Road closed ahead, the gps told us. Follow directions for detour. Expect delays.

We pulled off the highway at the exit, following the signs and the line of cars along a winding, narrow country road, past quiet houses on the outskirts of nowhere. The trail of traffic crept slowly, a line of red tail lights stretching into the distance. We often sat motionless, idling in grid lock, wedged between rumbling engines with no end in sight. 

Inside our car, patience wore thin. We moaned and muttered about the injustice of this delay to the start of our vacation.

“By the time we get out of this, the week will be over.”

“We’ll have to turn around and go home.”

But as we waited behind a smoking diesel semi-trailer, it occurred to me that I didn’t know the reason for our forced delay, but God did. I considered that an accident may have closed that stretch of highway, or a construction team was working to make the road smoother for others. I began to appreciate that God had rerouted us along scenic country roads where the sun set behind distant hills. I gave thanks that our detour carried us around a scene of potential danger and got us moving again in the right direction. Despite arriving at our hotel three hours later than we anticipated, tired and irritated from the long delay, I felt grateful that we were safe and able to continue on our travels.

We are often forced to take detours in our lives. Trips don’t always go as planned. Routes change. Unexpected events make demands on our time, and unforeseen obstacles block our paths.

Too often we focus on our desired destinations. We fret about schedules and estimated times of arrival. We grumble and complain about where we want to be, when we should instead give thanks and appreciate whatever road we are traveling.

Today I pray you are grateful for the detour you are facing. Know there is a reason you are exploring that winding, twisting route along a road you may not have expected to see. Remember that God is leading you safely around any barriers that block your way, and He will put you on the correct path to your destination.

Where is your road taking you today? How do you show gratitude for the delays in your journey?

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We often impose schedules on our road trips through life, mandatory departure windows and estimated times of arrival. We barrel down the highway, watching the speedometer, eager to reach our destination where the real fun will begin. Our goal is to put miles behind us, covering ground while keeping our eyes on the road ahead; but if we don’t take time to pause and consider our expectations and reasons for traveling, we may miss many important sights along the way. The following are a few reasons we should slow down and make time to for periodic stops along our journeys.

Stop to . . .

Listen to your spirit and decide which move forward is right for you.

Ask yourself if the time is right for this particular journey and what you hope to discover at the end of the road.

Calculate the cost of your new adventure and prepare all you will need to take with you on your way. 

Think about your reasons for embarking on your travels and know that your motivations remain true to your heart.

When you have decided set out on the trip you have planned, make sure to take time along the way to . . .

Look around and get your bearings before proceeding on your path.

Evaluate your progress and make any needed course corrections, right wrongs, reverse wrong turns, and reconsider your next steps.

Enjoy the breathtaking views along your route, the unbelievable beauty of the world, and the unexpected ways God provides for all our needs.

Explore your new level of understanding as you encounter new experience and grow into new wisdom.

Once you have reached your final goal and celebrated your success, remember to . . .

Pause again to recognize how far you’ve come.

Appreciate all you have gained and give thanks for the courage, spirit, and determination you found to complete your journey.

Realize that success is not in achieving a goal but in learning a lesson and sharing what you have learned with others you meet.

Nurture a relationship and know that our most important blessings are the people who travel with us throughout our lives.

Finally, stop to pray in gratitude for all the twists and turns on your road and how all have contributed to the person you have become. Be happy that your journey is unique and special to you.

I wish you many blessed discoveries on your journey!

Where are you planning to travel this summer? Where do you expect to pause along the road ahead?

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As a working single mom, while others joked about the terrors of tax season, I looked forward to the refund I received every year in the spring. The windfall gave me extra space to breathe and allowed me to have a little fun after the long austerity of winter. Over the years, I learned to plan carefully and spend my refund in ways that would most benefit my household. The following are a few ways I invested that money to take care of our needs.

Save cash for an emergency fund. Stashing a few hundred dollars gave me peace of mind and helped me feel ready to face the inevitable crises that would arise throughout the year.

