In His Image-Recap from 6th Annual Valentine’s Banquet

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On Friday evening, February 9th, 2018, SingleMomzRock in partnership with Victory Mission + Ministry held our 6th Annual Valentine's Banquet at Central Assembly. Over 250 single mothers got treated to a glamourous evening of fun and fellowship just for them! They were escorted to their table by gentlemen with roses in hand. Their dinner was catered by Street Chef Catering, we had a couple of photographers on hand to take their picture, they listened to live music by Patrick Mureithi and mingled with other single mom's. It's truly become the biggest event for single moms in our area. Sarah Robertson from 96.5 graciously came back to be our emcee again and the moms love seeing her each year.

Our theme this year was "In His Image". We know how society makes women feel about their bodies and we wanted this evening to be about how God created us In His Image and He loves just how he made us! Our featured speaker was Gwen Mullins, out of Tulsa, OK. Gwen is one of SingleMomzRock’s featured monthly bloggers, a single mom herself, author, speaker and cancer survivor. We knew she was the perfect fit to speak into these mom’s about being made In His Image. She brought a powerful word about her story and how He got her through some of the toughest times and encouraged us to read the Word to get us through our toughest times as well.

We also asked Sarah Buxton, SingleMomzRock’s Director of Public Relations, to speak about her living with alopecia. Her strength and testimony were powerful and brought the house to tears when she took off her wig and showed us that she had just shaved her hair off one month prior to the banquet, to the day, because of the progression of her hair loss. This 21 year old powerhouse is a true inspiration.

We went with an Old Hollywood Glam theme and all our moms looked so glamourous all decked out in their gowns. This year we had over 200 formals donated for our event so no single mom had to worry about buying an outfit if they couldn’t afford it. The tables were covered with black tablecloths and adorned with white floral arrangements and old cameras. Even Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe made an appearance for pictures.

This year we added a couple new elements to the banquet. One being we invited women leaders from the public to come and be table hosts and to sit at the tables with our moms throughout the evening. This was a huge hit with everyone. We wanted to create intentional conversation and relationships between women in the community and our moms. One table host said this, “I loved it! It was truly amazing! I met some wonderfully awesome ladies. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of it”!

We also decided to create a new SMR Ambassador program, which is where we chose a few ladies who we knew had been working very hard this past year to make very positive changes to better them and their children’s lives. We were able to present three ladies with $50 Gas Cards on behalf of Victory Mission + Ministry as well as a bouquet of flowers. All three were shocked and grateful to even be acknowledged.

I was so thankful to have our event this year at Central Assembly, a church that has supported SingleMomzRock for many years. It was almost like a true full circle moment for me. What was even more special was having my new boss, Jason Hynson, Executive Director of Victory Mission + Ministry to see this event first hand. He talked about the new partnership of Victory Mission and SingleMomzRock and then he prayed for all the moms there that evening. I think I even saw him serving some meals to some ladies. He is a class act and I couldn’t be happier.

As I got up to speak, I let everyone know that I had not prepared anything really. Which is unlike me. This year was so different from last year. As I looked into the crowd of table hosts and all the single mom’s that I have worked with over the years, I let them in on a little secret. I almost gave up. Last year after my much needed break there was a time where I didn’t know if I wanted to come back. I didn’t know if I wanted to continue to do SMR. I was tired. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to just come home on certain nights and watch tv and relax with my girls. And every time I would think that way, one of the moms would message me saying, “thank you for helping me get through this” or “you were put on my heart tonight and I wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you”. I told them to never stop doing that. I struggle just like anyone else. I work full time, have my daughters and of course their activities, I am in my final legs of my bachelor’s degree all while running SMR. I am exhausted most days. But I just couldn’t give up. And in this past year, a lot of doors have opened up. An opportunity presented itself for SingleMomzRock to come under Victory Mission + Ministry’s 501c3 as well as me getting offered a full time job in the Development Dept. As I explained to them that evening, I would have never been able to come up with a more perfect job for me if I tried. God knew. And as I have prayed for years, for SMR to find a home, we found not only a home, but we found a family. As I said that evening, don’t ever give up because you never know what’s just around the corner. Just like I never even knew I would be working for Victory Mission and I sure didn’t think SMR would have a home finally. But both things have come true all because I chose to not give up. I don’t want you to give up either because you were made #inhisimage and He knows exactly what you need!

