Dear Single Mom-Part 3

Recently a mom asked me to write about practical tips for staying healthy and feminine in a busy life style. I told her I’d be happy to do so, because this is an important and fun topic for Christian women, but it seems only a few (and especially one) aspect of Godly femininity is usually mentioned and taught.

There is so much more to a truly beautiful woman. Godly beauty starts inwardly, yet shows itself outwardly.

Many Christian women read 1 Timothy 2:9 and interpret the Greek word used for “modest” as covering themselves appropriately. We are taught from an early age not to show too much skin and to cover our bodies in public. But I want to say, this is only part of the meaning of modesty.

“….Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9

KJV translates the word for modest with this: “orderly; that is, decorous; of good behavior, modest”

Though I believe appropriately covering our bodies is important, it is difficult to argue that this is the primary meaning of the Greek word “kosmios”. Rather, I see that God wants us to wear clothing that is pleasing to the eye in a modest manner. We are to take care of our appearance and make sure it is orderly and even decorous. In short, women who are pleasant in their appearance bring glory to God.

The Christian church has focused on “modesty” (their interpretation of modesty) more than on health. I’ve watched the results—many fully covered, unhealthy, unhappy women who are not taught the actual meaning of “kosmios”.

Here are a few things I believe are vital for Godly womanhood:

1. Do what you can to stay healthy.

One of the first steps to spiritual, emotional, and physical health is to keep our weight in check. Buy the weight loss program if you have to. Make it priority—rule over food rather than allow food to rule over you.

Buy a good scale and watch your weight–and if you’re married, do this even while pregnant. “Eating for two” doesn’t mean inhaling two donuts or five pancakes. Double up on the veggies, protein, and vitamins instead, if you need to. If we’re really eating for two rather than eating for ourselves, we’ll be eating in ways that are actually good for our baby and our body. Remember, you’re eating for your baby to form in the healthiest way possible.

The scale is your friend. Use it often and if you see numbers go up, do what it takes to stop the incline before you have serious regrets. This includes while you’re pregnant. If you consume too many empty calories while pregnant, the scale won’t drop easily after the baby is born. (Don’t allow yourself to gain 80 pounds if you only need to gain 40, etc.)

I’m not talking about being a size 2. BUT, I believe women need to encourage each other to stay healthy. Emotionally eating ourselves to ten sizes larger than we should be is not becoming for Godly women. This is a sensitive topic and not one we hear taught, but we need to start hearing it! Physical appearance matters and it affects us more than we know. Let’s not label health and fitness as worldly, but realize this is an area where the church often fails to live exemplary lives. Others look on and wonder why Christians preach against addictions, yet are addicted to over-indulgence with food. Do not all addictions harm the body, and why should teens accept preaching against nicotine from a father or mother who is grossly overweight and literally killing him/herself with sugar?

These are tough questions. But strong women are not afraid to face tough questions. It is high time for us to have worthy answers for those looking on.

Let’s face it—all addictions (not just some) are harmful and unbecoming to Christian women. And often, the more “religious” a group is, the numbers of overweight and unhealthy people increase. Religion labels certain things, but the Spirit of Christ sanctifies ALL things.

2. Exercise.

Getting active is vital for our health as moms. For many years, I pushed two or three babies in a used stroller for my exercise. I walked into town with them, walked around blocks before dinner, pushed them up and down a dusty country road. Wherever we lived, I did what I could with what I could.

Later years allowed for Cross Fit, weights, etc., but even then, the gym was a treat rather than a constant. Busy moms can even get on their living room floor and do leg lifts, crunches, and squats. We can do jumping jacks with our kids and have the best laughs watching them try to co-ordinate their limbs as they jump!

After each of my babies was born, I’d lay on my floor and lift my legs a few inches off the ground to tighten my stomach muscle. The burn and tightness in my abdominal muscles was entirely cost-free, took ten minutes, and could be done with my children all around me. My exercise was incredibly simple some years, but the point was to get moving!

