When Your Hope Chest Is Full and Your Ring Finger Is Empty

Disclaimer: This post is not a generic blanket-statement regarding all who have no spouse in their house. It is written in love, from my firsthand experience (and therefore from my limited viewpoint), with a desire to lift up the weary arms of those who from time to time find themselves questioning their current marital status.

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About twenty-five years ago, my friend Diana gave me two mugs and made me promise not to use them until I was married. I kept that promise, primarily because I simply forgot about them most of the time. Every now and then, I’d open the cedar hope chest where they were stored, and I’d think, “This is silly. I should just go ahead and use them since it’s clear that I’m never getting married.” But a promise is a promise, so I’d close the lid after taking out Mugs Worth Waiting to Usethe blanket that was stored there, and they would be out of sight and out of mind.

About a month ago I once again found the mugs in that cedar chest, which now serves as a decorative place for extra storage in our guest room. But this time was different! That night, my husband, Joe, and I enjoyed cappuccino from our “new” mugs while sitting by the fire.

I find it no coincidence that in the weeks since then, three different individuals have asked me this question: “When do I ‘give up’ on hoping that I’ll ever get married?” For those who are new to following this blog (and, “Welcome,” by the way!), it may help to know that I was married just a little over five months ago—for the first time…at the age of fifty-five. So to some who are longing for marriage, I am a great source of hope, because, “Hey, if Brenda can get married in her fifties, then there’s hope for me too!” To others, I am their worst nightmare: “You mean, I may not get married until I’m in my fifties? Ugh. I don’t want to be her!”

No matter the viewpoint, the answer to that very common question of, “Should I give up hope that my dream will come true?” is the same for everyone, regardless of their age or their reason for having no spouse in the house (single, divorced, widowed). However, the initial answer is as double-sided as the responses to my wedding-day age! The final answer generally depends on the attitude and motive behind the question.

I believe there are two guiding factors in the answer to this question, and both are found in Scripture verses.

Think on Truth

Ask yourself this question: “What is true about my marital status today?” The key word here is today. You can’t change the past (though you can learn from it), and you don’t know the future. But you do have the truth of today. And today, there is no spouse in your house. Yes, I know that some of you have lost your spouse within this last year, and I cannot fully fathom the changes you are facing. But I know that truth, God’s truth, found in His Word, is unchanging—and so is His love!

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NASB, emphasis mine).

Today, and every day, fix your mind on what is true—God’s Word! In focusing on the promises and truths in Scripture, you will also more clearly see a simple, earthly truth: today, there is no spouse in your house. But let me remind you that you don’t know what God has for you tomorrow, so don’t use up the gift of today worrying about it or wrestling with the “what-ifs” that tomorrows always seem to hold. Use the gift of today to its fullest. Use your skills, talents, and abilities with joy. Reach out to others with empathy in your heart. Serve God in the place where He has you today.

Is it wrong to dream about tomorrow? To have desires/hope for tomorrow? To plan for tomorrow? No. Of course not. But allow me to lovingly share that dreams and desires must never become demands. (I previously wrote a blog post on that very thought. Later, you can find it here.) God created you. He knows your frame (personality and traits), your desires, your hopes, and your longings. Therefore, the most joyful hope of all can be found when you focus on His truth, because He knows, cares, understands, and is Himself the Truth (John 14:6).

Protect the Playground

As I’m writing this, I am reminded over and over again that these two principles are true for every faith-friend reading this post—whether there’s a spouse in her house or not, and that means that they are true for me as well! God’s Word was written for all of us!

I shared the story of my stored mugs because each of the women who asked about “giving up” on her dream of marriage mentioned having a closet area, drawer, or box filled with “someday” items, ranging from a wedding dress to baby clothes (yes, you read that correctly) to “His” and “Hers” towels. So before you mock them or become defensive of your own tucked-away-for-future-use items, let me share that while I think it can be wise to buy ahead and plan ahead, with every purchase you are risking the likelihood of increasing the size of the devil’s playground.

