Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Steady my heart

Triple threat
2 Corinthians 12:9  - My grace is enough; it's all you need.   My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

I own a three story townhome.  Which means two sets of stairs.  Which means as soon as I get in my car to go somewhere, I remember I left something on the third floor.  So I bolt up the stairs like lightning.  One flight down.  Run to the second flight and take them, skipping steps baby!  Then, without warning, I go from full energy to "OMG I'm going to die.  Must.have.air."

Life can be similar.  You go and go and keep on going, not even thinking about it.  And suddenly, it's like you just can't see how you're do it anymore.

I haven't blogged in a while because of a lot of things that can all be filed under "life's busy".  But on top of those things,  I just wasn't feeling it.  To be perfectly honest, I'm over the whole single mom thing.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom.  Even though my son constantly talks about farts and boogers and my daughter thinks she's the boss of everyone, never for one moment have I not loved being their mom.  I love them so much it hurts and I really can't picture life without them.  I mean, who would color on my couches or inform me that the word "venus" rhymes with...take a guess.

In the past few weeks though, an emotional funk had been building.  And this was more than the monthly funk ifyouknowwhaddimean (only women read this blog, right?). I've been restless for a while, waiting for the next stage of my life to come.  When my son finished kindergarten last month, the truth that I am now a mom to a first grader hit me.  Besides the "where the heck have the past 6 years gone?!" was the realization that time is flying by and the kids are growing up and, although they see their dad, they are being raised in a single parent household and this is never, ever, ever what I wanted for them.  People always tell me, "when the kids grow up, they'll realize..." but life is happening here and now. Memories are being made and not-so-little-anymore lives are being formed and it's so much less than what I wanted for my kids.

So I had a moment with God.  And by "moment", I mean a whine-fest.  I laid in my bed one night and my mind was racing with everything I needed to do the next day, how horrible of a mother I'd felt like that day and how desperately I just want to be an amazing mother who did everything well.  I was completely overwhelmed.  The feeling of failure was killing me.  But deeper than the whining in me, was the knowledge that yes, I am weak.  I am imperfect.  I'm certainly no super woman and I don't have what it takes.  And I just kept saying those words: "Your grace is sufficient.  Your strength is made perfect in my weakness."  It's not strength that is just aaaa-ight.  It's perfect.  Unfailing.  Filling the spaces I'll never be able to fill.  It's for now, for this sometimes craptastic stage that may very well last longer than I'd like.

I love this song a good friend sent me once, "Steady My Heart".  The words are ridiculous...

Even when it hurts, even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to you
Cause I know that you are
Lover of my soul, healer of my scars
You steady my heart

Maybe that's what it's all about.  When did I decide I deserved a perfect life?  What makes me think life should be just as I planned it.  As hard as it is to accept, without these times, I wouldn't be the person I am today.  I'm learning to choose to be thankful for the struggles. And for every moment where I feel like I'm over it, there comes a moment where He gives me the strength to keep on going...one stair at a time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Giving the play by play

Psalm 89:1
Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are.
   I'll never quit telling the story of your love—
      how you built the cosmos
      and guaranteed everything in it.
   Your love has always been our lives' foundation,
      your fidelity has been the roof over our world.

You know the type.  Your girlfriend who is newly married calls you and you are the lucky winner who gets to hear all the barftastic details of their honeymoon.  Then you get to see it all posted in an hour by hour, picture by picture detail on Facebook.  The next time you're with her, she says "my husband" about 332 times.   Fast forward a few years and she is that girl that blows up Instagram with a photo of everything her amaaaaaaaaaaaazing hubby did for her on their anniversary.  Lucky you.

It's the same thing when you have kids.  They're just too cute and too funny and everyone must know.  I am definitely guilty of sharing lots of pictures and stories about them.  Whether it's a romantic relationship or a parental relationship, the feelings are the same: people so undone by the love they're receiving that they need to share it.  And by God, social media is ready and waiting, so why not?!

I have a really good friend, a single mom as well, that is in a new relationship and soooo in lurve.  You can hear the excitement in her voice.  When one is overwhelmed by love, they can't help but to share.  Even if no words are spoken, their countenance speaks loud and clear.

How much more so with the love of God?  I mean, seriously.  If you think about how good he's been to you, what he's provided you with, how he's protected you, what bridges and valleys he's brought you over and through, how can you NOT talk about it, like, constantly. 

A couple of months ago I blogged about the love story God's writing in my life.  And it has nothing to do with an earthly man.  At all.  It's all Him -- providing, protecting, honoring and caring for me and my shorties.    Even in the little things, he has shown Himself to be "enthralled by my beauty" (Ps. 45:11).  To the human eye, ain't NADA spectactularly beautiful about me!  I'm just a brown-haired brown-eyed, freakishly short 30 year old. Yet it's His vision of me that should speak the loudest in my life.

I love how the above verse says "Your love has always been our lives' foundation...Your fidelity has been the roof over our world."  As a single person, and especially a single parent, I've found it's easy to be your own foundation.  In the natural, everything falls on you --- earning the money, disciplining, nurturing, decision making, cleaning and so on (and on and on).  At times, it can feel overwhelming and a little lonely. For me, I sometimes desperately want someone else to just make a decision around here.  However, this verse reminds me I am not my own foundation. And I never will be.  Even if some stud was to come like it and put a ring on it, God would still be my ultimate foundation.  He always has been, always will be.  Even while I'm overwhelmed, I'm supported.  I'm covered by Him, the roof over our head.  He's keeping the mortgage paid, food on the table and clothes on our backs.  Always safe. Always secure. 

