Excerpt for Psalms for the Single Mom by , available in its entirety at Smashwords







Psalms

for the

Single Mom




Lisa Reinhard











W & B Publishers

USA


Psalms for the Single Mom © 1999/2017. All rights reserved by Lisa Reinhard.



No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any informational storage retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the publisher.


W & B Publishers

At Smashwords

For information:

W & B Publishers

9001 Ridge Hill Street

Kernersville, NC 27284


www.a-argusbooks.com


ISBN: 9781635549539



Book Cover designed by Dubya


Printed in the United States of America










Dedication



This book is dedicated to my three sons: Sean, Neil and Jeff Dearman


They are the heart and soul of t his work, and I thank God everyday for them.

Each unique and successful, they are truly the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I love you guys more than words can say.



Foreword



This book was written in the late 90s and was originally published in 1999. Many things have happened in the years between then and now. My sons are now 32, 30, and 28; all successful, interesting, and personable young men. All four of us went through many more experiences which shaped us into the people we are today. We found healing and wholeness and even forgiveness along the way. I eventually married again—this time to the love of my life, who was certainly worth waiting for. Jack had a profound effect on all three of my sons, and restored my heart. We were able to have nine beautiful and meaningful years together until brain cancer claimed his life. Although I miss Jack terribly, I know where he is and that he is waiting for me there.

I am still teaching—both elemen-tary and college—and growing both as a teacher and a person. I have remarkable relationships with all three of my sons, and we have started taking a family vacation together in the summer. I am blessed with my family, my dear friends, my church, my still-zany sense of humor, and a sweet Sheltie named Gracie.

As I journeyed back through these psalms, I was once again struck by the way that God weaves people and events into our lives to help us, uplift us, strengthen us, and keep us focused on what truly matters. I see His guiding hand throughout all my years as a single mom. I know that prayers are both answered and un-answered, for a reason. I can see the wisdom of His nos. I know I learned patience, fortitude, determination, and per- severance through the many days of single parenting.

As you journey through this book, I pray that it will strike a chord in you that resonates with common ground and shared feelings. That is the whole reason I wrote it; to share with others what God taught me as a single mom, so that it might help them along their way. The mistakes I made were woven into the fabric of our lives as surely as my triumphs. He uses it all to create character and goodness and purpose.

I wish you many sponge-painting nights and few sinking in chocolate ones. May you experience the best God has for you in every aspect of your lives.


Lisa Reinhard 2017




Introduction




This is a book of heart songs. It is a pouring out, a slice of soul offered on a plate of experiences. It resonates with real feelings as varied and intricate as life itself. It is the story of one woman’s journey through single motherhood.

Each of us, at some moment, is there. We stand alone, making life’s decisions for these children we live with and love. At times we resent the responsibility; we feel as if our very veins have been tapped and the blood that is our strength is seeping out of us and into these hungry, all-consuming beings. Other times, we hold out what we have to offer on the palms of our hands and watch with wonder as it is picked up and gently woven into the little lives that share ours. We may be single because of death or divorce or because our husbands are away either physically, emotionally, or both. In every case, we each experience the depth and breadth of isolation that the tight grip of single motherhood has on our hearts, on our innermost beings, on who we are and who we become. But from that isolation can come new strength, new insight, increased knowledge of all we are capable of accomplishing. We can become bulwarks for our children, protecting them as we guide, urge, and nurture them; strong walls held together with the mortar of hope. Some days, parts of us crumble either privately or right out there for all the world to see. Other days, we add thickness and detail; new assurances that we do have it together after all.

I invite you on this journey with me. What follows are frozen moments remembered—pearls from a string of time. It is my hope that you will find some of yourself here, that you will realize the range and intensity of emotions you undergo and have indeed felt before. The most enriching, satisfying experience in the world—that of being a mother—can at times be the demanding, deflating, and demoralizing, especially when it attempted alone. The relentlessness of both life and children can be overwhelming.

So lift your heart with mine, and let it sing. Let it moan and cry and gnash its very teeth. The depth to which it grieves is the height to which it can celebrate! Let it experience the very realness of the old adage that sorrow is a clever miner: the deeper it mines into your heart, the more joy you can contain.




A Promise Kept



“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)


This is the story

of a journey I embarked on

with God and with my three sons:

Sean, Neil, and Jeff.


It started eight years ago

and was at first filled with equal

amounts of pain and triumph.


As I grew in faith, wisdom, experience, and strength

the moments of victory increased

and began to outweigh the troubled

times.


