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


The Top 10 Single Parent Do's and Don'ts for 2017

Esme and I were just thinking about how we would like to forget most of 2016, but more importantly we are excited for the New Year to come! This is the time of year for resolutions and goal planning. There is no time like the here and now to start being nice to yourself and loving the person you have become.

Here are a few suggestions we have put together for single parents to help start your New Year with a fresh and positive spin!!

1.      Get organized by buying a planner (and actually using it) or there’s no time like now to start using that calendar app on your phone (JLR lives by her calendar app)! This will help you as a single parent get in the habit of checking your calendars and stop forgetting important appointments or even bills to pay.

2.      Start researching wills and power of attorneys. This makes a lot of us uncomfortable to talk about, but it is smart to have this in place because you never know what might happen and you want to make sure your children are taken care of in your absence.

3.      Start a budget/savings plan and put into place for the year. Make sure you budget for that new car you need or those miscellaneous items like teacher gifts and friend’s birthday presents. The more detailed the better.

4.      Set up a plan to work-out (or walk-out as Esme likes to call it). Even if you only walk 15 minutes a day it will change your outlook and increase those endorphin's. Bring your kids along with you; it is nice to have some time away from distractions with them.

5.      Plan at least 5-10 minutes of quiet “you” time at the start or end of the day. While the children are asleep, meditate on the things you’re grateful for and the positive affirmations you are instilling in yourself and family.

What are the best things that happened to you this last year? Try making a “Gratitude” jar this year and every good thing that happens, write it on a small paper and put in it in a jar. When you have low times over the year you can get them out and read to see how many great things have happened.

Lastly, here are some gentle and helpful reminders of what NOT to do as you start the New Year off. Some apply to New Year’s Eve while others can be used all year round. Cheers!

6.      Do NOT start the year off with a new online dating profile because you are lonely. Lonely is not a good enough reason to date someone. Date yourself for a change and learn to love it!

7.      Do NOT text your ex no matter how much you miss them. You know who we're talking about, the one that broke your heart and lied to you. Let’s face it, there was a reason it ended in the first place whether you know the reason or not.

8.      Do NOT start the year off in the bed of a random woman/man. Instead get your butt home…alone! You will thank yourself later for it (and thank us too). ;)

9.      Do NOT continue to talk about last year and play the” woe is me” card. We all know 2016 was hard and terrible, but let’s focus on the here and now and how to make it fantastic!

10.      Do NOT harbor unforgiveness and anger any longer. No matter whom it is towards or what it is about, it only leads to hurting yourself. Reach out for help or counseling if you need to (the only time that number 4 can be broken).

We all make many mistakes over and over again until we learn not to do them. Just as we teach our children to not do the things that will hurt them we must also keep those reasons in mind for ourselves. Just don’t forget about grace; the grace we need to give ourselves to see those changes.

Many blessings to each and every one of you as you start off 2017!

Esme and JLR

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