Small Accomplishments

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This summer, I was able to take my kids on their first real vacation to Kansas City, MO. It was the first vacation I paid for with my own money as a single parent. It was just a simple three-day vacation over a weekend, but for my kids and I, it was a huge deal. I never thought it could happen, because I started out a part-time job that barely covered anything and I was sure I would never see vacation ever again. As silly as it sounds, it was a significant accomplishment for me.

For me, it was a moment. I felt all the time and effort I put into something to give to my kids worked out. I scraped and saved, and I sold a few extra paintings just so I could pull in the last bit of funds to cover gas and have plenty for meals and a few souvenirs. All my hard work in the months prior had paid off, and I had something to show for it.

It is these small victories that can be a ray of hope in the challenging life of raising kids alone. These small accomplishments truly feel larger than life when you start at the place where keeping the lights on is hard enough. When the time to sleep is a luxury, it becomes so discouraging to think you will ever get to the point of seeing progress or reward for all your hard work.

Six months after my separation, I was hitting my lowest point. My part-time job was not giving me enough hours for some weeks, and too many for others. I didn't have a car. My paychecks could barely cover the bills. I was so exhausted from work and trying to keep a stable life for my children. I felt hopeless.

In my early days of being a  single parent, I found comfort in Psalms. Several verses reminded me of God's compassion and grace toward those who are broken-hearted.

"The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace." Psalm 29:11

"The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

I think God holds a special place in His heart for single mothers -- these strong women who take their roles as mothers to a whole new level. God made us courageous, resourceful, and incredibly strong. He doesn't make life easy, that is for sure. But He certainly did not make it for us to give up. He created us to thrive, and to live to the fullest. Sometimes, it will take one small victory at a time. It can be the first day you wake up full of ambition, the first paycheck you earn yourself, or even the first time you actually get a full night's sleep in a long time. It can also be when your children come home from school with smiles on their faces, excited to tell you about their day or simply getting them to eat vegetables. It's these little victories that show we are warriors, builders, and dream makers. God gives us hope and walks beside us, building a brighter future.

Closer to a year after my separation, I got a new job. The pay was not much more, but it had regular hours, and I could get home in time to get my kids off the bus. I was also crazy enough and decided to go back to school to finish my degree. I am scheduled to graduate in the Spring of 2021. I still live paycheck to paycheck, but after a lot of hard work and prayer, I do see the small accomplishments of rebuilding a life for myself and my children.

NaTacia Z.

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