Friday, May 20, 2016

God's Glory - Part 3

Life is rough. You didn’t ask for this but it was given to you and it was given to you for a reason.

In conclusion, I ask you… What are you doing with what you have been given?

I have a couple thoughts I would like for you to leave with you:
  • What has your response been to what you have been given? 
  • What are you doing with what you have been given? 
I can’t finish my testimony without first going to the Bible. This is where I have found the encouragement to go on.

Let's go back to that list...
  • Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. 
  • Joseph was sold into slavery. 
  • The man that lay by the pool of Bethesda was an invalid for 38 years. 
  • The servant girl was taken from friends and family and so was Daniel 
  • The man in John 9 was blind from his birth. 
  • David lived for years on the run and hid from the enemy who was trying to track him down. 
  • The widow of Zarephaph had nothing and was on the last meal when the prophet found her. 
  • Zebedee was left abandoned in the boat. His sons literally forsook him and the family business to follow this “Jesus”. 
  • David and Bathsheba suffered the death of their baby. 
So how did these people embrace their battles. What were their attitudes?

1. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, one that even seemed to get in the way of his ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12 he tells us that he begged God to take it away three times. However, God replied “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. .” Listen to Paul's response… Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own family. He was lied about by his boss’ wife and eventually thrown into jail. He just kept plugging along. He did what was right, no matter the circumstance and no matter how hard his life became. He became the best slave. He became the best jail-mate and eventually became the best interpreter.

3. The servant girl shared about her “faith” in her God even though she was far away from her home and in a foreign land.

4. In John 9 is found the story of the blind man by the pool. We see this blind man give God the glory without even trying. This uneducated blind man had more wisdom than the Pharisees with all their Scriptural background. He gives testimony:

“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.!” – V. 25 ...If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. He is testifying of Jesus’ work in his life.

5. David and Bathsheba sinned. This is one of those temptations that they brought on themselves and because of their sin they had sad consequences. They were told that they would lose their baby. Even though David was in the wrong, he still loved that little baby and he wept and pleaded for God to save the life of that little one. (2 Samuel 12:15). He mourned. He fasted. He was so distraught that they could not even get him off the floor.

Before I go on with the story, I want to ask you. Have you ever been so desperate that you were laid out on the floor weeping, thinking that you would never see sunlight again, the world was so dark and you just begged God to PLEASE give you a different load. I can remember when I was a teenager, looking into the mirror and asking God for a miracle. just up and heal it. I remember pointing in the mirror and telling Him. “You can fix this!!!”
Ladies, I think most of us have come to a point like this in our life. Where we just couldn’t believe this was happening. When we were laid out on the ground in grief.

Life is simply rough…. But it’s what happened next that we need to learn from David.

Verse 18 tells us that the child died. God said NO to David’s request.

READ 2 Samuel 12: 18-25

David realized that this was life.

God said no and He had to trust God and move on.

It wasn’t that he just got over the baby and forgot that the baby existed. I have to think the memory of that baby always hurt a little bit. I’m sure that Bathsheba lost a part of her heart that day, too. But neither of them gave up on life. They kept living and they kept investing their lives in each other and their family.

David went and comforted Bathsheba and, during that intimate time, she conceived again, which led to Solomon’s birth. They invested in Solomon’s life.

Maybe you are reeling from an event that you brought on yourself. Remember from their lives, even during that rough trial that they brought on themselves, God did not forsake them or abandon them.

He still loved them and when Bathsheba conceived again God actually gave Solomon a different name. The name He gave Solomon was Jedidiah, meaning beloved of (Yah) God.