You see, the mugs I received were gifts. Additionally, I did not go to the hope chest for the express purpose of staring at them, holding them, and dreaming of the Mr. Wonderful who may or may not one day hold one of them in his hands while sitting by the fireplace. I did not use my own resources or tell God what to provide for me. My playground had a fence (the confines of the cedar chest) protecting it. Yet often, those with no spouse in the house will purchase items such as these under the guise of “faith,” citing that they are showing God their faith by purchasing what they, in the moment, believe to be the wedding dress of their dreams and telling Him that it is a demonstration of their belief that He will fulfill their desires.

You may be far more capable than I would have been to avert the attacks of the evil one. I, however, would have become discontent, sullen, and probably even angry if I would have had a space where those items I had purchased would have served as frequent reminders of my solitude. But even if you feel that you can handle it, let me lovingly just remind you of the principle that the Bible itself states:

“Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27, KJV).

My personal paraphrase of this verse would be: “Don’t let the evil ick have any real estate in your heart or mind where he can build a playground!” The best way to do this is to follow the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:10–11 (NKJV): “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (In other words, meditate on His unchanging truth!)

As you protect your mind and heart from the distractions that the evil one throws your way, you will have the freedom to speak truth to yourself and others. Go ahead—dream, hope, plan wisely, pray. But focus first and foremost on God’s Truth, because it will greater enable you to dwell on the truth of His plan for you today, and it will more fully strengthen you to positively protect the playground of your mind!

God’s Truth is enough—more than enough—for all of us!

Pilots and Copilots — Husbands and Wives

petals-photo-of-joe

The Captain’s Corner

One of the greatest joys of working for the airlines—and there are many—is the relationship with the passionate professionals with whom one flies. Among the most personal of these is the pilot–copilot relationship.

The pilot, also known as the “Pilot in Command” (“P.I.C.”), is by law and tradition fully in charge for the conduct and safety of the flight. Therefore, he or she may take any action—emergency or otherwise—to accomplish this. The copilot, also known as the “Second in Command” (“S.I.C.”), is to assist the pilot. He or she is fully qualified to fly the airplane and to take over the controls if the pilot is impaired or incapacitated. One is not greater than the other, but when each fulfills his or her professional role, the result is not only teamwork, but a successful flight!

A now well-known and outstanding example of good pilot–copilot teamwork was demonstrated by the crew of the recent “Miracle on the Hudson.” This was the successful water landing on the Hudson River—without fatalities—by an airplane with no functioning engines. The pilot and copilot worked together in intense cooperation. They communicated fully and efficiently, enabling them to make critical decisions. This example confirms the principle that is taught in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, declaring that “two are better than one.”

In many ways, the pilot–copilot relationship resembles that of the husband and wife, as set forth in Ephesians 5:22–33. Good pilots set the tone of the cockpit relationship. They accept and encourage help from their copilots, especially concerns and conflicts that can be resolved through good communication. Additionally, they value their copilots. Good husbands, as author Beneth Jones explained, “Know their wives, love their wives, and value their wives.”

A good copilot is free to point out problems. In fact, he or she may be more qualified or have more experience than the pilot in working with that airplane. Good pilots use this knowledge and experience to achieve the common goal of a successful flight, sometimes asking, “Do you know of a better way?” A husband should feel confident to ask the same question of his wife, recognizing that she may have greater insights and stronger abilities in certain areas. He should appreciate and value his wife’s contribution to the team. Just as the copilot in the cockpit, a good wife is a knowledgeable and integral part of the team and works alongside her husband—not ahead of him or behind him.

God’s pattern in the Scriptures for marriage—and life—works! When each member of the team/family recognizes his or her role and values the other members of the team/family, it’s sure to be a successful journey!

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Cleaning Grandma’s Cupboards

Thoughts from Grandma

Today’s post comes from one of our favorites, Lorraine Strohbehn (Brenda’s mom)!

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It’s already the end of January! The holidays with family and friends are long past, and it’s that time again. Yes, it’s time to clean the cupboards!

