A year ago this coming weekend Kristin, Julie and I had the privilege of helping with a Single Moms retreat in Alexandria Minnesota. This weekend we will once again head up north to set up the diva boutique where women can shop for new and gently used clothing and accessories. Many of you have given donations to the boutique and we want to say a huge THANK YOU for all your support! This is a post I wrote for Bridging the Gap after last year's retreat.

I am not a single mom. I wasn’t raised by a single mom. I never really knew very many single moms. And yet when I heard about the single mom’s retreat... how many women would come, the honesty of the topics the speakers would share about (like abuse, unforgiveness, and boundaries), the things that would be given away, how many single mom’s work and worship in our communities, largely unnoticed… I knew I wanted to get involved.
All the beautiful jewelry and accessories!
I thought that I would go to help and offer support at the wonderful weekend, this tribute, to single moms from all over Minnesota. But what I did not know was how it would change me, my heart. And how I would see, firsthand, how truly courageous, hard-working, and selfless these single moms were and are.

I heard stories of mothers who put their needs second to those of their children. They feed their children before themselves. They dress and buy necessities for their children before themselves. They scrimp and save to get the things their children need. They put aside their own desires to meet the needs of the young ones in their charge. And I was moved. More than moved, I was challenged and humbled.

I'll be the first to admit that I write terrible poetry.

Don't believe me? Check out this gem:

Ode to the Bearded Lady at the Gas Station 
It was a little more than a year ago last week that we held a funeral service for my son’s biological mother at our house. (If you want to read that story, I wrote about it here.) As I was reflecting on the past year — how far my son has come in school, the good choices he’s made, and the dear friends that he has — I was thinking about not only how proud I was of him, but how much his biological mother would have been, as well.

As he came to me before bed — our usual time to spend a few quiet minutes together and pray each day — I asked if he remembered that it had been a year since we’d celebrated his mom's life. Of course he did. And then I asked if he’d like to do something to remember her again. We talked about what he’d like and he decided a cake, balloons, and pictures would be fine. We decided that Saturday would be nice since his brother would be in town visiting us as well.

Today, we are SO pleased to have a guest post from Kristin Waters from See the Shine * Be the Shine, who is writing today about how a one-word resolution for this year is helping her work through some difficult circumstances. We love the wisdom she shares! Kristin writes:

I don’t know about y’all, but I am a control-freak, worrywart extraordinaire! I have a rough time letting go of my stuff – whether it’s possessions, my emotions, my dreams, my child, my marriage, my money, you name it – my grip has been tight! I have always been uptight and prepared for battle, per se, and on the defensive. That’s just been me…

I was told that my whole year can change if I put all my focus into one word. Why make a bunch of resolutions at the cusp of the new year that will really only be of importance for a few weeks? When your focus is on one word, it becomes your beacon, your mantra, your lighthouse, your silent partner in encouragement, and your very being.

I felt immobilized by grief last week. Maybe it was the relentless rain, the gloomy gray clouds an external gauge for my internal turmoil. My girls were restless and so was I. It could have been self-pity; a series of days where even the thought of my to-do list feels paralyzing. I'm in the midst of a busy month, and I’ve found myself wishing that I was better at saying no. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve heard one-too-many stories of hurt and heartache lately, and I'm wearied by this world.

But really, all of these things merely added up to a vague discontent until a sweet text from my sister Kendra became the tipping point one day. She was passing on a story from a friend, something that reminded us all of the loss of our oldest sister, Katrina.