Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.
I met my friend, Sarah, about seven years ago, when we were volunteering at an inner city clothes closet. She has three children, and they were all serving with her. I could tell immediately that she was that mom. You know that mom – the mom who carries a backpack with healthy, organic snacks for her children, the one who doesn’t raise her voice, she cleans with chemical-free cleaning supplies, and her children don’t watch much television. Through the years we became close friends, and I began to truly admire her as a friend and mom. She is such a pillar of strength and dignity for her children. She homeschools and cooks two to three meals on most days. She stays at home and reads to her children, goes on nature hikes, and organizes Bible studies.
As we spent time together, I fell into a dangerous trap of comparison. You see, I am not anything like her. I work 40-50 hours during a good week. We do take-out more than we should. My career has taken me away from my children on some nights, when traveling. And I could never homeschool. Occasionally, I even raise my voice to my children simply from sheer exhaustion. I began to wonder if my children were worse-off than hers, because of my choice to work. I’ve never stayed at home with my kids. When I gave birth to my son, I was a single mom and went to work 10 days after he was born. When I had my first daughter, again, I was a single mom, and went to work 2 days after she was born. I had no choice. My children were depending on me, and if I didn’t work, my kids didn’t eat. Through the years of single parenting, I worked long hours during the day, went to college at night, and often didn’t see my children until they were nearing bedtime. I carried an extreme amount of guilt.
When I gave birth to my last child, I stayed home with her almost a year. I was no longer a single mom, and I thoroughly enjoyed that luxury of seeing all her “firsts”, holding her as I quietly sipped coffee and read my Bible, and strolling through my neighborhood on long walks. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. However, during that time, I discovered something about myself. I could never do that for eighteen years! I enjoy the interaction and stimulation that work outside the home gives. I enjoy the challenge of solving problems at my desk, lunches with co-workers, and business meetings with steno pads and manila folders. I greatly admire my friend, Sarah, and the many women who are just like her with their unbelievable ability to homeschool and sew and craft and whisper and raise amazing children. But I’ve also learned to equally respect my role on this earth. And guess what? I have some pretty amazing children, too. My son is almost twenty, entering his sophomore year of college, and is a collegiate athlete. My daughter, now 18, is a graduating high school honor student who is enrolled in college to become a physical therapist. My sweet last-born is thriving, friendly, and a joy in her own right. And Sarah could say similar things about her children.
Working moms, you are okay. You are great moms who endure long days and parenting challenges, just like stay-at-home moms. You are not less than or greater than. You are equal to. For stay-at-home moms who are doing it all – cooking, cleaning, groceries, organizing – understand that you are in this season for a reason, and it’s beautiful and admirable. But working moms, just because you aren’t in the home full-time doesn’t mean your children can’t thrive and that you are somehow a less-than mom.
Ladies, can we just give each other (and ourselves) a break and a little grace?! Many stay-at-home moms sometimes feel their role is not significant, no one notices them, and they aren’t making much of an impact on the world. Working moms struggle in a different way. We sometimes worry that we haven’t spent enough time with our children, or we carry guilt that we choose to (or have to) work outside the home. Satan is masterful at roaming the earth and seeking what he may destroy. Moms, he wants you to feel this way. He wants you to feel insignificant, insecure, and replaceable. If you do, then you are no threat in the Kingdom. You’re too busy focusing on your inadequacies.
But moms, oh sweet moms, when you rise up and take your place in the Kingdom, whether working mom or stay-at-home, when you understand that your place, in this moment, this season, is God’s perfect plan for your life and it is significant ministry… oh my Lord! When you rise up and become the confident, spirit-filled, strong, hopeful woman of God you were created to be, no demon in hell and no lie from Satan could ever stand in your way of fulfilling God’s plans for your life.
And I am convinced that our children, when raised up in the way they should go, whther by an amazing stay-at-home mom or a working mom, will fulfill the following verse:
Her children stand and bless her.. Proverbs 31:28a NLT
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see the body of Christ live life in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/DGLimages
** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.
It was Christmas Day and my first Christmas alone. Well, I guess I wasn’t alone. I had my 11-month old with me. It was the darkest of days. I woke up to the inevitable – no money, no family, and a baby who toddled around, not knowing the difference. I cried most of the day. I eventually went to a friend’s home for a couple of hours, but I ultimately finished the day on the sofa in tears, alone.
Perhaps one of the biggest struggles for any single parent is loneliness. It is easy to compare families who are shopping together on weekends or strolling their precious toddler on a bright Sunday afternoon. It is easy to imagine our lives much different than they are, hence feeding into the loneliness that endlessly lingers.
Loneliness is dangerous. It can assuredly lead to compromise. How many times have I sat holding the hand of a mom who was regretful of a decision that stemmed from a lonely night? How many times did I stumble in my single parenting years for that very same reason? Loneliness can lead to further isolation and even depression or alcohol and drug use. It can attribute to bitterness and anger and a myriad of other not-so-positive emotions. So how do we fight it?