Payoff credit cards and small debts. One less debt is one less thing to worry about, so paying off credit cards gave me a clean slate feeling to the year ahead.  

Save for Christmas shopping. Yes, in the spring, Christmas looks far away; but the holiday arrives at the same time every year, so we might as well be ready for it. I also shopped clearance shelves throughout the year for gifts and toys that could be hidden away for the next holiday season.

Put new tires on the car, schedule an oil change, and arrange for any necessary vehicle repairs. We depended on the car to get us to work and school, so every act of maintenance I could muster gave us more reliable transportation.  

Schedule doctor appointments and dental checkups. I never enjoyed them, but they had to be done.

Buy something for home. New towels or bedding made our apartment more comfortable and homelike.  

Enroll in a class or a workshop. Education is never wasted, and I am always happy to improve my skillset.

Get a good haircut. For most of the year I got trims at the discount place, but once and a while it felt good to have a luxurious haircut with the full salon treatment.   

Invest in a professional outfit and a nice pair of shoes. A few new clothes gave me more confidence at work and job interviews.

Buy kids’ clothes on winter clearance. Depending on what kind of growth spurt my daughter was going through; I bought coats, snowpants, boots, hats, and gloves at the after-season clearance sales and stashed them away for the next winter snows.

Let the kids shop. Sometimes I gave my daughter a small amount and let her buy something she had been wanting.

Have some fun, already. Every year I tried to plan something fun to do with my daughter. An afternoon at the movies, the zoo, the aquarium, or indoor waterpark makes memories of the time your family shares together.  

Remember to be grateful and give thanks for the abundance God sends our way each day throughout the year.

How are you looking forward to using your spring tax refund? How do you plan to invest in fun with your family?

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Every year brings lessons and experiences that contribute to my growth and understanding. As 2018 draws to a close, I’m considering the events that happened this year and the lessons I have learned.

God sends us the people we need when we need them. I started attending a new church this year and immediately made awesome new friends who have enriched and blessed my life. I’ve taken time to connect with some old friends to strengthen and renew those relationships too. I’ve found that when I remain open and welcoming to new encounters, the people I need to meet find their way into my path.

Prayer has to be consistent and persistent. This year I completed the Let Prayer Change Your Life study by Becky Tirabassi. I learned that God wants me to talk with Him, and when I do, my relationship with Him grows.

I’m not perfect. This year I got two speeding tickets while driving through a particular neighborhood. I learned that though I try to be a generally good and law-abiding citizen, I am not immune to sin. I sometimes break the rules and need a penalty to remind me that I still screw up.

I’m not as smart as I think I am. This year I had an embarrassing experience that involved sending an email to the wrong address and then having to admit my mistake. I felt stupid, and I learned that sometimes I need the experience of public humility to remind me I’m not as extraordinary as I pretend to be.

Mindfulness increases discipline. For a few years I have struggled with food and weight issues, so this year I took positive steps to reverse my bad eating habits. I am learning that behaving mindfully helps me make the decisions I need to reach my goals.

It’s a long walk to the top. “Slow and steady wins the race,” I told my nephew as I held his hand and struggled to hike up the side of Crazy Horse Monument. “Did you ever read The Tortoise and the Hare?” All journeys take time, and I am continuing to learn that when we look upward and keep moving, we will eventually reach our destination.

Appreciate all you have. I have been blessed with a soft bed, a warm fire, people who love me, and a food bowl that’s filled regularly. I am always learning that when I am content and grateful, I feel richly rewarded.

Try something new. In October a friend invited me to an event in a neighborhood where I don’t usually travel. I was a little apprehensive about journeying into an unknown area, but the show was great and we had a good time. I learned that sometimes when we venture into unfamiliar territory, we discover that new experience is its own reward.

