Hold on Mama

Peeling, yellow walls. One bunk bed. A bathroom shared with three other families. Pajamas for the kids and oversized clothes from the hospital for me. No money. No home. No hope. Just a big, empty void. 

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That was how I started my journey into single motherhood. 

Let me tell ya, sister. I see you. I see the struggle to put food on the table sometimes.  I see the frustration as you have to miss event after event for your kids.  I feel the pain of another holiday with no one to make it special for you. I know there are tears when you have to tell them that there isn't time,  there isn't money,  the isn't... whatever they want. 

I feel your pain. I know it feels like the hard is never-ending. 

But hold on, Mama. You have what it takes, and you are exactly what those kids need.  They were born to you for a reason. You are the only Mama that can mold them into the humans they were meant to be.  You, your struggles,  your victories... you were meant for them. There is no mom that can do better for them than you can.  Because they are yours. Their hearts beat in your womb before they ever experienced this world.  And your heart beats with them as they go through this life.  They know that.  

And ya know what? They will love you no matter what. And your life is all they really need.  It is enough.  You are enough.  In fact,  you're more than enough.  You are good.  You are necessary.  You are beautiful.  And you get to change the world as you hold these small people into responsible adults.  

You may not be able to give them a trip to Disney right now, but you can watch a Disney movie and eat the food that they probably ate in the movie.  

You may not be able to take them on an extravagant camping adventure,  but you can make a blanket fort in your living room and dream up crazier adventures than real life could ever hold.  

Your kids don't need the money and things.  Your kids need YOU.  They need you present,  they need you while they need you happy.  

So Mama, don't feel bad when you can't give them things or when they have to sacrifice.  They are learning about life,  about reality... they are watching you.  

Be the best you.  For them.  Take care of yourself.  For them.  Love yourself.  For them.  

I know it can be hard for us to value ourselves sometimes.  But you absolutely must find your value.  For them.  And for you.  

You are worth it, Mama. You are so loved. 

Shannon Joy


Don't Give Up On Prayer

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How many of you remember the book “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?  It was the book every girl by sixth grade wanted to read.  This girl had a major problem, so she thought, and she needed God to hear her and answer her in a hurry before her life fell apart.  Isn’t that just like us?  Thinking that when our prayers are not answered right away or when things do not go the way we plan, we wonder where God is.  I spent a lot of days wondering, where is God.  From the time when I was homeless with my children, to wondering where I was going to get money for groceries, or when my gas was cut off in the middle of winter.  I asked, where are you, God?  It seemed like I prayed and prayed, tried to live right the best I could; while raising six children alone with no child support.  Praying and waiting was not a good feeling for me, and I struggled with it in my early years of being a single mom.    

A lot of times as single moms, we say, “God, where are you?” or “Are you there, God?” We have so many things going on in our lives and a lot of them we do not want to talk about or think about, but life happens, and it can be extra hard on a single parent who has no support system.  When struggles come into our lives, and we know we have prayed, we feel God has deserted us; much like Margaret did in this story.  Waiting on God can be very frustrating if you do not know how to wait.  You can not wait on God complaining and looking for plan B &C, this will only make the wait longer, and the situation seems unbearable.  Most of the time we do like Margaret did when she was upset with God for not letting her get her period, she stopped talking to Him.  Margaret did not realize it was not her turn, and someone who is reading; this needs to know that God’s delay is not denial; it is just not your time.  Yes, girlfriend; that situation that you are frustrated about God hears your prayers, but He is saying not right now.  I know, it is hard to hear; but sometimes we must wait.  As I look back on the situations I wrote about, and I looked over my life, I was on the verge of totally giving up; not only on God but on life.  Thank goodness I did not give up because life did get better for us as the years went by.  

If your prayer life is not where it needs to be, now is the time to get it right; not stray away from prayer.  This time ask for understanding when your prayer.  Pray and spill out your whole heart, holding nothing back.  Then sit quietly after you pray and listen to hear the still small voice of God giving you direction.  Remember, that sometimes God says wait, but that is not denial.  Waiting hurts, and it is not easy, but once you see the outcome of your waiting, you will see why God’s timing is the best timing.  I know there are some of you doubting right now, probably saying to yourself; but I have been waiting for years for things to change.  Yes, I understand.  I am asking you to hold on and do not give up, things are going to get better for you and your children.  There are resources in your area that can help you, seek them out.  Ask someone if you do not know where to go to get help or assistance.  Keep praying and believing, it is not in vain.  

