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?

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Fall is the time of change and transformation. In fall the days grow shorter, shadows darken, trees go bare. It is the time of preparing for the deep rest of winter and the regrowth of spring; the season of gathering in what we have grown, examining what we need to move forward, and establishing our priorities for pursuing what is to come.

This fall has been a particularly busy time for me. I am establishing new relationships and looking forward to new developments on my path. I am preparing for an expected season of growth in the spring ahead.

Throughout this fall and winter, I will be making significant changes to this website and blog. I hope to extend my reach further and speak to a wider audience.

Please be patient as I explore what all these changes mean to these pages. I pray you will continue to check in here often, and that we will soon be able to connect and communicate in more effective ways. Thank you for reading Howtobeasinglemom.com, and I pray you receive many blessings today.

What are you looking forward to changing this fall? What do you hope will develop in the months ahead?

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September 1st approaches, the time I always think of as the real New Year. School terms are starting. Church programs begin. We buy fresh clothes, shoes, pencils, and backpacks. We adjust to changing schedules and expectations. Fall is a busy time, a final flurry of activity before the holidays and then settling in for a long winter’s rest.

Each season promises an exciting new beginning. Every new start gives an opportunity to learn and grow. A change in the weather brings a chance for building friendships and exploring ideas.

This September I pray you welcome the new season. I hope you receive the inspiration and experiences to propel you into a time of expansive growth and understanding. Know God is with you always, through every season of your year.

What are you looking forward to this fall? How do you greet the start of a different season?

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Months ago I planted this scrubby shrub in a pot on my patio. What grew up from the soil is this towering, thick-stemmed mystery, which we’ve named “The Beanstalk.” It has wide and round, velvety leaves, dainty yellow flowers, and round green fruit that has yet to mature. I suspect my neighborhood squirrel left behind a forgotten seed; but I have no idea what it is, and I won’t know until the fruit reveals itself. Meanwhile, I faithfully tend the growing plant. I wait and water, watch and wonder, eagerly anticipating the day the fruit will ripen.

A life of faith is like this flowerpot. We never know what will grow from the seeds we have planted. We take an action, make a decision, or join a conversation with no way of knowing what will develop from our efforts or what the conclusion will be. Often we begin a season looking forward to one outcome, only to discover something completely unexpected growing in its place. We may be surprised by what we harvest at the end of a growing season, but God always knows the potential that lies beneath the surface.

 “So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:5-6).

While we wait to see what blooms, our purpose is to faithfully tend the garden we have started. We continue to nurture relationships, take actions, serve others, and pray constantly. We can eagerly anticipate the day we see what blossoms from our efforts, and we can be confident that when God gives the increase, whatever grows will be good.

This season, I pray you are faithfully tending the seeds you have planted. Know that your work will be rewarded with a rich and bountiful harvest.

What are you hoping will grow in this season? How do you know God will give the increase?

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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?

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One day last spring I discovered these two guests visiting my patio – young crows who rested from their flight lessons by perching on my air conditioner and outdoor loveseat. I studied the crows from my window and snapped a few photos while their parents squawked overhead, then I left the crows alone to complete their important work while I considered how we all learn to fly.

Leave the nest (or you will be pushed). To discover anything new, we have to move out of our comfort zones and explore dangerous, unknown areas. If we linger in one place too long, we outgrow our safe surroundings and find ourselves forced to change our perspective.

Let go. We can’t learn to fly while clinging to the past. We have to release those burdens that hold us back and make an effort to propel ourselves forward.

Expect to fall. Often we find ourselves moving downwards before we can rise. Sometimes we have to hit the ground before finding the way to lift ourselves up again.

Keep trying. Regular practice builds strength and power. We may have to make several attempts before we develop the stamina we need to succeed.

Encourage others. While baby birds struggle, their parents perch in the trees overhead, calling to their offspring on the ground. When we gain knowledge and understanding, it is important to offer encouragement to those who are still learning to pick themselves up.

These plaques hang on my office wall, reminders that to reach our dreams, we need courage to leave our safe spaces, commitment to do the hard work, and vision to reach heights we’ve only dreamed of before. This week I hope you take a leap and find yourself able to fly.

Where are your dreams leading you now? How can you step out and learn something new?

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