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LIFE Single Mom Ministry has been launched! YAY! The ministry has found a home at Terre Haute First Baptist Church. I have just launched and am working on the Facebook page, website, single mom group, ministry cards, etc. but I was able to partner with my daughter Cree and her high school students to make Mother’s Day care baskets for 10 single moms at a local addiction recovery house. They are going through the hardest fight of their lives and they would have been ignored otherwise. I was also able to connect a disabled, single mom in another county with a church close to her to help her with some yard/housework. I am excited to see how God uses this ministry and the local community to reach the single mom.

I will be starting in person LIFE groups the 3rd week of August as long as pandemic restrictions allow. I am excited and nervous about this. I am excited because I believe this will be the real launch of the ministry. It will be so much easier to minister to these single moms and their children when we can meet together and build those relationships. It is so much harder to reach out when you can’t have that face-to-face connection. I am nervous because I will be leading the group. I keep pushing myself and God shows up, but it is still a day to day decision to choose faith over fear.

I will update as I get some things accomplished. It is a process and I am learning as I go. For now I invite you to visit the LIFE Single Mom Ministry Facebook page.

My daughter, Kiowa, gave me two devotionals, PRAY LIKE THIS: A 52-Week Prayer Journal and Trusting God day by day, by Joyce Meyer. I have spent the last two weeks devouring every scripture and every word, every day! It was definitely a gift from God because they have intertwined so much! They also have touched me right where I am right now.

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer

Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

1 John 5:14-15

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Matthew 6:27

Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

2 Timothy 1:7

For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses His Word (the Holy Bible) to speak to us. The Bible is the LIVING Word of God and it breathes life into us. God speaks to me about prayer and worry. He reminds me that I CAN control my thoughts. I CAN renew my mind. I CAN CHOOSE to focus my thoughts on Him and not on the negative things going on around me. We need God’s Word. We need the Bible and sometimes God sends us devotionals to bring out the life of those words.

It was a gift that spoke to my soul and has lifted me up. Kiowa didn’t know how her gift would impact me, but God did. I love how He does that!

Are You Married?

As a single mom, the one thing that has always bothered me about the Church as a whole is the focus on marriage. You can walk into any church and know that couples will be accepted more readily than a single person. This makes sense I guess. Through the ages, marriage has been the normal progression of life for the majority of people. But, times have changed. People are NOT getting married as quickly as they once did, marriages are dissolving at an alarming rate and parents raising children alone are now the norm. Society is changing. The Church, however, is not.

There is one church that is trying to change the perspective of it’s congregation and I am blessed to be a member there. This past weekend at Terre Haute First Baptist Church, we met the candidate for our Associate Pastor of Discipleship position. He has experience in working with different age groups and I was very impressed by him. He was giving us some practical advice to carry with us in the week ahead and I was struck by the wisdom of his words.

He said (paraphrased):

“When you meet someone new this week, instead of asking, ‘Are you married?’ say, ‘Tell me about your family’.

Something so simple can break down those barriers to building a relationship that God can work through. When I approached our pastor about starting a single mom ministry, I mentioned the apathy of the Church towards the single mom. I mentioned that the majority of single moms do not feel welcome in the Church. He answered that (again I am paraphrasing here) the Church has held tight to the tradition of marriage and has a difficult time accepting anything different.

When a single mom walks into a church with kids in tow, the assumption is that she is married. If you ask, “Are you married?” you will push her away. If you say, “tell me about your family” you will open the door to a conversation. I can tell you this because of my own experiences with the dreaded “are you married?” question. My typical answer now is, “I’m married to God.” This answer is my truth.

The latest statistics say that 85% of the 15 million single moms (raising 22 million children) in the United States do NOT attend church. We need to do more to bring in the single mom without adding shame. Marriage is the ideal for many people, but not for everyone. Without knowing the single mom’s story, that one insensitive question can remind her of the pain of an abusive marriage, a failed marriage, the shame of a one night stand, etc. We need to have compassion from the moment a single mom walks thru the doors of our churches. We need to build a relationship with her. Yes, we may have to confront the sin, but from a place of compassion and love following the example of Jesus.

“Tell me about your family” Gives her the option of telling you what she wants you to know right now. Help her to feel safe in the conversation. The rest of the story will come when she feels comfortable enough to share it.

