Table for One

Table for One | by Sonya Finley

I have been single for over 23 years – say what now?! And oh, the stories I could tell – but that, my dear reader, is the subject for another blog.

There are a variety of issues we face every day as single women in the church – raising children alone, managing finances, navigating car repairs, being labeled, ostracized, or even left out.  These issues often have nothing to do with a desire for companionship and/or a physical relationship. However, while there is so much more to living “la vida” single, singles ministries often fall short of providing necessary and practical tools for successful living. Instead we often find that ministries focus on marriage preparation and empowering us with the ability to “just say no” (if you know what I mean). Because of this we often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and ungrateful in our singleness. Subsequently, quite a few of us will spin our wheels, jump through hoops, or “hide ourselves in the Lawd” to find that Godly man that He has prepared just for us.

Single_Ladies_(TV_series)_title_cardBut ladies, what about in the meantime – the time between the hoop jumping and the actual fulfillment of God’s promise to you? How will you approach this stage in which you find yourself?  Don’t have a clue? Do not worry! I offer you ten practical things you can do to live a gratifying life while you just happen to be single (after 23 years, I should, right?).

  1. Accept your situation. You’re single. You are not married. You may not get married in the near future, and there is the possibility you may not get married at all. This may not be the life you dreamt of, but it is the life you have been blessed with. And what a blessing it is – if you pay attention. Tough love coming at you: Spending an excessive amount of time reflecting on past relationships or visualizing your future husband is a subtle form of denial, and an outright refusal to deal with where you are right now. You are single. Deal with it. Press into it. You will find you are right where you need to be.
  2. Be honest about your feelings. Of course, if you are not yet content being single, say that. I give you permission. If you are harboring bitterness or anger because of your situation, admit to it. This is important. We cannot be healed and cannot align ourselves to our situation if we don’t truly admit where we are. If you are not feeling the single life, that’s okay – just don’t stay there. Admit your need and allow God to move on your behalf. Admission brings about the changes needed to walk in freedom.INB-table-plate-FPO
  3. Let go of the fear of being alone. I don’t need to remind you that the Bible speaks against fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is a dangerous thing. Fear will make you allow anything into your life just to have a man. Women with fear stay in bad relationships because “a bad man is better than no man and doing it alone.”  Fear will keep you from realizing what God has in store for you. Trust God’s plan in your life, even if that means being by yourself for a time. You will be okay.
  4. Get a social life – one that does not revolve around service to the church. Yeah, that is what I said. Be honest. Do you have something to do or people to hang out with when nothing has been planned by your local church? No? Well, you should. How many times have you sat at home alone and lonely because nothing was going on at church. Get out and have some fun, gurl! Call a friend from work and go hang out. No friends? Take a Latin dance class or join a Meet-Up group with people of like interests. Fill your life with laughter, fun and friends, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel being single.4
  5. Do not fall for the “Okey Doke”. You are single, and to some, that may be a negative – a shortcoming of sorts. Without meaning to, folks will define you by their negative (or pity filled) reaction to your lack of or desire for a companion, and you may find yourself falling into agreement with their assessment (the Sunken Place). Do not accept the negative labels. Do not be defined by your situation. That is not who you are. Singleness is just your current state, and gurl, it is by no means cause for pity.
  6. Take care of you. Do I really need to spell this out? Do for yourself. Make time for you. And don’t give me excuses about having kids – I raised four, with a job – sometimes two! Although I learned the hard way, I did learn the importance of making time to do for me. I used to take what I called “artist dates” and my sons were trained to understand and respect mommy’s time. That time spent doing something just for me made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-centered. It empowered me to be the best version of myself and to find beauty and appreciate the life I had.
  7. Stop waiting! Yeah, you over there waiting to start living for when you finally get a man and finally get married. Don’t! Get a move on it. What are you waiting on? And please do not recite the scripture about “waiting on the Lord”. I am pretty sure you sitting around letting life pass you by is not what God had in mind when He inspired that scripture. NOW is the time to do something – anything – that keeps you actively involved in your life.note-to-self-you-gotta-do-this-for-you-this-16404756
  8. Always look your best – from the inside out. (The Fashionista’s words to live by!) Getting your attitude in line will give you a beautiful glow that moves past all the surface stuff. This does not mean you should neglect your outer appearance. Be fierce! Not for the men you think it will attract, but for your own self confidence.
  9. Get your finances together – Now! Don’t wait for a man to come along and rescue you from your debt. Make steps today to get financially secure.
  10. “To thine ownself be true.”  Honor yourself. Do not allow yourself to be belittled or dismissed because you are single. Know what God says about you and walk in that.