In olden days, a woman’s regular day brought natural effort to their bodies. Scrubbing clothes by hand, hoeing a garden, or walking for water all fostered community and exercise. In today’s world, we can throw laundry into a washer, throw rice into an insta pot, and turn on a faucet for water. The end result is ease but no exercise. So, we have to be intentional about health as never before.

3. Don’t over-spend.

In today’s world, you can wear attractive clothing for only a few dollars. Don’t buy into the lie that it’s okay to walk around looking terrible because you’re a mom and don’t have extra money. Keep yourself fresh and clean, especially if you’re married. (You don’t need make-up—you just need health, peace, kindness, and good hygiene.

I’ve had very little manicures or pedicures. My hands have callouses and I usually stare wistfully at beautifully maintained finger nails, but I simply don’t have the time or money to spend on pedis and manis. Honestly, I’d rather head to a garden or a barn than into a nail salon, but that’s my Amish farm girl coming out. Those who know me best know I’m happiest out with the animals and dirt, or scaling a mountain.

I buy inexpensive jewelry. When I get compliments I often have to say, “This cost me $5.” I don’t own expensive jewelry and I’m okay with that.

So for those of us who think we can let ourselves go because we don’t have money for a gym membership or clothe purchases, just know that you can purchase a few outfits at Goodwill and work out at home. Even healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. Be content and be disciplined!!

I put aside the cotton over alls I wanted due to price. I did purchase the $13 Walmart dress. Choices like these help us manage both our wallets and appearance!

4. Let go of the lie that in order to be pleasantly dressed you have to be into the latest fashion.

Truth is, I dislike some of the latest fashions and the other truth is, I don’t want to spend money being up to par with all of that. BUT, I do study clothing and body shapes. Some of us look terrible in what others look great in. Some things are appropriate for one body shape but too revealing for another. Whatever the case, I’ve found joy in a simple approach to clothing where I ponder what looks good or doesn’t look good, yet am not a slave to keeping up with all the latest fads.

We are not Hollywood actresses or fashion models—but hear me carefully, Christian women—our physical appearance is important when it comes to staying healthy and knowing how to dress.

Our bodies are not our own and are to glorify Christ. He is all goodness and love. Do people feel inspired when they look at us?

5. Don’t gain attention by showing too much skin.

Real women don’t have to show everything in order to know they are worth more than anything. Be beautiful, but keep your sexuality for the bedroom. When in public, have class and dignity about you that attracts appreciation and respect more than whistles and leers from player men.

A truly beautiful woman is a faithful woman who loves her husband and strives to be his best friend.

And if I can put a word in for swim wear, here: girls, some of your bikinis aren’t even bikinis anymore. If you’re okay with wearing one, at least cover your bum. Enough said. 🙂

6. Skin Care.

I’m not rigorous about the perfect skin care routine, but it is important to put at least moisturizer on your face twice a day. Wash and care for your skin. Take daily showers, especially if you’re married. The beauty of a woman is the cleanliness of a woman more than the expense spent on a woman. In other words, a healthy, clean woman is often more attractive than an unhealthy woman who spends hundreds of dollars each month to doll herself up.

So don’t stress about skin. You can go as easy as a natural coconut oil if you like. Most of us can’t afford dermatology or expensive skin care and that’s okay! Health comes from the inside out which means what you put into your body affects your skin.

And as you age, forget about getting as tan as you can in summer. Protect your skin more than you used to, to avoid brown spots and leathery skin. Especially if you live in the South! Staying tan is difficult in winter anyway, but healthy skin can be enjoyed year round.

7. Embrace Aging.

What is more needed and lovely than a radiant grandma?! I don’t know about you, but I need grandmothers with grey hair, soft arms, and fires burning in their hearth, heart, and homes. I need grandmothers whose bodies may be growing feeble while their hearts burn with wisdom and insight more than ever.

