Sweet Dreams

Do you remember the dreams you had as a little girl? The great things you were going to do? The places you were going to go? People you were going to meet?

As my hard marriage became even harder, my dreams started dying. Little by little, the things I wanted to do slowly drifted away. By the time I went through my very difficult divorce and custody battles, I felt as if I was far, far from the little girl who dreamed big. In her place was a shell of a woman, who had forgotten how to even laugh.

Do you remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? He had dreams. Big dreams. And those dreams were so big, that his own brothers wanted him dead! In fact, they went so far as to throw him in a hole and sell him into slavery. But, he eventually became a servant in a big home. Not such a bad gig for someone who's a slave! However, the woman of the house didn't get her way and Joseph ended up in prison, forgotten. In that prison, he still did well. Imagine that! Eventually, Joseph did get out of prison, by interpreting a dream. He saved Egypt from starvation…and in the end, he even saved his own family.

I've read the story of Joseph many times. I've wondered what he thought during all these events. Did he feel like giving up at times? What did he think when wall after wall was erected in front of his dreams?

I may never know the answers to these questions, but there is one thing I can't get past! God never forgets the dreams He has placed inside of us! What seems like eternity to us, is just minutes in heaven's time!

Those dreams are seeds. And seeds have to be buried in order to grow. They may seem dormant, but underneath, where no one can see, things are happening! The dreams are sprouting roots and spreading in the soil. Eventually, they break through to the surface.

I know single moms would never trade their wonderful children! We love them and want to raise them to be amazing adults! But, the hurt and brokenness that brought us to the point of parenting single, seems to have buried with it all the dreams. However, while we are raising our children, God is working on those things that seem lost and gone.

I remember when I started dreaming again. As a young wife, I dreamed of doing a mission trip in the Middle East. After my divorce, I felt that dream was just a figment of my imagination. But, then I was reminded of this quote that I had handing on my wall as a teenager.

"…and all dreams are not false, some are truer than the truest facts…let the dreamer only do the truth of his dream, and one day he will realize all that was worth realizing in it - and a great deal more and better than it contained." (George MacDonald, 1889)

I found a group doing ministry in the Middle East and I started volunteering with them as I could. You know, once a year at their partner meeting. Then, to stuff envelopes for a newsletter. Then, they posted a mission trip to Beirut. No way! Life was crazy! But….I couldn't let this trip go. It just kept stirring inside of me. So, I gave in. I filled out the application. And six months later, I was on a plane to Beirut. And my dream contained so much more than I could've dreamed! I went to Egypt and England just a few weeks ago. All mission trips! All doing things I thought would never happen! Those seeds I thought were dead, sprouted.

What are the dreams you have inside of you? It doesn't have to be a mission trip in the Middle East! Maybe it's opening a coffee shop! Or designing dresses on Etsy! Or planting a big garden and living off the land. Whatever dreams you have are important to God! So, while you're changing diapers and making cookies for the class party, keep smiling. At just the right time, those dreams will start coming true. Just start where you come! Hold onto those sweet dreams, momma!

By Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

Daring Adventures of Single Parenthood, A Devotional. https://www.gwendolynirene.com/books/

Dating as a Single Mom: Am I ready?

Dating as a single mom is a real challenge.   When asking women how they feel about dating I always get a variety of responses.  Some women can’t phantom dating, some women can’t wait to date again.  But from both personal experience, and in interacting with so many women over 4 years of single mom ministry I do tend to see trends with women when it comes to looking for relationships.   Some I see happen and I am so encouraged and hopeful, others I can’t help but hurt already for what is inevitable, a bad breakup.  As founder of Thrive Single Moms, I have committed a lot of time to studying these patterns, to research and to learn more about the motives behind them.  Healthy relationships require some interpersonal consideration, some energy and effort and a healthy community surrounding it.  A healthy relationship takes two people involved and you are completely responsible one only – you.  A lot of dating tragedies can be avoided by really being honest with yourself on the following points:

 

1.      Am I healthy? 

Have you given yourself time to heal?  After divorce or a severe breakup, it is so tempting to jump into something too early to cover up the uncomfortable feeling of being alone and you may think it's just easier to avoid pain and hurts by the attention and affection of someone new.   The truth is, if there is still healing work that must take place and is ignored you will inevitably, and even unfairly, bring those hurts into a new relationship and after the initial infatuation wears off, or even before then, you will find them sprouting up in the new relationship.  This could be trust issues, identity loss, even a sense of longing for your ex, jealousy and envy, a sense of not knowing who you are or what you want, codependency, anger, and resentment.  You could, unknowingly, put the healing work on your new partner expecting them to make up what you didn’t have, or what you are missing.  A new healthy relationship should have the freedom to be its own unique journey and develop beautifully with two healthier people.  You may never be perfectly healed, scars run deep sometimes, but do the uncomfortable working of emotional healing.  Be fair to your new partner by letting them be themselves, not a band aid to your hurts. 

 

2.      Are my kids ready? 

When you're a single mom your kids are first and their emotional healing is just as important.  Children attach to new comers easily when they're young and harder when they're older. Making sure you've done your best to establish stability and healing for your kids is important.  Be sure to create a safe space for your kids to voice their opinion on you dating and even remarrying.  For both boys and girls, abuses are higher in single families.  Statistically, they are more vulnerable to various forms of abuse.  While no one can protect their child 100% from child abuse, especially sex abuse, creating a relationship of trust where your children feel they have a voice is a good place to start protecting them.  Don’t dismiss their concerns or see their easy attachment as a sign to move forward in a relationship.  Use wisdom in dating, give time to know the person you’re interested in, pay attention to concerns or red flags, get feedback from friends and supportive family members.  You’re the gatekeeper to your family, take this role seriously.