No worries, gurl. You got this.

 


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Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

Mom, You’re a Heifer!

Profound Motherhood | By Denise McAndrews

I don’t know if this ever happens to you: you have a profound thought but it’s not convenient to write it down and later you only remember that you had an amazing epiphany but not the details. This happened to me one morning last spring.

Several days later, I asked God to help me remember the understanding He had given me. (The older I get, the more I rely on John 14:26; God’s promise to remind me). While I was asking God to help me remember, I grabbed some cheese from my lunch box and there, written on the package, was a note from God saying:

“All cows are moms! Before they have a calf, they are called heifers.”

I just about jumped out of my seat! I wonder, since God owns all the cattle on the hills, was He there (in the corner, kind of snickering) when the package was printed? Clearly, He planned to put it in my hands.

Now that might not sound like much to you. But, in one sentence, that package encapsulated what God had downloaded into my heart about Mothers days prior. In fact, I was so excited about the phrase, and so touched by God’s reminder, I told almost everyone I met that week! And, that’s when I was asked to write something for this blog.

Now, I feel I need to qualify what I am about to say or at least brace you for something that may either require evidence or be overly simplistic. Take it as you may. But, don’t take it until you pray. God may show you something amazing and simple even if He has to write it on a package of cheese for you.

What’s in a Name?

When you became a mother, you were given a new name; you were given the name, “Mom.” This is Mom with a capital “M.” And, like in marriage or when you became a Christian, a new name implies a new identity. Your name and personal identity go hand-in-hand. And, once you became a mother, at least one person was destined to call you “Mom.” (Yes, I am using the cow analogy. You love the cheese-package story now, right?)

There are important distinctions about names that sometimes get muddled up with the roles we play. “Mom” as a name, is not an additional role like sister, student, employee, child, or even wife. The difference between roles of a mom and the name Mom are easily misconstrued because many people perform the roles of a mom. In fact, you can be Mom and “a mom” to someone. It is when there is no Mom, that the role of mom is so valuable.

To embrace Mom as an identity means to realize that mom-ness permeates your every fiber. To fulfill the role of mom implies a portion of your life or time or effort. Roles may be temporary. Mom is not. Becoming Mom changes you.

Not only does the word “Mom” identify who you are but it has the power to define what a mother is to your child. Since you are Mom to your child, you are your child’s definition of a mom. It is something like a math equation: to your child, you are Mom (You = Mom). Therefore, Mom equals You to your child. Make no mistake, to your child, you are “Mom.” It is who you are from the moment you became Mom. And, you are always Mom to your child even apart from age and life.

Many times, young mothers (and older ones too) struggle with identity issues. To be Mom, the things you used to do with your time and money are often exchanged for other things because you are Mom. (Not to mention your body no longer looks or feels like it’s yours.) Becoming Mom doesn’t mean you are required to give up all other identities. Yet, there are times when the new identity can feel like an unfair trade and even a sacrifice. This part doesn’t last forever.

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Denise with Tom, her hubby (and love since Middle School), and their dog Lili

Whenever God calls for a sacrifice, the return from Him is always far greater. Our best example of this is God’s love for the world that is so great that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life. The return for this is incomprehensible. And, while I can’t say the sacrifices you make to be Mom feel like that type of a return, the return can be amazing!

When my children were young, I thought about the sacrifices I made to be Mom. Now that my children are older, and have children of their own, I can’t picture myself not being their Mom. There is no sacrifice too great compared to the gain I received in exchange for being Mom.

Your identity as Mom has the powerful potential to envelop you and wrap itself into the fabric of your very being. It is significant, impactful, and lasting. Without embracing it as an identity, you will miss the very blessing God intended it to be.

Here’s a bit of trivia: The moons of other planets have names other than “moon.” But, the name of the moon that orbits the Earth is “Moon.” (Now we have a cow and a moon story! I see a theme here.)

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Denise with her best friend of 30 years, Mary Fletcher

It’s clear that this issue of identity is mysterious and that sometimes, it doesn’t manifest as deep, sacrificial love. Selfish desires or seeking to protect ourselves from rejection cause us to avoid love. But, only love protects. To get a Mother’s (or Father’s) heart, we must move towards love or at least lean into it until we can shift our weight completely so that we are standing firmly, secure in our decision to love no matter what. This is what God desires of us.

