Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's On My Heart

It has been nearly a month since my last post and no I did not fall off the face of the earth nor did I quit bloggin' though it surely seemed that way. Thanks, Calista for checkin' in on me. It feels good to hear I've been missed.

My days have just been soooooo busy. My beloved hubby who works in the insurance industry had been down South handling Hurricane Ike insurance claims for six loooooonnnnngggg weeks and finally came home Nov 8. And it was about time, lemme tell ya. He's traveled for long periods of time before - the longest, I think, was four months, but this trip just seemed particularly hard. There was a lot to handle during that time - Apollo's many medical mishaps and involved aftercare (all with kids in tow); financial stress; ADHD concerns/testing/evaluations for my son AND myself; work; school commitments and more - and all of it simultaneously, without an extra set of hands to help out - not even family nearby. It was very stressful and more than once toward the end of the six weeks, I was reduced to sobs crying out to God for wisdom, help and strength.

Now, I don't know for sure why God allowed me to go through all of that but I will say that it has opened my eyes to something and because of that, I'm grateful to Him. There are so many women - men too, perhaps, but so many women out there going through similar things...on their own...and their situation will likely not get much easier after six short weeks. For many of them, they don't have a husband who's coming home to them anytime soon. As difficult as it may have felt to me, my husband was still working hard to support me and our family. Single mothers are going it alone and many have been for a long time.

I am blessed to work at a wonderful church that has recently begun to minister to these women and I have been in a position to hear some of their stories. Can I tell you, these women have gripped my heart.

While hubby was away, the light switch in the bathroom died. Had it happened when he was home, he could have and would have fixed it easily and quickly. I, on the otherhand, didn't have a clue of course so I fixed it my way - I took my daughter's desk lamp with the purple shade and put it on the bathroom sink. It didn't fix the switch but at least we had light and the hue from the purple shade added a nice touch of ambiance, in my opinion. Within several days, hubby got a friend of his to come over and fix the switch for us.

What happened to me is a common challenge for the single mom. Maybe a light switch, a jiggly handle on the toilet or a minor computer issue. I know there are plenty of women out there who are very handy but I also believe there are even more who, like me, aren't. Not only do they not have a husband to handle that stuff, many don't even have families living nearby to help them out and their financial resources are sorely limited. Something as easy as raking the leaves is a challenge simply because there's not enough time in the day to do all that needs to be done and they've got to prioritize. They're having to work full time, take care of their kids and run a household all by themselves and that's not even considering the things that you can't plan for that throws a wrench into even the best scheduled person's plans - the death of a parent, the emotional torment of a difficult divorce, your own medical issues, teenage angst, for cryin' out loud.

While hubby was gone, I tried to get out and rake our leaves. The yard was a big mess and I like raking the leaves. Unfortunately, because Apollo has grown very strong (he's about 50lbs now) and still pulls on his leash with all his might, I now have quite a bit of pain in my right shoulder from trying to restrain him. I couldn't rake. My shoulder was killing me. But, like so many others, money's tight right now too so we really didn't want to have to pay someone to do it. Thankfully my neighbor helped us out and did the front and back yards for a reasonable amount until hubby got home.

Something else I've noticed in some single moms, something I can totally relate to; it's very hard to ask for or receive help. Maybe it's women in general but it seems like there's this guilt thing going on or something. During that 4-month stint my husband was away on hurricane duty a couple of years ago, a woman from the church we were going to at the time, came to me and asked if I would like to have meals brought over for me and my kids occassionally. My immediate response was "No, I'm not sick or just out of the hospital or something. I mean, I can cook." She said "I know you can ; what I'm asking is would it make your life a little easier to have a home-cooked meal already prepared for you and the kids with very little clean-up afterward - yes or no?" Well, I jokingly told her "Anytime I don't have to cook makes my life easier." She said "That settles it. Until your hubby gets home, you guys will receive a meal at least once a week." And they did - faithfully. I've never been so humbled.

So why do I share all of this? What's the point?'s on my heart. But also, I believe that God is opening my eyes and when you feel like you're seeing something really big, you want to know if others see it too and if not, you want to make them look. Like I said, these women, their stories, their strengths and their weaknesses have just gripped my heart. And I don't think they're really ones to draw attention to themselves.

The single moms I've known don't go around sharing what's really going on in their hearts and they will rarely ask for help. They will do their best to be strong and capable for themselves and their kids. But in the quiet of the night or maybe just the shower, the very real truth is many are overwhelmed and hurting and few people will ever know the extent of it because these moms feel like there are others far more in need and deserving of assistance than they are. But God hears their cries and He wants to bring healing for their hurts. And as His body, we can be a part of that.

I have to tell you what I've been seeing as my church reaches out to the single moms in our community. There are a group of people who have begun helping these moms with the kind of stuff I wrote about. Stuff around their home or a home-cooked meal in throw-away pans. The reaction? The women are blown away. They've said stuff like they "didn't think the church really cared about them." They've said with tears flowing "This is an answer to prayer!"

Folks, this is huge! From what I'm hearing, this is a group of people who have felt largely overlooked. And we can do something about that! That excites me. I don't know that I'll ever have an opportunity to do any kind of missions work in another country; I may never get to see first-hand God move powerfully in an inner-city. But I can show God's love to the single mom in my neighborhood who's raising three kids while still dealing with the effects of a nasty divorce all while walking along side a loved one through their battle with cancer. I can bring that meal, I can watch her kids, I can pray for her, with her... and I can tell her God loves her because it's true.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40

May you be blessed and give thanks to our very generous God who did not hold back even His own Son so that we might live. Hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!