When I tackle this start-of-the-year task, I begin at one end and take everything out behind the first set of doors, wash things that haven’t been used often, wipe the shelves with soapy water, dry them, and return the dishes. I usually just return them to their original places, because those places were chosen early on so that items are stored nearest to where they are used.

Rather than taking on the entire project at once, I do only two or three sections each day. The one that takes longest is the area where I keep my spices, followed by the section with special kinds of flour. (A funny side note: This year I discarded my angel food cake flour, which had expired in 2011. With my failing vision, somehow I had seen it as 2017 before!)

Once I complete the upper cupboards, I do the lower ones, then under the sink, and finally the oven. With the inside areas complete, I give the outside surfaces their Murphy’s Oil Soap wash, and the job’s done!

The next week, I do bathrooms in the same way.

No, things don’t look any different to anyone else, but I know they are clean, and I love it! As I work on this project, I am once again reminded that the Lord has faithfully entrusted to me everything that I need.

Early in the year, it is a great habit to do the same spiritual inventory and cleaning that we do with our cupboards. For example, we should ask: “What worked well last year for my daily time with the Lord?” and “What should I change?” Because of my impaired vision, I now must listen to the Word instead of reading it, requiring a change of plans. For the past several years, I could read my Bible chronologically. Now I need to read (listen) beginning in Genesis and go straight through. Regardless of the sequence or methods, it’s always a blessing to begin each day with the cleansing power of God’s Word (see Ephesians 5:25–27, which surely can apply to all of us though it speaks especially to husbands).

The challenges we find in God’s Word are a daily joy, but if there is something in our lives that needs change or a talent or skill that we have not been using to its fullest, the early months of the new year can be a catalyst to take action. Let’s strive to have things decent and in order (see 1 Corinthians 14:40) so that we have the peace of knowing that all is well with the Lord, and that we are ready for another year to serve Him!

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Lorraine Strohbehn, Brenda’s mom, occasionally contributes posts to Petals from the Basket.
Her wisdom, experience, and advice make her a reader-favorite contributor!
To read more from Lorraine, you may click here
to purchase her book Petals of Wisdom from Grandma on Amazon!

Of Healers and Heroes – A Tribute to Dr. Robert Abel

 

“This won’t hurt a bit, Brenda. I promise you that.”

My five-year-old self relaxed as I raised my left arm to receive my required prekindergarten immunizations. If Dr. Abel promised that it wouldn’t hurt, it wouldn’t.

“I’ll count to three, and then I’ll give you your shot. Ready? Count with me.”

I looked into his trustworthy, kind, and caring eyes, and said with him, in unison, “One…two…three!”

But as we simultaneously spoke the number “three,” he didn’t insert the needle into my arm; instead, he removed it! In spite of his fulfilled promise that it wouldn’t hurt a bit, I began to cry uncontrollably. When Dr. Abel and my mother, both surprised by my outburst, asked what was wrong, I spoke through broken sobs, “No…it didn’t…hurt. But…Dr. Abel…lied…to…me, and he’s not…supposed to…do that!”

With his tender words of apology and explanation, he renewed my faith in him, and with a small red lollipop, he silenced my tears!

A few years later I fell from the pinnacle of the highest slide on the school’s playground. Those in charge could get no response from me and covered me with a white sheet until my parents could arrive. Nearly fifty years later, my mother still recalls that as she and my father drove onto the school property, they saw Dr. Abel running to the playground from the town’s only medical clinic. Before my parents could reach me, they were comforted by the fact that Dr. Abel was already by my side, kneeling and assessing my condition. I don’t recall much about that fall, but I do remember that the first person I saw was Dr. Abel, which meant two things to my young mind: 1) I must have been hurt, and 2) I was going to be okay.

In between those two stories and many times thereafter, there were visits to Dr. Abel’s office brought on by earaches, sore throats, measles, and flu. But the visits to his office were not the ones I remember in those cases. It was the house call he made when I had an extreme case of chicken pox that stands out in my mind, even as I type this. He was there late in the evening, because he had been caring for so many others during the day that it was the only time he had available. But he came to our home as though there were no other options. And he cared. He always cared.

