Where Did She Go?

goofy pic

My daughter Elizabeth was complaining the other night at bedtime about a bunch of stuff. 

I said, “Let’s pray about it.

To which she replied with a wail, “But that never works!  I pray and God doesn’t answer.”

Oh dear! I thought.

I put my hand gently on her forehead and rubbed her eyebrow with my thumb, “Honey, what have you prayed about that you feel God hasn’t answered?”

“Moooom! I don’t wanna talk about it,” she wailed and turned her head away.

I moved in closer and took her in my arms.  I insisted gently that I really wanted to know.  And the answer was a bit shocking.

“I’ve been praying for a nice mommy, “ she sniffled. “You haven’t changed.”


I kept her in my arms.  Stunned.   I was prepared for a boo-boo not healed, or playmate issue at recess, or a gift not received…but it was me?!?

Apparently I used to be a nice mommy.  Now…not so much. 

I’ve thought about it a lot since then because I’ve been known to write that I used to be a nice mommy.  What changed?

Certainly there is a measure of me changing.  And there is a bit of change going on in our lives – children growing older and hopefully more responsible, more stresses with school and work, etc.

I think Elizabeth is feeling bummed that growing up a bit makes you have to be more responsible.  You know, do chores…pick up your room…do dishes…clear your plate from the table, etc.  I also expect her to be respectful and obedient.  That’s hard stuff when your 6.  When you want to play with your dolls and Mom wants you to clean up for dinner!  That is simply unacceptable circumstances for a 6 year old ….well, at least my 6 year old.

On the other hand, I think I’m having a bit of a fussy season.  It isn’t constant or even daily, it’s just that sometimes this single mama thing is no fun.  Not that life should always be fun…well…personally I’d like it to be…wish it was…but it isn’t.  J 

I think that this life sometimes just overtakes me with worries, concerns, to-do lists and chores (and maybe even some hormones…but don’t tell anyone.)  And when those overwhelming moments hit, I can be slightly irritated and maybe a smidge cross.  When I was little my Mama used to say, “Susie, don’t get your knickers twisted.”  Well, my knickers are definitely twisted, tangled, knotted, and snarled at times.

I suspect my children are all too aware of my knickers situation.  I believe my little girl would appreciate me getting myself untwisted, untangled, unknotted and unsnarled.  I believe I would as well.

Practically speaking there are some steps I could take…the biggest being SLEEP.  But since that’s unlikely what else can I do? 

Pray.  Read His words of comfort and peace to me.  Be thankful.  Get organized.  Ask for help. 

Oh and take a loooooong bubble bath. 

Do You Welcome Inconvenience?….me neither.

cheer photo

Sometimes being a single mom is so inconvenient.

The other night – a school night – when I should have been rocking little ones to sleep, we were just finding our seats at the varsity basketball game where my oldest daughter was cheering.

I love watching my daughter cheer…she rocks at it!  But it’s just no fun having to drag everyone out in order to do it.  It’s exhausting and I can’t help but think about how late the night is going to be and how early and fussy the morning is going to be.

On that particularly day we only had a bit of time after school before I had a piano lesson so I fed everyone a super early dinner.  I knew after the lesson we would have to bust a move to get my daughter to the game an hour early.  Unfortunately for the rest of us that meant we were going to be at the game REALLY early…it’s hard enough to entertain my two little nuts during the game much less for an extra hour. 

Honestly, I’m so busy messing with them I miss most of my daughter’s cheering.  But I really just want her to know that I care and I’m always gonna be there for her…no matter how inconvenient!

I can’t tell you how envious I am sometimes of the other moms.  That night a bunch of moms were discussing the upcoming cheer competition trip they will all be going on as chaperones.  I so want to be able to do that… it’s just so difficult to ask friends to take my kids.  I don’t want to ask too often.   Actually those opportunities are not the things that bother me the most…it’s the little shopping trips that my daughter goes on with friends and their moms, the lunch dates, the dress shopping, the get-togethers I just can’t make because I don’t have a built-in babysitter. 

I feel like I’m missing so much.  I know that I’m not.  I know that we really do have a wonderful life.  I know that God provides so many opportunities for me and my daughter to bond.  I really am blessed that she and I have such a great relationship.  I know that is unique. 

This is yet another one of those situations that isn’t ideal – another situation that makes it pretty in my face that things aren’t the way they should be.  But is anything truly ideal?  We live in a fallen world.  When sin came in, ideal went out. 

I’ve been thinking lately about how God still has a great plan for my family.  It isn’t a future plan, it’s a now plan.  A now plan for today…for dealing with missed opportunities, late nights and difficult days.  A now plan for opportunities to connect with my children.  I have the precious opportunity to connect every night with my littlest daughter while I rock her and we sing songs together.   I have sweet moments with my 6 year old daughter while I brush and braid her hair —between the yowling!  She can get some serious knots!  My 11-year old son still loves our time reading together every day.  I do too.  My teenage daughter and I have wonderful spontaneous talks about everything and anything.   We also like to stay up late together watching taped episodes of our favorite shows. 

It sounds funny to say but there is a camaraderie my children and I share that is beautiful.  I think it’s having walked a difficult path together and finding that we really are doing okay.  I also think there are many things about our relationship that wouldn’t necessarily have been the case were I not a single mom – not all those things are great, but most are very good – the opportunity for late night talks and time with each child just to be and talk and read and rock and sing.  I know that being a single mom also means there isn’t a good buffer between me and my children when I really need a break.  I know that my children don’t have a clear understanding of how a husband and wife team works – I wish they did because that is a lovely thing God designed for blessing and security for them.

