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Devotions for My Single Mom Life: Find Strength in God and Discover Joy in Unexpected Places

Devotions for My Single Mom Life: Find Strength in God and Discover Joy in Unexpected Places

by Rebecca List-Bergeron


Learn More | Meet Rebecca List-Bergeron

1

Just Breathe

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV

As we get started, I want to share a little more about myself and what the single-mom life looks like for me. I live in northern Colorado with my two wonderful boys, Caedmen and Eli (ages 14 and 11), as well as a gorgeous Siberian husky named Keva.

Keva has been my hiking partner, ministering angel, and listening ear during times of heartbreak. As I write these words, I have been divorced for two years. My marriage ended after sixteen years. It was not my decision, not my choice. In fact, I opposed the divorce. I sought wise counsel, and I pleaded that my husband and I could find another way. I tried to find any other alternative to divorce.

I remember the pain, the tears, and the questions. How could this happen to my family? What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I good enough? Why wasn’t I “enough” for him?

I had dreamed about growing old with the man I married. I compared myself to others, the married women in my church and my family. And I beat myself up because my story differed from theirs.

I struggled to find hope.

Meanwhile, God remained faithful through it all.

This doesn’t mean I now have the answers to all my questions. I don’t. In fact, I might never know the answers to some questions, but I do know who is holding me, my boys, and our future.

As I’ve been writing, I find myself wishing I could tell you I have arrived. I wish I could tell you everything that was broken has been made whole. Instead, I am striving to be honest on every page. That’s one thing you can count on as you read. I battle with my emotions every day. Sometimes I look at my boys and see how sad they are because they don’t have a dad around every day. On days like these, all I can do is breathe. Breathe. I love that word. I have it written on a poster above my bed. Breathe, I often remind myself. Just breathe.

A few days ago, I was reflecting on some words written by Amy Axby. Amy is a writer with amazing talents. Her blog, Lady the Fearless, blesses me and so many other people. With Amy’s permission, I am sharing some of her unpublished words, words that have truly touched my heart. I pray that they will bless you as well.

    Today I’m praying for anyone struggling with anxiety, stress, or worry of any kind.
    I’m praying for you to feel a deep, fresh breath in your chest right now. A deep, slow, healing, cleansing breath that fills you with peace, all the way from your chin to your belly.
    Inhale love, exhale anxiety.
    Inhale love, exhale worry.
    Inhale love, exhale stress.
    I’m praying for your eyes to be able to shift from the problem to the One who loves you. For you to remember that you are held. He has you in the palm of His hand, no matter what. I pray you can rest in knowing that. I pray you can rest in His love.
    I proclaim that all your circumstances are covered by the blood of Jesus. There is nothing that can snatch you out of His hand. There is nothing that He cannot handle. There is nothing that can keep you from His love.
    I pray you know that you are not a failure. Everyone makes mistakes, but you are not defined by them. And your future is not a sum total of your mistakes. Someone needs to hear that right now. God is your redeemer. He’s already got it figured out.
    Breathe.
    Breathe.
    Breathe.
    I pray that the static of anxiety, worry, and stress falls away now, and you see it crumbling under your feet for what it is: a dirty lie sent to keep you from all God has for you.
    And I pray for joy to take its place! For laughter! For childlike fun! For trust. For gratitude and vision and wisdom to increase in the place of sneaky fears.
    I proclaim that you will not let fear steal from you any longer. You are done with it. You are resting in His promises, in His love.
    God, help us keep our eyes on You, no matter the circumstance, no matter the storm. We have water to walk on. We have steps to take.
    We trust You to help us in every area and work it all out for our good. We give You permission to blow the ceiling off our expectations.
    We exhale everything that is not of You, with every breath! And inhale heaven in its place. We love You, Jesus. Amen.

I keep this piece on my smartphone, and I turn to these words when I know I need to spend a few minutes quieting my heart and breathing deep. On the really challenging days, I find myself reading these words over and over.

I’ve talked to lots of single moms while writing this book, and I’ve come to realize that we all have different stories. We are at different places in our journeys. But there is a common theme: None of our stories are over! The Lord has blessed us with one of the most important jobs on earth—raising our children. In fact, this might be the most important job on earth for many of us. This is our task regardless of whether we have positive coparenting relationships with our exes.