Only a selfish woman who thinks her value comes from youth and outer beauty will fight and kick the aging process. Having this as your focus leaves you empty, with nothing for the soul of others to connect to. Stay healthy, active, and pleasant—but don’t fret the wrinkles! Just smile a little more as you grow older and allow the joy of you to override the aging of you.

7. Worship.

There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who worships her way through life. Honor God by worshiping Him through your tears. Truly thank Him for the joys of life. Be a thousand times grateful for the one time critical or negative.

Remember that your soul can be beautiful regardless of who or what is around you. What atmosphere do others get in your presence? Who are YOU—because who your soul is matters more than what your circumstances are.

Christian woman, remember there is so much more to modesty than what is usually taught. Be a lovely, feminine, attractive person in your soul, and strive to show that in your appearance. Even if you’re a tomboy who hates girly things and finds herself out shooting guns and riding horses—be a real woman and be proud of it!!

Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

Psalm 34:5

XO,

Sara

Dear Single Mom, Part 1

I’ll never forget the day I opened up the door to a lady handing me a large yellow envelope.

My throat went dry. “Is this what I think it is?” I asked quietly.

She nodded her head as she studied my face, and tears filled her eyes before she turned and silently walked away.

The day I looked over those complicated divorce papers was the D-Day of my life.

So I’m here to tell you, single mom, that you’re not alone and I get it. For me, you don’t have to appear brave when you need to cry. It’s honestly okay to be a wreck for awhile.

I get the nausea that won’t allow you to eat.

I get eating whatever goes down, when it goes down, even if it’s not nutritious.

I get the sudden survival mode that kicks in for your babes as you start working hard to provide for them.

I get the mom guilt that makes you try to over-compensate for a father’s absence by filling in all the gaps– and I get the resulting exhaustion that makes you love bedtime more than any other time of day.

I get how painful it is when you run to the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving and see the girl who replaced you, also out purchasing groceries, for the man you used to cook Thanksgiving dinner for.

I get the struggle of forgiveness and the confusion of what that even looks like when you feel all the tension rise one more time in the face of such oddities.

I get the pain of holidays, where you give up the parties you used to throw—then decide to throw them anyway because you’re finally seeing that life can go on and you can still do the things you love, and your friends love you just as much as before.

I get the angst of your soul as you lift your face to the sky and ask God why. “Why, when I tried so hard to be a good wife, did it not work?”

I get the anger when you see other wives mistreating their husbands and the men still stay. How you’d like to remind them of the good they have, and how that goodness should be rewarded and respected.

I get it when it all seems so unfair.

I get it when you’re suddenly a single person, and other women look at you as a threat rather than a gift– and you’d like to walk around with a T-shirt that says, “I’d die a thousand deaths before I’d hurt any woman the way I’ve been hurt.”

I get it when it’s hard to receive help, and how slowly you learn the absolute necessity of it, how grateful you become for the brothers in law and family who help you unendingly when you need it—-and don’t stop when you tell them you don’t need it because they know better than you do.

But here’s the thing:

I also get it when you start smiling again because Jesus comes closer than any human being could ever come.

I get it when your hard work pays off and you’re able to support yourself and your children without child support.

I get the satisfied tiredness that comes at the end of a work week when you do payroll, and still have enough for your bills even when rent is high and groceries are out of this world.

I get the deep appreciation for your friends who get the fact that you don’t have time to spare even when you’d love to have them over—because just getting to sit on your couch with coffee feels like vacation.

I get the gratefulness mingled with frustration when you spend too much money on Dr. visits, trying to get well again after burning out from years of emotional trauma.

I get the joy of hiking hours into the wilds so you can be in touch with something bigger than yourself.

I get the deep friendships that form when others join your steep adventures and everyone talks non-stop about all of life while the legs burn upward before eyes rest on majestic views that defy every pain you’ve ever felt.

I get the gratefulness of those moments when pain melts into oblivion, even just for a few minutes as something better takes over your mind.

I get the deep appreciation for those friends who send their husbands over to fix your broken sinks and change the tire on your son’s bike. Woman to woman, it’s their way of saying, “I got your back” and they’ll never know how much it means to us.

