It’s Ok Not to Be Ok Sometimes

    Saturday night was rough. I won’t go into details but I was hurt and it brought back a lot of painful memories and thoughts. And on top of that, I was feeling extremely lonely and isolated. I really try to be positive, look at the bright side and to trust God through it all. But sometimes it’s just too much and I can’t. I can’t muster up the strength to react with positivity and joy. Sometimes I need to let the emotions and the pain wash over me and have their way. I need to feel them and let them do their thing. And that’s just what I did.

     

    I prayed, I journaled, I cried out to God and then I just cried. Yet still the pain and loneliness remained. And it was too much. If you have read some of my latest articles you will know I’m giving up TV this month. But I desperately needed a distraction. So I gave in, grabbed a couple of beers and binged on Netflix until 2 am. Not the wisest or godliest choice but it’s what I needed in that moment to make it through the night. The next day was better but honestly this week has been hard.

     

    I share this with you to show you I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all together…and you don’t have to either. Although I try to keep the faith, trust God’s plan, and stay positive all the time, I still have bad days (and some reallly bad days too). And that’s OK. It’s ok to feel angry, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be weak, it’s ok to have a really sucky night. It’s a process, not a pass or fail test. The pain won’t last forever and it really is Ok not to be Ok sometimes.

     

    Maybe you can relate? If so, leave a comment. We are in this journey together and I’d love to hear from you!!

     

    Until next time, Let’s Live Bright (or as bright as we can).

    May 23, 2019

    Breaking Free

    I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my past. There are things I think about now that make me cringe or that even make me sick to think about. In the moment it seemed fine but self-reflection and time have a way of shedding new light on the past. I can see my mistakes, my errors, my sin more clearly now. I can see how those choices affected me and put me on a negative path, a path that I wish I had never set foot on. I know what I’ve done wrong and what I need to do differently.  I stand strong and with great assurance that things will be different next time. Until I’m face to face with that same choice again. Then all my strength and the know-how are gone. I am weak and I easily give in again, stepping right back on to that no-good-for-me-path yet again. And this is how the cycle goes, over and over. While I have made some changes and I make the mistakes less often, I still continue to fall into the same struggles. Why do I face these same demons over and over? Why can’t I be stronger, better? Why can’t I change once and for all? Will I ever break free?

     

    Maybe you can relate? Paul could. He shares in Romans “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. As it is, it is no longer myself who does it, but sin living in me. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep doing.”  This is a little bit of a tongue twister, but Paul is saying that he desires to do what is good and pleasing to God. But he keeps failing and he can’t seem to carry through with his good intentions. Paul gets it, that the struggle is real (even 2,000+ years ago!).

     

    So what do we do?? How do we combat the struggles of our past that try to overtake our future? How can we actually take control of our lives and do what we set out to do? How do we break free of the sin in our life? Later in the chapter, Paul tells us how. He says it is only through Christ. Through Christ we can have to power to overcome our past and live a life that is full of freedom and hope.

     

     Tips for Breaking Free from our Past Struggles:

    1. Read and meditate on God’s Word. Find verses that speak to your struggle then read and think about them often. Place the scriptures in a place you will see them often (for me it’s my planner). Pray after reading the scripture, asking God to help you to overcome your struggle.
    2. Don’t put yourself in situations that will likely lead you back to your struggle. This one is hard for me. But I am trying really hard to be cautious and careful where and who I spend my time and with. This is especially difficult when you are lonely and long for connection, but the wrong connection is far worse than none at all.
    3. Think about where you want to be in a few years. Is what you are doing (staying stuck in the same sin and struggle) helping or hindering you from getting there? Really think about it and then make the changes you need to move in the direction you want your life to go.
    4. Stay close and accountable to people who will help you stay strong. This is another hard one for me. I want to keep my struggles and sin to myself, but the more I share with positive godly influences the stronger I will become.
    5. Finally, have grace for yourself. Remember you are human and we will all continue to fail for the rest of our lives (real encouraging I know). We shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we do slip up. When you fall short, talk to God about it and take steps to learn from it. God knows our heart and that’s what matters most.