I wished often

that I had someone to inspire me, to

lead me

to whisper, “You can make it”—

“Jesus with skin on,” my dear

friend Judy May would say.


I needed people to help me along the way—

people with shoulders to cry on,

hands to lift me up when I’d fallen,

feet to deliver a kick in the rear

when self-pity settled in.


As God provided those people,

I promised Him that I would take all the

pain

I’ve been experiencing

and use it to encourage others who are at

various points on this journey

of single motherhood—

those who may be tempted to give in,

letting bitterness enter their hearts.


This book of heart songs,

soul searches,

mind stretches,

and, hopefully, humor


Is the fulfillment of that promise.


If it touches just one single mom;


If it makes her load a little lighter,

her guilt that she’s not perfect a little less;


If it allows her to gently laugh at herself;

If it gives her the strength to keep loving herself and her children,

to not give up on taking care of her own needs as well as those of her children

(for you can give only what you have, I have discovered

And if you’re on empty in the self-esteem department,

You won’t have much with which to saturate your children);

then it will have served its purpose.


God has blessed me the opportunity to begin anew.

He had given me three fine sons to raise.

He had used my parents, Bill and Rhoda Hussey,

to support me, inspire me, challenge me,

and be the undergirding to the belief that

I could do all things through Christ

who strengthens me.


He had, in His wisdom, had them raise me in a way

that instilled in me such a fierce sense of independence,

such a stubbornness,

that I refused to give up, to give in, or to run home.

What follows flowed from my heart.


I pray it touches yours.




That Word—Divorce




My fingers trembled, I remember.

My throat went dry.

The words were trapped,

Stuck in my windpipe

By choking sobs of helplessness

And rage.


“I need to talk to you about

f-f-filing for

d-d-d-divorce.”


Finally, the word squeezed past my taut lips

and fell into the telephone receiver,

then into the attorney’s ear.


Divorce? Unspeakable!


Hadn’t I been trying to avoid this very word

For more than five years?


Christians don’t get divorced, I firmly believed,

as I prayed, pleaded,

compromised, and rationalized

my way through the months

that piled into years.


When you’re caught in a downward spiral

directed by someone else’s irresponsibility,

it’s near impossible to fight your way

back up alone.


It’s like one of those dreams

where your legs are weighted

as heavy as if they were cast from iron.


You’re struggling to the surface,

but your heavy legs hold you back,

not allowing you to break free.


I was drowning

in a sea of lies, foreclosure,

verbal abuse, and filth.


It was sink or grab the life raft

named S.S. Divorce,

which would take me, I knew fully well,

not into the Sea of Tranquility

but into the Bay of Chaos,

through the Strait of Faith,

into the Start Again Sea.




Refugee Momma




“We’re hungry, Momma!”


Their piteous cries were matched only

By the starved look in their eyes.


I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I picked up the phone;

I watched myself dialing Pizza Hut.

“Send out a large pepperoni,” I crowed.

They cheered—stunned, disbelieving.


“Isn’t it too much money?” one asked me.

“Not tonight!” I answered.

I rationalized it by telling myself there

Were no groceries in the pantry.


The boys and I were moving out next week,

right after our court date for

preliminary custody.


My soon-to-be ex-husband had been consuming

whatever food I brought in

while we were at school and day care.


He was not here tonight;

that was cause enough for celebration.

I reached for our joint checkbook.

One more time I’d pray the check

Didn’t bounce.


Tonight I prayed halfheartedly; I didn’t care.

My boys would eat pizza—regardless.


It arrived in a cloud of spices and tangy steam.

Tomato and pepperoni smells

Wrapped themselves around

four sets of nostrils

and drew them toward the thin brown box.


The door closed behind the pizza man,

and I shouted,

“Upstairs! To the bonus room!”


I remember opening the box.

I remember the image—

frozen in my mind forever—

of three little wolf cubs, ages two, four,

and six,

poised over their captured prey,

tongues between lips,

ready to pounce.


I don’t recall if we had napkins, plates, or drinks.

I do recall how starved I was.


But one look at their faces, and I drew back,

saying, “Help yourselves, boys!”


Cheese strung between box and slice,

Sauce seeped down chins.

Smiles lit up

the haunted, hungry look

chased away by glorious pizza.


They ate until there was nothing left but the backs—

the crescent spines of hard crust.


They sat back—satiated, replete.


“Thanks Momma! Thanks Momma!” they echoed.

