I took a journalism class in high school. I snapped pictures for the school newspaper with an old 35 mm camera and developed real photographs in the school dark room. I wrote an article about Easter traditions for the school newspaper (we could talk about Easter at school back then), and my essay about education careers was published in our small-town newspaper.
I learned to ask the 5 W + 1 H questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
I never pursued a career in journalism, but I have found myself asking those same questions repeatedly throughout my life.
Who is taking this journey with me? What does God have planned for us? Where are we going? When will we get there? Why is this experience important? How do we know we're going the right way?
Usually, I have found the answers to my questions only lead to more questions.
Who is really on my side? What does it all mean? Where do we go from here? When will we be happy? Why do we make the same mistakes? How can we help each other?
And as I've grown older, the questions become deeper, murkier, and more serious.
Who will remember me when I'm gone? What lies ahead for our country? Where will we be in 20 years? When will I ever feel security? Why does God allow people to suffer? How long can we go on like this?
Anytime I think I've found the answers, I realize I still have much to learn.
Like a journalist, I try to compose a coherent storyline to my life. I try to piece together the truth from small bits of information, clues left behind, quotes from eyewitnesses, and unreliable tips from anonymous sources. Each lead I receive only leads me to the next phase of the investigation. My struggling and digging never seem to uncover the answers to the questions of our lives.
It seems the more I interrogate and demand to know, the more God replies, "No comment."
Finally, I have to admit my role here is limited. I can never understand all the answers. I will never solve all the mysteries. The best I can do is collect my observations, organize my notes, and submit a first draft for consideration.
"Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
God is crafting the final edition. He sets the deadlines and decides what to cut and what to print. He determines which features make the final page. And though I continue to ask and seek, I have to accept that only God controls the final copy.
The final answer is to accept God's authority and let him revise my work.
What questions do you ask about your life? Where do you go to seek the answers?
- Select an age-appropriate book.
- Curl up together on the couch, bed, or another comfy spot.
- Open the book and read.
I will be honest and admit that I don't remember reading to my daughter much when she was small. I was busy. I worked all day, and I came home tired. By bedtime, I just wanted to be quiet and go to sleep; so if I read a book at all, it was one quick bedtime story and then lights-out and good-night.
But as I pursued my degree in Elementary Education, I learned there are many good reasons to spend time reading books to our children. If I had those years to do over, I would make more time to read to my daughter, and I would make more effort to enjoy and appreciate reading to her when she was young.
Why we should read to children:
- Children learn language by hearing language. Small children who are read to develop greater vocabularies, learn to read more easily, and generally do better in school. Children who are read to develop an appreciation for reading and are more likely to enjoy reading later in life. Children learn how books and words work by turning pages and following text. They learn to process ideas, explore, ask questions, and find the answers to their questions by thinking about the words they hear.
- Children learn about relationships by spending time with adults. Reading together can be a special, cozy time of sitting close and being the center of another's attention. Spending time with adults makes children feel safe and secure and helps maintain those close relationships for the future. Reading together is a time to appreciate being a family and being present with each other. It is time to have fun, laugh, talk, ask questions and share ideas.
- Children learn about the world through books. Television channels and computer screens don't teach children to think critically, form opinions, ask questions, or consider possibilities. Reading encourages children to use their own imaginations and question information. Children learn how to talk with adults through active conversations, and they learn about the world from adults who share their experiences.
Moms can make a few preparations to help make reading together part of the regular routine.
Build a library. Children's books are inexpensive at thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales. Buy as many as your house will hold.
Use the public library for greater variety. Help children get their own library cards and select their own books from the children's section.
Don't stop when they're too big to sit on your lap. Older children can enjoy reading chapter books with their parents, too. Continue spending reading time together and talk about the stories you read.
When I ask my daughter now, she remembers reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. In this classic, Max learns that exploring the world alone is not much fun, and he is happy to be home where he is loved and dinner is waiting on the table.
I have also learned to appreciate the home and love that are waiting for me at the end of a busy day.
Other favorite books include:
How do you enjoy reading with your children? What are your favorite books to read together?
Sometimes single moms need to be reminded how awesome they really are. Here are ten reasons single moms are amazing:
#10. Single moms have a sense of humor. We can laugh at ourselves and find joy in small happy moments and the funny things our children say.
#9. Awesome single moms are role models. We want to set a good example for our children, so we take responsibility for our choices and work hard to choose the right path for our future.
#8. Single moms are selfish (sometimes). We know we have to take care of ourselves to have the energy to take care of others, so we need to maintain good health, adequate rest, and strong faith.
#7. Single moms are curious. We want to know more about the world and our place in it, so we are always questioning, always seeking, always exploring, and always learning.
#6. Single moms are creative. We know we have to find original solutions to our problems, so we use our imaginations to find new approaches and new ideas.