The Church should NOT treat the single mom as someone to ostracize. She should not be shamed and made to wear an invisible, but still flesh burning scarlet letter. Her children should not be treated as though they are “less than” because they are being raised by a single mom. The Church MUST do better if we are to change the heartbreaking statistics.

Traditions can be changed. Ideals can be changed. Sometimes they must be changed to keep up with an ever changing society. The Church can change, but we must be willing, as Christians, to change our perspectives. We must be willing, as Christians, to embrace other lifestyles that may challenge those long standing traditions of the Church. It can be done. If we are open to showing the love and compassion of Jesus. If we are open to letting go of our own preconceived ideals of what a family should look like.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAMILY

Life seems to fly by faster as I get older. I have not been posting as much as I want to, but I have to embrace the seasons and realize that there will be seasons that will bring a pause in my writing. These seasons are hard for me. Sometimes I feel that if I am not writing then I am failing. Failing at what exactly? Honestly, I don’t know. This pause has been brought on by my spending time with my kids and grandkids. I house sat for Cherokee and her family during Holy week. I have been spending time with Cree helping Talon paint his new house. Ty, Cree and I drove to Georgia for the weekend to see Kiowa. Baseball season has started up for the grandkids. I have also been blessed with the opportunity this year to be able to watch Madilyn. She is now a 1 year old and requires more attention. I gladly give it because I know that in another month Cherokee will be out of school (she works for the school corporation and has Summers off) and I won’t have my baby girl to watch any more.

Which brings me to some really EXCITING news! I had approached my pastor about starting a single mom ministry at my church in January. Well, I met with the education team on April 11th and they gave their approval. The pastor gave his final approval the next day. I am now waiting to discuss next steps, but my 15 year dream is finally becoming a reality. YAY! I am really excited! And really nervous! I may not be perfect and I am positive that I will make mistakes along the way as God pushes me out of my comfort zone, but I know that as long as I obey HIM that He will turn my mistakes and messes into messages that will glorify HIM and help to build HIS kingdom. I am grateful for the support of the pastor and education team at Terre Haute First Baptist Church. I am grateful for the support of my family. I could never do this alone. We are made for community. We need each other.

In June, I will start to revamp some of the pages here and will start to post more. I will also launch a blog for Life Single Mom Ministry and will be posting ministry updates there, as well as, ways to help the single mom family. I will be starting to work full-time with the ministry to serve single moms in Vigo County and nationally when the opportunity presents itself. I am in awe of how God takes broken people and restores them to the point where they become vessels God can use in the healing of other broken people. I am blessed!

Our pastor recently shared a story that had a profound affect on me. Below is my paraphrased version:

A family was visiting a beach where the young son was happily finding shell fragments. Before long his small hands were full of the broken pieces. A little further down, the family came upon a beautiful starfish that that washed up on the shore. The dad told the little boy to pick up the star fish. The boy looked at both of his hands that were tightly grasping the shell fragments and then he looked at the beautiful star fish. His parents could see the dilemma their son was struggling with. Should he let go of the broken shell pieces in order to grasp the fully intact wonderful star fish? Or should he hold tightly to what he already had and let the bigger prize go?

This story immediately made me reflect on my own struggle to let go of my worry over my finances. This is not a new struggle for me. As a single mom working low paying jobs, I have always struggled with money and I have always been more inclined to keep my money clinched tightly in my fists rather than trust God to work through my obedience. Have I ever gone without? No, I haven’t. God provides as I continue to deepen my faith in Him.

It was easy to trust Him when I had a job and steady income. I knew where my money was coming from. I trusted my own ability to provide through my job. It isn’t as easy when you are working on starting a ministry that God placed on your heart many moons ago and you are no longer employed in the traditional way. God continues to provide for ALL of my needs (and even some of my wants), but I have a tendency to cling to my money. I try to call it being a good steward, but the fear I feel when spending/giving any amount of money says otherwise. I am tightly clinching my money because I am afraid that God will at some point either forget about me or decide to quit providing for me. The idea of either one terrifies me!

God is working on me. I have given to the church and other ministries/family as God has led. I help those in need as God leads. I will admit that there is still that inner struggle as my money passes through my fingers, but I know that if I am giving in obedience to God that I can look forward to seeing that blessing.