I am looking forward to the new experiences and discoveries that lie ahead in 2019. I am expecting many changes and new developments in the next year, and I’m excited about learning all the lessons that 2019 holds. I pray you enjoy a happy new year and many blessings in the year ahead.

What did you learn in 2018? What are you looking forward to as we approach the new year?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

The change in weather brings a change in perception. I’m eager to leave behind the activity of summer and settle in for the cozy nesting of fall. Here are a few reasons I love God’s most colorful season.

Returning to a regular schedule. After of summer of spontaneity and adventure, I am happy to return to my well-worn routine. I spent the summer months collecting fresh ideas for projects, and I’m eager to refocus my energy on the work I value most.

Beginning new classes, small groups, church programs. Every fall is an opportunity to meet new people and explore new ideas. I’m happy to reconnect with friends and family after a summer spent doing my own thing, and I’m grateful for the chance to make new connections and forge new relationships.

Cooler morning walks.

Rainy afternoons spent reading on the couch.

Unpacking my collection of warm fleece and cozy pajamas.

A renewed understanding that the seasons of our lives are always changing and that what may seem to be an ending is only the beginning of a new phase in time.

And my favorite reason for loving fall is the constant reminder to be grateful for all I have. Everywhere I look, decorations and banners declare: “Be Thankful” and “Give Thanks.” Fall is the time to contemplate what is most important in my life and appreciate the people who share it. Every day is an opportunity to celebrate each blessing and acknowledge each gift.

In the fall I take the time to thank God for my safe and comfortable home, my family and friends, my work and opportunities. I value the special people I know, and I’m grateful for the moments we share.

This fall I pray you encounter a blessed and fruitful new season. Know God is always with you to keep you in his care.

What do you enjoy about each change of season? What are you looking forward to sharing this fall?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

I’ve survived 48 years on this earth, and I’ve learned many lessons during that time. Today I’m sharing some of the wisdom I’ve gathered.

Find something to be grateful for every day.

Be honest with yourself. You and God both know the truth.

Keep trying.

Keep praying.

Take care of your teeth.

Appreciate time with your children when they are small. You will miss their sticky hands someday.

Everyone has a story to tell, and every story has meaning.

Don’t sabotage yourself with impatience.

You are loved. God does notice and care.

You can’t reason with unreasonable people.

Toxic people are not worth your time and effort. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.

Have your car’s oil changed regularly.

Listen more than you talk.

Pray more than you worry.

Forgiveness is a process. Honor your own process and acknowledge your true feelings.

Show up every day and work hard.

Pay attention. The best moments often happen when we are focused somewhere else.

Life is not fair. Some people seem to have it easy, and some have more than their share of struggle.

But everyone has some troubles, and I wouldn’t really want to trade mine for anyone else’s.

Do the best you can in whatever circumstances God has given you.

Believe God knows what He’s doing in every situation.

Everything works together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Always be willing to learn something new.

Always be willing to encourage someone else.

It is easier to clean the house a little every day than face a big mess on the weekend.

That goes for life too. Deal with small issues before they become big problems.

Take off your sunglasses before innertubing on the lake.

Turn off your phone and talk to your children when they come home from school.

Be happy to see them when you’ve been apart a while.

All people want to be seen, acknowledged, and heard.

On a long hike, a slow and steady pace will get you there. Keep walking.

You will grow and learn as long as you live, so be patient and go easy on yourself.

Walk more.

Read more.

Eat more vegetables.

Friendships are fluid. Some people will come and go throughout our lives.

But the right people will always be there when you need them.

You are wise.

You are capable.

You will fulfill the purpose God has planned for you.

Do the most difficult part first and the rest will seem easy.

Whenever possible, invest in quality shoes. Don’t waste money on shoes that don’t support you.

Whenever possible, invest in quality people and relationships. Don’t waste time on people who don’t support you.

Be at peace today.

Look forward to tomorrow.

Have faith for the future.

Remember God is with you always.

Say thank you, be happy, and know you are blessed.