     

    I am writing this because I am living it all right now. Will you join me in breaking free? How do YOU break from your past struggles and sin? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below (click on the title and scroll down if you don’t see the comment box).

     

    Until next time, Let’s Live Bright!

     

     

    May 14, 2019

    Look for the Light

    Life as a single mom is hard. Heck, life in general is hard. While that’s not an uplifting way to start an article, it’s the truth. So often I feel completely exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. Today was one of those days. I could list the reasons why, but I’m sure that you have a list of your own. Today it felt like a little black storm cloud was hovering over my head. Not that anything particularly horrible happened, it was just an overall down feeling day. Life is full of these little (and big) troubling days. The Bible actually says “In this world, you will have troubles”, not if but when. So what do we do about the troubles, the hard days, the hovering storm clouds?

     

    Look for the light.

    We look for the light when we…..

     

    1. Look to God. God is light. God is love. God is all things good. When it feels that nothing is good or right or fair, look to Him. Even though the verse above tells us we will have troubles it also says we can have peace in Christ (John 16:33). I’ll admit that this is not my first instinct when I’m having a bad day. But I will tell you that when I do turn to Him it always helps. Pray and read his Word; it will brighten your heart and your day.

     

    2. Look at your blessings. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, we have so much to be thankful for, sooooo much! Just start making a list (mentally or written down) of everything you have to be thankful for today (big and small) and it will definitely brighten your perspective and your mood.

     

    3. Look for what lights you up. What brings happiness, peace and fulfillment into your life? Think of one thing that does and then move towards it! Is it being outside? Take a walk after work with your child (That’s what I did tonight and it really helped. The picture above is from our walk). Is it reading? After putting the kids to bed curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Would a new job spark the light in you?  Then get on Indeed girl and start applying! Whatever lights you up, take steps towards it today.

     

    Turning towards God, remembering your blessings and doing what brings you joy will help move that dark storm cloud aside and let the light in. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. I’d love to hear what you think about the list above. Leave me a comment and share which is your favorite way to brighten a bad day.

     

    Until next time, Let’s Live Bright!

    May 8, 2019

    Monthly Goals

    I love a fresh start and I love that every month I get one! A new month is a chance to review, reflect and revise. I can look back on the past month and see what areas I would like to improve in then set monthly goals to make those changes happen. This process is refreshing and empowering. I thought I would share with you my goals for the month of May. So here we go!

     

    1. No TV 

    Yes, you heard that right…no TV for a whole month (and that includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, DVDs, all of it). I’ve gone a period of time with no TV before and found it to be extremely beneficial. I used to only watch TV during the weekend but then it slowly crept into my week. I would justify it by only watching it while I did other things-mindless things-like folding laundry, doing the dishes or sorting through the mail. But it always ended up extending the amount of time it took to do these simple things. I realized it was keeping me from doing things I really wanted to do or needed to do. I so wish I could be the kind of person who could just watch one episode and then happily turn off the TV and go to bed. But no that’s not me….Netflix sucks me into its deep black whole and before I know it hours have passed by and I’ve become one with my couch. So this month I am saying NO MORE and I’m turning off the tube.  I plan to write a post about how it went, so stay tuned!

     

    2. Write everyday

    This is one of the reasons I’m giving up TV; so that I have more time to write, more time to pursue my passions and goals.  I’m never going to accomplish anything if I’m wasting hours a day or even a week mindlessly zoning out in front of the TV. While yes it feels good in the moment; is it truly benefitting me?  What’s more important to me…binging on a new Hulu series or taking steps towards my dreams? The choice is mine and the answer is clear. What passion or goal would you pursue if you cut TV from your day?