Perhaps that’s why he came back to our small town after finishing medical school. Because he cared—not about money, fame, or prestige. Those were not to be found in Wakarusa, Indiana, at the same level to which he could have found them in a larger city, where his work hours may have been less time-consuming and where his notoriety may have brought greater wealth.

When I was in my twenties—long after my family had relocated to another state—it struck me just how good I had it back in the small town that I had always considered my “hometown.” So I sat, then, as I do now, to write my thoughts of gratitude. I wrote a personal, handwritten note, thanking Dr. Abel for not only his care for those of us who lived in Wakarusa but also for his generosity of spirit that we experienced on a regular basis. I thanked him for his care through the years. I thanked him for opening his family’s private pool to the public a few days a week so that we could have a “public pool” in our diminutive community. I thanked him for quietly leading the youth of our town through his love for and support of the athletic programs. He brought in “outside” speakers such as Gale Sayers and other well-known sports figures to speak for the sports banquets at our local school; he served (seemingly) tirelessly to encourage other businesses in our town, and I wanted him to know that I was grateful for all of this. I expected nothing in return. I simply needed to share the gratitude that was in my heart.

To this day I weep when I recall the eight-page, double-sided, handwritten letter I received from Dr. Abel in response to mine. He told me of his own activities within the community, updated me on the current locations and vocations of his children, and in true Dr. Abel form, spent at least one of those pages asking about my family members—by name. It is quite possibly one of the dearest and most thoughtful letters I have ever received.

When my father passed away, Doc Abel was first in line at the visitation, tenderhearted and gracious—caring beyond the walls of his title or his office boundaries. And since that time, I have seen him care for my mother’s health with the same sincerity of concern and care that I recalled from my early years in that sweet, blessed small town.

So why use an entire blog post on a devotional site for women to remember a small-town doctor? Because, when I heard on Saturday of his passing from this earth, I was reminded that though he was as human and prone to do wrong as the rest of us, Dr. Abel used his gifts, talents, and abilities to help others. He gave; he served; he cared. In doing so, he taught multiple generations the joy and the importance of doing the same. This is the stuff that true heroes are made of.

In conversations with one another nearly fifty years ago now, my father and Dr. Abel, friends made so by their love for the people of this small Indiana town, spoke of their mutual faith in the one true and living God. They both now worship that God in heaven, face to face. So I close by simply stating that my prayer for the family and friends of Dr. Robert Abel, my hero, is that they will allow the joy of his gain to eclipse the sorrow of this true earthly loss.

 

Destination: Known

The Captain’s Corner

petals-photo-of-joeWelcome aboard!

This was my familiar and repeated greeting to passengers boarding our airline flights. Now I greet you, dear reader, and welcome you to the inaugural writing of “The Captain’s Corner.” Yes, welcome aboard!

My goal for the “Corner” is to share life lessons that I have learned—not because I’m superior in example or exceptional in achievement, but because of what God has taught me through His Word.

Thinking of an airline flight and passengers reminds me that life is full of what I call “be sure” situations: “be sure” that the fuel is on board; “be sure” that the right destination is planned; “be sure” that this switch is on or that this switch is off; “be sure” that the flight plan is correct; and the list goes on.

All flights have a destination. The pilot wants the navigation—also known as getting from origin to destination—to be certain so that there is no doubt that the destination will be reached. Be-sure navigation (my own terminology) begins with making a good departure—always starting from a known position.

“If you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t find out where you’re going” (original author unknown). In a similar way, every life has a destination—a forever living place. That’s why believers need a “be-sure” verse. A be-sure Bible verse provides a specific beginning—a definite departure point for walking with God toward an eternal destination.