Then they lay against the couch cushions,

each a satisfied heap of tousled blond hair

and bulging tummy,

lost in Looney Tunes.


I closed the box and took it downstairs.


It was not until I reached the kitchen

that I lifted the lid and grabbed

one hard crescent for me.


It was my only actual bite of that pizza.

The boys never knew.


But that image of the three of them

falling upon that pepperoni pizza

fed my soul

just as it ripped it apart.


It shouldn’t be like this.


It doesn’t have to be like this.


I was a refugee momma,

feeding my starving sons,

and we were about to break free.




It Makes People Uncomfortable, Lord




“We’re getting a divorce,

we’re buying a barn,

but we’re not remarried yet.”

The words fluttered out of Sean’s six-year-old mouth,

blue eyes flashing,

as he looked way up at the tall elderly

woman in the checkout line at Kroger.


She smiled sympathetically, first at him,

and then at me.

Shortly, thereafter,

she switched lanes.


It makes people uncomfortable, Lord.


I know, because it makes me

nervous as heck.


Two weeks we’ve been on our own.


I look down at my sweet bundle of boys:

Sean, an eager, wiggly six-year-old;

Neil, a four-year-old ball of perpetual motion;

and Jeff, a bumbly, blond bear, just two,

still a baby.


How are we going to make it, Lord?


How can I be everything I need to be

for these three

and still take care of myself?


How am I going to get up at 5:30 each morning;

get three boys ready, fed;

pack lunches, book bags, diaper bags;

and get out the door

With some semblance of sanity

when I’m not even a morning person?


Two weeks into this thing

and my ex-husband’s words

haunt me already.


“You’re never going to be able to make it on your own!

You’re stuck with these three boys,

and you’ll be worn slap out.

Nobody’s ever going to want you again…”


I look around me,

at the early-sixties,

gold/green/orange interior

of this barn-shaped house I’m renting.


I see my face fragmented

in the twenty-four mirrored tiles

on the kitchen wall.

“I want me,” I say to my myriad of reflections.

“And that

is enough.




Alone Again




I wanted someone to hold me.


I hungered for arms wrapped around me,

snug,

warm,

tight.


I lay there

shivering

in my scratchy-stiff sheets.


And thought I’d die

if someone didn’t hold me soon.

Rub my back,

Curl his legs around mine,

Fit me into him, back to front, like spoons.


“Hold me,

just hold me,”

I went whispering into the night.


Suddenly, jangles and light

announced morning.

I shook myself awake

and realized I was alone

again.




Single Name on a Double Sports Roster




If I could write a country song, I’d call it:

“Single Name on a Double Sports Roster.”


Because that’s me

every time one of my children

is on another baseball/soccer/ basketball/ tennis

any sport team.


When they pass out the team roster,

it says,

Tom and Betty

Bob and Cathy

Jim and Debbie

and then

Lisa

then back to

Randy and Cindy

Phil and Nancy

and so on.


My eyes burn, and I get a walnut in my throat

When I see my name

Isolate

On that page.

It sits there

Alone.


Some sort of proof that I am not connected,

That I’m doing this solo.


It’s so black-and-white.

So concrete.


Somehow it shouts failure

as it whispers

hide,

don’t expose yourself,

protect.


I fold up the roster

and carry it with a heavy heart to my car.


I plunk down on the driver’s seat

and wallow in self-pity.


Minutes pass

before a still, small voice

breathes to my soul.


I fumble in my purse for a pencil

And amend the roster,

Adding a “God and”

before the Lisa.


“And, lo, I am with you always,

Even to the end of the age.”

(Matt. 28:20)




Quitter




I won’t be a quitter, Lord!

You made me stronger than that.

I won’t quit; I don’t care HOW hard it gets!


I grit my teeth and say it most loudly

On the days I mean it the least.


No, you say.

It’s okay to quit.


Whatever could you mean, Lord?

And then I see.


Sometimes it takes more strength, more guts,

to quit.


Quit worrying, you whisper; trust Me.

Quit holding grudges; forgive.

Quit procrastinating; do it now.

Quit being afraid; accept my Spirit of confidence.

Quit hating yourself; forgive, accept, and love.

Quit trying to do it all yourself; accept My help.

Quit criticizing others; work on changing yourself.

Quit doubting; believe!


Okay, Lord,

I’ll be a quitter for You.

I have a feeling

that’s the only way

I’ll ever truly win.


Who Am I?


Who am I?


Now that I’m no longer married,

Am I Lisa Hussey again?

Or am I still Lisa Dearman?


