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Single Mom in Need of Help

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Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…. (James 1:27)

Today is a day just like all the others. I take a second to stare into the mirror at myself. I have a bit of oatmeal in my hair, snot on my sleeve, and more than one broken nail. I haven’t showered in six days or slept more than five hours for a long time. I just dropped my three-year-old daughter Elanor off at day-school, and soon I’ll be rocking my one-year-old son Everett to sleep for a nap.

In many ways I’m just like every other mom. From the outside, I look happy, rushed, cheerful, and busy. But I’m not like every other mom. I’m a single mom and on the inside, I’m struggling to balance the load of being both mother and father, bearing the weight of all the household and parenting responsibilities  alone day in and day out.

Never did I dream I’d find myself divorced. I didn’t imagine that my life would resemble anything close to what it does now. As a little girl, I pictured the white picket fence, homeschooling, organic gardening, polite and perfectly dressed children, and sitting around the dinner table eating a delicious meal sharing stories about our day. While those dreams are still alive, they’re buried deep inside my wounded heart.

I remember the joy of sharing dinner as a two-parent family and what it was like to fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day with a warm body by my side. I remember taking quiet baths, being able to run out to the store for a quart of soy milk just because I could, and knowing that after a bad day I had someone to talk to over the age of three once evening came. Life wasn’t perfect, but I was happy during the short time that I knew what love, marriage, and a family had to offer. But not by any choice of my own, I lost it.

Now I simply have to survive. I need to decide when I’ll get a job, what to do with my babies when that time comes, and how to be both a mother and a father. I’m sure this may sound overblown or out of proportion, but most days I honestly feel like if anything else bad happens that my heart will just wilt and stop beating from the pain and disappointment.

There are times when my breath won’t come and I feel like I am drowning in this huge lake. I’m right beside the dock but can’t get close enough to grab and save myself. I keep calling out for help every time I come up for air, and that’s when someone puts their foot on my head and pushes me back under. I’ve thought many times that life is testing me to see if I can survive.

Yet it’s in those moments when I feel like I can’t take another step, that I see my heavenly Father’s faithfulness. I know that even if I have to do all of these things in the practical sense alone, that God’s with me every step of the way. He holds me in the palm of His hand.

Thankfully, every day that has downs also has ups as well. Even in the struggles, I’m able to relish in my son’s toothy little grin and my daughter’s precious voice as she expresses herself. I love the feel of Everett’s tiny hand patting my face and Elanor’s joy when we cuddle after naptime.

In both the good and bad, God touches my heart giving me the strength I need. I’m constantly reminded of Hebrews 10:23, "Do not let go of the hope you cherish and confess but seize it and hold it tight. God is reliable, trustworthy, and faithful to His word" and I find myself clinging to the cross, knowing I will survive and so will my kids.

But sometimes I wonder what the people around me think when they see me and my children. Is it pity, compassion, judgment, concern? Do the happily married or single girls around me have any idea what it’s like to parent alone? Do they even wonder at all? I’ve tried to explain to my friends and those around me, but very few seem to truly understand the pain, hard work, and heartache of it all. Even fewer have reached out to offer a helping hand.

Yet a helping hand is exactly what I and other single moms need. While we may put a smile on our faces and act like everything is OK, we honestly need others to reach out to us in practical ways. Examples include:

Offer a ride. Providing a ride for a child to or from school or other activities can help a single mom make more of her time. I’ve been blessed to have one of Elanor’s teachers take her to school two days a week. This is no small gesture. It saves me a twenty-minute drive there and back and keeps me from having to wake up Everett just to ride in the car only to have to turn around and do it again an hour and a half later. On these two days I’m able to eat breakfast and gather myself in a way that no other days in the week allow.

Offer to babysit. Extending an offer to watch a single mom’s kids while she grocery shops or gets a little "me time" can offer much needed relief. If you aren’t able to babysit at her house because of your own household responsibilities, offer to let her drop of her kids on the way to the store.

Drop off an occasional meal. Because a single mom bears the sole responsibility of preparing meals for her family, mealtimes can be stressful. Being able to eat dinner with my children without the daily struggle of preparing something would allow me to focus on enjoying dinner with my children, instead of worrying when and how I’ll get the dishes and kitchen clean (which is what I typically do).

Invitation for fellowship. An invitation from a married couple or a two parent family to lunch or dinner helps provide much-needed fellowship for a single mom and her kids. For me, it’s difficult to leave alone after church when I see traditional families going home to eat together. I grew up having wonderful family dinners with my mom, dad, and brother. We laughed, prayed, talked, and made wonderful memories. Having dinner with others would provide stimulating conversation for me, as well as allow the my kids to learn from adult conversation.

Mentorship. Single moms need other women to reach out and mentor them through accountability, emotional support, and unconditional love. Several examples of how this can be "lived out" include: calling during the week to pray about any present struggles, showing love through cards, emails, or small gifts, and committing to a once a week sharing or Bible study time. In my own life, a consistent time of fellowship would bless me immensely because in each difficulty I encounter throughout my week, I’d know that someone cared and would be there for me.

In essence the most important thing other women can do for a single mom such as myself is to be the living, active hands of the body of Christ. We need others to reach out and serve us, treating us as an extended family.

It took almost a month to write this article between the crying, feeding, bathing, and regular mothering duties. As I now finish, I take a look around and see that today is a day just like all the others. To be honest, my situation is the same now as it was when I started writing four weeks ago. But I have hope that perhaps today someone will stop by and lend me a hand. And then it won’t be just like all the others.

Amanda Cate is a single stay-at-home mom living in the sleepy southern Louisiana town where she grew up. Graduating in 2001 from Lee University with a degree in child and family studies, she is constantly being drawn to anything people related. When Amanda gets a moment to herself, she loves worshiping, gourmet cooking, cleaning house, craft projects, good quality chocolate, and a long hot bath.

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Amanda Cate is a single stay-at-home mom living in the sleepy southern Louisiana town where she grew up. Graduating in 2001 from Lee University with a degree in child and family studies, she is constantly being drawn to anything people related. When Amanda gets a moment to herself, she loves worshiping, gourmet cooking, cleaning house, craft projects, good quality chocolate, and a long hot bath.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Single Mom in Need of Help

by Amanda Cate time to read: 6 min
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