And I can't be quiet about it. Like the Psalmist, I never want to quit telling the story of His love. I'll never run out of material anyway. Especially with my kids, more than me telling them the story of everything that didn't work out in my life, I want them to hear the story of how God's faithfulness through and in spite of things not going the way I planned.  Not just the big things but the play by play details. And more than anything, I want them to know His faithfulness for themselves. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Savoring the suffering

Ecclesiastes 7:2-3 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better and gains gladness.

Let me just put this out there:  I love eating.   Going out to eat, cooking for people, holiday meals, sharing dinner with a friend...all of it.    All-inclusive food in resorts and on cruises? Yes, please.  YES.  I just LOVE it.  I read this Twitter post yesterday and it made me laugh:  "Dear men, Actually our dream isn't finding the perfect guy, it's being able to eat without getting fat. Sincerely, women."  True story!

So, when I recently read Ecclesiastes 7 (after listening to the song story for this song - more on that later), I was confuzzled at first.  Based on experience, the logic struck me as a little strange.   A house of feasting is fun.  But, I've been to the house of mourning on a few occasions.  Not so fun.   When I think of mourning, I think of September 11.  I was still living in NYC on what started off as a perfect Tuesday.  After the planes hit, I saw fear and disbelief on the faces of people in the streets.  I watched those buildings fall with my own eyes.  I know people who lost loved ones.  I know people who survived.  My brother-in-law was a cop who worked down there in the days and weeks that followed.  I have never seen so much mourning in my life as I did in the time following that horrific day.  

But I have also never seen so much hope. I remember that my church was packed for months after that.  Heroes abounded.  Random acts of kindness spread.   New Yorkers were actually nice to each other.  Even though I deeply wish it never happened, that Tuesday changed a lot of people, for the good, forever.  Tragedies have a way of reminding us how short life is.  That's what Solomon is talking in that verse.  Mourning reminds you to live well.  Now. 

Chances are you've dealt with intense sorrow at some point in your life.  There are plenty of things worse than divorce, but divorce is one thing I can speak to.  The sorrow of betrayal is deep.  The humiliation is terrible.  Life is interrupted, lies are exposed and confusion abounds.  Sometimes the hurt is so heavy that it truly is hard to breathe.  If you've been there or in a million other places of pain that doesn't make sense, you know. Yet, I can say this now:  More than three years after the worst of the worst days, I wouldn't trade that pain for the world.  I've never felt closer to God and I've never felt God was closer to me.  Friends surrounded me.  My kids gave me unspeakable joy and most days, they were the only reason I smiled.  That pain helped me more than it hurt me.  It taught me some very valuable lessons about life and love, and made me appreciate times of "feasting".  The tears stung but, like a good cleaning, they scoured my heart (Ecc. 7:3 MSG) and made it glad.

I guarantee you, at the time I wasn't thinking "Phew! I'm glad life SUCKS right now because my heart really needs some scouring!"  I'm not that wise (at all).  Looking back though, I see the good in it.  I see how it's helped me help others and how I'm a better woman and mother for it.  I'm still learning (sometimes the hard way), but definitely an improved Sarah.  

The other day something happened that hurt me. Minor, but it just opened up a lot of other wounds and I found myself sulking around and wanting Ben and Jerry's.  That night I heard the song I've linked to below (which led me to the chapter in Ecclesiastes) and it reminded me that there is no hurt on earth that God can't handle.  And just when you think you can't take one.more.second., the hurt and the Healer collide.  

Whatever you're facing today, as painful as it may be, savor the suffering.  Breathe it in 
deep and know that not a tear is wasted.  Let your heart be glad.  You're alive.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: We all need a reminder

One day she'll wear real heels :(
Oh believe me, I know how it is.  A new morning begins and, as many times as you think today is the day you're going to have it all together, it never quite works out that way. I set my alarm for 5:00 am every day.  Then when it goes off, I roll over and press snooze, thinking all I need is five extra minutes.  Except I need those five extra minutes about 4 times.  Every night I convince myself I will really wake at 5:00 am.  And every morning I press snooze.

My life is full.  Full of craziness, yes.  Full of me losing my temper and coming very near to losing my mind, hell yes.  But it's full of some really amazing things too: contagious laughter, excellent report cards, health, cute preschool songs sung by an even cuter voice, little girl manicures, and not-so-little-but-always-little-to-me boy hugs.  I mean, I really couldn't ask for more.

I read a quote recently that said "The days are long, but the years are short".  Isn't that the truth?!  It made me think of how I spend those long (sometimes very long) days.

I read the blog below today, guest written by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp (you can find her actual blog here). Her words challenged me because all too often I find myself missing out on precious moments because I play one more round of Words With Friends, send one more work email, answer one more text message.  The truth is, those things will always be there and there will always be more and more (and more) of them.  These long days though, they pass quickly. It feels like yesterday I was throwing up in what felt like every train station in NYC, living out the disgusting stage of pregnancy that lasted well into the first and second...and third...trimester.  (I also threw up while sitting AT the lunch table with my boss, but I digress). Now that tiny little body that made me barf is about to enter first grade.  Next thing you know, he'll have armpit hair, a cracking voice and raging hormones.  These times are just too special to waste.

I hope this blog inspires you as much as it did me!  Happy Monday!

Why the kids really need a little red hen mama

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Friday: Where the wild things are

Welcome to my first Fun Friday post (you know, the one I promised, like, two months ago)!

If you have't noticed, the content of this blog is heavy.  I can't help that. Divorce sucks and single parenting is hard.  But, to bring a little balance (and because I'm a goofball in real life) I've started Fun Fridays here at the blog.  Finally, Friday will offer more promise than the latest episode of 20/20!  And yes, I'm a loser...