I’ve been Lisa Hussey longer,

but Lisa Dearman more recently.


My sons’ last name is Dearman.

Do I want to have a different last name

than they have?


Does it matter?

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked

a long time ago.


A lot, I’d say.

How do I sign my checks?

What do my students call me at school?

Am I Mrs. Dearman, even though

I’m not married?

Does Ms. Dearman sound too liberal?

What name do I write on all my teaching things in permanent marker?


I’ve had lots of students whose moms have remarried and then they have still another different last name.


It’s so confusing, and sometimes I’ve had parents

get defensive

if I call them by the child’s last name

instead of their own.


I’ve known some families who have received

The principal’s permission to “let” the

children use the new step-parent’s last name

and others who have gone ahead and

adopted the children and changed the name legally.


If it’s confusing to me, as an adult,

how much more it must bewilder

a child.


Who am I?

Maybe I should be Lisa Hussman!




I’m Not After Your Husband




“Hey!” I wanted to shout. “You silly, insecure woman!

I am not “after” your husband!

He was very nice to help me carry my ice

chest full of soft drinks for the soccer

team;

But when I smiled and thanked him,

it was not an invitation.


It was one person appreciating another’s kindness.

That’s it.”


What is it about a divorced woman

that makes the women around her

wary, suspect, and even sometimes,

downright cold?


I just got out of pain, of emotional drain

with one man.


I’m in no condition to jump in

right away with another.


And even if I were, I wouldn’t choose yours—

he’s yours; you keep him.


I just want to be treated as a person,

with kindness, compassion,

sensitivity, and dignity.


I will treat you the same way.


Please, please include me!

Invite my children and me to dinner, to outings, to parties.


We need to see intact families.

We want to be included,

embraced,

validated.


Don’t isolate us by your own fear and

insecurity.


We already feel like failures

in this couples world


Help us not hide

in humiliated silence,

but lend us your strength

to rebuild bridges instead of

constructing walls.


Reach out a hand

and pull us into your world.

We’ll both be richer for it.




Why Me, Lord?




Why me, Lord?


What did I do that was so bad

that I would end up sleeping diagonally

across a queen-size bed

crying into my pillows

after I pummel them

with fists of rage?


Hot tears of exhaustion fill them instead of down;


I swear they’d drip bitterness if I squeezed them.


My thoughts zigzag, spiraling wildly up and

nosediving into my pale, striped comforter.


I can’t do it anymore!

I can’t be everything to my sons!

There are three of them, one of me,

and they’re younger, have more stamina.

They outlast me!

I’m so sleepy, Lord, and yet I can’t sleep.

I can’t turn off the worries inside my head.

Where will I get the money to send them to

college?

Why aren’t elementary teachers paid more?

Wait, forget college,

where will I get the money to pay the light bill

to buy three sets of school pictures

to buy new sneakers for the feet

that grow too quickly

and seem to make a hobby out of

dragging toes on sidewalks

and through puddles?


Oh, Lord, where is that sleep?

Five-thirty comes mighty early, and I need some rest.

Rest….?


I seem to remember,

“In repentance and rest you will be saved,

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

(Isa. 30:15)


Oh, Lord, remind me of that the next time I feel

like Charlie Brown in that cardboard box

saying, “Why me, Lord?”


When I get so overwhelmed I feel like

I’m racing around a hamster’s wheel,

and I fall asleep tutoring

and during sermons

and in the middle of teachers’ meetings.

Quietness and trust

and resting

in you.




New Beginnings




When a crystal vase slips from fingers

and shatters on a marble floor;

When an egg is smashed,

its raged shell fragments scattered;

When the petals of a rose are torn off

and bruised,

crushed beneath the wind’s weight—

there is no fixing it.


Not so with human lives.


We can go on.


With us

there are new beginnings,

a crisp white sheet of paper

on which to write

the words of today.




Trusting Again




How do I take the first step toward trusting again, Lord?


How do I loosen the grip

that fear-driven survival

has on my heart?


I want to believe,

but someone has let me down so badly,

so often,

and has filled my life with so many lies

that I hardly know the truth anymore.


Some things were said about me, Lord.

Horrible things. Lies.


My character was even maligned to my sons.

Anger does weird things to people,

so does hurt.


Be careful of rage, I want to warn those I care for.


Be careful of the hatred

that is the cancer of the soul.


Its by-product is the ooze of bitterness

that fills every inner recess of your heart.


Tears help. So does talking.


