Beauty In All Things

A single mom loving Jesus and surviving suburbia

Day 31 – Reflections on 31 Days

31 Big ShoesI have loved writing my single mom life for 31 days. I should do this post tomorrow, but tomorrow is halloween and I will post one last fun pic. Here are a few observations….

Observation #1: I should have called it 31 days of my toes. It is still so warm in Southern California that each pick has my toes.

Observation #2: No situation is as depressing as it seems when you have to figure out how to type it up for a blog post and try to give it meaning. To others and yourself.

Observation #3: It is hard to be totally raw and I was surprised at how easy it was to gloss over many of the tough things. I will need to go back and elaborate on some of my posts to share more accurately the raw and real.

Observation #4: I was a little crazy with the feet pictures. Most specifically at Beth Moore and the Airport. 🙂 People must have thought I was crazy.

Observation #5: We are a really, really busy family who does a lot of cool things in October.

Overall, It was so healthy for me to look at my days and see all the ways that God’s hand covers our family. There were fun days and then there were rough days. I realized that my rough days are always filled with some joy. I can choose to look at only the hard parts, but that would be dishonest. It is a lie to label my day without looking at the positive too. Both are evident. Both are worthy of acknowledgement and process. And through it all my kids and I….

 …are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes for the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Still processing all of this,

alison sig

 

Day 30 – Halloween

IMG_1227Holidays are hard. Many families have two to share the load of the common place of the day and the excitement of day. Halloween for example means that I have to coordinate buying the pumpkins, overseeing the carving, cleaning up the carving roasting the seeds….you get the idea. One great thing after another that is hard to give up. Thanks to a sweet friend, I am happy to say that, Halloween is one holiday that I have finally dialed in. A few years ago she started inviting me to her Halloween party and it has changed our holiday. We gather in the afternoon and all carve our pumpkins together, in community. There are tons of parents to supervise and clean up and manage our brood. She orders pizza and the kids play. At 6 we head out and trick-o-treat all together. Again, tons of parents to manage and coral all our kids. I know they do it for fun, but it ministers to me so greatly. It meets a need for our family in a special and unique way.

Until next year,

alison sig

 

Day 28 – Walking Together

IMG_0980Today I went to my small group of single moms. We get together to encourage one another and study God’s word. It is so nice to spend this short time with women who live my experience daily. I am so blessed by their understanding and wisdom.

On the journey together,

alison sig

Day 25 – Surprise Beach Day

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Today was a surprise day. An impromptu trip to my parents led to an impromptu drive up the coast with just my dad and my daughter. I am blessed to live an hour drive from my parents who just happen to live at the beach. Our drive ended in Malibu at a lovely restaurant on the water. It was such a treat to spend the day with my dad and my girl enjoying a gorgeous Southern California fall day.

Cherishing Special Times,

alison sig

Day 23 – Pumpkin Patch

IMG_0821Family trip to the pumpkin patch. Complete with family photo. See my feet above. Family photos used to be hard for me, but now 1 adult and 3 kids is our norm. I love seeing their faces next to mine. We are family.

Loving Family,

alison sig

Day 19 – 13.1

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13.1  I did it. I finished a half-marathon.

Dreams.  Broken dreams, shattered dreams, the death of dreams. These have been my close companions. Today, I have fulfilled a dream.  I almost can not type. There is so much emotion tied up in todays dream. So much. So much pain, so much joy. I’m not un-athletic. I am up for a fun hike or bike ride around town, but I am not a runner and I do not seek out physical activity. I am not one to push myself phyisically when the same end can be accomplished at a sweatless stroll. But years ago I got it in my head that if I was strong and healthy emotiionally I could run. 6 long years ago.  Honestly, when I said it it was as likely that I would climb mt everest. My kids were 9 months, 2 and 4 and I was suddenly an only parent. Even as the words came out of my mouth I knew I would never actually do it.  Each year the sign ups came for this race in SF that ends with a tiffany necklace. I thought for sure if I was going to run this would be it.

When I actually signed up this year I was a little shocked. The funny thing was how casual my sign up was. Sitting poolside with a friend, she mentioned that she was gonna sign up. I had 24 hours to commit. And I committted. 6 months out I wondered if I would actually make it as I went on an occasional walk or swim. Then the horrible news about “the sweep”. I mentioned it in my earlier post. The idea of getting picked up for running to slow motivated me to train. And train I did. Enlisting the help of a great friend and serious runner I worked hard. It became my part-time job as I scheduled runs and cross training into my already busy week.

At this same time my bible study started the Life Of Moses. Having studied Moses before I didn’t think much of it, but God’s word never comes back void and He is using this study in powerful and practical ways. Something I had not noticed about Moses is that he did not think he could do it AT FIRST. At first is the important part of that sentence. For those familiar with Moses his brother Aaron spoke to pharaoh for him, at the beginning. By the end of the plagues MOSES is leading the people out of Egypt, leading a nation through the wilderness. Moses did not think he could do it, but God showed him he could.

As I sat on the plane home it hit me, God needed to show ME I could do this. I COULD find support from a runner friend, I COULD fit this into my schedule, I COULD run 13.1 miles.

