Watch for the "Red Flags"

Stopped at a red light I realized that I had enough room in front of me to scoot up a bit and allow the person who was sideways in the lane beside me to fully merge behind me into my lane. As they moved into the lane behind me, the car that was hindered from driving through their lane without pause honked their horn. For a split second I thought about how rude that was and how people lack patience.  That was until the passenger in the truck that I moved up to help, flipped off the driver that honked his horn. The passenger laughed and then looked at his girlfriend for approval, whom was seated in the crook of his arm in the middle of the truck.  She laughed too.  As we drove off, they changed lanes and went ahead of me.

I felt sadness for that couple.  Sadness for the men and women who aren't taught respect in every circumstance and for those who lower their standards to accept such terrible behavior. How I wish I could tell all singles how important behavior is.  Settling for bad behavior when dating is a red flag to what is to come.  In that particular situation I wondered about how that couple argues.  Do they curse each other out? Do they flip each other off? If he so easily treated a stranger that way, how much worse would he treat the one who is closest to him? You've heard the saying that you hurt most the ones you love and that is because you are comfortable. How much worse does he treat her? How much worse does she treat him?

This made me think of all of the red flags that can pop up in the dating scenario. Especially as we choose to date as single parents, we are to be on guard for behaviors that can cause agony later. We are not only choosing our future mates but we are setting a standard and example to our children.

Do you have the same moral and spiritual beliefs?
Do they make smart financial choices?
Are they trustworthy? Would you trust them with your deepest thoughts?
Are they someone that you would want your son or daughter to grow up to be or be with?
I've also heard to watch how they treat a waiter/waitress.  Did they tip and say please and thank you?

These are just five but I encourage you to have your own standards and stick by them. Don't settle for what is anything less than best for you and your children.

Too Much "Stuff"

In my previous blog I told you that I was in the middle of packing and moving. In this process there is about 1 month where we will need some of our things to continue the day-to-day living. I chose to pack up everything that we wouldn't need for the next month to make the move day that much more smooth. As you can imagine there are boxes upon boxes stacked up in my house.

I realized something very convicting while packing. When faced with the choice of to pack or not to pack, I found that I have way too much stuff! For example, I have 7 skillets of various sizes. I can't remember the time that I used each of those sizes because let's face it, I have my favorite. So I kept that one out. Why do I need 6 more? What purpose will they serve sitting in my cabinet awaiting the day that I grab them instead of the other? Then we have glasses and cups.  They are coming out my ears! Why so many? Do I really host that many people in my home where I need to prepare like that?

In life, we always feel we need more of something or we need the next new thing. Why is that? Why can't we be content with what we have? Why do our kids need bins of toys? I remember growing up with some toys but it was never an issue to have a clean room because I didn't have too much to find a spot for. I don't think it is because we buy happiness but I do believe it is because we have the philosophy that "more" means "success".  Success to me has taken on new meaning.

My son is happy and healthy. My home is clean (for the most part) and serves it's function. I have a job and am able to provide.  The "things" in life get in the way of seeing the true treasures and that is our family. As small or large as we are, TIME is most important. Spending money on treasures that we will not use 5 days from now just takes away from the ability to spend time. The more you spend, the more you feel you need to make to keep up with those habits.

Live simply. Live smart and take notice to what you spend your time and money on. If you are still unsure if you have "too much" then do what my friend Daniel Day suggested.  Start at your front door and thank God for each item you see as you walk inside. It won't be long before you realize how much you have to be thankful for.

P.S. I did this with my son and he stopped thinking he was deprived. :)

God Will Take Care of Me

I am in a really cool phase in life. I have taken the plunge after years of renting and decided to buy my first home.  When I made this decision it was both scary and exciting all at the same time. I went through the phases of self-doubt about whether or not I could really afford to do such a thing but after budgeting and analyzing my expenses the answer was YES!

I am currently "in contract" which is supposed to end August 31.  I am busily packing up our lives and the juggling act with this has been a journey in itself to be quite honest.  My son is beginning middle school next week and so all that comes with a new school and new requirements and is coupled with the high emotions of moving from the only home he remembers. On top of these two major life events, my vehicle is needing to be replaced due to a dying engine. I haven't been given much time that it will continue to drive us around.  On top of that are many other little occurrences that would cause one to question their sanity and at times I found myself doing just that. Actually saying to God, "This is it! This is all I can handle. No more!" You know what happened? More. That's right. God wasn't working on my agenda and capacity but His.

That is it! God's capacity. I can't fathom that.  I can't begin to understand what He is doing to provide, protect and love my son and I. He has always been faithful and gracious. Why would that change now? The answer is simply that it wouldn't. God does not change. I change. I move from Him but He hasn't moved. I can go through this time counting my blessings or I can focus on the things that I cannot control and be stressed.

I have a choice. I make that choice as often as I remember and that is to choose to be joyful despite what appears to be concerning around me. God has always provided and taken care of us and He always will. My journey may look different than others but the fact is that He always cares for us.