#5. Great single moms are resourceful. We use our intuition to look at the world in new ways, try new things, and find new ways to succeed.
#4. Single moms are resilient. We may face disappointments and set-backs, but we get up and try again because we know we have to keep moving forward for our families.
#3. Single moms are honest. We tell ourselves and others the truth about our needs, our expectations, and our dreams for the future.
#2. Inspiring single moms are grateful. We feel privileged to be raising such amazing, awesome children, so we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts God provides.
And the #1 trait of amazing single moms is:
We love our children and always want to do what is best for our families.
Keep being an amazing single mom!
What qualities would you add to the list? How do you know you are an amazing single mom?
I said good-bye at the door of my daughter's kindergarten classroom and headed for the parking lot; but when I looked back, my daughter came running after me, shrieking down the hallway. Her dad and I had just divorced, and my daughter and I were both going through a period of separation anxiety.
The school counselor suggested I allow my daughter to bring something from home, something small and unobtrusive she could wear or keep in a pocket, something to remind her of the loving adults who would still be there for her at the end of the day.
In my dresser drawer, I found an old, gold-tone locket necklace, and I put tiny pictures of her dad and me inside. My daughter wore that locket every day of kindergarten, and she stopped chasing me, crying, through the hallways when I dropped her off at school.
Some kids carry teddy bears or old blankets to remind them of home and help them feel secure. Most kids outgrow carrying their security objects around all day.
But many adults still have security objects that we keep near to see and touch. Sometimes we all need a physical connection to our invisible sources of strength and love.
When I was feeling particularly anxious and insecure, I found my old Cowardly Lion doll and stood him on my dresser to remind me to have courage and keep moving. I hoard quilts that hold memories of special people. I will never part with the Taz doll my husband won for me at the amusement park game stall. And lately, I've started carrying this smooth river stone to remind me of the strength and solidity of God's presence.
I know all these lockets, dolls, and stones don't hold any special powers. They are not lucky charms, and they possess no magic spells. Our touchstones are merely tangible reminders of the love and safety available to us and the special people who give us comfort and peace.
On first grade picture day, I pulled from the dresser drawer that old, golden locket, now tarnished and tangled. I asked, "Do you want to wear this today?"
My daughter shrugged.
Lockets and stones can never take the place of the love they represent, and once we become secure in that love, the reminders become merely reminders again.
My daughter moved on to wearing necklaces she and her friends made out of safety pins. But I still have that Cowardly Lion doll.
What security objects do your children treasure? What are your own tangible reminders of love?
The morning was still fairly dark when I walked my daughter to the school bus stop outside our apartment building. All the kids from the apartment complex milled around the parking lot, next to dumpsters and discarded furniture. We shivered in the autumn air. The rising sun glared brilliantly off the frost on the car windshields. When my daughter climbed on board and the bus pulled away, I walked to work through the morning chill with my hands in my pockets and my nose sniffling.
Fall is the foreshadowing of winter. The early darkness and cooling air warn us of the chill and stillness to come. Every fall I feel a sense of drawing in and settling down. I want to feel cozy, to curl up and cocoon; not to avoid the dark and cold, but to enjoy the promise of comfort and warmth.
In preparing for the icy days and nights ahead, I've found a few ways to enjoy and appreciate the changing season:
Make the most of the last nice days by wearing sweatshirts and jackets to play at the park.
Look for free and low-cost indoor entertainment. My daughter and I enjoyed the warm and humid Botanical Center where we stood under the banana trees and counted the geckos clinging to the leaves.
Dig the warm pajamas out of storage, put sleeping bags on the living room floor, and enjoy a slumber party movie night. Make popcorn and use flashlights for lighting.
Buy extra flashlight batteries for possible winter power outages. Check and change batteries in all home smoke detectors.
Bake cookies. Let children help.
Buy extra shelf-stable food so we're not traipsing to the grocery store during winter storms. I stock up on condensed milk, peanut butter, dry cereal, cans of chili and soup.
Make homemade chili and soup. Try this taco soup recipe.
Buy extra over-the-counter pain reliever and cough medicine so I'm not dragging a kid with a cold to the store in frigid weather.
Have the car's oil changed. Check and rotate tires. Replace wiper blades and fill washer fluid.
Buy extra socks for everyone in the household. Save a couple of pairs to make sock snowmen, following a Youtube tutorial.
Trace fallen leaves onto red, orange, and yellow construction paper. Cut out the shapes to decorate the apartment windows and walls.
Then curl up on the couch together, pull up the blanket or quilt, and snuggle in luxurious warmth. Talk about the autumns and winters, springs and summers of our childhoods. Appreciate this gift of time to connect, be present, and talk quietly.
I hope you all enjoy a cozy, comfortable evening together before resting through the long, cold night and then seeing them off to school in the morning.
How do you enjoy the changing season? How do you prepare for the cold weather ahead?