Today's post is courtesy of Facebook.   I have a love/hate relationship with this phenomenon, but I also have some hilarious "friends" and even more hilarious conversations.  It's also courtesy of my two sisters, Amy and Vicki, who make me look tame, if you can believe that.

Here's a little background:  Well-meaning people are always trying to point out single men to me.  One day, while doing her gift registry at Babies R Us, my sister says "Oooh, Sarah, there's a cute single guy over there...without a ring."  I just stared at her.  "Amy..." I replied, "single men do NOT shop at Babies R Us."  In her one blessed year of marriage, she had forgotten the obvious. My mom is the worst though, and our conversations are usually like this:

Mom:  Oh, Sarah, there's a cute guy in your church's bulletin!
Sarah:  (Rolling eyes).  Yes, I've seen him in real life . He might actually be shorter than me. (I'm 5'1" on a good day...so a shorter man is very short)
Mom:  But, he's a pilot!! He'll be gone most of the week. And they make good money.
Sarah:  Money won't buy him height.
Mom:  Ugh, you're SO picky!
Dad (in his thick Brooklyn accent.  Picture a younger Frank Barone...seriously):  Celierrr - I wish you wouldn't be trying to do dat. I don't like dat!

The places that people tell me to meet guys are hilarious, so I asked for feedback from my fb friends (mostly my other sisters because no one "got" it), and compiled a list of the top ten places you won't (or shouldn't) find a man.  Feel free to add to the list!

  1. Baby stores or baby showers. Not happening, ladies.  If it's too good to be true...
  2. OTB
  3. Hooters
  4. Free health clinic
  5. Prison penpal program (I DIED when my sister said this hahaha)
  6. AA/NA
  7. MySpace - Because it's not 2006.
  8. Victoria's Secret - If he's single and shopping there...he's either weird or shopping for his mother. Which still makes him weird.
  9. Child support enforcement office - Whatever story he has to explain it, it sucks.
  10. Court - Thanks to my need for speed, I've been to traffic court. It gave me the willies.
If you have an idea for Fun Friday, send it my way!  Happy weekend, peeps!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting it be

God, I look to you
I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision, to see things like You do
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do - Jenn Johnson

"But mommmm-mmmm-mmm-mmmm-yyyyyyyyy..." my four year old whined, complete with the melodrama that usually accompanies her cries for justice.  I knew what was coming next. "It's. Not. Fai-www".

She and her brother were fighting over something meaningless.  As usual. I'm convinced that if there was an actual piece of crap laying around, and there was only one, they'd fight over it.  But I digress.

Usually they fight, one wins, and the winner does a victory dance and teases the other incessantly.  The other cries because it is't fair.  And it usually isn't. Life isn't fair.

Sometimes I feel like they feel.  I spend the day waking sleepy children, making breakfast, packing lunches, running for buses, driving to preschool, working, conference calling, picking up from preschool, working more, cleaning, picking up from the bus, working more, making dinner, forcing homework, making snacks, serving dinner, threatening no dessert if said dinner isn't eaten, cleaning up tables, playing referee  and...and...and.  Just when I'm about to wave my white flag in surrender, their dad's visitation time arrives and he gets to swoop in and save them.  From me.  And you know what comes next?  Mother's guilt, for coming very close to losing my mind. Again.

Keep in mind, I want to be very careful how I word this because I love my kids more than anything in the world.  I love that they love their dad and I don't want to get in the way of that.  I want them to choose their feelings for him based on their experiences, not mine.  And I never want to write anything I don't want them reading later, about him or about our situation. So, I'm trying to craft my words wisely, while also trying to explain how I feel.

When they are with their dad they have little rules or discipline because it's just a few hours per week.  They don't spend nights with him, so they're stuck with me at bedtime too.  When I do discipline them or set rules they don't like, I often hear "I want daddddddddy."  And though I hate to admit it, inside I am suddenly the one screaming: "It's not faiwwwww!"

And it's not.  So what am I going to do about it?  What can I do about it?

Recently, I've been struggling with this more often than I'd like to admit.  All I ever wanted to be was a mom.  All I still want to be is a mom, just not a single mom.  And definitely not responsible for the large majority of the parenting.  Currently, it's not quite happening that way, but as you know, this is not the way I planned it. It's easy to get caught up in anger and resentment.  I guess I have every right to be angry...every right to feel like I've been left with a huge responsibility.  Yet, living in a place of anger won't (and can't) do me any good.  Being resentful won't change the situation.  It will keep me, and eventually my kids, in a prison of unforgiveness and that is the last place I want us to be.

All I can do now is let it be.  Keep on keeping on.  Do the best I can.  Make meals.  Drive short people everywhere. Hug my babies.  Stop focusing on everything I lost and focus on everything I have.  Stop thinking of everything I wanted and dreamed of and planned for, and be thankful for more time with  these healthy, beautiful, patience-wearing, impressionable kids I have here.  I'm lucky that I get to be their mother.  No, life isn't perfect.  And rarely is it fair. For now, though, I choose to let it be.

What are you learning to "let be" in your life?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: New dreams

She's got spunk.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. - Corrie Ten Boom

My daughter loves to hear the "stowy" of when I was pregnant with her.  I love to tell it, because it was one of the best times in my life.  It was also the last few months of my "normal", before the truth of her dad's infidelity began to unravel.

