Grief & Suffering

The Truth I Found as a Suddenly Single Mom

The Truth I Found as a Suddenly Single Mom

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. 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.

Dan was taken by ambulance to the ER and I ran upstairs to pray with my kids before heading to the hospital. 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.

The stark reminders that I was now a single mom were everywhere. 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.

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.

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.’

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.

While I no longer have Dan’s prudence and experience to help me make decisions, the source of true guidance hasn’t changed.

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.

While the circumstances may have shifted, the source of abundance and the reason for joy hasn’t.

 

When You Can’t Afford to Be a “Good” Mom

When You Can’t Afford to Be a “Good” Mom

About eight years ago, our family hit a tough spot financially. I was weeks from delivering our third child when my husband came to me with the numbers; there was simply no more stretching an already stretched budget. We ended up on food stamps and Medicaid.

At first, my faith didn’t waver.

But then things went from bad to worse. As the weeks turned into months and the months to years, I found our financial woes hitting me in a place I’d never expected: motherhood.

To be a ‘good’ mother, culture tells us, you must feed your child organic, locally sourced food. To be a ‘good’ mother, it whispers, you must book a professional photo shoot for each new stage (as well buy new matching outfits.) To be a ‘good’ mother, we hear, you must have the perfectly accessorized nursery. And then as they grow older, to be a ‘good’ mother you must be able to pay for dance, music, and art lessons.

What I remember most about our lean years was the sense of helplessness and guilt I felt While my story may be a bit of an outlier, the desire to care for our children is a universal one.

‘Which of you,’ Jesus asks in Matthew, ‘if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?’ The heart of every loving parent is to provide good things for our children. So when we’re financially unable to give them ‘bread’, it can strike us to our very core.

As a Father himself, God knows and understands the weight of your mother heart. He knows how desperately you long to give your children good gifts and how much you despair when you can’t.

In the midst of our financial struggles, in the midst of my feelings of helplessness, God was feeding us and carrying my children in his arms. But more than caring for my children, God was also caring for me.

As I led them, he was gently leading me. And part of what he was gently leading me to was the understanding that he never intended for me to care for my children alone.

While I don’t know what the future holds, I do know this: The Lord is my Shepherd and so I shall not want. And because the Lord is my Shepherd, my children won’t want either. He will feed his flock. He will carry the lambs in his arms.

He will gently lead those that are with young.

 

Dads Hurt Too: A Father’s Memoir of Miscarriage

Dads Hurt Too: A Father’s Memoir of Miscarriage

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” Jesus assures us. “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The argument here is not: people matter, therefore sparrows are insignificant. Rather: sparrows are significant, so how much more valuable are those created in God’s image?

God’s voice—not the voices in my head or those of my neighbor—is the final word on the matter: If he values the hairs of my head more than sparrows, how much more must he care for my child—his own image bearer?

And when that child falls to sleep, hidden in my wife’s womb, will the Father in heaven not notice the father on earth? God cares for these little ones. God cares about mothers. God cares about fathers. Both moms and dads have every right to mourn.

Finding God in My Postpartum Fire*

Finding God in My Postpartum Fire*

The birth of our babies—especially our first—is supposed to be magical. We expect a quick rebound from what’s often the most physically challenging experience in our lives. Messages fired at us on television, through the internet, and on social media aim to convince us: once we embrace our child for the first time, we’ll float our way through bliss.

What if our stories are different?

My first encounter with childbirth, for example, left me feeling as if I’d been tossed into a furnace.
...

I suffered, but I didn’t despair. Why not? I credit the hand of God. From the abundance of baby meals sent by friends and family, to the compassionate care of my OB, to the willingness of many to listen as I retold the story of my traumatic birth—I was cared for. The Lord met me in my furnace.

Through the fire, I had my clearest-yet view of Christ. I saw and felt his dedication to me. I learned to trust him not just day-by-day, but moment-to-moment. Postpartum depression slowed me down. I learned to savor the good moments.

Because We Could Not Stop for Death: Miscarriage and the Believer

Because We Could Not Stop for Death: Miscarriage and the Believer

I left the meeting as early as I could excuse myself and came home, hobbling in our back door, running to the bathroom. I knew what to expect but nothing prepares you for the emotional and physical toll of blood loss, hormone loss, and the tiny baby loss in the moment.

Before I got married I thought, at times, women could be dramatic about their infertility or miscarriages. I thought: “Children are a blessing, but they’re not an idol. Why is your world falling apart because of this?” As I lay sobbing on our bed that day, I hiccupped through the words, “I just want it to stop.” 

... The Psalmist David knew this slow drive too. He said the words, “How long, O Lord?” nine times in the book of Psalms. He was desperate for the Lord to relent, to show up, to release, and to end David’s suffering. We, like David, are not good in the middle of things. We don’t like it. We can anticipate the danger or suffering ahead, even know the right theology to regard it, but when the gushing pain begins, where is our hope then?

Our hope is in the permission to say, with David, “How long, O Lord?” And then to keep saying it, for as long as we are still waiting for it to relent.

... Our Father knows the searing loss of losing a child. Our Savior said these words on the cross, “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Our Spirit groans with us in our weakness with words too deep for us to even understand. Surely there is permission to sit, ache, mourn, and weep in this middle place?

Hope for Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Hope for Pregnancy and Infant Loss

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and we at Risen Motherhood want to recognize all of you who have lost a child too soon. Below you'll find a selection of articles, posts, music and podcasts that we pray encourages a mom in the midst of grief. Just click on the links at the bottom of each quote to go to the original source. 

Every Hour We Need Thee

Every Hour We Need Thee

Today I'm reminded of how far I am from being a good mother, a good friend, a good wife / sister / daughter / church member / volunteer – a good anything! I feel split in two, like I live in the in-between. I want to do better, oh how I long to do better. But the needs keep coming at me and I fail over and over again. I just can't seem to get it together.

At times, it can feel pretty bleak. Why can I not live out what I know, I know? If I have Christ, why do I sometimes feel lost? If I know his promises are true, why do I act like they don't exist?

At The Base of the Mountain: When Motherhood Feels Overwhelming

At The Base of the Mountain: When Motherhood Feels Overwhelming

I've been a mom of two for just nine weeks. And in those short nine weeks, motherhood has flipped me over, stretched me thin and spit me out empty. Between a colic/reflux/generally fussy newborn; a curious, demanding and needy toddler; and an unexpected, fast occurring move to a new state; I've pretty much been owned by this season of life.

My temper is short with my toddler, all of my usual patience for his incessant request for cheese, colors and horsey spent. My house, not really ever clean, but usually picked up at the end of a day, a total mess - crumbs from four different meals are piled below the high chair, toys littered in every room of the house, and clean laundry sits in the dryer, forgotten for the past seven days. And my husband, he receives the brunt of my angst - he and I are burning the candle at both ends these days, neither with any fuel at the end of the day for each other.