I thought I was just fulfilling my dream, but God in his tender grace was also showing me more and using his word to do it. He can and will use me for his glory no matter what my past. His word is living and active. Sharper than a two edged sword. Yes indeed.

Running,

alison sig

Day 17 – Flight

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Yep, these are my shoes. Happens rarely, but today I fly. I will run my first ever half marathon in San Francisco. I have become such a running nut that I am actually carrying my shoes on just in case my luggage gets lost. Can’t run without this pair!! More to come after the weekend.

At 10,000 Feet,

alison sig

Day 16 – Digging

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I love the beach. I love the sound of the waves and the great expanse of deep blue stretching as far as the eye can see.

Last summer my littlest and I were digging a hole at the beach. We dug and dug and then woosh a wave came and covered our hole filling it with sand. We dug again. Again a wave. Then my son had the idea to build a wall to stop the waves. Great! But the mighty ocean took down his wall and his hole. Finally, we moved up shore a bit and started anew.

For the first several years of my single mom-hood life felt much like that day at the beach. I’d work on my hole until something would come fill it up. I’d find a new plan a new wall and again, life would thwart my plans.

Working outside of the home and scheduling was my biggest hole. I was coordinating dropping off covering child care expenses, etc. etc.

Finally, I “moved up shore a bit and started anew”. Now I work from home and it is an amazing blessing. I can throw in a load of laundry between emails and client calls. It is not perfect. Working for yourself makes budgeting difficult and challenges my self esteem daily. (but that is for another post). God has graciously brought new clients every time my plate looks empty. He is provider, caretaker and boss.

Working away,

Day 14 – The Sweep

IMG_0150I am not a runner. Truly, I can barely go a mile run/walking. So the last few months have thrown me for a loop and I have really surprised myself.

When  I was first single I was intrigued by a race in San Francisco. At the finish line of the Nike Women’s half-marathon you are greeted by firemen in a tuxedos holding Tiffany & Co boxes with your winners necklace. What?!  Awesome!! I am not sure it still works the exact same way, but the idea captivated me and each year I consider running. This year is my year. I am signed up and I am committed. I started training figuring I could eventually make the end of the race. And then last month I learned a terrible phrase…

“You must BEAT THE SWEEP”

If you run you know what this means. Basically if you are too slow they come and pick you up in a van and drive you to the end!!!!

Noooooooo. I do not want to do all this training and then miss out on the prize. It was more than I could bear, so beefed up my training and today was my last long run before the race. There are so many spiritual parallels to all this training and preserving and ways God is working through this and I am sure I will share more. But for today, I am focusing on the sweep.

It is a funny thing to focus on failing. Failing in this case being picked up and unable to finish. I have geared my training based on the sweep time. It has given me motivation to get out there and run and cross train. But it has kept me looking backward too. I keep saying I think I will make it. A friend texted this week, “There is no think. You are going to make it”. Suddenly I was looking forward. I am going to run 13.1 miles. I have trained. I have prepared. So much of life can be like that. Moving forward for fear of what may happen if we stop and we forget to look forward with anticipation for what God has for the future.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11

 

And guess what I learned today….if you get picked up by the sweep they take you right to the finish and you still get your award! In life when my mind is set right on God, when I am truly relying on the Lord, sometime he gives me strength to persevere and sometimes, he picks me up and carries me to the end.

Looking forward,

alison sig

Day 13 – Confessions of Re-Entry

IMG_0419Photo: My Welcome Mat

 

We have all seen the astronaut movies. You know the ones, man up in space, part malfunction, coffee drinking Huston ground crew scrabbling for solutions to bring the ship home. Then it happens they fix the problem, tighten the screw and the ship heads home.

But it’s NEVER over here. Now the ship must re-enter the atmosphere. They always loose radio contact. With bated breath (had to look up the spelling) we wait. Will they make it. The ship gets hot, fiery red, as it sears through the barrier from weightlessness to gravity and then….plummets to the sea below. Hurray! Right? But seriously, that was a rough ride.

I gotta be real here. My last post have been pretty great. Traveling to the beach, getting away, enjoying Beth Moore and re-living my conference last year. I am living it up. But man, coming back to my life after that short time away was, well….,  shocking.

As I opened my garage door I can hear the space theme music playing in the back ground “dum dum da dum dum”. And there it is. The pile of stuff to go to good will, the bikes half-parked, my storage stuffed clumsily around the edges. I walked into my kitchen and praise Jesus the sitter had cleaned the dishes. Oh my sweet house. Mostly clean, but the clothes I left on the floor were still right there. The trash and the recycling happily awaiting my return to be whisked away to the curb. My kids, my sweet kids, whom I missed so much, peppered me with kisses and questions and then right went right back into the ebb and flow of bliss and sibling rivalry. In the blink of an eye all of the responsibilities that fall squarly on me were right back on my shoulders.

Re-entry is hard. Whether a night away or an afternoon. I wish I could say that I handled it with grace and charm filled with joy. But, I didn’t. I let the kids play and I took a nap. Yep. It has taken me several days to process my response and recover. And you know what I have realized, I am normal. And my kids are normal and our house is normal. We are not perfect. Single parenting is hard, but as my sweet friend reminded me, God is providing strength enough for today.

Strength for the Adventure,

alison sig