~Janelle 

Just Lift That Foot!

I was cruising down the road today, listening to some 80’s music, singing along at the top of my lungs. 


It was just a good day. 


So, of course, my mind drifted back over the events of my life since High School. I got married, had kids, then got divorced, and became a single mom. I remembered how tough it was, when all my dreams dissolved into a heap of ashes.

 
I remembered trying to navigate divorce court and lawyers. And, enrolling my children in school. Since I homeschooled them, I was concerned about how they would adjust to school. Not to the classes, but to the other kids. Would they make friends? Would they fit in? 


I remembered stepping out into the work force. I was a stay-at-home mom without any marketing skills. It was tough finding decent work! 


I remembered going back to college to finish my degree. I had many sleepless nights, as I worked full-time, went to school, and took care of kids. 


But, I look back now, and yes it was tough and hard and I wasn’t sure I’d make it. 


However, I did! And I didn’t just survive, I thrived. 


God took the ugly ashes of broken dreams and turned them into a beautiful piece of artwork. 


Not all of us became single moms the same way. For some of us, a spouse died. Or maybe we never married. But all of us have had tough days. Tough weeks. Tough years. Broken, shattered dreams, lying around us as ashes accumulate in a fireplace during the winter months. 


But, when we turn to our God, and hand Him the ashes, He begins to do His best work. Our Heavenly Father specializes in creating something beautiful out of nothing. Look at Genesis 1. The world as we know it didn’t exist. It was just a heap of nothingness, floating. God looked at the heap and began to create! And what a world he created. We have deserts, mountains, waterfalls, valley’s, oceans. All for us to enjoy! 


I was reading the story of Gideon. He was just plowing his field, minding his own business, when an angel came to him. “Might hero, the Lord is with you.” I love Gideon’s reply, “Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened…” In other words, Gideon is completely ignores being called a Mighty Hero and focuses on everything that has happened and wondered what God was going to do about it! 


The angel tells him to “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel.” 


What? God didn’t give some long analogy about why things happened that way. He just told Gideon to go. And not just to go, but to do it with the strength he has. 


Wait a minute! I thought we go on God’s strength! What does it mean go in your strength? 


Well, after praying, I think it means this: God made us and God created us. He made us to be strong and resilient. He made us able to survive many things. However, God knows what strength we have and it’s by faith that we take that first step. But, then the miracle happens. For when we lift our foot, to proceed forward, God’s strength infuses us and strengthens us and causes us to do mighty things! Things we could never accomplish on our things. Yet things that never would’ve been accomplished if we hadn’t lifted out foot and allow God’s strength to meet our strength and form a bond that can conquer everything that comes our way! 


And, as we rise up, 
Even when we don’t want to…
Even when it’s hard…
Even when we have no idea what we’re doing…
Even when we don’t feel strong…

Then, God meets us. He takes those ash heaps and he begins to form a beauty that is strong and passionate and loving and caring. A beauty that comes from deciding to lift a foot and step forward. A beauty that depends on Him and raises these children He has entrusted to us. A beauty that knows God never leaves or forsakes us! 

It’s a happiness that causes you to listen to music from High School, turn up the music, sing out as loud as you can, and look back over the life you’ve lived and see the beauty in God calling to you while you questioned. 

So, lift up those feet out of the ashes, and watch God do His beautiful story in our lives! 
 

Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

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

The Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

The Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

Ok, we all know the down side.

I could write a dozen of articles about the isolation, the loss of friends, the feeling of abandonment… and I have written a lot about those things. They are very real, very heart-wrenching, and just plain hard.

But what we all need to do right now, in this very moment — as you likely just googled and found this article, and are probably trying to find the bright side of all of this — WE, my ladies, need to stay positive.