On a summer day in 2007, I went to my doctor for a routine sonogram. I was 19 weeks pregnant and knew they'd be able to tell us the baby's gender.  I walked into the examination room, cautiously optimistic.  I wanted a little girl so badly.  I'd lost my mother as a young girl and really wanted an opportunity to have a mother/daughter relationship I'd seen others enjoy, even if it was from the other side.

When the nurse casually announced "you got your girl",  I was beyond thrilled!  That weekend, I went shopping for all the cute little outfits I could find.  And in four years, the shopping hasn't stopped.  Really.  It's the most ridiculous kind of fun.

On a windy Monday morning in November, she finally arrived.  The first time I laid my tired, puffy, a-human-just-came-out-of-my-body eyes on her perfect little face, the dreams I had for her filled my mind. Fun dreams of bows and ballet, sharing shoes, and shopping for prom dresses.  And then the more intent dreams.  I wanted her to have a "normal" family, a healthy upbringing.

Yet, even before I had given birth, the "normal" had already begun to unravel.  At age 4, the idea of a mommy and daddy living together is foreign to her. A broken home is her "normal". And that's not what I wanted for her. Ever. Who does?

If there's anything I've learned in the past few years, it's that I can't control some events that happen in my life, never mind theirs.  At first, it was easy to get wrapped up in the statistics of children who grow up in broken homes.  I mean, google them (at your own risk).  They're heartbreaking.  Divorce affects kids physically, socially and psychologically.  Single parent households are at risk for a number of different things.

I also become concerned when I look back on the issues I was dealing with when I was young, and how they affected my relationship choices.  I met and married my ex-husband seeking emotional protection and refuge...looking for what my heart needed in a human, and not in God.

However, greater than those statistics and experiences is a God who loves her more than I ever could.  A God who has her best interests at heart and has already given her all she needs to deal with life's joys and hurts.

Even though I've had to let go of some of the dreams I had for her, that's not going to stop me from dreaming new dreams.  Above all the new dreams I have, my greatest dream is this:  when she faces life's storms, I hope she rests in knowing that God is carrying her through them.

And she is watching me.  She's watching to see if I trust, if I rest, if I make it through life's storms.  Dr. Phil (who I love...don't judge!) always says the greatest role model a child has is the same sex parent.  Even if I don't notice it, she's observing every thing I do, learning how to be a woman.  That alone makes me want to do better, try harder, and most importantly, trust God more.

What are the new dreams you have for your children?

I thought I'd share these tips for single moms raising daughters.  They were taken from the same site I used in my post about single moms raising boys.  What are 

1) Don't punish the girl because you see things in her that you hate about yourself. Learn how to deal with YOU first so you can more effectively help her.

2) Being hard on her doesn't automatically equate a virtuous young woman. I'm not implying to let her do anything, heaven forbid, however; I'm implying that you should provide structure and boundaries, but not act as a prison warden.

3) Don't live your life through your daughter. Just because you were a cheerleader, doesn't mean she has to be one. Just because you were in the band, doesn't mean that she has to play an instrument.

4)When it comes to boys, she is looking at you to see how you treat (your husband, boyfriend, etc). She is listening to how you talk about men (good or bad) and this is what she is going to model in her life.

5) You can control what she wears. It's important that you train your daughter to have value in herself, long before someone "whispers in her ear." Don't say, I can't help what she wears or does. This is the door way for a long life of regrets for your daughter.

6) Just because you may have had bad experiences with men and/or relationships, don't raise your daughter to hate men, or be distrusting of everyone that she meets for the rest of her life. She is not you, even though she may have some of your traits and attributes. You can't raise her to be a "second you."

7) Build her self esteem continually with positive words and affirmations. She needs to know that she is complete all by herself and that she doesn't have to go looking for wholeness in another person or thing.

8) Spend time with her outside of school, housework, and the day to day, especially when she get older. She may not say it, but she still needs you. Spend some quality time, go out to eat, to the park, for a walk. You can't get those moments back once they are gone.

9) Raise your daughter in love and NOT fear. When you fear if she is going to get pregnant, meet the wrong guy, make the same bad choices you made, that's often what we attract. Raise her with the love of God and the faith to know that after you have done all that you can do, God will intervene and bring it all back to her remembrance.

10) Teach her how to love herself, love God, and how to remain pure and virtuous in a society where everyone is compromising. Remember, when you teach your daughter...you teach your daughter's daughter.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winning Wednesdays: When your vacuum sucks (or doesn't)

There are few certainties in life; death, taxes, and your vacuum dying within three years of purchase. I've never met a vacuum I didn't hate.  And so begins this story...

Meet my frenemy, Bissell:

Oh, sure. He looks good.  He describes himself as "easy empty".  He throws out big phrases like "12 amps" and "dual edge cleaning".  Be fooled not.  His strong work ethic is short lived..  That's the way vacuums are. They suck. Well, actually, they don't suck...which is the problem I found myself with recently.  Every time I'd vacuum, I'd look over the path I 'd just completed, only to find more dust than when I began.  It made me crazy (well, if you know me, more crazy). I wanted to yell at him (okay, I did).  Rip up the carpets.  Move into the bathroom. ANYTHING to not have to deal with a broken vacuum.

So the days went on, and I decided I'd have to buy a new one.  Money was a little tight so I was waiting a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the floors were filling with dust.  It annoyed me every time I looked at it, but I didn't know what to do.  So after a month, they were looking a little (a lot) disheveled.  Last week, I couldn't take it any more.  The superwoman deep, deep, deep inside of me decided to throw caution to the wind and try to repair it myself.

I went and pulled out my snazzy pink tool set.  Be jealous.  