     

    3. Exercise regularly

    I used to be so good at this. I even ran a 1/2 marathon before my little man (you know back when I actually had free time!). But now being a full-time mom with a full-time job it’s seriously hard to find time to workout. It’s hard, but it is possible. My goal this month is to get to the gym to run twice a week and do some sort of home workout (I just downloaded a promising new app) on the other days, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I seriously feel soooo good when I take care of my body and I exercise. It boosts my mood, mental clarity, and energy level.  It’s time I made the time to exercise regularly again.

     

    4. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night 

     I am seriously failing in the sleep department. With so much to do and so little time, sleep is always the first thing to go. This is actually one of my year goals but so far I’ve done a terrible job with it! So I’m refocusing on this goal and I am going to make some serious changes to make it happen. The importance of sleep is insane. Sleep affects every area of our life and the benefits are endless, yet most of us aren’t getting nearly enough. So here is what I’m going to do to change that…eliminate major distractors (AKA Goal #1), create and stick to a before bed schedule, set alarms on my phone as reminders and reward myself with a delicious and healthy breakfast for getting to bed on time and waking up early. What helps YOU get enough sleep? I’d love to hear any other ideas you have!

     

    5. Take vitamins daily

    I have been feeling very fatigued lately and I think (along with the lack of sleep) I may be lacking some essential nutrients my body needs. Because of this, I’m going to start taking vitamins this month. I’m great with having my son take vitamins and supplements every day but not so much for myself. But I recently discovered this really cool vitamin company (takecareof.com) that I’m excited to try out. You take a short survey and they put together a personalized vitamin plan for you, plus they come in these super cute daily packets that make taking vitamins more fun. I just ordered mine and I’m looking forward to how it will help improve my energy level and overall health. If you want to check them out and use the code rscy3t you can get $40 off your first order!

    Image result for care of vitamins

     

    Do you set monthly goals too?? If so I’d love to hear what they are! Comment by clicking the title and scrolling down.

     

    Until next time…Let’s Live Bright!

    May 3, 2019

    10 Minutes of Play Time

    Posted in Mom Life by


    It’s been a long day at work and a long drive home. We are getting back later than I wanted and I am freaking exhausted. You know the kind of tired where your whole body feels heavy, your eyes are watering because of all the yawning and you just want to curl up on the couch and never get up. Yeah, I’m that kind of tired. And the last thing I want to do is engage in a dinosaur battle, build an elaborate train track or play duck duck goose with a dozen stuffed animals. But I do it anyway. But how?? It’s my 10-minute secret. And because we are such good friends, I’ll share it with you…

     

    Due to my profession as well as my own personal struggles with my son I have studied and participated in many parenting programs (including professional behavioral therapy for my son). I have read countless articles and books. And I have spoken to many other professionals in the field. And one thing most all of them have in the common is some sort of parent-child playtime component. Play is so important for kids (just google the benefits of play for kids) and when you add a loving parent into that it becomes even more powerful! Yet, if we’re honest, playing with our kids is something that we rarely do and certainly not something we really want to do (or maybe that’s just me??). Sure as parents we enroll our kids in sports, dance, and other clubs. And we take them on great vacations and other fun outings. And that’s all great, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is getting back to the basics… simply playing with your child, specifically child-led play. Child-led play is just what it sounds like it. It is when the adult lets the child take the lead and decide what and how to play; we are just along for the ride. How many of us are actually doing this every day? I know I’m not! Unless I am intentional and committed to making it happen.

     

    While playing with our kids takes time and probably isn’t on the top of our to-do list (as much as feed, bath and get the little human to sleep at a decent hour) it is important and reaps major benefits. Spending daily quality time playing with your child (even for a short amount of time) strengthens the parent-child relationship, fulfills a child’s need for attention, builds self-esteem, teaches social/emotional skills, increases positive behaviors and engages the mind and heart of a child. Now that’s some seriously good stuff from just playing! And again it doesn’t have to be a long time. 10 minutes is perfect. Come on momma, you can do anything for 10 minutes!