What have you learned in the years of your life? Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

A friend suggested I share some little-known facts about Liz. Here are fifteen:

When I was six, I was on a local kids’ TV program. I sat next to a dog puppet in a box.

In high school I won a composition contest. My essay “Investing a Career in Education” explained why good teachers are important and was printed in the town newspaper.

I’m a Batman fan. I grew up watching the old Adam West Batman series, and I named my teddy bear Robin. Now I like the Chris Nolan Dark Knight movies and the Gotham TV series.

I met American Idol winner Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas. He signed my CD.

I have traveled to Germany and Paris, and I ate lunch in the Eiffel Tower; but my favorite trip was to Hannibal, Missouri, to see the writing desk of author Mark Twain.

The day I got my first car, I ran into a tree. It was a small tree, and my car knocked it down.

I don’t like avocados, raw onions, or green peppers on anything.

I have never eaten sushi or gone bungee jumping, and I have no plans to do either.

My daughter took my wisdom teeth to school for show and tell.

My first blog was called lizology101, but it ended when I started howtobeasinglemom.com.

My first published short story appeared in the magazine Tattooing by Women.

For a year, I worked as a proofreader for the state legislature.

During that year, I went to work one morning with gum in my hair and didn’t notice until after I’d had an entire conversation with a coworker.

I collect owls, ceramic pitchers, and children’s books. I buy old clothes in thrift stores and cut them into pieces to make quilts. The quilt I’m making now includes old tee shirts, sweatshirts, and a pair of jeans.

I am grateful for my family and friends who support my dreams. I want to know more about my readers and would love for you to leave a comment with a few fun facts about yourself.

What are you grateful for? What are the happy memories that have made you who you are?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

This week I’m exploring a few truths I have learned about God.

"For I know that the Lord is great" (Psalm 135:5).

God is always listening. I was raised to avoid conflict by keeping my mouth shut. I have learned that God is not offended by hearing our true opinions. He created us with minds and emotions, he knows our every thought and feeling, and he encourages us to share every truth with him. We need not keep any secrets from God, but we can always tell him how we feel and know that he will still accept us.

God wants me to listen, too. I have been guilty of not always paying attention, of being busy, self-centered, and caught up in my own agenda and goals. I forget to focus on others, to hear their stories and concerns, to offer my understanding and compassion. God wants me to listen to the people in my life, and he asks that I listen for his voice, too. He gives me quiet promptings about the next steps I should take, and I need to be receptive to those moments when he speaks to me.

God blesses me, whether I notice or not. An old friend once told me this simple prayer: “Thank you for my many blessings, even those I cannot see.” I often take for granted the good things that come to me each day: the loving friends and family, my safe and comfortable home, my gifts of health and purpose. I try to remember to thank God daily for all my benefits and blessings; but I know that on the days I forget, he is still giving. I have been richly blessed, and I am grateful to the God who always listens, loves, and gives me everything I need.

What are you grateful for today? What have you learned about the God who always hears and responds?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

As usual, I’m avoiding the mall and spending my Christmas in quiet contemplation, but there are a few gifts I have been grateful to receive.

Peace. At Christmas I will take all the time I can to relax and rest, to put my feet up, reread The Long Winter, and be grateful that I have a safe and comfortable home, warm central heating, and enough food to eat.

Hope. As 2017 ends, I am particularly excited about the future. I know 2018 will be a year of action, and I’m looking forward to all the positive changes ahead.

Purpose. This year I am grateful for the sense of meaning this season brings. I give thanks that I feel God’s presence in my life, and I know he is guiding the next steps I will take.

Friendship. Today I thank God for all the special people I am blessed to know. I am thankful for my loving and supportive family and the positive, encouraging friends who share my life each day.

Treats. One goal I hold for 2018 is to make better food choices, but the occasional indulgence reminds me that life is sweet. It should be savored and shared.

This Christmas I hope you receive everything you wish. What do you hope for this holiday season?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail