When Real Life Messes Up the Planner

I’m a planner. Everything goes on a calendar. If it’s not there, it probably won’t happen. Honestly! Just ask my kiddos. When they really want me to remember something, they ask if I’ve put it on my calendar. If it’s not there, it probably won’t be remembered. 

And my planner is filled. Kids activities, church stuff, family events, game nights with friends…it’s all there. The penciled in dates, stickers, quotes, verses. I even put in stuff I think will happen! All of it. Buying accessories for my planner is a favorite hobby. My Pinterest board is filled with ideas for planners. 

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I’ll let you in on a secret. Every single Valentine’s Day, I fill that little box with hearts and block out a space of time for a Valentine’s Dinner with that special someone. But, that box sits empty and has for many years. 

And, as a single mom, there’s holiday’s that are left empty because I share custody with their dad and they are at his house. 

See, as much as I wish life would match my perfect planner it doesn’t. 

A kid has to work during a scheduled family dinner. 

A tire goes flat on the way to work. 

The alarm doesn’t go off and you’re late for a meeting. 

You lose a job. A loved one. A relationship. 

Doctor’s appointments for an unexpected illness fill boxes instead of a work schedule.

Or maybe your dream just isn’t happening on your timeline. 

Life. It just happens. And it usually doesn’t go as planned.

When my youngest son was in Middle School, we were talking one night about how nothing stays the same. He’s a bit of a planner, like me.  And, he just wanted things to go the way he thought they should. I gave him the old adage, “The only constant in life is change.” His engineering mind had trouble wrapping around that one! However, it is true. Things change all around us and sometimes life takes twists and turns we never expected. 

In the Bible, I see that Abraham waited many years for a son. Joseph was imprisoned before his dreams came true. David was anointed king, then he was fleeing for his life. Ruth may not have thought she’d be working in the fields to feed her and Naomi. And, I’m not sure Paul thought that he’d be preaching in Rome as a prisoner.  

But, these men and women held on. They realized that’s God’s grace was sufficient. They held to a hope that no bad speedbump, curve, circumstance could destroy. They kept believing, even when it seemed impossible. And, honestly, isn’t that why we read about them? We see glimpses of our own lives mirrored their lives. We feel the disappointment, the unknowing, the struggle. And we rejoice when victory is obtained, and a promise fulfilled. 

Ladies, have fun with those planners! Fill them with stickers and bright colors. Carry them with you. List those dental appointments and little league games. But, be sure to leave space for the unknown. Because in those blank spaces, when it seems impossible, God’s going to do great big things! 

Gwendolyn Irene


Never Give Up

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Oh wow, this month of April had been a crazy month. I decided to finish my book and I was so excited when the month started to complete it. However, the night before Easter I was so sick I couldn’t eat. Then a few days later there was a fire in my childhood home. It was crazy and surreal. Then a week later I came home from work to set my things down and head back outside. When I turned around there was a snake entering through my doorway. I haven’t been a fan of snakes ever. Then a few days later I got word someone dear to me had died. These unexpected things just kept coming one after another.

It has been hard not to give up. A few years ago when I had a broken leg and arm, had a two-year-old, and lost my job. It was hard not to give up when I really wanted to.  When I had those days, that life threw me sideways for a day, week, month, or a season I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to try anymore. I was exhausted and ready for a new start. I don’t know what you a face in this season of life that has knocked you flat on your face. We all deal with unexpected things in life. It is hard put on a smile or just to make it through the day without crying.

Sometimes we lose our job,

become homeless,

the relationship crashes,

sickness comes in,

or a loved one dies.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” Jack Ma


There is a time and season for everything but never give up. Don't stay in the place of loss and pain. You must keep fighting for your life even if it is moment by moment. There is only one thing that has kept me moving through all this pain and loss….it is God. When the tears are coming down my face and I am not sure how I will make it through another day, I turn to Him.


1.     I turn on YouTube and search for worship music lately Elevation Worship is my favorite.

2.     I sing even if I don’t know the words in my mess.

3.     I start praying about every worry and pain I have and give it to Him.


By the time I hit the last step I am usually not crying anymore because I believe in God’s love for me.  I change my mind about my circumstance and choose hope. I know I have a purpose and a future. I know my life will not end because of unexpected life events. I begin to stand on these words and memorize them.


Keep praying

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Remember God is Good

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5


He will never leave you

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6


All thing He works out for Good

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


He still knows everything that happens and is not surprised.

9  remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10  declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose, Isaiah 46:9-10


So, momma if life is dishing out more than you can handle know God is still ever present in your life. He stands beside you, holds you, and tells you how much He loves you.

Stay Strong,



The Story

Have you ever read a book you didn't like? You know, the book that started beautifully: a boy and girl fell in love. But, as the pages turned, life became ugly. Many times, you put down the book, determined to never pick it up again. It just didn't seem worth reading. Characters that you fell in love with, became ugly. The plot took unexpected twists and turns. You felt almost depressed as you read the chapters. What happened? How did the book start out so well and end so horribly?

For many of us, our lives were like this book. We entered a loving, caring relationship and we began a new, exciting chapter in our lives.  Children were born and a family began.  Somewhere along the way, though, life took some strange twists and turns. The light chapters became dark. The plot line flipped upside down and soon lawyers and judges were involved in our lives. At the end of it all, the only thing we were given was a piece of paper, filled with division of assets and visitation schedules. Our love story became a heap of ashes.

All of us have different stories. We've had different chapters, characters, and plots. Some of us saw the it coming and began to prepare. Some of us were caught completely off guard. But, our stories all led to the same thing: we became single moms. And entering that season usually isn't easy.

There's been many times I've wished for an instruction manual!

               Chapter One: What to Tell the Kids

               Chapter Two: How to Raise Children with The Man Who Hurt You

               Chapter Three: Going Back to Work After Being A Housewife

               Chapter Four: When There's More Bills Than Money

               Chapter Five: Where to Sit During Basketball Games and Band Concerts

I could keep going, but you get the idea! There's just so much we need to think about! Little lives are our responsibility. At times, we wish we could leap out of the pages of this horror story and jump back into the fairy tale chapters. But, we keep going. Keep pushing. Keep taking deep breaths and putting one foot in front of the other.

Then, the chapters start changing.

Like the day that you and the kids erupt in laughter over a lunchroom story!

The vacation you take with the kids by yourself!

The time you juggle multiple parent-teacher conferences, with all the teachers!

The promotion you got at a job you felt unqualified to do!

The time you talked to the ex and his new wife and you walked away, feeling fine!

               When you look to heaven and thank God that He never left you and your kids!

See, in all this unknown, a known Father sees every bit of it. None of it surprised Him. He isn't sitting in His Throne Room, shaking His head and calling us failures! Our Father is with us in every hard place. He's present in all the good times. He smiles because He not only knows what happened, but He knows that we are going to be great single moms! He knows the ending of the book.

The words that David spoke centuries ago become real in our modern-day situations,

"You saw me before I was born.

Every Day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."

               Psalm 139:16, NLT

We may wake up in the morning, not sure how everything will work out. But, God already planned for our Single Motherhood! Wait! What? God already knew and He's blessing my single-parenting life? Yes! Jesus didn't promise a full, abundant life just to the people who stayed married and raised the kids together. He promised it to everyone that accepts Him. So, those pages you wish you could tear out and throw away? God has them recorded already! He's got every day of your life and the life of your children laid out.

Single Momma, wake up and take that deep breath. Face the day, and your children, with a smile on your face. Jam out to some happy music while stuck in rush-hour traffic. Throw the frozen peas into the ramen noodles, while joking with the kids, and serve that dinner in the best bowls you own. Make prayer time your favorite time, seeking the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. These chapters are all yours! Take those twists and turns and make it into the best roller coaster that's ever been ridden. Your story has already been written!


By Gwendolyn Irene


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