     

    Tips for daily parent-child play time: 

    1. Give it a name. When this time is labeled it will feel more special and will become treasured by your child. Call it whatever you want… Mommy (insert kid’s name here) Play Time, Special Play Time, Fun Time. Me and my son call it  “Special Skyler Time” and he loves it!
    2. Do it the same time every day. Knowing when it’s happening helps you to be consistent and helps to create a routine for this time. It can also be a helpful motivator when you put it after a less preferred activity. For example… First homework/dinner/bath, then Special Play Time!
    3. Use a timer. Using a visual timer (Children’s Countdown Timer is an awesome free app to use) helps children see how much time they have and makes ending the playtime easier. It also helps me get pumped up and be more energetic while playing because I can see it’s only for a few minutes.
    4. Let your child pick what to play. If it were up to me we would play card games or color but that isn’t usually what my son chooses for our time. So even though I don’t want to play dinosaurs for the millionth time, I do. Remember it’s about them not us. And sometimes he’s super sweet and lets me pick what we play!
    5. Have fun!! I know your tired momma! I know you have a to-do list a mile long! I know there are a million other things you could be doing. But for just 10 minutes let it all go, muster up all the energy you can and have some fun with your kiddo! It can be hard but it is so worth it. And who knows, you might actually end up having some fun.

     

    I challenge you to give it a try this week. Have 10 minutes of parent-child play time every single day and see what happens. I know it has had huge benefits for me and my son (as well as many families I work with). After a week, come back and let me know how it went. I’d love to hear from you! (To comment click the title & scroll down.)

     

    Until next time, Let’s Live Bright!

    April 26, 2019

    Becoming My Best Self Single

    Posted in Single Life by

    While being single brings many challenges with it (especially as a single parent), it also brings benefits as well. One of these benefits is that I have had the opportunity to focus more on myself than I would be able to if I was in a relationship. This has enabled me to get to know my self on a deep level. I’ve learned so much about myself and I have grown and changed in so many positive ways.  From what I’ve heard and seen this is much harder for married moms. It’s easy to lose yourself in the roles as wife and mother and forget that first and foremost you are YOU. You are a person, a woman, an incredible individual. I am so thankful for these years single because they have made me into who I am, and you know what….I really like who that is.

     

    Here is some of what I’ve discovered about myself during this time….

     

    I am strong 

    I am resilient 

    I know what I like (and what I don’t)

    I feel deeply, and that’s OK

    I hate small talk and instead desire a deep connection with others

    I enjoy living a minimal lifestyle

     I have learned to be more patient and positive 

    I have discovered my passions (writing, the ethical treatment of animals, self-improvement)

    I dream big now

    I take more risks, even when I’m scared

    I do my best with an active mind and body 

    I thrive when I am outside

    I know what I am looking for in a partner

    I do not settle

    &

    My greatest love is and will always be God

     

    I truly believe I would not have discovered these things and become the woman I am today if I was married or in continuous relationships. I am who I am because of my many years single. So instead of cursing my singleness, I say thank for these incredible blessings and for helping me become the woman I am today. I will continue to use this season of singleness to learn, grow, and become my best self as long as I have it.

     

    I encourage you to do the same; use your time of singleness to live bright and become the best YOU you can be! I would love to hear from you, what have you learned about yourself by being single?  Comment below!

    (to comment click on the title and scroll down)

    April 22, 2019

    Remember

    I was cleaning my room the other day when I found some old papers. As I started to go through them one stood out to me. It was a collage I had made when my then 2 year old son and I needed to move. It was a very scary and stressful time.  We needed to move out of the home that we shared with roommates and find somewhere else to live. This was the only home my son had ever known. We didn’t know where we would go or how we would afford it.

     

    I created a collage of pictures of our dream home. On the paper I wrote “hope, trust, believe for our new home”. The pictures were of a small home but it would be ours. I placed the paper on my wall and looked at it every day. It reminded me to trust God and that He would provide for us. I prayed often about this.