I get the joy over small things, because joy is a gift and you feel it coming, coming, coming as it used to be—though now, it is richer, fuller, and better because it is not dependent on another human being.

I get it that you’re grateful for your sorrow because it led you to your joy.

I get it that you felt broken much longer than you wanted, yet realized that your heart broken open absorbed light more than before.

I get the peace that comes from no dependence on relationship for your happiness, and the profound realization that you’re going to be more than okay, not because of a human being but because “The Son of Man has risen with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2) and He met you in your tears so He could wipe them away.

I get the wonder that He never left, never became impatient, and always looked at you with love.

I get the realization that you’re His favorite—but so is everyone else around you, and they should all be treated as such, created in the image of God for the glory of God. The realization of your own value collides beautifully with the realization of everyone’s value, and you want the whole world to circle with love, endlessly.

And I truly get it that now, though you love everyone, you no longer trust everyone. You’ve learned to know when you know when someone’s character is solid and they’ve earned trust without trying—because they didn’t need to prove what already was.

You are now the girl reading with new insight this verse: “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

You live carefully, but courageously. Fear may threaten you, but love will overtake you.

Dear single mom, I get it that the Love of Jesus is now your anchor beyond what you ever knew before, and how, no matter what the future holds, you are set on HIM because you’ve found His love better than any other kind of love.

You are no longer the girl longing for the perfect life; you are now the girl held with perfect love in a very imperfect world.

“But to you who fear My name, the Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings.”

Malachi 4:2

It’s Still Okay to be Feminine

I’m going to open my veins here and let them bleed a little on a topic dear to my heart.

I love being a woman.

I love it so much that I have no problem owning the fact that men possess attributes I do not. The same is true of women—we can do things men cannot do. But hear me out just a little here……….

It took me forever to burn things from my marriage, but I finally did, carrying a pile out to burn up in flames because my marriage was so far gone. I even sold my bed and all the pillows, then slept on the floor as I cried some deep tears.

In some ways it was merciful for things to get as bad as they did, or I would have hung on forever. But I finally knew I had to be done.

God met me there and told me, “Sara, you are still fully woman and fully feminine, with or without a man.”

Those words from Jesus have been my saving grace. No man can rob me of the gift of being fully woman. Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy, even more, all the things I did before.

God has this ironic way of redeeming everything for those who love Him, and the gift of being able to appreciate goodness even more, as a result of the ugly I’ve been through, has been part of my redemption in it all.

I still dress up, wear make-up, and purchase an occasional new piece of simple jewelry. I still love fashion even though most days I’m knee deep in cleaning supplies at the job. Every once in awhile I still take out the curling iron, and I still love an elegant glass of wine.

If anything, those things mean more to me now because I’m joining the work force each morning and filling my car with gas along with a gazillion men who are all building houses, maintaining lawns, and pouring concrete. They make the mess; I clean the mess.

But recently, as I praised my ten year old son for his masculine protection over our home and family when someone ransacked our car in the night, I was bombarded with upset women because I dared imply that men are more protective than women, that we should all be content with our gender and simply live it up.

I even dared speak against transgender lifestyles. I’m not into the pop-Christian culture where sin is blatantly condoned. And I’m not afraid to mention Jen Hatmaker or her false interpretation of love.

But that’s another topic in itself. Back to daring to mention that men are protective.

I was blown away. Surely most of those women would happily take a protected place should war break out and the men around us rushed to the front lines to protect their homes and families. (I’d honestly love to see a line of feminists when the call to bear arms comes along. I dare say that at that moment, they’d love to let men be men.)

Of course there are female soldiers, too. But I’m talking majority here. There is simply no doubt that most men have a protective instinct and most women have a desire to be protected.

My little boy’s eyes lit right up as he planned how to scare a thief away from our car. And I, as his mother, could only stare at this tiny ten year old and wonder why he wasn’t afraid.

Say that on face book though, and you’ll get all kinds of “Women are definitely the strongest gender” kinds of comments.