During my college years, claiming a be-sure verse put a stop to my doubts of God’s forgiveness of my sins, ending my dependence on what I thought I had to do and helping me to receive and accept what God had already done to give me an eternal destination with Him. My personal be-sure verse is Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Because I knew that I had called on His name, I knew that I was saved!

If you have not already done so, you can be certain of your departure point; ask Christ to be your Savior, and He will! A be-sure verse will help to give you the confidence that your destination is secure and that your path is firmly established!

I look forward to our next “flight” here in The Captain’s Corner!

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and will be blogging in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

Why You Should Never Welcome Missionaries into Your Home

Missionaries and FriendsWhen we came home from our honeymoon a few weeks ago, Joe and I prayed that God would make our home a light and a haven for us and for those who enter through its doors. So when our church asked for people to host missionaries coming for a conference this month, we eagerly signed up. In fact, we offered both of our guest rooms. Big mistake. BIG mistake. (By the way, sometime soon I’ll tell you all about our newly formed “Christmas Room,” designed specifically for guests!)

Though I grew up in a home where visiting missionaries and pastors were a common sight around the house, and though Joe and his first wife often hosted overnight guests, as we headed for the final day of the conference, I, with tears streaming down my cheeks as we pulled out of our driveway, said to Joe, “We’re never hosting missionaries again.” He readily agreed.

So because I care about you, my sweet faith-friends, I feel it only fair to warn you and to tell you why you should never welcome missionaries into your home:

They broaden your burden for lost souls.

My “mission field” may not be in England or in Africa, but the dedication of our guests to fulfill God’s command to share the glorious gospel of Christ (the “Great Commission,” Matthew 28:19–20) was a rebuke to me to have that same driving desire to see my community, my city, my state, my nation hear the good news of salvation. Their fervor, zeal, determination, and willingness to forego earthly comforts and pleasures pricked my heart’s natural tendency to put things, schedules, and personal needs before the eternal souls of those around me. My heart was stirred. My affections were refocused. My burden was renewed.

They lengthen your already-long prayer list.

Oh how I wish we could give full financial support to each missionary we come into contact with. It would be awesome to write a ginormous check and rapidly get them to the region to which God has burdened them to go. But in most cases, He will allow us to give toward their work through the gift of our prayers. As we shared a final breakfast with one of the couples who stayed in our home, it was both humbling and enlightening to hear them share of one young man they had discipled and taught as he had begun his new faith in Christ. Eventually this young man had left their country and had gone to another region where he is seeing people come to Christ and is now training them to share the gospel with others as well! As our guests spoke of this, we mentioned how exciting it must be for them to realize that their prayers for and training of this young man play a role in his current work. They quickly added, “And we think it’s amazing that the people who pray for us also play an important role in these new believers’ lives!” Wow. Just wow. My prayer list grew a little longer this week. But my greatest prayer is that the God who hears and answers these prayers will draw others to Himself through the work of the missionaries I came to know and love while they were in our home. (Suggested reading: Philippians 1:3–11.)

They take a piece of your heart with them when they leave.

The tears I shed and the words I facetiously spoke as we left our driveway on Wednesday were not from frustration or anger; they were tears of love, joy, and gratitude. As the younger of the two couples drove away, I felt that I was sending my “children” off to face an uncertain but blessed future, and my heart was touched. The same love-motivated tears flowed when the older of the two couples left the following morning. Through our evening times of fellowship around chocolate chip cookies and milk and our breakfasts of coffee cake and scrambled eggs, we shared not only food and laughter; we shared a bond in Christ that wove its way into our hearts. And for that, Joe and I are thankful.

So unless you want to increase your burden for the lost, lengthen your prayer list, and give away a piece of your heart to those who are vocationally serving God in the location where He has placed them, don’t do it. Don’t have missionaries into your home for meals, as overnight guests, or for even a brief time of fellowship. But if you want to be challenged, encouraged, and blessed, open your home—to neighbors, to fellow believers from your church family, to your church staff (after all, it is Pastor/Ministry Appreciation Month), and to vocational missionaries. You’ll be glad you did!