For starters, remember: We got ourselves OUT of a bad situation, one that was not healthy for us, one that was not furthering our personal development. One that was sucking the life out of us.

So let’s take a moment to recognize that.

We are now free.

And now? We need to rally.

So I am here as your new best friend — your new-best-divorced-single-mama friend — to tell you these 10 things you can feel good about, right now, as you sip your wine or your La Croix or whatever it is you’re sipping, because I hope you’re all sipping something and have your feet up.

Note: I know there are many single moms that don’t share custody, and you don’t get some of of these benefits I write about below. I send a salute to you. I do feel grateful that my son’s father is a responsible guy that wants to be involved in our boy’s life. But there are also times I wish I could call all the shots and not have to split my sweet child’s time between two homes. We all make the best of what we have, I guess.

Here’s my take.

10 Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

1. Nights off

Every Wednesday night, and every other weekend, is ALL MINE. No bedtime routine, no resistance to baths or brushing teeth or putting on pajamas. No, ma’am. My house is quiet, my breathing is deeper. I’m more relaxed. My Spotify is turned up. Sometimes I spend it quietly, sometimes I go out. Sometimes I write or draw or work. But being divorced, there is no negotiation about how I am going to spend my night off. I get to decide.

2. Sleep!

Oh yeah, baby. Every other weekend (and every Wednesday night) I get to catch up on blessed sleep. I get the entire bed. I often sprawl out and sigh deeply when I finally crawl in (usually after a hot bath). And I know I won’t be awakened by anyone, except perhaps my sweet old dog, huffing in my face. It is pure bliss. (Except the dog breath.)

If you’re new to being single, fear not. That “other side” of the bed that seems empty and abandoned will soon have a new feel. Creep your toe over there, dear. Soon your whole, unshaven leg will be over there. Shortly thereafter you find your new home: The middle of the bed.

3. Focusing on your needs.

At first it can seem overly quiet. And of course, there are weekends I feel lonely for my son. Or moments during the weekend. But after two years, I have found a rhythm on these solo weekends. I plan ahead more, so I have at least one social outing. But I like to keep a good portion of the weekend as ALL MINE. Maybe I want to watch a lot of Netflix. Or clean. Maybe I want to meet a friend for brunch and go for a long run. Maybe I need to spend 4 hours finding the perfect new pair of jeans. Or catch up on some work.

On my weeknight off I try to fit in something that feels like pampering. A hot bath. Painting my (short, stubby) nails. Making popcorn and binge watching a show.

4. Trying new things.

Last weekend, on the invitation of another single mom friend, I went to a blues dance party. It was preceded by a lesson. I’ve NEVER blues danced. I was terrified. But I went. And it was exhilarating to try something I’ve never done before. I was not good, but I met some nice people who also didn’t know what they were doing (and a lot who did) and I was glad I took the leap. I had fun, and I smiled and laughed a lot. Would I have done this if I was still unhappily married? Heck no.

Trying new things has been one of the biggest blessings of my divorce. I have now tried belly dancing, improv, taken a solo vacation, gone to more live music shows, became a fitness coach, and started a Meetup group for single parents and meeting more new people every week. I am living my life more fully than ever before. I’ve told fear to take a hike, and I am participating in life.

5. Redefining your life. Rebuilding yourself.

Divorce is the ultimate let down. We think — no, we KNOW — that we found our perfect partner for life, and we commit to that. And then something happens (or many somethings) that make us reconsider. And then, after much drama and difficult decision making and gross legal processes, you’re single— BOOM.

What now?

The identity that we had is partially gone. Which is, at first, difficult. To put it mildly.

But! You get to redefine what you want your life to be. Who you associate with. What you spend your time on. You get a second chance at designing your life. The way you spend your time. The way your treat your self, your body, your soul, your mind.

I decided four months ago to get into wicked shape. I had been feeling frustrated and mopey, and had just had a horrible date with a guy I had gotten my hopes up for. (He turned out to be a drug addict. Buh-bye!)

