When a family fractures: 7 helpful suggestions for single moms in forging new traditions… …

strawberry picking

STRAWBERRY 2

STRAWBERRY BASKET

Secors Strawberry patch

13ME AND DAN

Strawberry picking always signaled the start of summer vacation when my sons were little.

We’d head down the road to Secors Farm and first we’d pick sweet peas — consumed raw from the pod as soon as we got home — and then we’d wander off into the patch picking the reddest berries, many of which wound up in bellies instead of baskets.

One day while my boys picked and I watched them unawares, I thought back to the very first time their dad and I had taken them strawberry picking. That was the year before our world imploded when he left the following June.

And my head seemed to spin that day at Secor’s, as only a single mom’s can, when I realized the loss that had been suffered in our family.

While nothing can compensate for the absence of a parent, the adult who remains behind can pick up the pieces by the grace of God and move her family forward in a God honoring way. She and her little ones can have fun and make good childhood memories — albeit different from what had been envisioned.

So here’s a shout out to all you single moms reading this post: I’ve been there. Done that. Lived to tell about it. And you will too, someday, though for now…

It’s not fun.

It hurts terribly.

Some days you’ll forget to smile.

single parenting tips

You’ll be tired, worried and stressed. Short of cash and time and an extra pair of hands.

You will doubt God loves you and you may even shout at your Maker until you realize He is your husband and a father to the fatherless. He will always love you like crazy and He will watch over you and your babies.

By placing your heart into the keeping of the One who loves you best of all and will never leave you, YOU. WILL. MAKE. IT!

God will give you strength you never knew you had.

He will comfort you in the wee hours.

He will provide care for you and yours.

And He will wrap His arms around you on those long, lonely nights in a way no one else on earth ever could!

So hold tight to Him and keep looking up!

And to help you navigate the often storm tossed waters of single parenting, here are my suggestions for ways to create new family memories as you wait on and trust in the Lord, knowing that…

17LAMBKIN - Copy

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11

Birthday Bucks — Some years the only gift I could afford was a box filled with crisp new singles in the amount of their age. They came to love this idea and it continued well beyond the struggle years.

Snowy Days — We always made chocolate chip pancakes. And one of their neighborhood buddies would always trudge up the hill, pjs on under his snow pants, to join us. This breakfast gave them lots of energy for shoveling the driveway. And the four of these young men still talk about those chocolate chip pancakes to this day!

Sick Visits — Trips to the doctor when my sons were young were followed by a trip to the dollar store for a pick-me-up treat. It brightened a not-feeling-quite-well little boy’s heart and it cost practically nothing.

Hot Seat — Building each other up with encouraging words is a way to honor family members and strengthen family bonds. My middle son once commented about his older brother: “You like to help people. You stop what you are doing to help me.” My youngest once quipped about his middle brother: “I like how you swung the golf club {in our yard backed by woods!} and said, ‘Where did it go? Where did it go?’ and the ball had never left the tee!” And then all of us would start laughing.

Sunday Dinners — Periodically we would eat in the dining room by candlelight with good china. And I would spin stories of their parents as kids and even their grandparents, or tell them about when they were babies and the silly things they did. Sometimes we pulled out the baby albums or watched their baby videos. Side splitting laughter always!

First Friday — We took turns designing a fun family night. The “leader” would pick a simple menu, an activity to do together and a special dessert. The one rule for First Friday was that everyone brought a great attitude and joined in, regardless of the leader’s choices.

Bible Stories and Family Prayer — I always made sure that my boys understood that Jesus was the head of our family. I taught them the importance of choosing to forgive and to keep on loving and respecting their dad even though things in our home were now different. I read them bible stories and some times we even acted them out. We talked about how God wanted us to live our lives. We memorized scripture with the help of a big jar that sat on top of the refrigerator filled with tiny trinkets, little books, granola bars and sometimes candy. When they knew the verse, they got to pick from the jar. And every night I prayed over them and with them. And showed them — whenever a need arose — to stop and pray. The family that prays together, stays together.

My impetus for creating these new family memories was spurred on by a young son’s comment that tore my heart the day he said, “Mom, we are not a real family anymore.”

I assured him that we were a real family, only different, and that God is our Father. I tried to explain that sometimes mommies and daddies don’t make good choices, but selfish ones, and unfortunately children suffer the fallout.

But Jesus said, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:14

So I continued to point them all in the direction of Christ as best I could and they made declarations of faith as boys, were baptized later on, and as young men made re-commitments of faith. Today they are finding their own ways along life’s twisty-turny path.

Even though more than 2,000 miles separate us these days, and that tugs at my mother’s empty nest heart, they are together our West, they have found special loves, and I hope they realize how much Jesus loves them.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you — Matt, Ben and Dan — always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6

And I just keep thanking Jesus, my ever present help in times of trouble, and in all times and in every way…

~sheila

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2 thoughts on “When a family fractures: 7 helpful suggestions for single moms in forging new traditions… …

  1. Great suggestions. Will share this with some single moms I know. Somehow by the grace of God we made it through. There were tough times when His love held us and carried us. I am so blessed that despite it all the girls have wonderful memories.Thanks again for your heart shares.

    • Thanks, Sara, for adding your thoughts…YES, ONLY by the Grace of our wonderful God did we survive. And in all those really tough moments — and there were so many — it was like He just pulled us up on His lap, wrapped His arms tight around us, and whispered in our ears, “Hold tight, my precious daughters, all is well…” Bless His holy name!