The job called for dissembling the bottom of the vacuum .  Cue oh-so-chic pink screwdriver.  And yes, I really do look that rough at night.  And I'm blind. Feel free to laugh at me.

I noticed there was a bunch of funk in this tube thingy.  I don't know what it's called.  I have no interest in learning what it's called either.  I just noticed it wasn't supposed to be white, so I took a chance.

I got a wire hanger, which is the tool in my house voted Most Likely to be Used.  For everything.  Clogged toilet?  Wire hanger.  Clothes stuck behind the dryer?  Wire hanger.  Random junk stuck in vacuum hose thingy?  Wire hanger!

Using my trusty wire hanger, I slowly began to unpack the clump of crap...and this came out.  Oops.  I don't even know what it is, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't belong in a vacuum.

And then...Ahhhh-HA!  The hateful green crayon strikes again.  Why am I not surprised?  I have it on my walls and permanently melted inside my dryer.  Why would one NOT be in my vacuum hose?  

After a little more digging and a lot more sneezing, this was the pile of filth that I found in there.  Now I know vacuum hoses need to be cleaned.  Ooops.

I must admit, I wanted to flex my muscles when I was done.  Pat myself on the back.  Hug myself.  Tell myself I'm awesome.  Fix every other broken household item.  Instead I just rolled my eyes at myself, because after a month of complaining about it, I'd fixed it in less than 30 minutes. 

Just another job for Super Screwdriver

The next day I vacuumed all of the bedrooms with no issues.  #winning.

The moral of the story?  Just do.

I know as a single woman (and especially a single mom) running a household is no easy feat.  I don't have a handy bone in my body.  I don't even want one. Would it be easier to have a handy man around here?  You bet your butt.  But there's not...and that's okay.  In the past three years I have learned that sometimes just doing is better than just complaining. Or ignoring. Or worrying.  I'm preaching to the choir here because rarely do I just do.  I avoid household fix ups like the plague.  Yet, when I force myself to do whatever it is, I often find it isn't that big of a deal.  If I fix it, awesome.  If I call my tools mean names and never end up being able to fix it, awesome.  At least I tried.

Annnnnd for the surprise ending...my vacuum still sucks. Or doesn't. Which means it does.  But for those thirty minutes, I got clean rooms.

The winning is in the doing, anyway.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Crown of Splendor

Proverbs 16:31 - Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

I just got off the phone with my sweet Aunt Roberta, back home in New York.  When I asked her how she'd been feeling, she responded, "oh, I'm okay...just a little tired."  Aunt Roberta celebrated her 99th birthday yesterday.  I'm only 30 and complain about being tired! She's amazing. 

Growing up, Aunt Roberta was a constant fixture in my life.  She was my great-aunt and quite the character.  She lived on the 5th floor of a cozy co-op building in Bayridge, Brooklyn, just minutes from the Verazzano Bridge  The building itself smelled like lint balls and retirement, but my sister and I loved visiting.  She had shelves filled with the cutest trinkets that Amy and I loved to play with. She had fabulous lime-ish/puke-ish green rugs.   She had a real rotary phone that we always played pretend with.  She always bought us totally rad (umm, it was the 90's) Easter outfits from department stores we'd never usually get a chance to buy clothes from.  She took us out for dinner for every occasion.  She had never married or had children so after my mom (her niece) passed, she set up a college savings account for us. When my sister and I graduated high school, we each had a little something to start us off.

She was (and is) a character! Her signature drink was Dewar's on the rocks and she had a glass every day, later saying that's what kept her young.  She joked around a lot, and had the gift of sarcastic wit.  A devout Catholic, she went to Mass daily and was very active in her parish.  She was very proud of her Irish heritage and told stories of kissing the Blarney stone, which folklore said endowed the kisser with the gift of gab.  When I expressed interest, she graciously told me "I think you already have the gift of gab, dear".  Word. 

In a recent conversation, she mentioned that every night she thinks she's going to pass.  "I always wake up thinking---geez, I'm still here?!"  At 99, you can't blame her for wanting to be in heaven already!

Aunt Roberta is one of the most special people in my life, and I am blessed to have had her this long.  She now lives in a nursing home in Long Island, NY, so I don't get to see her often. However, I carry her in my heart and think about her often.  I call as often as I can and love to hear her voice, even if it's hearing about the "rotten" food and "crazy people" at the nursing home. Can you blame her?

Even though she still gets her hair dyed (she would kill me if she knew I was telling you), underneath it lies a beautiful shade of silver hair, and it is a crown of splendor that I admire.  I am thankful for who she was and is to me in so many ways.  She has lived a godly and righteous life, and I can only hope to live life the way she has.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The title of this post is less than impressive. And it bothers me.  But my brain is pretty much fried today, so just pretend it's some witty, creative, enticing title.

In the six or seven months since I've been blogging, I've gotten a lot of feedback from my posts. Some have poured their heart out to me. Some have told me they laughed (with me, I hope haha).  Some I've even talked to on the phone, random strangers brought together by a common journey.

Many people have been asking and encouraging me to update it more often.  There were a few things that made this difficult. First of all, like most of us, my life is just all kinds of busy.  My day usually begins around 5:45 am and ends after midnight.  And like most mothers, working or not, I do about 3,402 things in that time period.  Second of all, the topics here are quite heavy.  I can't just decide I'm going to talk about forgiveness and come up with some words that stir you.  Usually, if I post on something like forgiveness, its because the previous day I have FLIPPED out on someone I was having trouble forgiving.  Just being honest...

