Category Archives: Women

How to Speak to a Single Christian Mom

My oldest daughter has begun an amazing blog journey. She is writing so transparently about her faith, her life as a single mom, and her growth as a person. I am learning so much from her. And you have to check out what she says here: God’s Work in Progress.

This is what she posted the other day.

How to Speak to a Single Christian Mom

I read this blog post last week when I found it through a friend.  Brilliant and so true!

http://littledouce.blogspot.ca/2012/09/how-to-talk-to-pregnant-woman.html

I don’t know the woman who wrote this, but I can totally relate.  It got me thinking.  I’m a single mom of two young boys, and apparently I fit into some template that also results in many unwelcome questions and comments.  So here’s my take.

Things Not to Say to A Single Mom

1. “Were you married to their father?” First of all, it’s none of your business, oh stranger who asked me this question.  This often gets asked by Christians, who seem to think that if I had been married to their father, then the children are legitimate, and that’s one less sin I’ve committed.  This question is often followed by “Did he leave you?”.  Again, none of your business, but either way, it doesn’t really matter.  Anything that you consider my sin is between God and I, and really has nothing to do with you.

2. “Are you dating anyone now?” Again, unless you are family, not really any of your business.  This question is often asked by married women.  Let me tell you one thing – divorce is in no way comparable to breaking up with your boyfriend in highschool.  You should not be jealous that I am now back in the dating pool.  Do you think men are beating down the door of a divorced woman with two kids in order to date her?  Not exactly prime dating material.  This was a situation that I did not ever want to be in.

3. “I guess you married the wrong person.” While I do believe that once you are married, it is for life, people are a product of their choices, and things don’t always work out the way we want them to.  No, I didn’t marry the wrong person.  People are surprised when I say this.  First of all, if I married the wrong person, then I – and all of my friends and family – were either idiots when I got married, or completely naive.  Neither was the case.  Secondly, if I married the wrong person, then I have the wrong kids, which i would never, EVER, think is the case.

4. “Do you ever want to get married again?”  Well, since it was never the intent to be single again at this point in my life, yes, I do.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m ready for it today or tomorrow or even next year.  This is a silly question, and I often want to answer with a sarcastic “Of course not, I’m perfectly happy being alone for the rest of my life.”

5. “How are you doing?” and “Are you okay?” It’s always said in that “pity” tone of voice.  How do you think I’m doing?   Don’t let anyone tell you that divorce is as easy as a breakup.  It’s not.  There’s a reason that some psychologists have compared it to a death.  It’s that hard.  It’s an emotional roller coaster and it takes a LONG time to not feel like you’ve been stabbed in the heart every time you breathe.

6. “I don’t know how you do it all by yourself.  I could never do it.” I’m not sure if this is meant to be a compliment or making the point that I can’t possibly be a good enough person/parent/woman on my own.

There are a few other things happen.  Married girl friends seem to distance themselves.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to steal your husband.  I’ve seen one home broken and it’s something I never want to repeat.  People don’t know what to say, so they say nothing.  I’m still interested in the same things as I was before, so whatever we had in common is still there.

Green Light Subjects

1. “How are the kids?” I won’t answer with anything but how they are doing in school, what they are into right now and that kind of thing.  Don’t worry about being overwhelmed with their emotional state.

2. “Can I pray for you?” Absolutely!  It seems so often that the words said are meant to be a criticism for my situation.  I’d much rather know that you are lifting me up in prayer – goodness knows I need it – even if it is only a few words at the end of the day.  It’s all appreciated.

3. Any small talk.  I don’t want to talk about my marital situation all the time.  Sometimes I need to bounce things off someone, but that’s usually family.  Usually, I want to talk about normal things like the weather, the stock market, shoes and football.

4. My kids like other kids.  It seems like other parents are reluctant to let their children be with the children of a single mom.  The situation is not their fault.  They still need their friends and life to be as normal as possible.

There are a hundred other things I could write here, but this will do for now.

_________________________________________

If you’re in a reading mood, take a look at my graphic designer daughter’s blog here. Great insight into how the creative process works. And my baby girl’s blog is here, looking at life as a stay-home mom and a very innovative way of doing it.

Yup. We’re a bloggy kind of family!