 

 

3.      Do I have the resources necessary?

 Relationships take time and effort when you're a single mom.  It means that you'll have to make some choices about sacrificing time and energy for this person.  Don't allow a new person to consume you so that you disregard your obligations, career or children.  You'll only set yourself up for failure and undo stress.  Being honest with where you need to put your focus.  As wonderful as relationships can be they do require a level of effort for your time. If you have committed yourself to some major goals like career advancement or education and training, or if you’re struggling financially on one income and having a hard time getting above water this may not be the best time to date.  If you’re children are very young and need a lot of attention and commitment you may want to consider if you have the energy to date.  Relationships will come, love has no boundaries of time.  Don’t give into the sensation of fear that if you don’t have a relationship now you never will.  Don’t compromise your goals or your commitment to your self-improvement. 

 

4.      Do I know what I want?

Being single is a time to establish and reconnect with you and what you feel your life should be.  Have you really thought through what you want your future relationship to look like?  Are you an active couple? Do you cook meals for each other? Do you travel? Are you in God's word together? Do you work in ministry together? Do you both hustle in your job and get inspired by chasing goals?  You need to get clear and start doing those things yourself before you commit to a relationship and you will attract what you are. No man will suddenly come into your life and bring all of that with him.  Create and do and God will bring the person at the right time who will make it even better.  Be the person you want to meet.  Be the best version of you.  You’ll be more confident, more selective and more powerful in your dating position when you know exactly what you’re looking for and you’re already creating the life you want to live. 

 

Dating and romance are some of those unpredictable things in life.  You can’t foolproof them, risks are high but rewards are great too.  While you can’t insure the success of a relationship, you can move yourself into a better position to date well. Loneliness can be one of the most driving factor for dating and it is the most dangerous reason.  Loneliness isn’t solved by marriage or romantic relationships, some of the loneliest people in the world are married.  But if you feel lonely and it’s hard for you to move past the feeling, connect with other healthy women.  Joining a community of like-minded women and getting involved in a single mom’s ministry may change your life.  Develop lifelong friendship with other women who are in the same season as yourself.  Help each other move forward positively and powerfully and develop your support system and circle of friends, they can be with you for the rest of your life.

Brandi Dailey

Founder & Executive Director Thrive Single Moms

Seasons

I live in Oklahoma and this past winter was just weird! There was lots of rain and wind, as usual. We had some really cold days as well. Nothing unusual there. But, it never really seemed to end! I had to turn mu heater on in April! It was crazy. In fact, the first sunny, warm day we had, I went and walked on the river. It felt so good to have sunlight!

I’m sure there was some scientific explanation somewhere for the odd weather. But, honestly, there was nothing we could do about it. We just had to wait for spring to come again.

From the beginning, God set seasons into motion. I wonder what it was like, to plant the first garden! To put a seed in the ground and wait for the green plant to burst through the soil. To watch as the tiny blade turned into corn, wheat, and carrots. Then, to wait until the food reached maturity and could be removed from the vine. Did our ancestors walk out daily to check the progress? Did they question God about whether this gardening thing would even work? Did they smack their lips as the vegetables grew, just waiting until they could put that morsel into their mouths?

Seasons don’t just exist for farmers. All of us have seasons.

We were children. Then we were teens. We became young ladies, then women. And eventually, we became mothers. Each stage of our lives were different seasons, with the good and the bad intertwined.

At some point, we became Single Moms. We started doing this parenting thing alone. Whether you have joint custody, sole custody, visitation schedule’s or not, you’re the only adult in the home. And, while you are going through this season, your children are going through their own seasons.

Let’s face it! Everyone in our home, no matter the age, are going through seasons. Some are easy. Some are difficult. The important thing to remember is that seasons morph into another phase. Then another. And another.

Your smiling baby may become a whining toddler. Who then becomes a shy child. Then a social butterfly through the teens years. Then awkward and unsure as they enter adulthood. At the same time that you are helping your child navigate their seasons, you’re going through some of your own. Finding jobs. Changing careers. Going to school. Involved in church and the community. On the PTA. Coaches assistant. Dating. The list could go on and on.

Honestly, it’s amazing we manage to keep our heads on our shoulders with all we have going on!

But, when it gets tiring or confusing, remember that it’s just a moment on God’s timeline. Realize that some days will be filled with lots of laughs. Other days may be filled with binging on Netflix. Always keep in mind that everything will change someday.

I have two adult children now and one son still at home. I’m nearing the end of this season of raising kids. For twenty-two years, I’ve been a mom. For eight of those years, I’ve been a single mom. Each season has had its challenges and tears, but also its laughter and joy.  

Because in the middle of all this changing, there is one constant. And that is God. He who set seasons into motion, never changes. And that constant keeps us strengthened when the seasons get long and the winter seems to never end. Just hold on momma and enjoy this season! You’ll never have that season with that child again! 

By Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

Daring Adventures of Single Parenthood, A Devotional. https://www.gwendolynirene.com/books/