One of my closest friends, Jenn,  writes a blog that is a great read.  Check it out when you have a chance!  Anyway, she started a little schedule on hers and I'm totally copying off of that idea.  So, here is the schedule I'm going to try to follow from here on out. Obviously, when I flip out on someone and realize I need to blog more about forgiveness (or anger management classes), I will. This is just a short list for now, because I want to ensure I can keep with it.  As usual, if there's anything you'd like to read about, feel free to comment on my Facebook page, letting me know your thoughts!

Here they are (excuse the cheesy alliteration of the titles...but, we all need to be cornballs once in a while):

Motherhood Mondays - Blogs about the ups and down of single parenting.  Sharing the laughs, misfortunes, near-death experiences, meltdowns, smiles and lessons learned.  Even married moms can relate on some level, but no matter how much your husband works, single parenting is a different BEAST altogether...so this should be fun.  You may also think I'm a psycho mom.  Again, fun.

Winning Wednesdays - I'll be sharing some of the ways I'm winning in this journey.  I've only dedicated one day to it because, well, guess.  Every so often, though, the stars align and I find myself winning some battle.  I also look forward to hearing about how you are winning in this game of life.

Thankful Thursdays - I love and am slightly obsessed with the book One Thousand Gifts.  It really is probably the best book I've ever read.  Therefore, I really wanted to dedicate some posts to focusing on all the things I am grateful for because there are many!

Fun Fridays - Something funny.  My life is full of fun and awkwardness and randomness and more fun.  I also have funny friends.  Laugh with me. Laugh at me. Whatever!

Singleness Sundays -  When inspired, I'll try to pay homage to my excellent adventures in singleness.

Stay tuned for more!

Peace out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Love Story

Happy belated Valentine's Day!  Hope it was, as my son says about nearly everything, "awesome"!

You've read the title of this blog and efore you get all excited, let me burst your bubble.  I am not about to tell you I met someone.  Not even close.  Not even close to close.  Actually, I'm pretty sure my 6 year old has a better love life than I do.  Oh, many an awkward moment I've had, that's for sure...but no one even slightly acceptable (on a good day) has crossed my path.  When my ex-husband moved out, everyone asked me when I would start dating again.  Date?!  I'd rather scratch my eyes out with a spork, thankyouverymuch.  My feelings aren't that strong anymore, but the opportunity just hasn't presented itself.  I said I wouldn't date until I was 30 (I was 27 at the time).  30 just came.  I now joke that every birthday, I will start saying "well, I didn't want to date until I was 31 anyway...".

However, there is a love story in the works here.  The story began before I was born.  A God who formed me and knew me in my mother's womb. Who carried me through to a healthy birth, all 9 lbs. 12oz. of me (my poor mother).  A God who brought comfort when I lost my mom.  A God who was near in the years that followed, both good and bad times.  A God who protected me in my comings and goings, safety I too often take for granted.  A God who was with me when I lost two babies, practically unknown and unseen to the world, but so very real to me.  A God who smiled with me when my two living babies were born.  A God who was with me during some very dark, confusing and humiliating times, a comforting and constant presence in the midst of chaos.  A God who has provided for me financially, who has protected my children, who has given me all I ever need and even some things I don't.

This is so hard for me to admit, but there are times when the beasts of loneliness and disappointment hurt like you can't imagine (well, you probably can).  It's that familiar weight on the heart that I can physically feel.  Usually I'm too busy to deal, but sometimes I have to allow myself to feel it.  I'm a huge joker, so most people can't even imagine me being all weepy and hot-mess-ugly-cry-ish, complete with dripping snot and what not.  But it happens.  It isn't too often, really.  Most days (yes, even Valentine's day) ridin' solo is just fine with me. I don't even think about it.  But then I pop in some stupid Nicholas Sparks movie.  Or I can't take one more nanosecond of my daughter's attitude, and there's no one to save me (or her).  Or I have to drive my tired self home from the airport after midnight when returning from a business trip.  Or my car makes noises that I'd rather just ignore.

There are certain roles husbands are supposed to play such as protector, provider, leader.  Though it'd be nice to have that in a human, God has been that and more.  A lot of it is too personal to blog about, but I have been through situations that could've been much, much worse! Protector. I have a job that allows me to work and earn a decent living, but also be home to meet my kids when they return from school.  We have a home, a car in the driveway, food in the fridge, toys well...everywhere.  Provider.  The kids have somehow, some way, made it to their 4th and 6th birthdays.  They're healthy, they're happy and they drive me nuts.  There are times when I feel like I'm 'bout to LOSE MY MIND up in here, but they are also my greatest joy (omg, I'm a sap).  He's constantly giving me what I need to raise them and I have to lean on Him, because in reality, I don't know what the heck I'm doing!  Leader.

Just before Christmas, the women's ministry at my church felt led to give all the single moms a financial gift, along with praying for us.  Like me, I'm sure many single moms feel forgotten, especially around the holidays.  While they prayed over us, I just kept hearing the phrase "love story" in my head. This was such a beautiful love story.  (WellI also ran out of deodorant that afternoon, and while they prayed, I was also thinking how the bright lights were making my pits sweat...but I digress.)  A lover remembers you, thinks of you, places value on you.  Even in seemingly insignificant times. Again God showed that His lasting love is tenderly caring for me.

It's a love story that life can imitate, but never reproduce.  Sure, it'd be nice to meet someone (under 50 and not socially awkward) one day.  There's a beauty in human relationships I can appreciate and marriage is His design. Yet I also know that this love story is as good as it gets.  His love runs deeper than any human's ever can and I can rest in it, because it is as sure as He is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seven times seventy

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. - Corrie Ten Boom

You know the feeling. The house is quiet, the kids are playing together nicely, and you're using the moment to pick up (again).    Suddenly, you are aware.   Oh my goodness, there's peace.  Before you get a chance to wonder what constellations aligned for this moment, you hear the dreaded word: "Moooo-mm-mmm-mmmy".  Four year olds have a way of making a two syllable word into nine.  You'd worry, but you know better. Someone must've looked at someone.  Or touched them.  Or copied their picture.  Or breathed too loudly.  You know, the usual savagery.  