  • Paul DELIGHTED in trial 
  • Joseph did right no matter what was happening to him 
  • The servant girl shared her faith through her situation 
  • The blind man gave God glory 
  • And David begged and pleaded, but when God said "no", he got back up and invested his life in the ones he had around him.
What did God do with what He gave them? 
  • Paul had an amazing ministry and Go received the glory, not Paul. 
  • Joseph eventually was the tool God used in saving his family from starving. One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is Gen. 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” 
  • The man that lay by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years was HEALED. 
  • The servant girl that was taken from her friends and family helped in healing her master. Note: we never see her life change for the better. Only someone else’ life. 
  • The man in John 9 that was blind was made to see. 
  • The widow who had nothing and was on the last meal was able to provide for her family just because of her trust in God’s man. 
  • Zebedee was the father of two of Jesus’ disciples who had large ministries --God used their lives immensely. 
  • David and Bathsheba eventually had a son named Solomon who built the temple of God. 
I would like to end with this story…

One of my dear friends tried to have a baby with her husband for about 5 or 6 years. She was so angry at God that she strayed from Him, nearly going wild in the world because of it. Eventually the Lord led her back to Him and she realized that God was refocusing her eyes on adoption. My friend and her husband were able to adopt the most precious little girl. My friend thanks God regularly for not giving her the chance to birth a baby because, if she had, she would have never had the opportunity to mother this beautiful little girl.

Let me close with these questions.

What has God given you?

What is your attitude toward what God has given you?

What are you doing with what God has given you?

Have you given up? Are you just getting by? Or are you delighting in God? Is your journey a light to those around you in this dark world?

You never know. Maybe God will use you to save your family. Maybe God will use your situation to help save someone else’ live. Maybe you will be healed but maybe you won’t.

Don’t give up! Cry, plead, beg God… but when He says no, get up and start investing what you have into those around you. You never know what kind of ministry God has for you. Pray today that God will show you. - Rejoicing in the Present

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Story - Part 2

On May 29, 2014 our beautiful princess was born.

I remember the morning she was born. The birth was pretty quick; in fact, it was so quick that my husband had to help deliver the baby. My midwife was only there for about 30 minutes before "T" made her entrance into the world.

It was a comparatively easy birth, but all of a sudden, my midwife said, "Does she have six fingers?"

I was like “Is that even possible?”

When she confirmed it, I was blown away. At first, it was kinda cool, kinda different…

...wait… it was different.

Then the fears that had bound me over all those years came crashing in on me all over again.

I, of course, thought that my baby girl was the most beautiful little girl in the world, but I was so afraid that others would not think that. (Just because she was a little different)

A few months later, as I was battling these issues, I had to teach our yearly girls “retreat” and I decided to teach about inner beauty. The conviction was so strong in my life that I decided to face up to my problem and be real with these teen girls. I knew I would never be able to teach Twila about inner beauty if I didn’t "get it" myself.

I shared the story with the girls and online in a blog post called "I've Got A Secret".

The responses were astronomical. I had women writing me and telling me that they too had dealt with something like this. Many of the girls shared with me that they themselves had something they were embarrassed about.

It was the beginning of a new freedom and new beauty in Christ.

I wish I could end my story there but this little girl had MUCH more to teach me.

The precious little girl, herself, went through a terrible journey as a baby. We knew she would have surgery on her extra fingers and toes but we never saw what else was coming.

In October, at only 5 months old, she ended up in ICU with RSV, after having just fought pneumonia.

Then she got sick again right before her scheduled surgery. However, through answered prayer, she fought it and was able to have the needed surgery.

She wore little boots and bandages for a few weeks and, after a few more visits, we thought we were done with the doctors for a very long time.

But the next April, she ended up in the hospital again with RSV. But this time, she didn’t respond how we expected. At one point she gave up fighting and the machines had to breathe for her.

It was terrifying for a mommy’s heart. My heart still catches when our little "T" starts coughing or gets sick..."What ifs" plague me. It was a hard time but God gave us strength.

Also, during that time, the Lord gave me a heart for mommies. Mommies whose lives were not what they imagined they would be. Mommies who had sick babies. Mommies who lost their babies. Mommies of all kinds, with burdens seemingly too heavy to carry.

It gave me an awareness of how to help mommies in these situations and I even wrote about it: How To Show You Care and "Help"ful Suggestions.