     

    It was 3 years later now and I had completely forgotten about this paper. So looking at these pictures brought back a lot of memories and emotions. Something in particular jumped off the page at me. It was the couch in the living room picture. It was the exact same couch I just purchased the weekend before! And this was an even bigger deal because this was the first piece of new furniture I had ever bought. I love second-hand pieces, but when our old couch finally came to its final days I decided it was time to buy a new one. Seeing the same exact Ikea couch on the page before me brought tears to my eyes.  It reminded me in a powerful way of how God answered my prayers for a home for my son and me.

     

    God has answered and provided so much for me and my son on this journey. And I know he will continue to! God is so good! But sometimes I need a little reminder of this. So I  decided to keep the paper and start a Remember Box. It will be a place I add things like this that help me remember the prayers God has answered and blessing he has given me.

     

    Even when it doesn’t feel like it, we have so many blessing. I challenge you to think back and remember how God has answered some of your own prayers. Maybe even make your own Remember Box. What items would you add to your Remember Box? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

     

    Psalm 77:11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord, Yes I will remember the miracles of long ago.

    April 20, 2019

    How to Be Single & Happy

    Posted in Single Life by

    Tonight as I was in deep thought in the shower (a very good place for thinking…and singing) I realized something pretty incredible, I am single and happy. Now it wasn’t news to me that I was single but happy, that took me by surprise. As the hot water of the shower hit me so did the realization that I was actually happy. And it felt really good, because this wasn’t always the case.

     

    I’ve had some dark days single…I’m pretty sure it comes with the territory of being over 30 and still (very) single. It’s basically a rollercoaster ride of emotions including but not limited to loneliness, disappointment, jealousy, anger, confusion, and sadness. Maybe you can relate?

     

    But not now. No, now I was feeling peaceful, content, and happy…even excited about what the future held for me. I started to think about what may be causing this incredible shift. What am I doing differently now than when I had experienced those dark days? Here is what I came up with. How I had become single and happy….

     

    1. Be positive and grateful

    Recently someone told me I was a very positive person and I responded “Thank you! I work really hard to  be.” And that’s the truth! Honestly, I am naturally negative, a glass half empty kind of person. But over the past year or so I have worked really hard to intentionally choose to be positive, see the good in every situation and to daily focus on all I have to be grateful for. This can be a whole article in itself but for now I will just say that I am seeing the benefits of this effort. Even though my circumstances have not have changed (I’m still single) my outlook and attitude about it have.

     

    2. Spend less time dwelling on singleness

    The more time we talk about, complain about, think about and dwell on being single-the bigger of an issue it’s going to be. We need to STOP, now! And start focusing our energy, time and thoughts on other things, better things. For me writing for Sunshine for Single Moms has been one of these outlets. It has helped me channel myself into something positive, instead of the negative thoughts and feelings singleness can bring up. It can be anything (a sport, hobby, volunteering, reading), but rechanneling our focus on something more positive will have dramatic effects on how we view our singleness and life in general.

     

    3. Let God write your love story

    Although it may sound a little cory it has been the most powerful thing in helping me change my view and feelings surrounding my single state. Personally, for me, I felt that I needed to delete the dating apps and instead trust God to write my love story. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but personally for me, I felt this was what God was leading me to do. I have done online dating for a long time (seriously like 10 years!). I have met a lot of guys online and I have dated several of them. But looking back none of them were God’s plan for me. This was clear but I was so busy trying to be in control I ignored the signs and God’s leading. A lot of challenges, negative situations, and long term consequences have come from this and I am finally saying no more! I will finally stop trying to write my own love story and I will give God the pen. He is the author of life itself and has already written the greatest love story of all time, so why wouldn’t I trust him with mine? I can honestly say I feel so much relief, contentment, peace and happiness in this decision to let go and trust. Whatever this looks like for you, I would encourage you to let God write your love story too. He will do a far better job than we ever could anyway!

     

    I’m not saying I will be happy-go-lucky every moment of my single life from here on out but I can say that the changes I’ve made and the trust I’ve placed in God to take over have dramatically helped and improved my single status and life overall. I am happier, more content, at peace and enjoying my life so much more now! If you are not already single and happy I hope you can apply some of these ideas to help you get there too.