So often we don’t love deeply because we don’t know we are loved deeply by God. We need to ask God to help us know and remember His love for us. In that, we can overcome hurt and be free to love others and not count the sacrifice as a cost greater than the returns.


Denise is a mom, a Grammy (and a Mimi). She is a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a co-worker, and a lover of Jesus Christ. Little fun fact (posted by her daughter Bethany) Denise was co-founder of the original Classical Academy (yes, THE Classical Academy). She homeschooled her three children and loves educating.

 

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Denise with her own Mother

 

My Messy Life – I Wrote My Own Eulogy

My Messy Life – I Wrote My Own Eulogy | By Jamie Humphrey

I received an email from one of our close friends:

Jamie, Eli – I wanted to share this with you.  One of the group exercises yesterday for these 9 entrepreneurs (whom we are getting to know each other very well) was to write your own obituary or eulogy. We only had 8 minutes. So off the cuff, from the heart, etc.

 Not one person (all whom are in the grind of business growth and have the appearance of wild success) wrote about their business. Or long days at the office. Or winning that big deal.

 Faith. Legacy. Impact. Others. Perspective! What matters!  A reflection and exercise that has left a strong impression on me; likely to lead to some corrective measures.

 I appreciate you guys! Much love.

 

I thought I would try this exercise. I took about 15 minutes and went to work writing my own eulogy. Here is the result:

Jamie Beth Humphrey. Born on April 17th, 1981 which happened to be Good Friday that year. Her dad told her growing up that her hand entered the world first. She couldn’t wait to wave to everyone. It wasn’t enough for Jamie that her eyes would see everyone. She wanted them to know she saw them. Her childhood was simple and uncomplicated. Quiet, shy and sweet she had no problem playing for hours with baby dolls and her play tea set. She did not require much attention yet her blue eyes didn’t miss much including the emotions and moods of people around her. They say the quiet ones are the most observant. Jamie learned to read people and feel empathy for them. This helped her to connect quickly with anyone she came in contact with.

Quirky, funny and highly emotional Jamie felt every emotion there is to feel…daily. She lived her life in 2 settings: passionate and asleep. If she had a lack of sleep life became overwhelming. Sleep was the respite her soul needed to stop feeling all the emotions of the world around her.

Jamie loved her God with her whole heart. The realness of her relationship with God and his son Jesus was at the center of who she was. Religion was of no interest to Jamie. The rituals and requirements of modern Christianity did nothing for her passion. A communion with a sovereign God who was the creator of all was her desire. Her God defined love.

14370245_10154182734987655_2442852081781507332_nJamie loved one man, Eli. Meeting him was the beginning and the end. All at once her heart was awakened, stolen and completed forever. Her love for Eli was fierce and filled with fiery emotion and passion. If they weren’t loving they were fighting. The intensity of their passion never waned. She loved once. She loved with her mind, body and spirit. Her soul mate was Eli.

Jamie mothered Serenity Grace and Justice Michael. Serenity changed Jamie’s life for good and for certain. Nothing prepared her for motherhood. It was overwhelming and unbearable at times. For someone who felt every emotion and lived life so awake she 10399545_66467843176_5945_nwas caught off guard at the magnitude of what it meant to be a mom. This angel baby in her perfection was handed to a mere human who hadn’t the slightest clue how to even diaper the baby. Eli gave Jamie the most profound mothering advice she ever received. He told her one day as she cried hot floods of post partum tears, “Just smile at her, Jamie. You want her to remember your face with a smile on it…” so she smiled. She failed and she succeeded as a mom but the important thing is she tried. Her kids will never say she was a perfect mom. She had flaws and insecurities but they will say without hesitation that she loved them with her whole heart. Justice came when Jamie needed him most. On the day of Luke’s funeral, who was Jamie’s brother, She learned she was expecting a baby. When Jamie heard it was a boy her tears streamed down her face with equal fear and relief. Justice brought a joy and reassured the entire family’s hearts that it is always better to love even if the love is lost.

Jamie could list the many people that influenced her life. Her friends were loyal. Her friends were plenty. Jamie’s definition of a friend is someone she knew and shared a 14589710_1089051754544281_8155046629113959811_omutual bond of affection with. She didn’t hold any relationships too tight with demands and expectations on people’s time or attention. Life has a way of switching directions and paths cross for a reason. Jamie valued the people in her life and allowed for her time spent to ebb and flow with the seasons. That being said her friends weren’t replaceable. There are sayings like, “whether it is for forever or a season God brings people into your life for a reason…” She treated relationships as part of God’s plan for her life. Relationships were her daily motivation and drive.

