When Our Hearts Are Heavy

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This summer had been filled will many sun-filled memories I will cherish forever. From the first vacation, I paid for myself and to watch my kids grow up and be another season older. There have been many beautiful moments, however, in between these moments, my heart grew heavy. It became burdened as a mother, as I watched my wonderful summer pass. Still, for several of my dearest friends, it was heartbreaking.

This summer, two of my dear friends suffered miscarriages, another lost her newborn, and another lost her son, who was the age of my 8-year-old daughter. It happened so fast like a whirlwind of chaos, a summer that should have been filled with smiling new mommies and laughing children. However, the summer was filled with heavy and broken hearts, pouring out not just from these beautiful mamas, but from everyone who loved and cherished them closely.

It is through this heavy heart, I learned so much. Not just to be grateful for the moments I have with my children, but it also gives me moments to look back to a time when I, too, had a child, God did not let me keep. My first pregnancy, I lost Mother's Day of 2010. I remember the broken emptiness I felt and how I wished the world would just stop, just for one moment. I felt if I could have this moment, I could catch my breath; I could collect myself, maybe just a little as I felt my soul shatter, and my heart be left with a hole the size of the crater within it.

I named my lost baby Poppy. Because when I found I was pregnant, he was the size of a poppy seed. And I among my friends, and among many mothers, both single, as well as married with partners, as mothers, we know we love our children deeply. And these kinds of losses shake our world.

As mothers, God made us to love our children deeply. Through the chaos of working full time, part-time, or stay at home. We all work hard to give and love and provide everything we can for our precious little ones, both the ones we get to hold in our arms for years and the ones we never got to hold at all. God made our hearts to expand beyond ourselves.

And with these moments of truly significant loss, we as mothers can look into our hearts where we love our children and reach out to another in our times of stress, especially when it comes to the loss of our little ones. During these times, we not only time to heal, but a space to find peace and understanding. We need listening ears to hear our brokenness and be reminded we are not walking through this agony alone.

For these mamas, remember to be generous with patience and kindness. Go even farther for the stressed-out mother merely trying to keep her little ones alive and fed. Show compassion and understanding, because of the world, sometimes so little of it.

Life is so short and at many times, feels too difficult. But we have God who is so big. Who created us to be like Himself, to love deeply, have strong arms to hold closely, and big hearts to give generously.

So go out and hold your friends and family close and your children even closer. Weep with those in pain, and celebrate those with joy. Take a deep breath and find a moment to be still. Lean on God's understanding, and be on your knees praying for the peace and comfort for the broken and weary. We are all in this together.

NaTacia Z.

See more blogs from her at her site https://blessedsinglemom.wordpress.com

Brave Steps in the Storm

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It’s been quite some time since my last blog submission. I last wrote about maintaining gratitude, even in the storms of life. Y’all, I fell, and I fell hard. I have entered a season of trial upon trial and hardship after hardship. Quite literally, I feel as though I am living out some soap opera or Life Time Movie Event, that you seriously think, how in the world did the writers come up with stuff because it is soooo fake. Let me tell you because someone somewhere has lived that crap to the fullest, that’s how. They do not have great creative minds, they either went through a crazy struggle or knew someone who did; perhaps they combined a few struggles together, but Lord knows, the when the Devil attacks, he comes from all sides. As I sit here writing this, I am anything but grateful. I am struggling through unemployment, deep financial burdens, pest control issues, health issues, friendship issues, car issues, I’ve been the victim of crime, have been living with food insecurity, and so many feelings of failure and inadequacy.

I didn’t want to write a blog because, in this moment, I didn’t know how to inspire anyone or how to say something uplifting. I have always (since about the age of 12) struggled with depression and anxiety. I’ve managed those successfully with the help of a bag full of coping skills and medications. However, blow after blow, I’ve sunk deeper and deeper into a darkness that makes me hate myself more with every passing day….why can’t I just snap out of it?! I’m a strong, independent woman, I have God on my side, and I will get through.

Well, ya know what, God never, ever promised that the weapons wouldn’t form (and oh have they formed). He merely said that no weapon formed shall prosper. He didn’t tell you won’t have to hold the shield up high while your arms shake from exhaustion. He didn’t tell you wouldn’t have to yield your own sword and fight the enemy back.

Today, I took a brave step. I went to my first meeting with a new counselor. It’s definitely NOT my first rodeo with counseling, for sure, but starting anew is always tricky. We’re going to, of course, eventually re-hash my trauma ridden childhood, my many mistakes, with more layers of trauma as an adult. I’m going to have to do work to make myself whole. Many of the things that I’m facing are out of my control, yet I’m totally letting the worry over those things control me in full. God already told me not to worry about it, he’ll handle it, but humph, do I listen? Of course not! Which only fuels my anxiety and feeds my depression.

Last night I dug through a plastic tub, knowing that I had several Christian books in there, but I couldn’t remember what books. However, God got me up, walked me in there, and I dug and dug until I came across a book that spoke to my spirit and my soul: “Wait and See.” It’s a book about waiting on God and doing it well, making use of that period of wait to our benefit. I read the first chapter and a half and started the homework assignments.

I say all of this only to convey this message: God knows our struggles. He is there for us and with us every step of the way. He never leaves our side. We are the ones who turn our backs on him, out of anger, hurt, disappointment, and loss of faith during out wait. Between counseling, this book, and hopefully the upcoming book club I’ve proposed, I am hoping to lean into God, draw him closer, and strengthen my relationship with him while letting him work in me, strengthen me, and fill in all those holes that I’ve been left with lately.

By Curvigurl

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.

See more blogs from her at her site https://blessedsinglemom.wordpress.com