Over and over again, I have seen God's fingerprints ALL OVER MY LIFE, directing me to help someone else because of what I have gone through.

"Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." - Hebrews 5:2

It's a beautiful thing to know that our Savior KNOWS our pain. He has felt it. There is just something about a friend who understands what you are going through.

I truly believe that we are given what we are given so that we can help others.

God really grew me through the trials He gave me. He gave me a heart for those who are hurting. He gave me a special compassion for those with medical issues and a huge heart especially for moms. I truly believe my desire to minister to woman came from what I have been through. It has molded me and made me into a completely different woman then I would have been if I had never gone through them.

Tomorrow, I want to finish up by taking you back to those amazing Bible characters. - Stay tuned! - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Story - Part 1

You have a story.  I have a story.  In that story is included every battle we have fought or are fighting.

If I were to sit with each of you, you probably could tell me of something that makes your heart hurt even just thinking of it.

I know women whose hearts are hurting because they have been hurt by someone, someone who, in the past, TOOK from them.  

I know women who have babies in heaven …some who have children away from the Lord.  

I know women who have been slandered by their closest friends and other women whose medical battles just seem too hard to bear.

Life is rough. You didn’t ask for this, but it was given to you and it was given to you for a reason.

The Bible is full of men and women who were given a journey they never asked for.
  1.   Paul was given a thorn in the flesh
  2.  Joseph was sold into slavery.
  3.  The man that lay by the pool of Bethesda was an invalid for 38 years.
  4. The servant girl was taken from friends and family and so was Daniel.
  5. The man in John 9 was blind from his birth.
  6. David lived for years on the run and hid from the enemy who was trying to track him down.
  7. The widow of Zarephaph had nothing and was on the last meal when the prophet found her.
  8.  Zebedee was left abandoned in the boat. His sons literally forsook him and the family business to follow this “Jesus”.
  9. David and Bathsheba suffered the death of their newborn baby. 
Life is full of battles, and each of us has a story to tell.  

Today, I have the opportunity to tell mine.

I was 10 years old.  My parents knew I was having some academic issues in school so they take me out of Christian school and began to home-school me.  They decided to have me tested by an educational specialist in Greenville, SC.  One of the requirements to see him was to get a physical exam.  While I was at the doctor for this physical, we found out that I had scoliosis....but at that time it was only serious enough to keep an eye on it. 

However, at my followup visit six months later, it became obvious how bad it really was. It was the start of my first real battle.  At 10 years old, they found scoliosis, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities, I got braces and I was pulled out of private school to be home-schooled. It was a pretty traumatic transition even though I didn’t really feel it at first. I was excited to be home-schooled.  I thought braces were cool (for the first week) and I got a little extra attention due to my physical issues.  BUT, it wasn’t very long before I really started feeling the pain of it all.

To top off it all off, I lost nearly every one of my friends that summer before my 5th grade year.  Homeschooling wasn’t “cool” where we lived and thus my friends deserted me.  I remember a girl coming up to me at church with an invitation to her birthday party. She told me that her parents were forcing her to invite me, but she really didn’t want me there.

It was just the beginning of a journey, a very hard one, physically, and emotionally.

During my teen years, I went through 4 major spine surgeries.  I had one at 14, 15, 17, & 18. And none of the surgeries were easy. While recovering from my very first surgery in PICU, they accidentally overdosed me with morphine and I ended up having a collapsed lung and temporary amnesia.

While struggling through my health issues, I created a new problem.

Now, before I go on, I need to remind you that there are two different types of trials. 

There are trials that are given to us to test us and mold us

… and then there are trials that we bring on ourselves.

James chapter 1 does a great job of pointing out the two different kinds. Hopefully these diagrams will help me explain:

V. 2-4
V. 14-16

Peirasmos – meaning a putting to proof
Peirazomai – meaning tempted

God does this
Your lust and flesh does this

Brings Patience
Brings forth sin

Makes you a better Christ follower
Draws you away from God

Brings Life into your Walk
Brings Death – Not just physical but spiritual

So IN MY CASE… I gave in to a temptation. The monster I created was a beauty battle.  