In the last several years God has stripped me of many material possessions. I struggled each time I had to let go of a piece of furniture, dishes, a car, and my money. These are the shell fragments that I clinched tightly in my hand. The beautiful star fish in my life is God and the blessings that God pours out on the lives of those who love and believe in Him. I still struggle to some degree with the money. I have yet to fully let go of my grip and trust God to provide. I am getting there. Every day there is progress. Every day I grow in faith. Every day I loosen my grip just a bit. I know that God is patient to wait for me. God loves me and His compassion is unfailing.

What are you holding onto today that you need to let go of?

What are the shell fragments in your life that you are tightly clinching in your fists?

What is God asking you to do to loosen the grasp you have on those fragments?

Will you obey Him?

Is the sight of the beautiful starfish (a relationship with the one and only God of the Universe) enough to get you to let go?

I challenge you to answer the above questions and to let go of the shell fragments tightly clinched in your hand. God is patiently waiting for you. He loves you and He is compassionate. Trust Him to bless your life as you obey Him. It will ALWAYS be worth it!

I was blessed to be featured in a Single Mom Spotlight for Arise Single Mom Ministries. Arise Ministries is based in Oklahoma where they minister to local single moms, but they also have a national presence through conferences and online Bible studies.

Below is the article I wrote for the Single Mom Spotlight:

As reality sank in and I realized that my marriage was over, I became terrified of the future. I was afraid of having to raise my kids alone. As my dreams of a country house with a white picket fence disappeared, I found myself dreading the days to come. What was I supposed to do now? The future stretched out in front of me like a barren desert, and I felt hopeless.

I’ve been a single mom 20 years now. I understand the road you might be walking on today. Like me at one time, maybe you’ve lost hope for the future or you feel your life will never be the same. Well, the truth is your life will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great. In fact, God is doing a new thing!

If you’re finding yourself in the wasteland today, maybe these five truths will jumpstart your journey in a new direction. They helped me, and I know they will help you as well.

1. Forget the former things. This is a direct command from God. Don’t dwell on the past. We’re instructed to let go of the anger, bitterness, hate, and any other negative feelings taking up residence in our hearts. Start looking ahead to the promises the future holds for your household.

2. Have faith. We can choose to believe God wants only the best for us. I can testify that God has shown up for my kids and me in ways that were sheer miracles. He has provided and protected us. He has given me a passion for writing and for serving single moms. This new mission keeps me going when times get tough.

3. Change your perspective. This can be hard, but there are times when we need to make the best of a bad situation and find the good in what seems to be an impossible circumstance. When we focus on the positive, we improve our own mental health and the emotional well-being of our kids. God is providing a new way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The future is a blank canvas, and we get to choose if we want to embrace it.

4. Build community. Community is so important. It can be difficult to walk into a church alone with kids in tow; however, we need a church family to love and support us in our role as a single mom. So don’t give up searching for the right church for your family. Ask God to lead you to the right faith community that will become a village for you and your kids.

5. Create traditions. This new season is a chance to develop new traditions. What a fun opportunity for your family to think of creative Saturday morning activities and new ways to celebrate holidays and birthdays.

Yes, things have changed and the future can look like a wasteland. But remember, God is still at work. This can be the beginning of a new adventure! -Patti B.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. —Isaiah 43:18

To learn more about Arise Ministries click HERE

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Acts 5:29

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!

I have had to wrestle with this question in my pursuit of starting a single mom ministry.

Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God?

Am I more afraid of men than I have trust in God?

Am I going to obey God or man?

God has called me to full-time ministry work. I am to minister to single mom families through a full-time ministry. Will I be paid in the conventional way? No, and this is where my objectors come in.

I am being lazy.

I need a “real” job to be productive.

I can’t just live off of people for the rest of my life.

Following God is not easy. Obeying God even when loved ones don’t get it isn’t easy. Having my value as a person based on my income isn’t easy. Right now, I have no value to some people because I choose to obey God whether I get paid or not. I choose to NOT let the possible consequences stop me from following God’s call on my life. At this point in my life, there is nothing else I can do. I have to obey my God and trust in HIS provision.