The other day was one of those days.  Both kids ran down the stairs. The 6 year old was screaming, crying, coughing, and apparently, dying, all at the same time.  The four year old came down with a smug look and an clandestine smirk.  

I wish I could tell you how spectacularly wise my counsel to them was. I wish I had ten bullet points, advising you on how to deal with your kids' constant bickering.  I don't.  My response was more like this:  "I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THIS CRAP!!!"  Tender, I know.  (You can forward your  Mother of the Year vote  to notachanceinhell@youwish.com).

I turned to my daughter and told her to apologize. With a full serving of dramatic flair, she turned to her brother and said "I. Am. Sorry! ".  There was nothing sorry about it.  I made her do it again. And again. "Say it like you mean it, El!"  Finally, she said with an atom of love laced into it.  I'll take it.  Her brother responded with "I don't forgive you." My first thought was, "good grief! Here we go again."  Then it happened...that still, small voice asked me..."sound familiar?"

Crap. Yes. It does sound familiar.  My six year old isn't that much worse than his mother.  Oh, I've forgiven some things.  But, if I'm painfully honest with myself and with God,  there's a lot I haven't forgiven. Even worse, there's things I don't want to forgive.  Things I feel are unforgivable.  Betrayal that is unimaginable.  Wounds that run deep.  Blemished memories and dreams unfulfilled.  And every time I feel like I've forgiven something, I am reminded of something else.  I look at pictures and I can see the pain behind our smiles. I think of days that should've been my happiest, yet they were some of the most hurtful.  The anger rises. The bitterness seethes.  My mind says "he doesn't deserve forgiveness".  Gulp.  Did I deserve forgiveness?

Matthew 18: 21-22 - Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times".

I can so identify with good ol' Peter.  Forgiving is a painful process because it involves letting go.  We think we are letting someone off the hook.  We think they're getting off easy.  We think we may be justifying their actions. And as my kids say all the time, it's not fair.  Yep, it's not.  But our lives were never intended to be fair.  Jesus' time here on earth was anything but fair.  He knew betrayal. He knew intense pain. He knew taunting.  He knew how it felt to appear weak.  Yet, even on the cross he cried "Father, forgive them."

If he did that for me, how could I not do it for the one who has hurt me the most? 

How can I pick and choose how many times I forgive? How can I draw the line between forgivable and unforgivable. Seventy-seven, meaning, over and over.  Over and over I have to choose to forgive. I can't offer up weak, dishonest prayers asking God to help me.  It's an act of the will. I choose forgiveness.  Even if I have to do it over and over. Even if the memories still hurt.  Even if the scars remain.  Even when I am treated unfairly again.  Even when my mind screams "no!", my heart needs to choose it.  

Will you?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The (Future) Man of the House

So lucky to have my boy.
Not too long ago, we walked out of my front door and there, lurking in the shadows (it was daytime, but whatever) like a dangerous predator (hey, it could have been poisonous) was...a spider. I tried to act cool but my 6 year old wasn't fooled.  He's fully aware that I hate bugs. He giggles like a maniac when he pretends he's throwing a dead bug at me.  Hilarious.  That day, within seconds, he sprung into action, using his sneaker as a weapon and killing the vicious would-be predator in one quick swoop. His little sister cheered and applauded.  I exhaled.  Josiah smiled victoriously.  "The man of the house kills the bugs!" he said in his very (very) squeaky, pre-pre-pre-pubescent voice.   When I heard it, my heart sank.  Then, a few days ago, someone said it again --- "...because you're the man of the house!" It felt wrong.  A six year old shouldn't be the man of any house, much less my house.

It's tough raising a boy.  I know girls. I know what it's like to be one. I know the different stages of girl to tween to teen to woman.  When my daughter enters those stages, I will be prepared.  You know, kind of like being prepared for scorpion handling or walking on broken glass.

With a boy, though, its different. I don't know how to raise a man, much less a good man.  Although J sees his dad often, he lives with me full time.  He doesn't see a man in our house, doing all the things a husband and father is responsible for doing.  What he does see is me flip my lid when my toilet becomes clogged, scream when I see a bug, stare at power tools with eyes glazed over, and face an almost certain death trying to move furniture down the stairs by myself.  I remember when I started potty training him, I worried about how I'd teach him to stand being that women, well...don't.  Somehow, it worked out (although his aim still sucks).

In the past three years of being his primary caregiver, I've come to the realization that I can't teach him how to be a man.  I desperately need God for that because, like any mom, I have dreams for him.  Dreams of him being a godly, honorable man.  Dreams of him breaking the cycle of infidelity and irresponsibility.  I hope he's a hard worker and finds a career he loves (right now he wants to work at ChickFilA, so I have my work cut out for me). I hope that, in time, he finds a good woman; a wife he loves, honors and cherishes his commitment to. I hope he protects and provides for his family.  I hope he sets high standards in his life.  I hope his children can look up to him.  I want him to be the man of a house one day, but not today.

Today he needs to be a boy.  He needs to make messes.  Needs to jump...on everything apparently.  Needs to get outside on his scooter and bike and skateboard.  Needs to bother his little sister.  Needs to run. Needs to learn.  Needs to not worry about adult things.  And he definitely needs to not worry about his mom.