A New Direction

When I first began writing this blog, it was for the purpose of being helpful to others through my journey. I have realized lately that it has turned into more of an advice column rather than telling my journey.  Advice is great, but isn't really needed in this avenue.  When we all learn from each other is through the example of living. I learn from other writers that I follow and hopefully set the good example as well.

You will see a slightly different twist to my blog. I am going to write about life and truly about my journey as a single parent. I am taking a huge leap of faith here to just write honestly the feelings that I encounter. I am not an expert in how to single parent, but I sure do live this life 24/7. I am blessed to raise a beautiful 11-year-old who is beginning his own journey in life. I pray that you are blessed by the blogs that I write and that you will give feedback based on your life experiences as well.

-  Meg

Fear or Rational Interpretation?

Various life circumstances and situations mold and shape who we are as individuals. We use those experiences as platforms for how we view ourselves, others and how we interpret what is good or bad or what felt positive or negative.

As single parents we deal with emotional struggles as others do, but specifically there are situations that we have found ourselves in that require perspective.  Is this fear talking or is this my rational interpretation?

Being completely transparent, I have endured situations that cause my emotional wall to easily shoot up and block out any remote possibility of being hurt. I have learned through my circumstances what I need and do not need in the relationships that surround me. I keep myself somewhat private and reserved with most but every so often find someone whom I confide and put my trust in. I am also very sensitive to the "warning signs" that this person is no longer able to be in that role based on my previous experiences.  I am forced to stop and think: Is the fear talking or is this my rational interpretation?

Sure, listening to warning signs comes with experience and wisdom. Knowing the difference between fear and rational thinking is key. When I realize that I've been placed in a situation where my emotional wall has shot up, I stop.  I pray. I think of what is prompting my reaction. If it is fear then I confront the "why" question and move toward resolve. If it is a rational interpretation, then I listen and I move away from the circumstance.

This may seem like common sense, but I've met many single parents who were hurt in one way or another and left to parent alone. They act out of fear in most cases and I too, find myself guilty of that reaction.  Find the balance and look at every situation with rational interpretation.  Fear will consume and that is not where you want to live.

No Presents on Father's Day

This Father's Day I didn't receive any presents.  No pat on the backs.  No "thank you". No card that says how much I'm cared for.  You know why?  I'm not a Dad. 

I'm sure to stir up some controversy with this because I often see posts on social media or hear comments of how a single parent has to play both the mother and father role and therefore should be recognized on both holidays.   I believe however, that there is a reason that we have Mother's Day and Father's Day as two separate holidays in two separate months.  They are two completely separate roles.  Just because there is not a father in the picture does not automatically make the holiday default to me as someone who is filling both shoes. 

Sure, single parents may carry 100% of the emotional, financial and household burdens but the role of Mother was created by God to be filled by a woman.  The role of Father can only be filled with a man.  There are specific qualities that reside in each of the sexes to be able to fulfill their role as intended.  Although I may do things that one could claim as the father's role, I perform these tasks the way a woman would and not a man.  There are things in life and about my son that I will not be able to teach him. There is a necessity for a man to teach a boy how to grow into a man. 

Moms, hear me out. I celebrate you and the tremendous responsibility you hold each and every day. Just be very careful about how you position yourselves on the topic of being both a mother and a father. There is nothing in the Bible that supports that stance.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 
"You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your 
house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Combating Loneliness

As single parents we can often find ourselves in situations that can cause feelings of loneliness. Sometimes they affect us and sometimes they do not. Although we are strong and push through with our "brave face" on, there can still be feelings deep down that we are forced to deal with and overcome.

Some of these situations include:
Walking into an awards ceremony at our child's school, alone.
Showing up to a family day at church, without a spouse.
Wanting to join a marriage class to learn how to love properly, but we are unattached.
Tucking our children into bed then sitting in a quiet house, alone.
Going to a restaurant and hearing, "Just one adult menu?"
Sitting in church during a marriage series.
School meetings for "parents of" and you show up alone.
Celebrating Mother's Day or Father's Day without the attributing parent around. 

Whichever circumstance you find yourself feeling alone in, shame, guilt or loneliness are not fun feelings.  I am not a scholar or a learned professional with what goes on in the mind of someone during these times, however from personal experience I have a few tips to help combat those feelings that often accompany single parenthood.

1) Join up with another single parent of the same gender and be a support system.
2) Start up your own single parent group to engage on topics that are important to singles for discussion without discomfort.
3) Pick up a hobby that you enjoy doing after hours when the kiddos are in bed. It will keep your mind busy and your heart full.
4) Bless someone else on special holidays that make you feel lonely. The best way to combat loneliness is to love on someone else.
5) Most of all think of the blessings you have in your life instead of what is missing.
6) Realize that you are not the first nor the last person to encounter the feeling of loneliness. 
7) Hold your head high and acknowledge that you are likely noticing your "aloneness" more than those around you.
8) Journal or have some sort of outlet for expressing your feelings.
9) Exercise.  Physical activity is proven to boost your happiness.
10) Eat right.  Food plays a huge factor in depression and negative feelings.

Have more tips? Write them below!