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 22 – BSF

IMG_0825I can not say enough about Bible Study Fellowship. I had heard about it for years. I love that everyone doing BSF all over the world is studying the same thing. At a conference last year I met women from all over that were discussing the scripture that BSF was looking at and I wanted in. My group studies God’s word and I have gotten to know some amazing and diverse women in the process. It has also been a good discipline to get me in God’s word most days.

Loving BSF,

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 18 – Trolley Cars and Big Shoes

IMG_0818Can’t believe it, but I am in San Francisco. I haven’t been here since before kids. But here I am on a girls weekend preparing to run a half marathon. Traveling changes when you leave pieces of your heart behind as you adventure away. While I had a blast in the 7 story Nike store all I could do was take pictures of everything to send to my 10 year old boy. I love having a 10 year old boy to think about while on vacation. I love my 3 sweet babies and seeing all the things they would enjoy here, like giant feet at the Nike store.

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 12 – Captivating 2013

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It is a rarity to actually get away. I have the opportunity about once a year around fall to be gone for a weekend. Last year I was at the Captivating Retreat in Colorado. I traveled with a good friend and had an amazing time away. I posted this when I got back and thought I would repeat it again here. If you look close you can see my shoes. 🙂


 

My hands shook as I stepped out onto the ledge. I looked down through the grate to the ground a hundred feet below….Why am I doing this?…. I clipped in with harnesses fit tight around my legs and shoulders…. Again, why am I doing this?…. I stopped a moment, turned to the young guy holding the lever and begged him to confirm that I was indeed hooked in. He assured me and the floor began to slowly drop. There I was hanging. Suspended far above the canyon. 3-2-1 the latch released and I plummeted.  It felt like a lifetime before the rope caught and I swung out over the ravine. As I swung I shook, scared I would still fall even as the rope held taught. Once the arc of the swing decreased, my body started to relax and I settled into the joy of soaring hundreds of feet above the ground. Knowing I had faced my fear and jumped!

 

For whatever reason I felt compelled to have a physical representation of the emotional and spiritual cliff jumping I have been doing over the last few years. Larry Crab calls it jumping off the cliff of safety into the abyss of rejection and trusting that the “rope” of God will hold you tight before you hit the ground.

 

It was a funny thing to actually jump. First, when I stepped out it seemed like a really BAD idea. My terror was greater than I anticipated. And so it is with most steps in life. It is much easier to stay put. It may not be good, but it is familiar! I know how to navigate my current situation and make it the best it can be. I made my literal jump with a friend. We sat side by side and once we stepped out there was no turning back. Truthfully, I don’t think I could have made it up the stairs to get harnessed in without her. I didn’t need her to do anything. She didn’t hold my hand, she didn’t force me, in fact, she barely spoke. She just walked beside me as I faced my fear. God is so good to put us in community. Sometimes we are called to act or to speak, but sometimes we are called to just walk beside our friend as God does His healing work in her life.

 

Second, it was not instantly fun. Even after the rope caught it took several swings for me to relax. Why is that? I was safe, secure, but the shadow of the fear I had just faced took a moment to vanish in the light of my new reality. That is the thing about facing fear, it takes a little time to get used to our new reality. Our new freedom. Often we have been in darkness and fear for so long it is difficult to embrace the freedom and light Christ offers us.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1

 

Third, the jump actually hurt. Later that day large bruises showed up on my arms and legs, tender to the touch. Life is not instantly peachy when we risk and leap where God is calling us. It is messy, painful at times. But it is right where I want to be – trusting God and enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.

 

For I know the plans I have for your declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

 

On the Adventure,

alison sig