    Which one of these 3 stands out to you? Comment below!

    April 17, 2019

    Musical Motivation: Fighter

    I’m starting a new series I’m really excited about called Musical Motivation where I’ll share songs that are motivating and speak to us as single mommas. Music is so powerful. It can completely change your mood, feel like it was written just for you, make you show off your crazy dance moves in public and push you to run mile after mile. The songs I share will be an eclectic grouping, some Christian and some far from it (but that still have a really good message). I would love for you to leave a comment on how you relate to these songs and if they are motivating to you as well.

     

    We are going back to the early 2000’s for this one. I am a 2000’s girl through and through! Oh the music, the fashion (bellbottoms and butterfly clips for me) and the super cool flip phones. I was huge fan of Usher, N’Snyc, and my girl Christina Agulara. I have a Girl Power Playlist and she’s still rocking on it so many years later. Her song Fighter is the ultimate girl power anthem for us ladies who have been through some sh*t. If you are a single mom then YOU ARE A FIGHTER and it’s good to remind yourself of that once in a while. Never forget how brave, strong and capable you are. As Christina says in her song…

     

    “If it wasn’t for all that you tried to do, I wouldn’t know just how capable I am to pull through, so I just want to say thank you cause it … makes me that much stronger, makes me work a little bit harder, it makes me that much wiser. So thanks for making me a fighter. Made me learn a little bit faster, made my skin a little thicker, makes me that much stronger. So thanks for making me a fighter.  

     

    This is so true for us ladies. As single moms we have been through some hard stuff, but it has made us stronger and wiser. When we can see our situation through this lens it is powerful. We go from victim to victor, from weak to winner, and from damsel in distress to the Queen. Yaaaas! It is so empowering. We can even go as far as to thank God for our struggles because we know we are better because of them.

     

    So next time you’re feeling down take a listen to Fighter and remember how strong you really are.

     

    What do YOU think of this song? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comment below!

     

    Check out the video below. 

    April 14, 2019

    A Spot of Sunshine Devotional #6

    “God had made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11

     

    I came across this verse while searching for a new wallpaper for my phone. As I was scrolling through Pinterest one caught my eye, beautiful flowers surrounded the words Trust the Process -Ecclesiastes 3:11. That was the one. It was exactly what I needed to be reminded of every day and the encouragement I needed to keep going.

     

    Everything is made beautiful in its time. I’m not a Bible scholar but to me this means that we will see the beauty, the purpose, the reasons for everything one day.  That even the messy and messed up can be made beautiful in God’s time. The verse goes on to give us the example of eternity. Today we have the Bible and we can see the whole picture of God’s plan, but everyone prior to Jesus didn’t know God’s plan for eternity and salvation. They didn’t know all the details we know today. They had to trust and live the best they could with what God had revealed to them; and so do we.

     

    Really this is how God works most of the time in our lives. He usually doesn’t give us a road map, or the wisdom we seek written on the wall, or answer our prayers in our timeframe. Many times we are left wondering….Why is this happening? Why am I going through this? What’s His plan? Where is He??

     

    The choice is ours….to turn away in frustration or to trust….Trust God knows what he is doing. Trust He has a plan for my life. Trust that even though I can’t, He can see the beginning to the end. And as my new wallpaper so perfectly puts it…trust the process. Now I’m not going to lie to you, this isn’t easy. It’s not easy to trust while you are deep in the mud and mess that there is rich and vibrant beauty ahead. It’s not easy, but it is possible. It is possible with God.

     

    If you struggle like me in this, take a minute and say this prayer with me. Say it today and say it every day that you need to.

     

    God it’s difficult for me to see your plan and purpose in my life right now. It’s so hard and honestly at times my struggles seem useless and unfair. But in spite of that, I choose to trust you. I choose to trust you have a plan and purpose for my pain. And I choose to believe you can turn my mess into beauty. Beauty for your glory. Give me the strength to keep my faith strong and my eyes on you. And thank you for making everything beautiful in your perfect time. 

    April 4, 2019