The Truth I Found as a Suddenly Single Mom

This is a guest post by Lisa Appelo.


Six years ago, I went to bed happily married and woke up a widow and single mom to seven.

In the dark hours of that Friday morning, I groggily woke to my husband’s breathing. Thinking he was having a nightmare, I reached over with my eyes still closed to nudge him and wake him out of it. He didn’t respond and as I slowly became more aware of what was happening, I realized this was not nightmare breathing.

The next hour was a rush of calling 911, moving my youngest who’d crawled into bed between us, starting CPR, talking to police, pacing and praying. While I counted out each chest compression, my thoughts reeled. Surely, I am not giving CPR to my husband who I just kissed goodnight. Oh, Lord, have mercy on us. He’s the man of my dreams. Our rock.

Dan was taken by ambulance to the ER and I ran upstairs to pray with my kids before heading to the hospital. I’ll never forget seeing them huddled together and crying on the floor of the boys’ room. Everything in me wanted to assure them it would be alright and Daddy would be okay.

But I couldn’t make that promise. And before the sun was fully up that morning, I walked back through the door from the hospital to tell them their dad had passed away.

Being a single mom was nowhere in the range of possible plans for me. Nor was it anything I ever wanted. I was proud of our marriage. Proud we had stayed married through struggles. We had married young and worked hard at it. On Sunday mornings, when our church posted pictures of older couples celebrating their 50+ year anniversaries, I carried the happy expectation that our picture would be there one day too.

Plus, Dan and I had taken a huge step of faith to trust God with the size of our family. I held an unspoken assumption that surely God would honor that obedience and enable us to see the children he gave us raised to adulthood.

Dan’s death had shattered my assumptions and expectations. I wrestled to know who I was without Dan and what in the world my future looked like.

The stark reminders that I was now a single mom were everywhere. On banking applications and social security forms, I checked the box marked “widow.” When I signed my kids up for camp or basketball or vacation Bible school, I put N/A in the space for spouse’s information. When my daughter graduated high school and my son was honored midfield for football, I stood with them alone while other students were flanked by their mom and dad.

Forty weeks after Dan’s death, I slipped off my wedding band and tucked it into my jewelry box – not because I was ready to date, but because I needed to see my singleness represented on the bare fingers of my left hand. All my hopes for the future and every expectation of what it looked like had been centered in my marriage. I needed to adjust to life as a single mom.

But once I was stripped of those expectations, I could see what was really true. While my earthly identity as a wife has changed, my eternal identity as a child of God hasn’t.

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God’s promises for me are eternal. They’re rooted in my relationship with him, and while being a single mom might change how God fills those promises, it doesn’t change the promise.

Take God’s promise to give us wisdom. Oh, how I miss the insight Dan always provided when we hit a parenting hurdle. But the source of all wisdom hasn’t changed. God promises that “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”¹ Countess times I’ve prayed this verse and asked for wisdom and countless times God has answered practically and personally.

While Dan is no longer here to work and bring home a salary for our family, the source of all provision hasn’t changed. God promises to meet our needs. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”² God’s stunning supply over and over in these last few years brings me to tears.

While I no longer have Dan’s prudence and experience to help me make decisions, the source of true guidance hasn’t changed. “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me.”³ For six years, I’ve begged God for guidance and watched him faithfully and clearly lead.

Though I never could have foreseen life as a single mom, I’m not living out Plan B. It’s Chapter 2—a chapter God has known about, has allowed, and intends for me.

It’s not a chapter that’s less than the others. God may bring us to the second chapter but he doesn’t give us second best.

God promises abundant life and joy, and that promise holds whether I am married or single; in the throes of raising kids or preening an empty nest; working outside the home or at home full time. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”⁴ This means there’s as much abundance and joy in this chapter as there was in the all the others. While the circumstances may have shifted, the source of abundance and the reason for joy hasn’t.

  1. James 1:5
  2. Phil 4:19
  3. Psalm 31:3
  4. John 10:10 

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Six years ago, Lisa became a sudden widow and single mom to 7. As her family’s whole world was rocked, God was her very present Rock. Lisa’s heart is to encourage and inspire women to anchor their faith deep in Christ as the One who is true and faithful. Lisa is passionate about rich Bible study and teaches a weekly ladies Bible class at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. You can find her at LisaAppelo.com and on Instagram. You can subscribe and download Lisa's free Bible study and journal, 100 Days with Christ, which walks chronologically through all four gospels, from Christ's eternity past to His death, resurrection and ascencion.