I know that God loves us just as much as if we were a two-parent family.  He wasn’t surprised by our situation… He has a plan for us to be blessed in this place.  The blessings might appear a little different; the opportunities to bond might not come in big extravagant ways but rather the exquisite small daily ways.

Looking back at that game, I see that God really did bless me with little moments.  We were able to drop my cheerleader off and run and grab Slurpees – which is always hit.  I’m partial to coca-cola Slurpees.  It was also fun to have one to give my daughter at half-time.  My little girls enjoyed playing with the big kids – watching my children be happy is always a blessing.  My son and I were able to visit a bit and that is very cool.  I also had the opportunity to talk to a teacher and be encouraged about one of my children.  That was worth the price of admission!

I’m thinking maybe if I went into situations – no matter how inconvenient – with an expectation of what God might do to encourage and bless me, I’d find that He really does do it an awful lot! 


Hope in the New Year

Happy 2013! 

I saw something funny online yesterday.  It said, “My New Year’s resolution is to remember to write 2013.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if that was all that we needed to resolve to do?  I have so much I want to change about my life that I shudder to think what my resolution list would look like if I was to write one!

It has been a little while since I’ve posted – pneumonia knocked me off my feet for quite a while.  Well, actually had I gotten off my feet I probably would’ve gotten better much faster.  After the third round of xrays in the 3rd month of my coughing and wheezing, the doctor again admonished me to get some rest.  The first few times I nodded my head and agreed to try.  I didn’t even bother with my whole life story.  You know the single mom with “100” kids thing…rest is not an option…at least not often.  Everyone has something that keeps them up at night or on their feet all day or running from thing to thing.

I also have to be honest – when people threatened that if I didn’t get rest I’d be hospitalized, I felt like saying, “Can I sleep there?  Do the dishes, laundry and kids come too?  Cause I’m thinking that doesn’t sound so bad!”   Just kidding of course!  It has been almost 4 months and I finally think I’ve beaten it.  And I’m ever so thankful.

Sickness and single parenting are not an ideal situation.   There are really no easy situations in single parenting…blessed and sweet situations but certainly not easy.  I have found a lovely peace in my single momma life.  We have found a rhythm and rhyme.  I’d say we have found balance, but I don’t believe we have.  I think that there will always be a bit of “unbalancedness” – a bit of awkwardness because our family is not exactly as it should be.  We have suffered a loss and will forever be affected by that…in bad and even good ways.  We have a missing piece.   But God has stepped in and filled our missing pieces.

I believe God’s light shines through our cracks.  He is seen most clearly through our brokenness.  His strength when we are weak.  His hope when all seems lost.  His grace when failure is reality.

I have a tremendous number of cracks and missing pieces – plenty of places for God’s love and grace to shine through.  I think it’s a beautiful thing that God takes the heartbreak and pain of our lives and turns them into beautiful testimonies of His faithfulness and love.  I have only to trust Him to do it and He will.

Lately, life has been challenging.  Sickness and sorrow have been a bit more than I can bear at times.  Sickness has been a companion I could certainly do without – my children have had their fair share as well.  The sorrow is a bit more difficult to deal with – I battle with sorrow especially over the things my children have lost.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Fear has become a bit of a constant struggle for me…fears of failing, fears of disappointing, fears for my children.  I don’t know if I exactly fear the future…I fear not doing well now so that the future isn’t what I hope it will be.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Selah. 

Psalm 46:1-3


Sickness, sorrow and fear…ugh.

At least two of those I can work on…well, I guess if I were to go to bed at a reasonable hour and maybe not try and do so much the sickness could be something I worked on as well.  But the sorrow and the fear?  Those are two that I want to deal with in a more God honoring way.

What am I going to do with this blasted sorrow?  Dang it – I refuse to wallow, but I get this verse:

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28   

It’s a request God put in His word to show us how to deal with sorrow.   It’s a request we can make and receive a guaranteed answer.  If in my sorrow I ask for God to strengthen me, He will through His word.

When I read about the lives of the saints in the Bible and see how God did indeed turn their mourning into rejoicing, my hope is stirred.

I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Jeremiah 31:13

Widowed, Moabitess Ruth who followed her bitter, mourning mother-in-law to a foreign land and worked as a beggar gathering barley,  married kind and godly Boaz and gave birth to Obed who became the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus.

The Israelites in captivity were released from slavery with not just the clothes on their back but the treasures of the Egyptians and set on a journey that led to the Promised  Land!

Barren Hannah had her prayers answered and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Samuel who became a prophet of God.

The Ninevites were lost in sin and violence until God reached out to them with grace, mercy and the hope of forgiveness and restoration.

King David who fell on his face in adultery and murder was forgiven and restored to fellowship with God.

The woman who had exhausted all her money and options to restore her health, simply touched a small portion of Jesus’ robe and was healed.

The leper who had been void of human contact was touched by Jesus and healed.

Peter who denied Christ three times at His crucifixion was forgiven in the most intentional and loving way by Christ Himself.

All the disciples of Christ who watched with great sorrow and fear as their Savior died and was buried, rejoiced and praised God 3 days later!

The Bible is full of stories of hope, redemption and restoration.  Our lives are no less filled with these characteristics.  This is a great big fallen world full of stuff that hurts, but God is a great big loving God who has overcome this world.  There is hope.  Hope for today and hope for the future.  I need not fear for myself or my children, God will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deut. 31:6)  He will not allow us to be snatched out of His hand (John 10:28-30).

No matter the circumstances of our lives…surprisingly good or shockingly not…God offers hope.  And it is that hope that I cling to as I begin another year…a new year…another year to experience God’s love and faithfulness!  I pray that you will be blessed beyond measure and in the most extraordinary ways this year!

For this reason because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…

Ephesians 1:15-20