The empowerment I have found in the act of taking better care of my body through better nutrition and more regular exercise has been profound. I am in the best shape I have been in since college (and definitely eating better than I did in my cheap-ramen-or-fries-at-the-cafeteria days). I have loved it so much I decided to become a coach. And as a fitness coach I am also helping others feel their best and reach their goals. It’s been life-changing.

6. Time off for dating (yourself or others).

When (or if) you get to the point of dating, or just want to get out for fun by yourself, when you share custody — you have the time.

I have enjoyed dating. Yes, I’ve had some bad dates, but some fun ones, too. When I was newly single I accidentally got on Tinder (Seriously, I only wanted to see how it worked) and ended up getting sucked into it and then dating various guys for about 6 months.

I’ve since stopped, and I’m not at the point where I want something serious now, but having men show interest in me was uplifting and made me feel sexy and wanted.

But through the process of dating I learned how much I needed to simply care for myself. That before anyone else could show me love, I needed to show myself compassion and caring — first.

So since I’ve stopped dating I’ve had more nights out with myself. A delicious burger. Or wine and pizza. I call it dating myself. I choose my favorite restaurant and just go. I treat myself. Sometimes I read, or doodle, or look at Facebook or people-watch. It’s freeing to get comfortable being alone in a room full of other people. You realize nobody cares. Nobody is watching you. You can just exist, and observe!

7. Being a better parent

When I do have my son, I am a better parent. I’m more rested. When I get him back, I’ve missed him, so I’m really focused on him. I plan events or outings for us, or sometimes just have a nice, quiet day at home with him doing art projects or showing him how the washing machine works. (Three-year-olds are the best. So easily entertained.) Our time spent apart makes us both appreciate each other more.

8. Owning your strength

In my opinion, divorced women are some of the strongest people alive. We have decided to NOT accept bad behavior. We have decided we are strong enough to get by on our own. We have broken out of the “married with children” template, the mold that society has created, because we KNOW we deserve better. We endure the unspoken (or spoken) judgement of people, of friends and family. We have decided our kids don’t deserve to grow up witnessing an unhealthy relationship. And all of this? It is HARD.

But when you finally get through the drama, things get quiet. You may question your decision. Your circle of friends is more distant. You don’t know where you fit.

This is when you need to remember your strength. No, you don’t need to hold onto anger, you don’t need to rehash all of the drama. (Okay, sometimes you may need to remind yourself, but don’t dwell too long — it’s over).

You need to remember this: YOU are strong. And that you made this decision because you knew — YOU KNOW — it is best.

Owning that strength, that decision, is a practice — you get better at it. It eventually becomes a part of who you are, and you embody it. It bolsters you as you take steps into your new life.

9. Your closet. Your messes.

I may, at some point, share a house and a closet again with a partner. But I’ll be totally honest. I love love LOVE not sharing. I love knowing that if a mess is made, I don’t have anyone to blame except myself.

I have a tendency toward anxiety, so when things get cluttered I tend to start getting irritable. And it was worse when there was another body creating more clutter with more clothes and more dishes. It may be one of the smaller benefits, but it really is peaceful. I enjoy the simplicity of knowing it’s just my stuff (and my son’s).

10. A second chance at real love.

We have learned. Yes — I have fear of getting into another “bad” relationship. But I am also excited. I get to try again.

I’ve also learned more about love as a broader concept. Being a mother. The love my son has for me is so unconditional. As a mom, I now know the feeling of that kind of love. My marriage wasn’t that free, easy kind of love. It felt very conditional. I was always walking on eggshells.

If I get into a relationship again and it doesn’t feel like a pure, unconditional love, I feel more equipped to recognize that. And move on.

I also know that should I get into a relationship with a man that isn’t quite right, that I have greater love in my life already with my son, my friends, and my family.

New love will be icing on the cake of my already delicious life.

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What other perks have you found in your single mom lifestyle? I’d love to hear from you. basementqueens@gmail.com

Check out Liina at www.basementqueens.com