2 Comments

Filed under Acceptance, Christian, Family, Kids, Women

The Women

This week I was invited to attend a women’s brunch. I really, really dislike women’s brunches. I really, really dislike women’s events of any kind. But because I received a personal invitation, I decided that it would be rude not to go. So I went.

And I had a blast!

Six of us women sat outside at a lovely patio cafe for three hours and there was no agenda except to get to know each other.

I didn’t want to leave.

I tried to think of the last time I’d enjoyed a group of ladies like that and I honestly couldn’t remember. I realized then how starved I had been for Christian female companionship. I wanted to weep. Just because I was happy.

Here were some wonderful women I hardly knew and yet they accepted me, wanted to know me, and shared their hearts with me. I didn’t know people like that still existed.

All I can do is thank God for answering a years-long prayer of mine.

1 Comment

Filed under Acceptance, Christian, Women, Writing

Part Seven

If you missed Part Six, click here.

“Did you finish that history assignment?” Ginger asked. “I started it, but I’m going to have to do some internet research before I work on it more because there is no way I have that kind of information in my head. I just wish Mr. Tanner would pick easier topics, don’t you? I heard Alicia and Chelsea stayed up all night on Friday and got the whole thing done, but I bet Chelsea’s sister helped them like she always does. Remember her? She graduated last year.”

Tash didn’t have the heart to interrupt Ginger’s chatter. If there was one thing Ginger was good at, it was talking. And Tash was an expert listener. All she had to do was nod or mutter a one-word response and Ginger was none the wiser.

An hour passed before Tash picked up her backpack. “I have to go.”

“But I just got here,” Ginger frowned.

“I know, but I have some errands to run.”

“For your mom?”

Tash didn’t want to lie to her friend. “Sort of.” It was partly true, after all. The things she had to do were because of her mother. With a promise to meet Ginger at the appointed place at school the next day, Tash walked away.

She made the long hike to the Wal-Mart store on the edge of town and shopped for a few necessities. Her pay would have to stretch like never before. A few non-perishable groceries, some personal items, and she was on her way home. At least what she would call home for the time being.

Tash spent the rest of the day in the old house cleaning the little room she had claimed for her own. She’d also managed to dispose of a significant amount of garbage in the rest of the house, adding to the pile of trash in the backyard. She didn’t know how long she’d be here, but she couldn’t stay at all if she wasn’t able to get to her room without stumbling over the junk. As evening approached, Tash surveyed her work. She smiled and nodded to herself; the place looked better already.

She was at school early the next morning, thankful for the showers in the girls’ locker room. When she’d finished, she twisted her long wet hair into a thick braid and rushed out the door to find Ginger before the bell rang. She was not expecting to see Mrs. Sinclair, the principal, standing there.

“Natasha?” The forty-ish woman raised her eyebrows.

“Morning, Mrs. Sinclair.” Tash blurted, already moving toward the stairwell leading up to the main hallway.

“Wait a minute. What are you doing down here?”

Tash hesitated.

“Your hair is wet,” the teacher observed.

Nothing like stating the obvious, Tash thought. “Yeah, I washed it this morning. Didn’t have time to dry.” She saw the suspicion in Mrs. Sinclair’s eyes. “Um – can I go? The bell is going to ring any minute.”

Katherine Sinclair nodded, but watched the girl as she ran up the stairs two at a time. Something was not right there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being Creative, Women, Writing

Part Five

If you missed Part Four, click here.

Breaking into an abandoned building wasn’t as easy as one would think. Tash was finding that out the hard way. Her first choice was a ramshackle apartment block that was boarded up so tight she decided she’d need some serious power tools to get in. The old house beside it was the same. But the next one had a loose nail or two in the plywood that covered a door leading to the cellar. After a bit of manoeuvring, Tash was able to squeeze in through the narrow opening she’d created and she found herself in a very dark space.

Not at all comfortable with the dank and eerie atmosphere, she rummaged in her bag until hand closed around the tiny flashlight she carried around for emergencies. This was definitely an emergency. Tash flipped the switch with her thumb and a narrow beam of light revealed a dirt floor littered with the trash of previous occupants. She shivered. Garbage was something she abhorred with a passion.

