Still in Process

Where is the money is my constant thought whenever we get to this time of year, tax season. I realize I haven’t planned my finances well again as I am running short on my cash flow. How can I make it through this and salvage my not so great choices thus far? Yes, somehow the money lasts just long enough till the next set of bills appear.

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 How many times do I have to do this to myself? I keep saying I am going to plan for a better budget next year. I do prepare the budget, and I figure out ways to pay off debt. I tell l myself I am going to save the truth is I do save. The savings ended up going to the car that broke down, the next appliance on the fritz, and the kid who has to have something to wear to school because they have grown again. Where is the money supposed to come from? There has never been a thing called alimony in my life because I am pretty sure you have to get married for that. At this point, I’m not sure anyone can stand me except me (insert laugh here). I have also never received a dime of child support. However, in many ways, though I thought I am blessed because I didn’t have to deal with any of it. 

 Last night, however, I was seriously trying to decide was more critical gas in the car, food that night, or food tomorrow. I decided gas has to be the most important because I can’t just call into work and say I don’t have the money to get there.  I can do without food for a few days. I’m driving home in tears which I don’t recommend to any of you. I couldn’t believe in a year I had gone from having enough money to being in the place of lack. 

What happened?

I really started to think about my mindset and because I know the way I see things can make all the difference.  What had happened this last year or even in the previous week that I had not been dealing with. I kept shoving my emotions in a drawer and just leaving them there. 

I have lost some family this last year and a friend I wish to see healed instead they die. Friendships have ended, pets have been killed, and my most recent relationship with someone special dissipated though I don’t even know why. I have been slapped multiple times by my emotions, but I have had worse years. 

What is the difference?

I am more isolated where I live now in the middle of nowhere. There is no one ever knocking at my door. 

I don’t invite people over because I have been moving forever and can’t seem to empty all the boxes. 

There has been no more hanging out with girlfriends and just venting about my life regularly to just get it out.

My responsibilities and the pressure of them have increased 10 fold this year as well. 

I decided this year I wanted to be more positive and apparently it has been a struggle. I’m really into books this year, so I was like most google what’s the most popular positive thinking book… The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I started to listen to it last night on the way to a meeting.  

I began to listen to a man that seemed a thousand lives away from me. It helped me to know that he was a believer because I have been struggling with trust and faith. 

In the section, I was listening to in the book was about confidence, and thought oh boy something I don’t want to hear about. I continue to listen anyway because it is dangerous to change a book while driving. Norman talked about this person he knew that was just so down in the dumps all the time. They always expected that something would go wrong and when he met with them a couple months later the person was completely changed. 

What did they do to change?

They read the Bible. (Not what you wanted to hear either, eh?) Yeah, I was like and your point? But he mentions they read the first books of the New Testament and underlined every passage that spoke of faith and courage. This is not something I had heard of before and then also committed them to memory. After that, I was like there is no way I have time to do that!

However, I have thought about this last year again and how much time I have wasted allowing these negative thoughts and pains to fill my head over and over. My views of myself, and finances right now are stressed. What would I lose by trying it?

There is not I am great, and everything is lovely right now, but I have some hope this is just a season of my life. I have some faith now that it will be okay and believe it. I am still praying, and still in process. 

Emse Alburn

Halfway There

Starting another year. Resolutions not meet or even made this year. Already wishing the year was further along and yet time slowly passes. I bring myself back to the present as I find myself wishing away time, stopping my mind from drifting further along into future dreams or dilemmas. There in the future, is where my anxieties are heightened. Where fear sets in and takes my present, latching a hold of my joy and faith slowly diminishing in the confidence I once knew. All reminding me that it’s the middle, the “halfway there” point where I find myself, forcing myself rather to keep going. It’s at this point I feel the options; do I persevere or succumb. 