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Want to read more Petals from the Basket or give these devotional thoughts as a gift?

You can click here to order Brenda’s latest book, Petals from the Basket (Book 3) on Amazon!

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The Same – Yet Different

strohbehn-henderson_40What does a newly married middle-aged (okay, fine…”senior”) blogger blog about? The same thing she always has: biblical encouragement for everyday Christian life, because her own need for that hasn’t changed, regardless of her marital status, so she figures yours hasn’t changed either! (Now, enough talking about myself in third person!) And yes, I’ll share a few wedding pictures now and then. (I’ve loved getting e-mails from several of you requesting a photo of two from the wedding!)

We enjoyed an elegant four-day stay at a cottage at the Cornerstone Inn in Nashville, IN (Brown County)—with more amenities than we could have even thought to have asked for—and followed that with six days in a cozy, conveniently yet privately located, well-equipped Eden Crest cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN. And now…now we get to do life together in our home in central Indiana. Joe and I continue to bask in the truth of Psalm 118:23: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

This is our first full week in our home, following our wedding on September 3. Attending special meetings at our church. Cleaning. Organizing. Embracing change. Transitioning. Learning. Loving more deeply each day.

All because of grace.

Yet my greatest desire is that God reign supreme not only in our home but in our hearts—individually and as a couple. Without Him, our work is useless. Without Him, our home is merely a house—a place to live. Without Him, we are on separate journeys.

He must be seen, reflected, and given first place, or our efforts will be in vain. Our outreach will be futile. Our giving merely selfish gestures for personal satisfaction.

Yet, with God as our personal and mutual focal point, our home can be a haven, our gifts and talents utilized for eternal purposes, our giving multiplied, our hearts more deeply united, and our love strengthened.

So it’s a fresh, clean slate—a hope-filled time in which to receive His abundant grace—and to use it, demonstrate it, and share it for His glory!

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us,
and provide atonement for our sins, f
or Your name’s sake!” —Psalm 79:9, NKJV

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Photo credit: Audrey Frank Photography (C) 2016

Of Beaus and Books

It’s high time that I share this information on the blog! I am honored and pleased to share that I am engaged to be married to Captain Joe Henderson (US Airways, retired)!

It’s also a great chance to share with you that Petals from the Basket (Book 3): Devotional Thoughts for Women is now available!

Because Joe had preplanned a very special engagement at our favorite covered bridge for Friday, June 17, I was able to surprise him with a unique method for replying: via the Dedication page of the new book (see photo)! The final chapter of Petals from the Basket (Book 3) is “our story!”

We will be married at a small, private Wedding Brunch and Ceremony on Saturday, September 3, 2016, in Indianapolis and will be living in the Indianapolis area. (My brother will be moving to Indiana to assist my mother.)

Joe and I covet your prayers and gratefully echo the words of Psalm 118 :23: “This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Joe and Brenda's Engagement

Trust: Writing with Ink

shutterstock_163379354Maybe it’s the writer in me, maybe it’s the perfectionist, but I don’t like pencils. They’re too “if-y.” They come with erasers for a reason. On the rare occasion that I write anything other than a hastily numbered shopping list with a pencil, I feel as if I know the plans will probably change, so I’m making provision for that from the start. But I want security. I want certainty. I want to know what will happen.

I want the schedule, the plans, the list written in ink.

This morning I read the oft-quoted reminder: “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” As I pondered the depth of its simplicity, I was encouraged and comforted by the fact that God’s schedules, plans, and lists are written in ink. He never changes. And because of that, He can be trusted to keep His word, His plans, and His promises.

God uses the words will and shall hundreds of times in Scripture. Because of those secure promises, we can know—truly know—that He will:

…and the list goes on and on and on and on!

When I seek Him with all my heart and claim a promise He gives me in His Word, I need to throw away the pencil eraser that wants to appear on those “dark days” when my trust falters.

I doubted; He delivered.

I pondered; He provided.