I’m not sure what we have to prove here. Do women really feel obligated to do and be everything a man does and is?

For crying aloud, men can’t grow a human in their own bodies, give birth, or even care for a baby as instinctively as women can. We are just as strong, yes, but in a different way. There’s a (God-given) reason most little boys play guns and most little girls play dress-up.

Of course some girls are naturally “tomboy-ish”–and I happen to love scary adventures, mountain climbing, and such as well. We’re not making cookie-cutter descriptions here, but calling appreciation to the fact that genders are different and families need BOTH to function well.

We are just as important, yes, but we are not the same. If God wanted females to be as good at everything men are, He would have just created all of us male.

I’m weary of the twenty-first century where femininity is looked down on rather than appreciated. Have women forgotten they are bearers of beauty, kindness, and love? The world needs us—and every real man knows it.

When women release their femininity for something they think they should be, instead, something difficult comes in its place.

Insecure women bring control, unrest, and ugliness into this world. I’d say this universe needs the opposite—and I’m frankly honored that God created us for the task.

The other day I was cleaning a bath tub for a client when suddenly a massive something with a million legs came speeding up an unused drain. I screamed just a little, stepped back, and wondered what to do.

I could be the bravest ever and say with millions of other women, “Who needs men?” I could squash that creature with a wad of toilet paper. I could overcome every fear I’ve ever had of crawling creatures, and just do it.

Or, I could be okay with my fear, walk out to the garage, and ask the gentleman to please help me with this mini-animal scrambling around his tub.

I chose the latter and stayed far away until he walked out with a smile, a dead creature, and an apology. I thanked him, re-entered his bathroom, and made it cleaner than it’s ever been.

See this—I wasn’t weak for wanting help with a crawling creature speeding about with a million legs in the bath tub I was cleaning. And he wasn’t less of a man for not wanting to clean his house.

I own a cleaning business because I’m good at cleaning and I love organizing. Most days we clean three homes, some of which are obviously bachelor’s pads. Now, some guys are cleaner than women, but there’s a reason we often use extra soap on man caves.

See that term, man cave?

A woman will most likely call her home a nest. She’ll have plant rooms, dining rooms, a sitting room—all geared to love, nurture, and create a haven.

Both genders are strong, yet in opposite ways because we are meant to compliment each other and bring to this world what the other does not. When we both do our part, we create a beautiful balance. When we compare, fret, and feel less than, we create void by default, because when someone isn’t filling a spot, the spot is empty.

If women try to be men, what is left for real men to be attracted to? Who is there to care for, to love, to be hero for?

Before you bristle, ladies, remember that a man is biologically created to be a hero. Even Disney knows this. There’s a reason Cinderella wears the glass slippers and her real man rescues her.

Real men need real women, even in the twenty-first century.

Before you go haywire on me with all kinds of hormonal reactions, may I remind you that I write this as a single woman making my own way in the world?

I know how to start, own, and grow a business, hire employees, and manage a thriving company.

I know how to pay my bills, do my own yard work, use a weed trimmer, fill the lawn mower with gas, and check the tank for oil.

I know how to use a chain saw and I’ve spent hours cutting up fire wood with my children.

I can manage my website and work with people from one end of the spectrum to the other.

But, I’m still fully woman and it’s totally okay to have a man get that crawling whatever out of the bathtub while I stand there shaking.

We have nothing to prove, but everything to be.

Do what you need to do in life, but nurture those around you, bring beauty to every place you go, and find full satisfaction in being a woman. Appreciate and acknowledge what men do and are for you. Only an insecure woman has something else to prove.

You are so needed. Not half of you, but all of you.

Let every real man keep right on opening doors for women, and let every real woman thank him with a smile.

The attributes we do not possess are meant to be fully met in the other. Goodness calls to goodness as we both live fully in this world.

Single women, this is for you, too. You are every bit as much of a woman, and the world needs you. Remember to stay kind and bring both internal and external beauty to those around you.