Whatever the case, God has so much in store for us and our kids. I know the Lord is holding me right now. He is holding my boys and our future, and he is doing the same for you. So breathe. Just breathe.

    “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
      Saint Francis de Sales


2

Follow the Leader

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Matthew 6:21 NLT

As single moms, we see our kids as many things: blessings, challenges, puzzles, and tests of our will and wisdom. But have you ever seen a child as an invitation to worship?

At any age, our kids can help reveal the wonder of God. It’s the way a toddler giggles as she waddles across the floor chasing the family dog. Or the way a tattooed teenager stops to hold the door for an elderly couple exiting a coffee shop.

It seems that almost every day, my kids remind me there’s nothing ordinary about an “ordinary” day. My kids have helped me realize we are surrounded by miracles. The bee that dances across a fragile crocus petal before nimbly taking flight, carrying half its body weight in pollen. The fat, drifting clouds that look like the faces of bearded Viking warriors. The moon-kissed lake that shines like obsidian underneath the night sky.

My kids have helped me discover, or perhaps rediscover, that the world can be a gallery of masterworks created by a loving Artist.

Like most parents, I spend a lot of time thinking and praying about what and how I should teach my boys. But God has shown me that sometimes I need to become the student. I need to be humble enough to learn from someone who isn’t old enough to shave.

Through my sons’ eyes, I can see the world around me in fresh and wonderful ways. Notice how Vincent van Gogh delighted in childlike wonder:

    If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think sometimes I see something deeper, more infinite, and more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning, and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.

Realizing my kids have so much to teach me is both humbling and exciting. It makes me eager for each new journey. In the spirit of the great artist Van Gogh, I want to take my kids by the hand (while they’ll still let me) and walk with them on paths that will show us the wonder of worship and bring us ever closer to the heart of our loving God.

    Father God,
    Thank you for all I have discovered (and rediscovered) through my sons’ eyes. May I always be open to what you want to teach me, no matter the source of my learning.
    Amen.


3

This Too Shall Pass?

Make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.
Ephesians 5:16 TLB

Every single parent knows that each season of a child’s life has its unique joys and pains.

Few moments in life are as precious as cuddling with a tiny baby in your favorite chair. However, hearing that same little one wailing in the middle of the night tries your patience like few other challenges in life.

When my boys were toddlers, their adventurous spirits awakened the child in me time and again. Something else was awakened in me when they spilled grape juice on the freshly steam-cleaned rug or smashed a favorite vase.

Today, my boys often surprise me with their clever observations and random acts of extreme kindness. Their sudden outbursts of temper are just as surprising—but not in a good way.

Whenever I have faced a difficult phase of parenting, especially when I first became a single mom, my friends and family would try to console me with this advice: “It’s just a phase. It will pass.”

I know these people meant well, but I didn’t find their words soothing or encouraging. I felt like I was being encouraged to focus on the future instead of what I was experiencing in the moment. The right now.

We all know how fast time zips by. It wasn’t that long ago that I was rocking my boys to sleep. Flash-forward a few years, and I’m a mom to two adults in the making. Today, more than ever, I don’t want to grit my teeth and wait for a difficult stage to pass. I want to live right now. I want to savor it all. Even those tough times that drive me to my knees in desperate prayer.

Let’s be honest: Parenting is the hardest job in the world. And for those of us who must fly solo much of the time, it’s harder still. But I want to be present for it all. The times that challenge my wisdom and patience and the hard-won victories that make me feel like the most fortunate person alive. I want to apologize when I need to. I want to forgive. I want God’s perspective on life and parenting. I want to take a deep breath and live every moment.

Whatever phase of parenting you find yourself in, that’s where you are. There’s no avoiding it. A parenting challenge is not something you rush through with your nose plugged. You jump in and live it. And ideally, you can slow down long enough to look for the unique treasures and life lessons God provides, even in times of crisis or chaos.

As single moms, let’s make every moment count. Let’s live each one with joy, courage, curiosity, and gratitude.

    Heavenly Father,
    May I remember always that even though I am called a single parent, I don’t parent alone. You are surely by my side, even when I am not aware of it. You provide strength, comfort, and courage. Most of all, you provide love. Healing, empowering love. I thank you for that precious gift.
      Amen.

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