I was horribly embarrassed by the scars and the rib hump I had. (Because of scoliosis and kyphosis, my ribs twisted sideways and they stick out on the right side.) Also my scars were very ugly. It looked like someone attacked me and just carved into my neck and back.

When I first realized that I was different and “ugly”, I had short hair so I would wear a coat to cover it. In the heat of summer, I was wearing this large winter jacket. It was crazy …but finally I grew out my hair as a covering.  Then I let my hair bind me and would never put it up for any reason.  I was always on the alert that my hair must cover my backWhen I would go to hug someone, it was always an awkward embrace because I was so worried that someone would actually feel the way my back was.  I was convicted of my obsession with this over the years but it took a beautiful little spicy angel to help free me. 

After I graduated from high school and headed off to college, I didn’t have to have any more surgeries but I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia which is something I continue to battle. 

Then on the night I graduated from college I was involved in a pretty rough car accident and some muscles in my neck were damaged.  Thus my physical issues continued to follow me.

Praise the Lord, He gave me a godly husband who embraced me with all of my issues. We were married in May of 2010 and two years later to the week, he gave us a baby boy.  Then another two years later to the same week, he gave us this beautiful princess.

Come back tomorrow to hear the rest of my story and how my little princess impacted my beauty battle.  - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


SAHM, this is what I write in the blank on my application under the employment section.

For some this might be confusing. What is a SAHM??? 

For other stay at home moms, it means what they do every day.

For me, it means something really special. 

It means that I am the one who gets to teach my kids their ABCs and numbers and when they have that AHAAAA moment, I am there to see and rejoice with them. It means when my son shouts down the stairs, "MOM, today is Monday, yesterday was Sunday, and tomorrow is Tuesday, I realize that he is listening and learning and I have a HUGE part in that. 

It means that I get to enjoy extra cuddle time before they go to sleep. It means that my daughter is going to wrap her chubby little arms around my neck and hold on for all it's worth because she doesn't want to go to sleep and will rest in my arms as long as I will hold her. It means I get all the cuddles and hugs I could ever possibly want. 

It means I get to sit on the edge of the splash pool and watch them run around through the water with huge smiles, enjoying the time of their life. 

It means that I get to teach them to pray and get the blessing of hearing THEM pray. It means that when a fire truck drives by, I get to hear my son call out to God for protection over those fireman without me even telling him to. 

It means that I get to teach my children to love each other and to work together as a team. It means I get to love them and discipline them and raise them as part of our next generation. It means I get to teach my son what it means to be a MAN and I get the opportunity to teach my daughter to be a young lady and someone's future wife.

It means I get to sit and read them book after book after book. It means that my son is going to go get the blanket and we are going to cuddle up under it with one child on each side and we are going to read books and sing songs and read more books. 

It means on my sick days we are going to get more cuddles and books, and on my healthy days we are going to go on adventures. 

It also means that my husband is going to work hard to support us so that we have this opportunity every day, day after day. It means that he is going to miss out on our adventures and our cuddles and fun.  But he is willing so that we can have this special time. 

It means that we are so very blessed. It means I am a SAHM! - Rejoicing in the Present

P.S. Leave a comment. What makes your heart happy about being a SAHM????

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Mom 2016

I got to share my story this weekend to the sweet ladies at Oak Ridge Baptist Church.

What an opportunity!

As I sit here and think about what I talked about, I can't imagine that story without another character

As I think about my journey, every bit of it includes a very dear woman. She has been my teacher, my nurse, my best friend, my confidant, and mostly my mom. 

I have called her crying, yelling, laughing and shaking. We talk nearly everyday and sometimes a few times a day. 

I will call her and say, "Mom can you please pray for this?" and she will reply "I have been."