I mentally wrote in “pencil” what I learned; He permanently wrote His promises in ink!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Proverbs 3:5–6, KJV, emphasis mine)

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Minerva Studio

But I’m Not a Mom….

Lorraine and Brenda StrohbehnThere is only one way for single women to view Mother’s Day—the right way. There is no other option. So what is the right way?

Before I answer that question or write one more paragraph, I will include my standard disclaimer for a post like this. I’m a single woman in her fifties, and I have never been married. The only thing that makes this “my choice” is that I choose, daily, to let God make those choices for me, and He has chosen for me to be without a spouse today. Since He knows best, I sincerely rejoice in His plan. Now—on with today’s post!

On my sister Marcia’s birthday, it would be foolish for me to be upset, stay home from her birthday celebration to watch a sad movie, and eat ginormous amounts of Hot Tamales (my comfort food of choice) just because the celebration isn’t about me.

On my sister Karen’s wedding anniversary, it would literally be obnoxious for me to write a blog post, asking the world to stop celebrating wedding anniversaries just because I don’t have one to celebrate and telling them to be sensitive to my lack in their time of celebration.

Therefore, my fellow single women, this coming Sunday, let’s celebrate our own mothers as well as mothers everywhere for the amazing work that they do. Do you seriously think that when the pastor of the church has mothers stand up to recognize them for their all-too-often thankless role in shaping the generation of the future that your spiritual leader is, in actuality, saying, “What I really want you to do is turn around and take note of all the women not standing and inwardly laugh hysterically that there must be something horribly wrong with them since they are either childless or, worse yet, without a spouse altogether?”

As harsh as it may sound, get over yourself. This is not about you.

Too often, as singles, we turn situation after situation into what we think is a time of “permissible whining” because we are spouseless. Well, stop it! Right now! Because whining is not permissible, and it is not attractive!

We say that we trust God’s leading, but then we fail to trust Him enough to obey His commands:

“Do everything [yes, everything!] without grumbling….” —Philippians 2:14, NIV

“Give thanks in all [yes, all] circumstances….” —I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

“Rejoice [yes, rejoice] with those who rejoice….” —Romans 12:15, NIV

WAIT! Don’t say it yet! Because I know what some of you are thinking: “But, Brenda, the second half of that last verse you posted reminds believers to ‘mourn with those who mourn.’ So, I expect the street to go both ways!”

And you would be right. It should go both ways. But what if it doesn’t? Does that excuse you from rejoicing on their behalf, particularly, in this setting, as they rejoice in the role of motherhood? You know the answer.

So, is it wrong to be sad that you are without a spouse or that you still don’t have children after many years of trying and praying for a child? Of course not. Just remember to keep it a desire and not a demand!

And more importantly, remember to rejoice with those who have been given what you long for. Focus on others this weekend. Applaud those amazing females when they stand in church during their far-too-brief moment of recognition! Look beyond your own garden and see the beautiful array of flowers that we all get the opportunity to celebrate this weekend!

I’m throwing in this final paragraph, even though it might seem to slightly contradict all of the above…well…because I can! My niece Jillian calls me or texts me every year on Mother’s Day and thanks me for being “a woman of influence” in her life, knowing that my desire for motherhood is not one that will ever be fulfilled at this point and choosing to lift me up on a day when the evil ick whispers in my ear more often than he should be allowed to do! So let me encourage you—both married women and single women—to think of a single woman you could encourage this weekend by thanking her for her influence in your life. No, you’re not trying to make it a “substitute Mother’s Day” celebration for her—she’s not a mom. You are simply using this widely celebrated weekend that honors mothers as an impetus to celebrate women who have impacted your life! (In the process, it just might help to remind you that you’re not the only one who is not a mom.)

The bottom line? To my friends and family who are moms, I wish you the most joyful of all Mother’s Days! To my friends who, like myself, are not moms, I wish you a day of joy as you look outward and celebrate those who are!

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This post first appeared on this blog on May 9, 2014.
My prayer is that it will once again serve as a reminder to all of us this Mother’s Day weekend.