Carmelita McRoy

Having Gratitude, Even When Facing Adversity

Two years ago, I was fired for the first time ever in my 20 years of work history.  Things spiraled out of control.  I couldn’t find consistent full-time employed within my field.  I was unemployed for well over a year; moving from Springfield to Kansas City within that period of time in hopes that the bigger job market would pay off for me.  I had been in KC for almost seven months before I found a position within my field.  SIGH…..what a relief, finally.  To make the relief even better, about two weeks later, I was offered another position with a different company, a position that I definitely felt was a better fit, and finally got them to meet my salary requirements.  My bruised ego was feeling so much healing.  I was finally going to have a reliable, steady income and possibly be able to get ahead.

However, to reiterate, I was basically unemployed for more than a year.  I was terribly behind on every bill I had, had begged and borrowed from nearly anyone and everyone able and willing to help me out, I had even taken out a title loan on my little car (ridiculously stupid move on my part, but I was desperate).  The car quit working, overheated so badly that the office manager at my job came running out asking if I needed her to call the fire department.  I was forced to enter into a car note to have reliable transportation (which is the only way for me to get to work-no public transportation from here to there, and my job actually requires as part of my contract to have reliable transportation, as I transport clients frequently).

Ya’ll….I could continue into the depths of this dark pit, but I’m going to wrap this point up by saying, inevitably I had no choice but to sell the Jeep that I bought, the title loan place picked up the little overheating Kia, I was almost evicted, but somehow managed to scrape up enough to kinda sorta get caught up.  Every day that I come home, I wonder which of my utilities might be turned off.  I’ve had to visit the local food pantries to be able to feed myself and my son, and there have been way too many days that I pray that I have enough gas to make it home from work.  Luckily my ex is selling me his “lovely” 15-year-old car for payments.  The a.c. doesn’t work, the battery cable was loose (until I fixed that), the heat doesn’t work either, and he broke the keyless entry key fob, among several other minor issues.  It was genuinely humbling going from 1st my 2006 Kia, that everything worked on, until the overheating issue, then to a brand spanking new, picked out by me for myself Jeep, down to this hoopty.  It has been so easy to focus on all the negative, all the dark, all the depression and despair; focusing on the worry and fear and stress.  I forgot how to have a grateful heart.

Gratitude is something that I teach and constantly preach at work, and yet I had totally forgotten how to have gratitude myself while in the face of adversity.  God, never once told us only to be grateful while receiving blessings, or when things are good.  Yet, here I was walking around with so much darkness in my heart and within my spirit.  I mean, granted, it’s been the longest two years of my life for quite some time, but so what, God also never promised that life would ever be easy; he never promised that weapons wouldn’t form, but rather that they would not prosper against his children.

So, first things first, I had to remember to maintain my relationship with God.  It’s so easy to get angry and kind of snub him.  However, maintaining that relationship in and of itself helps to remind you that you are his child, he cares, he will provide, and have continued faith.  If you’re not a Christian, that’s ok, too.  Whatever religious or spiritual beliefs you hold near and dear, lean into those, increase your spirituality and your faith in your beliefs.   Secondly, I had to make a list of the many things, no matter how small, I had to be grateful for; being as specific here as possible is the absolute most important part to help cultivate gratitude in your heart.  So, listing not only WHAT you’re grateful for, but also the WHY.  In other words, I may say I am grateful for my son, or my daughter, but listing the many reasons why that helps build that graciousness within your spirit.

Practicing gratitude daily, with a gratitude journal, is an amazing way to cultivate gratitude, even in the face of conflict and challenges.  A simple journal would merely be to list 3-5 (or hey the more, the merrier) things you are grateful for that particular day and why.  There are also tons of planners and books for purchase online that are more guided, as well as several free templates.  I really like the one in the link below a lot, as it not only asks you to list what you’re grateful for, but also gives you space to put the challenges you’re currently facing, but focuses on the lessons you’re learning from those challenges.  It also has a place to list people in your life for whom you are grateful, and a 4th section that asks you to free write for at least 5 minutes about the best part of your day.  The only change I would personally make is to remember to list the why and try not to focus on material things to be grateful for, as, trust me, those can disappear at a moment’s notice.

 Gratitude is important to maintain at all times, not just when things are great, but despite the challenging times and when you experience adversity in life.  Focusing on the positive things in your life not only makes you feel more at ease and at peace but also creates more positive in your life.  I truly believe we get what we give.  Therefore, if you give the universe negativity, you will spiral out of control and dwell in that dark place.  However, if you focus on the positive, expel positive and seek positive, you will indeed find yourself basking in a universe full of positivity.  I hope and pray that each of you finds a way to cultivate gratitude in your own lives, focus on the positive, and truly live a positively blessed life.