One of the first keys is to recognize you are never alone. God promises that he will never leave you. “Yeah, that sounds great, but I want human interaction!” You may be thinking. The Lord created you for relationship – relationship with each other and relationship with Him. However, the latter is the most important part of our life. The development of our relationship with the Lord is our strength, our comfort, and our peace. It is where our joy is found. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 about how his singleness has allowed him to serve God better. Next time you feel loneliness creeping in, consider serving someone else. How can you use your time and talents to serve God by serving others? Can you volunteer at a local soup kitchen or babysit for a fellow single parent? Can you offer dinner at your house for some neighborhood friends and make it a game night, helping others who may be battling loneliness?
Be certain to stay connected to a local church. I am a huge proponent of this one! If single parents can stay connected in a local church, they are better equipped to battle loneliness. Support groups and Sunday School classes help us to get perspective. It helps for us to hear others’ problems or to hear wisdom from someone who has been where we are. Satan’s plan is one of a divide-and-conquer strategy. If he can isolate us from church and loving Godly friends, we begin to see the glass as half-empty. No one will ever love me. I will always be alone. How could the church treat me that way? I don’t need God anyway. On and on the negative thoughts will go, if we aren’t careful. If Satan can steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our plans for the future, he’s one. We are no longer a threat to him. We are no longer focused on what we can do in the Kingdom of God, but rather what we can’t do.
Single moms, you are not alone. There are support groups blossoming all over the country to see that you are encouraged and equipped in the body of Christ. I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Scriptures:
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. ~ Is. 43:2 NLT
Jennifer Maggio is the founder and CEO of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a nonprofit that has planted more than 1,500 single parent support groups in churches globally. Maggio’s story of homelessness, severe abuse, and years of parenting alone has been featured in The New York Times, The 700 Club, Power Women and others. She is author to several books and has a passion to encourage single mothers and hurting women. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/m-gucci
By the time I was 21 years old, I had suffered a lifetime of disappointments. Both of my parents were dead, as well as all my grandparents, and most of my aunts and uncles. I had seen more death than most do in a lifetime. I was pregnant multiple times outside of marriage, which carries its own shame and embarrassment. I had been homeless, lived on government assistance, and struggled to put food on the table as a single mom. I had already parented alone for several years and had no way of knowing that I would go on to parent even more years alone. And all of those things shaped me and molded me with fear.
But the journey I embarked upon a few years back was far worse than I could have even imagined. Eight years ago, I decided to walk away from Corporate America and accept this call on my life to minister to single moms nationally. I was scared and felt ill-equipped, but I did it anyway. And the ministry quickly grew. Before long, our ministry was ministering to thousands around the globe, but for every success I experienced in ministry, there was an even bigger attack personally. First, my husband lost his job and there was no money. Then, my children were plagued with countless unforeseen surgeries and there was even less money. Eight surgeries later, our family was pressed from every side financially. And then there were the difficult teen years, where I failed miserably in parenting. And the times I secretly wanted to quit ministry altogether, because I didn’t feel I measured up. It was during this difficult time that I actually declined every invitation I received from churches to speak. The enemy had accomplished exactly what he wanted. He had taken my voice.
Fear had beaten me down and strangled the life from me. It was gradual and I usually masked it well. But most days, I spent my time crying uncontrollably. That’s what fear does. It strangles, immobilizes, subtracts, withers, crushes, and shatters. It grips our soul and snatches every dream. What once was the joy of the Lord somehow becomes replaced with anger and hopelessness. Fear encourages us to give up and accept the misery of existence versus the excitement of a God-led pursuit.
Many Christians are struggling with fear and allowing it to take our voice and strangle us – secretly and slowly. Yet, our Father in Heaven paid for us to have an abundant life, free from fear and worry and anxiety. There are three things that we can do that will allows us to master fear and move into the freedom Christ paid for us to have.
Acknowledge what fear is. If fear didn’t come from the Lord, then who gave it to us? As Christians, we must understand that fear was given to us by Satan as a mere tactic to keep us distracted and off course for the plans the Lord has for us. We must understand it for what is, then realize we have the authority to dispel fear with the power of Christ’s shed blood.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7
Seek God until he takes away our fears. Keep pursuing freedom from fear, even when everything around you seems scary and hopeless and endless. Keep asking God to deliver you from the fear that is being forced upon you.
Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will open. Matthew 7:7-8
Speak truth. Speak truth over your fear, even when you don’t feel like, even when it seems impossible, and even when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. When Moses died, I am sure that Joshua was afraid of what God was now calling him to do in the book of Joshua. I am sure he had no idea of how he would lead the Israelites. He never expected to be in that situation. Do you find yourself in an unexpected situation today? Are you fearful of your future? Your kids choices? Your finances? Your marriage? Your singleness? God’s word promises you victory, authority, and strength. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Joshua 1:5
Don’t clamor in a corner like one with no hope. You are a daughter of the King of Kings. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. That challenge, that thing you are facing, is not bigger than your God. He will never leave you. When fear comes for you, don’t retreat and allow it to strangle you. Get ready for war. Wage war against the evil one who has attempted to lie to you and steal the joy God has paid for you to have. Take authority and stand against it.
Jennifer Maggio is a wife, mom, chauffeur, counselor, dishwasher, carpooler, soccer mom, and daughter of the King. She is passionate about seeing single parents and women living a life of total freedom. She is author to several books and Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com
** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.