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Finding Hope for Single Parent and Blended Families, Part 1

From the series House or Home - Parenting Edition

Is there hope for single parents and blended families to experience true joy and peace - to find rest and strength in the midst of the journey? In this session, Chip is joined by his wife Theresa to share her story of single parenthood and how God carried her through that difficult time in her life. Whether you’re a single parent, a blended family, or just someone looking for a little encouragement, you’ll want to listen to this hope-filled message.

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Message Transcript

Only one out of four families in America, currently, are what you would call a traditional family. A mom and dad with the same biological children. Less than one in four. About twenty-three percent. About forty-two percent of all babies that are born are born out of wedlock so they have a single-parent mom.

We know with what’s happening in the military there’s functionally a lot of single moms and single dads as people get deployed.

You know that there’s widows and widowers. What we know for sure is that if a child born today over the next eighteen years, about seventy to eighty percent of them will have some window of their life where they’ll live with only one parent.

So all I’m saying is this is huge. I mean, being a single parent isn’t some little group over here. It’s huge.

Second thing we know is a single parent cannot provide the same quality of care, and the quantity of time, as a two parent home. I mean, we just need to get that on the table. You can’t work and be at home at the same.

Your energy, your bandwidth, you can’t give to your kids and work and take care of all the issues financially, the emotional support and strength that you need.

A single parent has their own personal needs to get met and often those don’t get met so you have less to give to your kids, both in time and energy.

The third is that with God nothing is impossible. Remember Mary’s response in Luke chapter 1 when the angel said, “You’re a virgin and you’re going to have a child.” “How can this be?” The angel said, “What do you mean, ‘How can this be?’ With God nothing is impossible.”

If you’re a single parent, if you’re in a blended family, God’s Word to you is with Him nothing is impossible. And you say, “Well, but I made a lot of mistakes and, you know, this may happen because I did this, and this, and this.”

With God nothing is impossible.

You couldn’t make almost more mistakes. It’s hard to read one chapter of the Bible, like Ruth chapter 1, and see a man, his wife, and his sons that disobeyed God and did more things wrong, going backwards.

And then to see God in His grace. The moment she turned to God, turned to His people, wanted to obey, was broken. “Oh, God, help.” He delivers.

Now, is there pain and consequences? Of course.

Jeremiah 32:17 is one of those verses probably worth memorizing where the prophet, in the midst of a horrendous situation, and someone looks at it and he says, “Was the arm of the Lord too short? Is anything too difficult for God?”

And the answer, overwhelmingly, is no.

So that’s what you know. Well let me, let’s, what can you do as a single parent? And a lot of these are just laying out, hey, here’s what you need to do. And there’s whole books written about how to do them.

But number one, make God your number one priority. I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s the key.

No matter what, get up, spend time with God. Make His Word, make His people, make your heart the number one priority.

Number two, get connected with a strong, godly, same-sex support group for encouragement and accountability. You gotta get connected. If you’re a single parent, don’t go it alone. You will not make it, you will not do it well, you’ll make very bad decisions in your moments of weakness, and loneliness, and exhaustion, you will get involved in relationships to try and take care of things that you will just add gasoline onto the fire of your suffering.

Third, accept this season of your life and set realistic expectations for you and your children.

I mean, at some point in time, you know, I see single parents that, they just keep going up against this wall and they just think things are going to get perfect, and nice, and easy. Just accept: this is the season.

And you know what? For many times it’s the next ten years because their kids are eight or nine, ten years old. Or the next twelve years and the next fifteen years. Just accept.

It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad season. But you just accept this is the season that I have. I need God’s grace. And it really resets and recalibrates your expectations.

Number four, remember God can make up for what you can’t give your kids. I’ve watched this over, and over, and over, and over again, like I’ve said, for many, many years being a pastor.

I watched kids coming out of single homes and you scratch your head and you say, “You know what? How does that happen? Those are the best, most godly, amazing kids I’ve ever met.”