She is such an amazing woman and even though she has a very different personality, I believe that she has inspired me to be me. 

I can't say enough about this incredible woman. I just pray and hope that I become at least half the mom she is to me. I love you mom!!!!!!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Beautifully and Sincerely, Your Friend

To finish our series, I asked Rosemarie to write a letter to the "friends" of women struggling with Mother's Day. She originally wrote this letter to friends of moms that have special-needs children. But this letter is SO applicable for ALL situations, I decided to end with it. Don't forget to check out her blog: Raylens Journey -  Rejoice in the Present

Dear Moms,

"Rejoicing" has asked me to write this letter as a follow up for those of you out there that may know some mother who has a child with a disability or special needs but who are not necessarily dealing with the same thing yourself. 

How can you be an encouragement, a blessing, a prayer warrior, a friend, a shoulder? So many moms have come to my side through the process of caring for my son, and with each one I have learned what I can and cannot handle and what I do and do not need them to say and do. We have all come through a learning experience together, so I’d like to share just a few things I’ve learned along my journey and hope they are a blessing and a help to you in yours.

1. Listen, but then learn to communicate past “what’s wrong”: Let me explain. Every day we can get into a rut of explaining our child’s condition to the world and it becomes almost a mundane but necessary chore (kinda like doing the dishes or folding laundry). Whether it is at the doctor’s office, the insurance company, the in-laws, the neighbor, or the inquisitive old lady at the grocery store, we are ALWAYS talking about “what’s wrong” with our child and never moving past that. Guaranteed, if you have a friend with a child in this way, she is going through some sort of yoga exercise for her aching jaw. 

 Being a friend sometimes means, a change of subject. Listen to her, let her vent, but then help her remember, she has a life full of things to talk about outside of “what’s wrong”. Don’t scold or nag, just inspire her! Trust me, she may not understand what you’re doing, but she will thank you!

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

2. Her acceptance of her child’s condition is not a lack of faith or desire to see her child healed! Oh ladies! One of the greatest stretches of your faith is to see your child going through something you cannot take away and put them fully in the hands of your Almighty Father and trust He knows what He’s doing. There is no small leap in this journey of continual surrender. But in this daily struggle, we find our peace and rest in acceptance. 

 Do you have a child that struggles in school, has extremely curly hair or freckles, is shy or too outspoken? Would you change any of this for them? Certainly not, because it is part of what makes them fearfully and wonderfully made. So it goes with our little ones. I am asked almost daily, “Will it go away? Will it get any better? Can he outgrow his skin condition?” All of which I answer ‘no’, but a resounding 90% of the time I am met with the very well-intentioned answer of “Well, God can do anything! Don’t you think He can’t heal your son!” 

 No sweeter answer can we receive than a resounding, “God is always perfect in all His ways and has a plan for all He does and allows. I will pray God continues to give you grace and peace for everyday, no matter where His journey leads you!”

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13

3. Do not let your fear or lack of understanding keep you away. Life should go on in the same fashion as it did before baby arrived or their child was diagnosed. Of course if you are sick there will be those days you keep your distance, but she needs you now more than she ever did before and she needs to know nothing has changed. 

 When a child is born with or becomes disabled, the world of “normal” shifts to an alternate one for everyone involved. Routines change, sometimes jobs and positions change, knowledge and understanding certainly changes and time management looks like a daily planner on steroids. Constants mean the world to us. When everything else has taken on a massive change, knowing she has a friend who will come to the rescue, favorite drink in hand, and just be there, you have just made her day! 

Sure, the diagnosis could be a little frightening, you’re not sure what is appropriate to say or do and you are afraid your face will give your state of “shock” away, but trust me, she will clue you in, and soon, you won’t even notice it anymore.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. - Proverbs 27:17

There are so many other things I could say, but these take the cake on my importance list. You all make amazing prayer warriors and confidence boosters! No matter what your mommy friend is facing, the best thing she could possibly have is YOU! So don’t be afraid, ladies! Step up to the plate and swing with all you’ve got!

