it just didn't seem real. I remember when someone in the church told me I was going through the “sanctification” process. I left thinking God was turning me into a saint! Like Mother Theresa! REALLY!

Nowadays I don’t do much better with the “jargon”, but find myself guilty of using it every now and then. It becomes habit. I am in a place some would call the “refiner’s fire”. I don’t like it (and frankly I am not overly enthused about the name “refiner’s fire” either). Just call it for what it is, a time of rotten events/crises meant to change us into better people. I want to get myself out of the fire…now! Yet, I know this is the best thing for me, right? Doesn’t God work all things for good according to His purpose?

Sometimes it is hard to have faith, hard to persevere. For me, it is hard to trust. I don’t like surprises and I prefer to have a plan to follow, in that respect I am very much like my biz partner. Let me ride shotgun high above the path in a blimp, versus down below in a beat up mini behind a giant semi.

Life is throwing me some curves. I am facing the biggest challenge I have had as a single mom and I am “forced” to turn it all over to God, forced to surrender. The crisis is too big. I am not strong enough. I don’t know when the curves will come and whether I will maneuver them well. I question if my family will end up “okay”, and I certainly don’t know if I can withstand the pain. It seems like I have been to this place before. Yes…fourteen years ago I visited this place, and many times since.

Then I didn’t have a faith, didn’t have a God. I was on my own, in control, and suicidal. It took me two years to fall on my knees in desperation, screaming for someone to save me. I didn’t know then that I was in the fire…that God was working all things for good…in order to bring me home to Him. During that time I never would admit that He had my back, heck I wouldn’t even admit He was in control. Funny, God takes you through it, even if you have no interest in experiencing it! During that time I came to Christ. Since that time I have been learning, growing, and often rebelling.

If I am truly honest, I can say that God has always been there for me. Maybe not with the answers I wanted, but he has always been there. It is during times like these that I need to remember the past, remember that I got through the trial, and remember that I am who I am because of my experiences.

This morning I was taking my son to school (he is grounded from his car) and on the way home Ginny Owens was on the radio singing “Be Still My Soul”. As I heard the lyrics, the tears began. Why is it so hard to be still? Why is it so hard to rest in God? I listened to the song and lifted my heart, and with it my problems, to God.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below

I don’t have the answers. I don’t understand the mystery. I don’t understand why this path or where this path is leading. I do know that my God will be with me every step of the way and He has a purpose in mind. On a day like today that is comforting, even if the pain remains. On a day like today…He is enough.