Dare to Dream: A Single Moms Retreat Volunteer Story

May 28, 2014

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.

Everything finally set up, ready for women to shop!
Because what I saw in the women who came to the retreat was the very face of Jesus. The very heart of the Father for his children was modeled and mirrored in these beautiful women who came from different places, different backgrounds, and different experiences. They were joined together in their commonality of the joys and struggles uniquely experienced by single moms.

All weekend as women thanked us for helping with the retreat, I simply responded, “thank you for being here with us.” Because it was an honor to be serving, a privilege to hear stories, and a blessing to get to know the women.

The women shopping
What I didn’t know was how much I could learn from the women’s honesty, their struggles, their reclaiming of dreams, and their heart for something better for themselves and their children.

I didn’t know how much God would be there: in the places of honesty and pain, joy and grief, struggle and triumph. They laid out past hurts, mistakes and missteps, and a renewal towards dreams, new and old. God-given; God-breathed. It was sacred to simply behold what God accomplished. And at times it was too much. With eyes filled with tears, I would turn away, just for a moment, to take a breath and thank God for his grace, his mercy, his love and care for all of us.

The lovely group of women who set up and ran the boutique last year!
By the time the weekend was over, I was tired, but my spirit was renewed. I saw God like I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He is moving and working through a generation of women set on changing their worlds. 

Determined for change. Destined for more.

Daring to Dream.

If you or someone you know is a single mom who could use a little encouragement, break and some amazing giveaways, there's still time to attend! Get all the details at Bridging the Gap: Single Moms Retreat Dare to Dream. Can't afford the registration fee? Email us at theruthexperience@hotmail.com and we'd love to get you connected with support! OR if you are someone who'd like to volunteer, we can always use more helping hands, check out the befriend movement. Finally, to read an amazing (and inspiring!) single moms story from last year, click here.

Today we're once again linking up with Holley Gerth.

*All pictures courtesy of Esther Aspling.


  1. Dropped by from Holley's today, and as former single mom, you brought tears to my eyes. It has been 41 years since began my life as a single mom with a 14-month old son. How I wish there had been something like this then! God's blessings on your work in this ministry. It is one that is greatly needed.

    1. Thank you so much! I've heard so often from women how they would have appreciated this years ago, definitely needed, and we are so blessed by being a part of it. Blessings to you too!

  2. What a beautiful offering for single moms! I'm glad to hear how blessed you were from the experience. I was raised by a single mom and then became a single mom myself. I'm remarried now and can't believe sometimes the difference in my life now compared to those difficult days. I have an incredible amount of respect for single moms and am thankful for people like you and organizations like this who serve them.

    1. Candace, It's amazing how many women I come across who tell me they were a single mom or raised by one when I tell them about this retreat. So many more women who are quietly doing the hard work of raising kids, largely unnoticed. I'm honored to serve :)

  3. Sounds like a wonderful event. There aren't many people more strong or admirable than single moms! Great post.
    -Jill (in)couraging bloggers :)

  4. I am near speechless. This is just the type of ministry so very needed, but so rarely come across in society. How incredibly wonderful that you all served to fill in the gap for these brave women!

    1. Thanks Sybil! It was incredible! And you're right, so needed. It's beautiful to see women coming together to support and love each other.

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