Beautifully and Sincerely Yours,

Rosemarie Bullington

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Letter to the Mom of a Special-Needs Child

I am excited to introduce to you, Rosemarie. She is the mother of two adorable little boys and the wife of a man who defends our country. The Lord has led her on a beautiful journey which you can read about by clicking this link -> Raylens Journey. I know you are going to enjoy her letter. If you know someone who has a special needs child, please pass this on. - Rejoicing in the Present

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6

Living in the mommy world means lots of things to lots of people, but being a mommy to a child with disabilities brings a whole new dimension to that already difficult-to-define word. Moms of all kinds are my heroes! The daily grind of all involved, the hats we wear, the kisses we give, the emotional roller coasters we ride, the prayers we pray. There really is nothing in the world like a mother! But then, I entered the world of disabilities and coupled it with motherhood and it became my "beautiful disaster"!

You add doctor visits, unknown diagnosis, education, confusion, letdown, long nights, horror stories, questions, the inevitable grieving stages, extra bags to hold the extra needs, renovations, and everything else in between that comes with the disability you're facing with your little one, and your world just got a whole lot more confusing and busy.

You become a textbook of information, your best friend wears scrubs (aka, the doctors), and everyone you talk to seems to only add to the burden no matter how great their intentions. Some days are better than others, but everyday brings the same answer…"No Cure".

So, what do you do? How do you keep moving forward? Where is your strength when you’re depleted emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually…? Can I share my secret with you?

I've prayed long and hard for God to show me the direction in which to write this letter, to you all, the hidden heroes, mommies to children with disabilities. I am humbled by the enormous blessing to address each of you, no matter where in life you are, and encourage you with something God has laid on my heart:

When it's dark, when you can't understand, when you're overwhelmed, when there is no end in sight, when no further answers exist...God is a good Father! Every plan, every day, every moment, every thought, He is near, planning, preparing, listening, going before you. Trust His character. He never changes, He never forgets, He never leaves. He is good, loving, faithful, in CONTROL!

We are moms, we cling to clichés, don't we? :) Trusting God can become a cliché sometimes. Almost as much as "live in the moment" or "this too shall pass". But God is anything but a cliché. He planned from the beginning of time to place you right where you are. He had a perfect reason for it. Is it stretching your faith? Is it strengthening your resolve? Is it enlarging your prayer life? Is it filling your cup? If it isn't, let God have His perfect way in your life. Don't lean on your own understanding, lean on His everlasting arms. Don't try to walk without Him, let Him hold your hand.

Remember, He is a good Father! Nothing will He give you that you cannot handle WITH HIM, His grace is sufficient! (2 Corinthians 12: 7-11)

Soak in every moment. Learn to recognize His presence. No memory is too small to mentally record. Take pictures. Pray. Read. NOTICE!

One of the greatest blessings I have received out of my son's disability is the ability to NOTICE. I notice others more, I recognize beauty faster, I breath in differences daily. Let your situation and circumstances mold you and change you. Let the joy in the journey God has blessed you with transform the already amazing woman you are into a true masterpiece of love. There is a work only God can do in our lives as we live everyday caring for our children, but there is a work of art to be made out of a surrendered mother, caring for her special-needs child.

I love you all and will be praying for each of you as you read this, that a spark of that which God has used to ignite my heart would catch on all of you as you continue, adventure to adventure along this wonderfully, amazing journey!

Beautifully and Sincerely Yours,

Rosemarie Bullington

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Letter to the Mama Raising her Children Alone

There are so many single moms in this day and time who are torn between their jobs, which are not optional, and their children. It's a hard road to walk especially, without additional support. Nancy is going to share with you her journey and the accomplishments that God enabled her to do in her life through that journey. I hope her message reminds you that God sees you, loves you and has a plan for you. - 
Rejoicing in the Present

Most of us don't have a choice when it comes to being a single mom.