Now with Jamie’s life on earth completed there are not lists of accomplishments that will reach Wikipedia. You won’t see her picture or read about her life in history books. But to those who knew her they will remember that they were seen.

17990543_10154551125623177_8776287840360486254_oShe lived, she laughed, she loved and she left.

Now it is your turn. Write your eulogy. It can refocus your attention on what really matters and what you want to be remembered for. A lot of this life is just noise. Let us all look with hope to eternity.


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Jamie Humphrey aka “Messy Bessy” is a recovering perfectionist that is learning to let go of the temporary. Purpose is more important than perfection. And messes are temporary. *Repeat 10 Times*

Homeschool – Back to School

“Back to School” Being a Homeschool Mom | By Christina Lopez

When you hear “back to school” you may associate it with funny pictures of moms posing gleefully in front of their kids who are wearing their new school outfits and tired faces, but “back to school” is different for me. I am a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher. I don’t get the “Yes!” Feeling of relief knowing that my kids will be out of the house Monday – Friday and I get some much needed “me time”. School is everyday for me and “back to school” only means back to a more formatted schedule. (Although, I do admit, we do still partake in the fun of “back to school” shopping.) That feeling of relief that most moms experience at the beginning of every school year only comes at the end of mine, with “Yes!” We made it though another year, and “Yes!” I know that my kids are graduating grade levels. And let’s be honest I am definitely not one of those mom’s that just gives an A+ on every assignment to make life easier. My kids have to earn their grades and I definitely make them live up to their potential, so making it to the end of the year is sometimes a struggle in itself.

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While my kids do have a unique educational structure I certainly can’t take credit for it. They are enrolled in a public charter school called The Classical Academies where teachers format lessons to fit the learning style of each of my kids. My daughter, Rebekah, is an independent learner and takes online high school classes. She only goes to school once every four weeks to meet with her teachers and the rest of the time her progress is being monitored online. It is up to me to make sure she’s understanding the material and completing her assignments on time. This is great for a teenager because she loves being able to work at her own pace and even has the opportunity to get ahead in class so she has more time to spend with family and friends. My son, Nathan, only goes to school two days out of the week as he enjoys being more social and loves group activities and teamwork. The other three days he’s home with me as his teacher to make sure he is learning and comprehending his lessons. Although a little atypical, they  do have the same core classes like any school (math, science, history), and have to meet the same state requirements, but there’s obviously a lot more focus catered to their specific needs. What’s great as well is the electives offered to them are far more extensive than what you’d find at a traditional school. My son, as a sixth grader, loves to take computer programming as an elective and has for three years! Some might say they have a “different” school life, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but it fits for our family and I love being such a big part of their continued growth.

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I chose this path for my kids to be more involved in what is being instilled in their lives as I want it to be God centered, and I truly feel like I’ve found the best of both worlds. The Classical Academies has a strong community across their multiple campuses. The teachers are always there to lend a helping hand and you always have support and encouragement from other parents, especially when faced with struggles of homeschooling because, let’s face it, as much as I love it, it can be very hard! The school does a wonderful job of keeping a balance between public school life and homeschool life and they off an array of extracurricular activities for the kids to participate in. Both of my kids have been involved in school through ASB, Musical Theater, Yearbook, and Karate among others. Some of my favorite memories are our family prayers in the car as I’m taking them to school or dropping them off at school functions. We are a huge family of prayer and always pray on the way to our outings. More often than not our prayers are centered around living in God’s light. I want my kids to know how beautiful God’s love is so that they can spread it to others.

One of my favorite parts about homeschooling is the flexibility! We love to travel and Unknowncantake our lessons with us anywhere. What is normally the kitchen counter spread with laptops and workbooks, or in my daughter’s case, the comfort of her room, turns into airplanes, trains and automobiles. Our world has so much to offer and there are many life lessons and opportunities that our kids get to experience early on.