As a testimony to HIS goodness, I quit my last paying job of 8 years in May of 2019. I have been working on this ministry since then. I have been working to get it to where I can present it to a church as a feasible, necessary ministry. God is opening that door and more than that, I have had a home with family. I have had income enough to provide for my personal bills and my personal needs. I have not gone without. God provides what I need when I need it. I trust in God and God alone. I listen to God and God alone. I will NOT allow the voice of man to distract me from the will of God. I’ve come to far to turn back now.

My questions to you is:

Are you living for God or for man? Are you more afraid of man? Are you trying to gain the approval of man or God? Are you going to obey man or God?

Think about it. It may not seem like a big deal now, but there will come a time when you will have to choose. God or man?

Matthew 14:18-21

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Matthew 15:35-37

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

I love these stories of Jesus feeding the masses, but it isn’t the miracle itself that touches me. It is the simple act of giving thanks. Jesus gives thanks for the miracle BEFORE the miracle happens. He knew how many people needed to be fed. He knew how little food they had to work with. He also knew that His Father in heaven was a miracle working God and that He WOULD feed these hungry people. Jesus had faith in the miracle.

I know what you are thinking. We aren’t Jesus. Maybe that worked for Jesus, but what is the guarantee that it will work for us? There is no guarantee. God does what He wants to do, but Jesus set the example that we are to follow. Giving thanks before the miracle is all about faith. It is all about following the example of Jesus and trusting God to work the miracle according to our faith.

When we give thanks BEFORE the miracle happens, we are building our faith muscle. We are saying to God, “I trust you and I believe that you WILL work in this situation.” When we give thanks before the miracle, we feel the burden lifting and a peace falling over us. God IS at work!

CHALLENGE: Give God a chance! Give thanks BEFORE the healing. Give thanks BEFORE you get the job. Give thanks BEFORE your marriage is restored. Give thanks BEFORE God provides for that emergency need. Give thanks BEFORE your child is saved. Give thanks BEFORE and watch how God works in your situation.

In my studies of the Gospels I have been drawn to the role that John the Baptist played in the story of Jesus. John really had one job. John was called to reveal Jesus and to prepare the way of our Lord, Jesus.

I believe that as Christians today, we have that same role as John. We are to reveal Jesus to a broken world and to prepare the way of the second coming of Jesus. The questions I have to ask myself is this:

How am I revealing Jesus to the world? How am I preparing the hearts of people so that they are ready when Jesus comes back?

In some ways (the less interactive ways) I am doing fine. I write a Bible based blog that encourages others in their walk with God. My main goal with my blog is to point others to Jesus.

In other ways I have failed miserably. I am not comfortable bringing up Jesus in conversation. I pray that my life speaks for itself, but bringing up Jesus with others is not an easy thing for me. I am trying to do better though.

To that end, I am moving forward to establishing an in person single mom ministry. I debated on keeping it online, because of my own social awkwardness, but God spoke to my heart and made me realize that in order for relationships to be built, the ministry must be in person. I am preparing to share my vision with my church’s education team in April and I am both excited and nervous. I have met with a couple of ministry leaders already, sharing my vision and my testimony. Little by little God pushes me out of my comfort zone and prepares me to share my vision on a larger platform. I see the vision evolve as it takes shape in my own heart. I am grateful that I will be able to prepare the hearts of single mom families for the return of Jesus. I am grateful for the opportunity to reveal Jesus to a broken world.

My questions to you:

How are you revealing Jesus to the world? How are you preparing the hearts of the people for the second coming of Jesus?

As Christians, we are called to prepare a broken world for the return of Jesus. This is the ONE JOB for EVERY Christian. We need to be aware of how we can do that in our own lives. I am challenging you to step out of your comfort zone and reveal Jesus to those around you. God does not wish for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9). That is why he calls us to partner with Him to share the Good News of Jesus to those in our own little corner of the world. So, GO! And share what God has done in your life!

I was blessed with the opportunity to write a guest post for faithcoffeeandakid.com. Chere Williams is the founder of a single mom ministry that hosts conferences, workshops, and podcasts. I was so excited to be able to minister to her single moms through the written word!

I was participating in a single parent retreat weekend in June of 2006 when God ignited a passion in me to serve the single mom. That is where it began and now, here I am 15 years later starting a single mom ministry in my church. FINALLY! It’s finally coming together. I will be working full-time serving single moms and it only took me 15 years! I know! I hear you asking, “what took you so long?” To read the rest of the article click HERE.