A simple wooden staircase to her right looked safe enough and Tash ventured up, hoping to find just one small room she could clean up and use for her own. But to her dismay, the main floor wasn’t much better than the basement.

What did you expect? It is an abandoned building after all. Full of junk people throw away. Discarded, just like you.

No! Tash stood to her full height and pushed her shoulders back. She set her jaw and said out loud, “I am not a discard. I am not junk. I am somebody!”

And she went to work.

In an upstairs bedroom, Tash cleared out enough filth to satisfy herself for the time being. A rain barrel outside was full from the recent wet spell they’d had, and she was glad for the water to wash the surfaces that needed it the most. Then she covered an old mattress with a large sheet of plastic she’d found wadded up in a closet. It wasn’t great, or even good, but it would do for now. At least she wouldn’t have to sleep on who knew what might be lurking inside the lumpy padding.

When she was done, Tash surveyed her work. She tried to see past the peeling wallpaper and the wires hanging from the ceiling where the light socket used to be. She tried to ignore the holes in the floor and the old chair with only three legs. She tried to smile, but choked back a sob instead. It just wasn’t home.

But then, what was?

4 Comments

Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Women, Writing

Part Four

If you missed Part Three, click here.

The small dry cleaning outlet where Tash worked every day after school and on weekends was busy. She was glad for the distraction because having time to think about her life wasn’t something she especially wanted to do at the moment. She greeted regular customers with her usual smile and a few comments about the weather or the news or to inform them that the spot on their favourite dress was gone. Tash wondered what they’d say if they knew that the girl behind the counter was homeless.

“You might as well go now, Tash,” Jim, the owner, came out from the back room at the end of the day. “Only ten minutes till closing and there’s not going to be much more happening.”

“Thanks, Jim,” Tash removed the green vest with Kwik As A Wink Dry Cleaners embroidered on the pocket, hung it on a hook behind the door and grabbed her backpack. “See you tomorrow.”

“Don’t forget your pay,” Jim called to her as she was on her way out. He waved an envelope in her direction.

Tash smiled awkwardly. “My brain must be somewhere else.”

“Yeah, I noticed.”

Tash shot her employer a glance. She didn’t think her turmoil had been obvious.

“You okay?” Jim asked.

Tash nodded. “Just a lot going on. You know, homework and stuff.” She headed to the front door of the shop. “Thanks again.”

Outside, Tash took a quick detour into a nearby alley. She had hidden her suitcase there before she’d gone in to work and now, as she retrieved it, she took a deep breath. It was time to find a place to stay for the night.

She knew she had to stay under the radar. It concerned her that she’d drawn Jim’s attention to her dismal state and that could not happen again. All she needed was for some well-meaning person to report her to the authorities and she’d be popped into the foster care system faster than she could blink. She didn’t need that. She could take care of herself.

Tash knew of several abandoned buildings located a few blocks away. She’d walked past them every day on her way to and from school, and she’d kept an eye on them as possible options for shelter, should the need ever arise. She’d never considered living there on her own, though, since her plans had always included her mother. She wondered where Barbie was now. Did she have regrets about what she’d done? Tash doubted it.

But she wished she didn’t.

2 Comments

Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Women, Writing

Part Three

If you missed Part Two, click here.

Sleep would not come that night. Tash lay on the bed fully clothed, her backpack and a small suitcase on the floor beside her. The two contained everything she owned. As soon as morning came, she would leave this place and never come back.

Tash was glad that tomorrow was Saturday. She would go to work, put in her eight hours and still have enough time to investigate a few potential housing situations. She was good at keeping her eyes and ears open. She knew things. And if nothing panned out for tonight, well, it wouldn’t be the first time she had slept in the park. She’d found some good hiding places there on the nights Barbie entertained men.

Tash buried the memory and focused, pushing away the fear that wanted to rise up and smother her. You can do this. You are not a kid anymore.

The darkness was just beginning to wane when Tash gave up. Barbie wasn’t dead, she knew, but she might as well be for all Tash was concerned. That one word scribbled on the napkin said it all. Mom was sorry. Sorry she couldn’t stay. Sorry she didn’t care enough to get help. Sorry that Tash wasn’t enough.

The girl on the bed cried then. Cried as if her heart would break.