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I know the exhilaration well that comes with new endeavors and drives me forward. I remember times such as starting my career, buying my house, having a baby. All beautiful things, but can I just say none of those things fill like much fun right now. I feel like I am in the middle of life looking down both directions thinking I remember how I got here, but when do I get to be “there.” That place where I don’t feel so stuck in my present or dreaming about the future. I love every day, and I am beyond grateful for every single thing the Lord has brought me through. But man, this girl is tired. And it’s now, more than ever I feel the Lord reminding me, “You are half way there, just push a little further.” So I keep pushing, pulling myself back into the present. Casting fear aside because his hand is reaching for me if I just keep pushing towards what He set before me. Time might be moving slowly, but praise the Lord it is moving, and movement means I am closer to Him than I was yesterday. So I persevere. And it’s there in the middle I find that halfway is my “There.” It’s not about what’s to come, it’s what is right before me. 

Writing this entry, the image that is engrained in my mind is of Peter in Matthew 14:29, when Jesus calls Peter to walk on water to him. Peter got out of the boat with no fear and began walking towards Jesus, but in the middle fear set in and he began to sink as he called out “Lord, save me!” and “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Jesus was right before Peter if he could have seen Jesus for who He was. 

I feel like Peter, having the Son of God before me as a life preserver and I am crying out “Lord, save me!” Jesus knew before he ever called Peter onto the water that Peter would doubt, yet he called him anyway. The Lord is not surprised by my calls for help, He delights as a father would when He is needed. He knows my place, my halfway point and he delights when I embrace that if He is here, I have already arrived. He is reaching for me at every point. Past, present and future. My halfway is my  “There.” 


Heads or Tails

This adulting thing ain’t easy. As single moms, the choice lies in us, and us only, to make. No coin can direct us which road to choose..png

The coin is up in the air, twisting and turning as it falls to the ground. Everyone leans forward to see how it’s going to land. Heads or tails? Which team will go first? One team moans and another cheer! Time to start the game.

There’s been plenty of times that life as a single mom feels like we’re just flipping a coin to see which direction to go. What decision to make. Which school to put our kids into. What job to apply for. We’d like to just flip the coin and do whatever it tells us to do.

But, we are adults here. And flipping a coin isn’t an option.

So, we get out a piece of paper. Label one side “Pros” and the other side “Cons.”

Or we brainstorm and fill a paper with circles full of options.

How about the days we call six of our closest friends and get six different options?

Kind of makes you want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers.  This adulting thing ain’t easy. As single moms, the choice lies in us, and us only, to make. No coin can direct us which road to choose.

After my divorce, I thought of leaving my church and finding another one. Seriously! It seemed so much easier to run from all the memories and all the questions. After all, we were Sunday School teachers to 9th and 10th graders. And, I had to look at those parents and just shrug my shoulders.

“Yes, we are getting a divorce.”

“No, I really don’t want to talk about it.”

Many Sundays, I felt like hiding under a pew. It seemed that life would be easier if I left my church. The church I grew up in. The church that supported me. Just so I wouldn’t have to let the people I loved see my tears. Flipping a coin seemed easy. My pros and cons list were equal. My circles had circles! And, everyone had an opinion. My friends. My kids. All of it.

There’s just one problem. I wasn’t praying about it. I wasn’t seeking God. I was tied up in my own disappointment and hurt. I wanted everyone’s opinion except for the One who actually mattered. I couldn’t focus. It was like being at the eye doctor. “Option 1 or option 2?”

Right before I made the crucial choice to leave it all behind, I remembered to pray. Something I should’ve done the month before. I asked God. I showed him my lists. Then, I got quiet. And I took some deep breaths. In the quietness, I got my answer. The peace deep down inside, was the answer. I was to stay and not go. A month after this, a friend literally dragged me into the singles Sunday School class. And, it was exactly where I needed to be. It was where the healing was. The place I learned to laugh again. Friendships formed that surrounded me when I needed it.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23

There’s nothing wrong with the lists and circles and the coin flips and asking opinions. But, there is a disservice to our Father when we try to make the choices without Him. He loves us and delights in every detail of our lives. He wants to lead us. He knows the best path to take! Before you do anything, ask Him for direction. Follow that peace deep down inside. Do things in the right order.

For single moms, our paths may be different. I know some who chose to start over at a different church or move to a different town. I know some who stayed put. Some have regretted it. But, those who followed by faith, were more at peace then the one’s who chose to follow the coins. Because even if they stumbled or got off track a little, they were holding hands with a Father who wants only the best for them and would lead them gently back onto the road they needed.

Gwendolyn Irene