Single moms, let your son be your son.  I believe that having time as a boy will allow him to be a better man.  After seeing the movie, Courageous, I started looking for advice on how best to raise a good and more importantly, Godly, man. In my search, I found this list of practical advice here and thought they were great tips to use and to share.  It applies differently to each person, depending on you and what level of involvement the father has, but still great advice.  Also, feel free to share your own tips, Bible verses, books you've read and lessons learned in the comments section below or on my Facebook page:

10 Tips For Single Moms Raising Boys

1) Don't disrespect his father around him. Even if you don't get along with the father, you are attacking his maleness when you put the father down around your son.

2) Teach him how to manage money (ex. balance a checkbook, save, give to charities, and 

invest). If you don't know how, take him to someone that does know so he can learn.

3) Don't allow him to see you dating multiple guys. Even though you might not be "doing anything" it sends...a subconscious message to your son that men can come in and out of 

your life, and it's ok.

4) Teach him what I call the man fundamentals (ex. To tie a necktie, to iron, to shave, to 

wash clothes, to maintain proper hygiene). You may be saying, well, I don't know how to 
do some of those things. Mom, you are it, so you have to learn or at least get a uncle, church member or someone that can ensure that your son has these necessary skills.

5) Don't push him to just go to college and get a job, but teach him how to think for himself, explore his artistic and creative side and understand the power of being an entrepreneur.

6) Don't buy and give to your son out of guilt or because you didn't have it.
Teach your son to value what he has and what he is given so he can learn to appreciate 


7) Teach him to not just go to church, but develop a personal relationship with God. This 

is key, because many single moms keep their young men in church, thinking that church is 
the solution. Actually the solution is showing him what a personal relationship with God 
means and he needs to see you model that at home.

8) Teach him that his life is not about being "better than his dad", but it's about being the 

person that he is destined to be. Tell him that he has traits from both of his parents, but God 
has made him a unique person with unique abilities.

9) Teach him that relationships are about unconditional love, but most importantly, responsibility.

10) Teach him that "his past doesn't determine his future". Show him that he can't control 

his situations that he was born into, but he can control what's ahead of him in life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The shame game

Imagine the bacteria.
I was ashamed, He called me beautiful...now I'm Yours, You call me beautiful. -  Forever and a Day

Here's something that's outrageously pitiful to admit (and probably reason why I'm single #192), I often lay down at night and my mind won't stop producing clever status updates.  It's obnoxious.  Sometimes, i just can't turn off the jokes.  The wheels in my heard are constantly spinning.  Unfortunately, the short term memory wheels are a little rusty these days.  They're pretty much, wait...what?

I also often think of what people think of me.  "What?", you say?  "The girl that feels the need to stick her head under high-powered hand dryers just for laughs...she cares what people think?"  I do.  And I think of what it is they're thinking.  Most of which they're probably not thinking at all, but in my head they are. And then I stress.

As an example of the absurdity, here's what it's like to be inside my head sometimes:

Jane Doe:  Hi Sarah, <insert ever awkward side hug here> where are the midget wrestlers?
Me:  "Heyyyy girl (cause I always have to say that)...they're with their dad today."
My brain:  Good one.  She's probably going to think you had them out of wedlock or something. Maybe you should say "ex-husband" next time.  Oh, but ex-husband sounds so...bitter.  She'll probably think you're some bitter divorcee, on the prowl for a new man, probably her husband.  Great.  

I often play this game with myself.  I'm sometimes embarrassed when people see me out in public, wrangling in two wild animals (children), with no wedding band on.  Oh, it's not so bad when the midget wrestlers are behaving like angels, but that happens (way) less often than I'd care to admit.  I feel like people eye my ring finger and think "tssk, tssk, tssk".

When I first started going to my new church, I was a little embarrassed by my marital status, or lack thereof.  No one there knew my story.  Many still don't.  Its not like you want to sign your kids into Sunday school, and promptly announce the reason for your divorce. It's not cool. And it's not necessary. Oh, but it's tempting.

You see, I thought I did everything right. Dated for two years. Went through pre-marital classes.  Took personality tests to analyze our compatibility. Got my dad's approval.  Got my pastor's approval.  Married in church.  Waited two years before babies.  Yet still, it all blew up in my face. And I think "how did I not see it?!" And then I feel stupid.  And ashamed.

I sometimes feel the need to justify myself.  Justify the divorce.  Explain that I waited over two years before I even went through with it. Explain his unwillingness to change. Explain the fact that I called my pastor in NY to get some counsel about it.  Explain how difficult asking my ex to move out was for me.  And a million other things I dealt with during that time (none of which are blog-appropriate).

During those times though, I often call that familiar verse to mind:  "Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated... (Is. 54)".  

I have felt shame. And I most definitely have been humiliated.  Those times were moments though, not a state of being.  Not caused by my decisions.  And not who I am.  I know that I know that God and I have dealt with this.  I know that, to the very end, I honored my commitment to God and to my spouse.  I know that I received Godly counsel from my pastor in NY (which was a godsend, love you PJR and Evelyn!) and that it meant more to me than they'll ever know.  I know that the few friends I love and and respect and trust more than anyone in the world supported me.  God doesn't condemn me, so why do I feel like if others do, it matters? More over, why do I feel I condemn myself?  

Instead of lending myself to those feelings, I want to let my life speak in the here and now.  I can have joy. I can have peace. I can attempt to raise normal human beings.  I can speak to others going through similar situations, telling them there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.  I can live without shame, leaving the past where it is, but appreciating all it has given to my present and future.

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