But when the first rays of sunlight appeared in the east, Tash was already outside; the pack slung over her shoulder and the suitcase with one loose wheel dragging behind. She walked with purpose, her head high and her jaw set. She had a plan. And nothing, nothing would stop her.

3 Comments

Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Family, Women, Writing

Blogging a Story

In case you haven’t noticed, I started blogging a story this past week. I got the idea while I was at work – yeah, I was more than a little bit bored – and thought it might be fun to give sixteen year old Tash Campbell a tryout on Inside the Writer. I’m not sure how this will unfold, as I have only the barest of minimums when it comes to the whole story. In fact, I don’t know much more about what’s going on than you do. But Tash is taking form in this strange brain of my mine and I can’t wait to see what happens.

I do know that Tash is a survivor. She is determined. And she is smart.

But oh my goodness, the hurt and rejection she must feel at being abandoned by the one person no one should ever have to be abandoned by – her own mother. And now Tash has to find a way to do whatever it is she doesn’t yet fully comprehend she has to do.

Alone.

We’ll see how it goes.

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Women, Writing

Alone in a Crowd

I had a disturbing dream last night.

I was attending a conference with a group of friends. Shortly after our arrival at the conference venue, I turned to find that my friends were gone and I was alone in a large crowd of people. I couldn’t see anyone familiar. Not to be deterred by the abandonment, I made my way to a row near the front of the auditorium and sat down beside a woman who appeared to be user friendly. She nodded a greeting in my direction, but then went back to her conversation with the woman on her other side. Within moments, my row of chairs filled up and it seemed that everyone around me knew everyone else. Except me. I made the comment that perhaps I should move to the end of the row so that they could sit in closer proximity to their friends. All of them happily agreed.

I was devastated.

I stood up and brushed past the entire row of people as they all moved themselves over. It didn’t matter that the chair on the end was more comfortable than the rest. It didn’t matter that the lady beside me offered an awkward, apologetic smile. I just wanted to go home.

Thankfully, this particular scenario was just a dream. It has never played out exactly like this for me in real life, but I’m sure it has for others. And I’ve experienced enough similar situations to know how it feels. All us of have.

There are people out there who are alone in the crowd. They are yearning for someone to approach them and be a friend. They need you.

Reach out. And then you won’t be that lonely one.

Jesus said this in Matthew 24:45. “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.”

2 Comments

Filed under Acceptance, Christian, Women, Writing

The Emotional Women’s Conference

Warning: If you’re an avid women’s conference attendee, what I am about to say may have potential to offend you.

I want to address a subject that has bugged me for years: The Emotional Christian Women’s Conference. I know there isn’t actually a conference by that name, but the vast majority of women’s events might as well have the title. I used to attend them, and now I don’t. This is why:

1. They play on women’s emotions. Everything from the airy, “ooo-ing” praise and worship to the sobbing speakers on the stage sets the tone for every woman in the room to spend two or three whole days going through box after box of tissue to dry their tears, all in the name of spiritual release.

2. They cater to stay-home moms. I have yet to attend a Christian conference that gives more than passing recognition to women with full time careers.

3. They patronize women. I am not interested in hearing about how special I am, or that I am God’s princess, or that I am a precious jewel. Come on!

4. The teaching is fluffy. Everything is presented in a politically correct fashion.

5. Two days after the conference is over, women are back to their routines. They smile and think about how lovely everything was and how good it was to cry. But nothing prompted them to change.

I know I’ve exaggerated somewhat, but I think you can see where I am coming from. I am not going to waste my time on conferences like this.

My heart longs to see women rise up and cut the fluff so they can be who God has destined them to be. Where are the women who stand up and preach the Word like it is? Where are the mighty women of valor who create a Spirit-charged atmosphere around them? And where are the women who are not afraid to say the things that need to be said?

I want to be challenged. I want to hear from women who will look me in the eye and call me out on areas where I need to make adjustments. I want to be with other women who keep me accountable and don’t let up because they’re afraid to say something. I want to worship with women who understand the power of being in God’s presence. I want to pray with women who won’t just hold my hand and say empty words, but who will contend with me until there is breakthrough. Where is that women’s conference?

Come on, ladies! It’s time.

1 Comment

Filed under Women