And often they see the desperation of their mom or their dad clinging to God and they don’t have enough money and they don’t, there’s pressure and there’s all these things and those kids realize, because there’s great need, they cling to God.

God can make up. He can do for your kids what you can’t do.

Number five, refuse to become a victim, a martyr, or a super-parent. Those are the temptations. As a single parent, “Oh, woe is me. Everyone take care of me.”

I mean, I don’t mean to diminish things but you just have to accept, you know, don’t be a victim. Don’t be a martyr. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you. His promises are true.

And the other is don’t be a super-parent. Boy, I’ve watched single parents just try to do it all, be it all, I mean, rise at four in the morning, go to bed at one at night, I’m going to do this for my kids, I’m going to…

Just accept it’s a tough season. God will be adequate. Walk with Him. Get help. Love Him. Accept help.

Number six, don’t compromise your spiritual and moral standard. Don’t settle for second best in an effort to find a mate, or a father, or a mother. Boy, it’s a big temptation.

You start praying and praying, “Oh, God, you know, give these little kids, or not so little kids, a dad or a mom.” And don’t compromise, “Well, you know, maybe he’ll come to Christ later, or he says he believes in God, or she says she believes in God, and of course they haven’t walked with God, they don’t read their Bible, they don’t seem to have any spiritual interest but…if I pass on this one, another one might never come.” Errrrmmmmmm!

You know, that’s the buzzer of the Holy Spirit going, “Stop thinking that way.” Don’t compromise. All you’ll do is compound your children’s problems.

And then, finally, number seven, sometimes it’s best to hear the reality and the power of God than it is to just talk about it. And so my wife has been a single parent and I asked Theresa to come and share her story and just take a few minutes to say how do those things that we shared really work out?

[Theresa]: Well, I was reading the book of Ruth and I had seen parallels to my own life as I read that and one was when Naomi returned back to Bethlehem and she made this statement about herself.

She said, “The Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full but the Lord has brought me back empty.”

And I realized that at one time in my life that’s exactly how I felt. I felt very empty, and I felt bitter, and felt like my life was just a mess.

And it was at that time that, as a young wife and mother, my husband abandoned me and we were, I thought, doing well and I had all my hopes and all my dreams built around this, my husband, and our life and family, and found out that while I was pregnant he was involved with another woman.

And then shortly after our children were born, we had twin boys, he left me and was, never became a part of my children’s life.

And so it was a very devastating time for me. And I was just distraught, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it and I was that bitter woman. I was that one that just felt so empty and so, so at loss with my life and, you know, what am I going to do now?

And it was just, life didn’t seem like it had any meaning anymore.

But God reached in to my life at that time and I was working on a college campus, and the man that I worked with, the director of admissions there, was a very godly man. And he began to share with me about the love of Christ.

And as he shared with me and I had this longing in my heart it was through his witness, and his wife, that I came to know Jesus as my Savior.

And was at that time that my life began to change. And God really began to teach me who He was and that He was a God, I remember, my friend telling me about the love of God and telling me verses like that He’s near to the brokenhearted. And He helps those that are crushed in spirit.

And that’s exactly where I was and he told me about a God who has an everlasting love. That His love would never end. That it would never grow cold for me.

And that it would, He would be with me all the time. That He wanted to care for me, and He wanted to care for my children, and He wanted to help me through the difficult times in my life.

And so as I listened to that, God just became more and more real and I began to grow spiritually.

And so God, in an amazing way, at the most difficult time, reached into my life and God, at that time, started making my life look a little bit differently and as I read through the book of Ruth, then I saw myself in another passage there.

Because He took my bitter life, and He began to fill me up with Himself.  And Boaz, who married Ruth, said to Ruth, he said, “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.”

And I realized that’s exactly what I had done. That I had come to take refuge under the wings of my Heavenly Father. Under the wings of the Almighty God, the only one who could really help me, and the only who could give me purpose. The only one who could restore the hope that I had lost in my life.