Being a single mother is at the same time rewarding and challenging. Whether you have struggled through the pain of divorce, as I have, suffered, a loss through death, or chose life and your child was born out of wedlock, our Lord remains faithful to you. 

Some married women are, in effect, single mothers for periods of time, like my daughter whose husband was deployed around the world, sometimes at war and out of touch for 6 months at a time. Many have husbands who are long-haul truckers or doctors working 12 to 18 hours a day. Unfortunately, some husbands are shiftless, some may have long-term chronic illness....Additionally, many of these women have no consistent support from members of their extended family.

Just last year in our Sunday School class's study of Genesis, we all became (re)acquainted with the Bible's first single mom. Through no fault of her own, Hagar, the Egyptian slave who become handmaiden to Sarah, gave birth to Abraham's son Ishmael. (Gen 21:9-14). All too soon, Sarah, having given birth to her own long-awaited son, insisted Hagar and Ishmael be cast out, leaving them wandering alone in the desert Beersheba, with only a limited amount of water and some bread. But even then, God showed Himself to be "Father to the fatherless" (Ps 68:5). In Gen 21:18 God told Hagar,"Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand for I will make him a great nation."

When I was a single mom, our Father God was with me always, even when I was too busy or stressed to notice. 

When I needed a car He sent a Christian co-worker, affectionately called Uncle Roy by all who knew him, who offered to let me make payments on a car he was selling. 

When my fridge died, my boss sent a handyman to repair it and donated $50.00 to replace the lost food. 

When 2 jobs weren't enough the Lord gave me a third job; I was able to take dinner home from the restaurant so I didn't have to cook when I was dead on my feet after a grueling day. 

I can remember, during the late 70's odd/even minimum $5.00 gas pump days, pulling up to the pump with 50 pennies and asking "could I have enough gas to get to work?" But God provided. 

Years later, even when my child's father refused insurance coverage for her surgery, I was able to pay the bill.
Do you remember the meaning of Ishmael's name? It means "God hears". It was Ishmael who cried out, but the angel of the Lord asked Ishmael's mother, "what ails you, Hagar?" (Gen 21:17) When my son struggled as a teenager he called for help and God helped me be there for him.
When I became a domestic violence and rape crisis volunteer, and later a board member, I was able to teach my children that they could be anything they wanted to be and do anything they wanted to do, if the Lord willed. This was especially true for my daughter. I took her to rallies and Supreme Court hearings....she did homework as I wrote for the agency newsletter which went to women in prison. In turn I watched her become a fine young woman any mother would be proud of--

I cried for days when she left for Navy boot camp. But the Lord calmed my fears as He calmed Hagar's. My child became a nurse, a cryptologic administrator, went to college while working for the Navy for 20 years. She gave back to her community even as a single mom to her young first child whenever her husband was deployed away from home. She was a fine Christian warrior and even wore a birka during her tenure in the Middle East- so hopefully, your daughter and our grand-daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers and aunts may never have to.

As God opened Hagar's eyes and provided water that Hagar had not seen in Genesis 21:19, God provided for me even when I did not see. 

I could raise up my children, as Hagar lifted up hers. ...and I did. 

I am happy to say that both of my children grew up to be happily married with wonderful children of their own. Despite all, my daughter retired after 20 years in the Navy and God blessed her and her husband with 2 more boys. My son has 2 children and, like his mom, is creative, working in construction and breeding boxers and coaching school sports.

As the Lord's prayer tells us in Matthew 5: 6-13, God is OUR FATHER- mine AND yours. I know now, as I am officially a senior citizen, that life would have been so much easier had I kept my eyes open knowing that He would "never leave me or forsake" me, instead of wearing blinders and forging stubbornly ahead on my own. The truth I see now is that I was never alone. All 3 of us had "Our Father". I should have trusted Him more to be a "Father to the fatherless" (Psalm 68:5). As Hagar grew into a strong woman, so did God enable me. Happy Mother's Day! - Nancy Marino