Rebekah loves to bake and one of our favorite traditions is to stop in at local bakeries wherever we’re traveling to taste their special desserts and pastries. Nathan, on the Unknown-1other hand, loves archaeology and we were able to visit Seattle to see the traveling King Tut Exhibit when it passed through. (I love being able to pour into my children by investing in each of their interests.) Our favorite trip thus far, and I think we’d all agree, was our Disney Cruise to the Mexican Riviera. My husband, Mike, and I especially enjoyed it because the kids were able to see first-hand the culture of our ancestors. We loved that the kids were able to experience the language and got to enjoy traditional Mexican dishes among locals. Kids aside all of this amazing flexibility also allows Mike and I to grow closer and take vacations without them. It’s wonderful knowing we don’t have to feel guilty about having to pull our kids out of school because we can always leave them with a relative. This allows Mike and I to take time for ourselves. The freedom we have with homeschooling has brought our family closer together and we are able to enjoy life a little bit more.

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I feel so blessed to be able to spend so much quality time with my family because I know not everyone can. My hope is that I was able to shed some light on what “back to school” as a homeschool mom means to me, as well as many other moms in our TFH family. Although my experience is unique to me, I hope to encourage you to find out each of your children’s learning style, and explore places that cater to their interests. Nothing is better than being able to see your child’s light shine in an area that they enjoy. Our beautiful city has so much life to offer and it’s always better when experienced with close friends and family.


FullSizeRenderChristina Lopez and her husband, Mike, have been married for 18 years and have two children together, Rebekah, 15 and Nathan, 11. Christina is a stay-at-home mom and has homeschooled her children though The Classical Academies for eight years. As a family they enjoy traveling to places old and new and love spending time with family and friends. They have been attending The Father’s House for three years and serve in Children’s Ministries, Worship and Life Groups.

 

 

 

Back to School; College Perspective!

Back to School; College Perspective | By Lila Smith

“There is no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.” -Anonymous

As we all know, life is a constant cycle of change. It’s exciting. Overwhelming. Scary. Hard. Emotional. Every time a new school year comes around, I tend to be all too familiar with these emotions, at a higher level than usual.

In just a few days, I will be loading everything up and getting ready to enter into my sophomore year of college at GCU. My experience in college so far has been full of fun experiences, awesome friendships, insightful classes, and a deeper growth with my Savior, everyday. But in the midst of all of these great things, there has also been anxiety, discomfort, heartbreak, and homesickness. As a result, I am learning to daily rely on Jesus alone. To lay my struggles and worries at the cross, instead of trying to deal with or solve them on my own.

Messages Image(1924536944)My freshman year the Lord really planted a desire in my heart. The desire to build relationships with others, and to be someone who is there for listening and understanding them. I felt very called to apply for the position as life leader at my school. From my perspective, this is the dream – to get to share the Gospel with the girls God placed on my floor, and to be a safe place for them to bring their worries, insecurities, and struggles. This opportunity I am about to take is both exciting and exhilarating. But it is also terrifying. I do not feel qualified enough for this job, and I have to constantly remind myself again and again everyday to not compare myself to others and to their talents and abilities.

As nerve-racking as it may seem in my head, I am welcoming in this new season of change with open arms. I am jumping in head first to this position which God has called me. And, I am trusting Him to supply all my needs.

My freshman year alone, I left a changed person. The experiences I had, the people I met, the relationships that deepened, the classes I took; all shaped me in ways I never could have seen or imagined before going to GCU. Here are some of the things the Lord taught me, which I find to be helpful wherever you are in life right now:

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  1. Make time EVERYDAY for YOU and JESUS; Make HIM your BEST friend

Bible studies, chapel, worship nights, and even church just won’t cut it. Relationships grow from one-on-one moments. Make him your number one, all other friends and family can come next. We look like the friends we hang out with, so why wouldn’t we want to hang out with Jesus?

  1. Be INTENTIONAL

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Go out of your way to show people you care about them and want to get to know them and/or spend time with them. Make plans. Stick to the plans.

  1. IRON sharpens IRON (Proverbs 27:17)

The people you spend time with influence you, and vice versa. Make sure your peers are lifting you up, not pushing you down. Healthy relationships make a healthy, happy you.

  1. Get INVOLVED

Whether it’s ministries, church groups, adventures, just get involved! Community is a great thing that God gave us, and we need to use it to our advantage.

 


Lila Smith is a college student at Gr and Canyon University in Phoenix…Lila Smith is a college student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Christian Studies. She currently spends her time hanging out with friends, being a life leader on her floor, studying, going on adventures, and doing ministries on her campus. She plans to work in the church and/or be a counselor later on after her college years are over.