And so I began to spend time with God on a regular basis and get to know, who is this God that I’m learning to serve and I’m learning to walk with?

And as we talked about what sustained me during those years of being a single mom and I had, they were infants when my husband left and he left me with no income. I wasn’t working. He didn’t provide any support. He pretty much disappeared.

But there were, as I thought about that, there were four things that really sustained my hope during those years. And the first one was, is that God’s Word, His Word in my life is what continually sustained me and there’s a passage in the Psalms that says, “If God’s Word had not been my delight I would have perished in my affliction.”

And I truly would have perished in my affliction. But it was in His Word and I learned to, with the help of my friends teaching me, to get up in the morning before I, you know, I had to go back to work. And so I had very little time to myself but I would get up early in the morning before getting my boys up and, well, they may have already been up but, when they were that little.

But making that time because I needed it so desperately. I needed God so desperately is to open up His Word and just to take in what He had to say to me.

And I remember thinking of His Word, this is just His love letter to me. But it was through His promises and holding on to His truth that sustained the hope for me.

The second one is running to my prayer closet every day and I usually did this after work because by that time of the day I was just spent. And picking up the little ones, and getting their dinner, and by the time I got them in bed I was just totally exhausted.

And I was lonely. I was so lonely. And I didn’t want to be a single mom. I didn’t like where I was. And I would run into my prayer closet. It was just a closet where my clothes were. But I got down on my knees. It just became such a spiritual place for me and I don’t know I went in there. I didn’t have to because I was alone anyway.

But it was just a special place for me where I just felt close to God and, you know, I just felt His presence. And He was near to me there.

And God says, He promises us that as we draw near to Him that He will draw near to us. And I would just pour out my heart, and my fears, and my prayers for my children and our, just our life.

And God met me and He would just give me strength. It was a supernatural strength. I cannot explain it. But He helped me, and He lifted me up, and He gave me peace, and He gave me hope.

And He placed joy in my heart in the midst of a difficult situation.

And then the third thing He does is, we mentioned too, is just that community God gave me. A community of, they were mostly, friends.

But of Christian friends who supported me, who kept me on focus, who would help me keep my eyes upon the Lord when I was starting to drift a little bit, and who kept me accountable, and prayed for me, and sometimes brought food and just met physical needs that we had.

And so that community was very, very important to me. I don’t know what I would have done without them because I didn’t have a Christian family to support me in that way and so my Christian friends, the community of the church, was my family.

That was a very, very significant and important in my life.

And the last thing I think and made a great difference was I learned how to surrender to the Lord very early on in my Christian life.

And a verse that God used in a great way for me is II Timothy 1:12. And it says, “I know in whom I believe and I am convinced that He will guard what I had entrusted to Him until the day of His return.”

You see, I’m confident in my Savior, I know who I believe, and I know the kind of God He is because I’ve been in His Word, and I know that He gives me power, and that He answers prayer because I’ve prayed and I’ve asked, and I know the kind of God I believe in. And I know that He loves me and He cares for me.

And so I can entrust my children to Him. I can entrust my finances to Him. I can entrust my marriage, whether I would have it or not. I could entrust my life and my future, everything to Him to a place where it’s safe.

You see, it’s not safe if I hold on to it. And I’ll really mess it up if I make those decisions but if I entrust it to Him and allow Him to work, He will give me back… He will fill me up like He did Naomi and Ruth.

And he did. He filled up my emptiness with Himself and then He gave me a lot of amazing things in addition to that. He gave me an amazing husband that I just, I could never even dreamed of having and two more little kids.

And He made us a family and Chip was able to adopt my boys and God has been very, very faithful to His promises that He gave me as a young, abandoned, single mom.

There’s a quote that I love because I always felt like it just says what God taught me. And it’s kind of a prayer. It says, “Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to You with my empty cup uncertain of asking for any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known You better I would have come running with a bucket.”

And you know what? We need to come running with a bucket because He has so much that He wants to fill us up with. And that’s my prayer for me and for you.