But as a wise man once told me,

you have to use discretionary disclosure.

You have to be careful to whom you tell what.

You must put strong walls around your hurting heart

and not allow those who would judge you

near your innermost being;


Those who have never walked your footsteps,

have never felt the degree of pain you have felt.


You must not give away all of your golden treasure.

Reserve some; you never know what lies ahead,

And you may need some sooner than you think.


Walks help too.

Long walks filled with soul-searching as well as mindlessness.

Empty-headed ditties sung to the babble of brooks

under bridges leading nowhere.


How did we take the first step, Lord, you and I?

that tiny step toward letting go;

giving up bitterness

before it solidified into resentment?


It was oh-so-small, really.

Just a little beginning,

a gleam of forgiveness that

led into the shine of peace.


It was putting one shaking foot at the edge of the cliff

and stepping off…




Hiking




My friends tease me on the weekends that I have the boys,

when they can’t get hold of me

and have to leave phone messages.


They call me “Super Mom” and laughingly say

that I’m probably out there hiking or something again.


They are probably right.


I can’t think of a better place to take three restless

boys

who love to explore!


What else would I do—drag them to the mall?

“Here, boys, here are the fancy, designer clothes

You won’t be wearing…”

“Look, but can’t have…”

“We’ll try on the next batch of hand-me-downs or trek over to the local discount store.”


No sir! Not my boys!

When we get new clothes,

It’s with excitement,

It’s what we can afford,

and it’s special and fun and uplifting.


I don’t set them up for disappointment


I don’t take them where they’ll see things

they can’t have.


We go to the woods. Kennesaw Mountain.


We climb with backpacks stuffed with

oranges and raisins,

apples and juice boxes.


We have canteens swinging at our sides,

along with binoculars and jackets tied

around our waists.


We sing, we whoop, we run.


We imagine.


Each boy finds the perfect walking stick

and uses it until it’s time to go,

leaving it then for someone else.


There’s a huge rock that looks like several elephants,

and they love to play safari on that

and look far off into the distance as they stand on its top.


Sometimes we take friends along,

and every once in awhile we run into someone we know.


But most times, it’s the four of us,

hiking vigorously and loving it.

time after time after time.


I don’t take them there to be “Super Mom.”


I hope I allow them the greatest gifts of all:

receiving life and all you’ve been given with gratitude,

discovering all that your body is capable of doing,

experiencing nature in all its glory,

and reveling in the sheer irreplaceable value of fun.

Fun for fun’s sake.


Lost, I think, too easily at the mall.



Aruba




“Oh, you simply must go to Aruba, Lisa! It is just fabulous!”


The words stung

mainly for their obliviousness

to my situation

rather than any cruel intent,

for their lack of sensitivity

and shortness of empathy.


There really is something to this

“walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins” stuff.

“Let me show you my latest photos of the Caribbean”

doesn’t cut it when there’s no money—

even for a trip to Dairy Queen.


Don’t rub it in, I want to whisper.

Don’t be such a contrast

that I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself.


Please take your beautiful four-by-six glossies

and leave me to my summer reruns and my

Diet Coke with lime squeezed in it

for that taste of the islands.


No White Knights on the Horizon


I told people I was not waiting for my white knight to come

“fix” my life.

And I meant it!


Until I met a guy who swept me off my feet—

And then I believed he was the answer

to all my problems.


But he was so strict with my kids.

Well, wasn’t that what they needed?

A firm male influence?

Someone to guide them?

Strength?


But a tiny voice inside me questioned,

was it really necessary to send them

upstairs to their rooms because they

wouldn’t eat the Brussels sprouts

he had brought over?


Dear Gussie, I didn’t even like the wretched things!


He was so sure of everything.

“No Cokes at Taco Bell! We’ll all drink water.”

(We will?)

“A deposit at the video store? Forget it—we don’t want the movie after all

that we’ve just spent forty-five minutes selecting.

And quit your whining, kids!”


It didn’t take long before his armor lost its silvery gleam.

Lawyer, looks and all, he didn’t wear well.


He created problems where there hadn’t been any before.


He was arrogant, opinionated, and controlling.


As he exited my life,

a great truth entered:


No one can fix your life.

There are no white knights.


I had to be prepared to do this all on my own,

with God’s help

for always.

There may never be anyone to help me raise

my children.


But “I can do all things through Him who

strengthens me.”


And I can certainly do it without opinionated,

Brussel-sprout toting

white knights!




Regrets




Regrets are weird things.


They come into my heart with

soft-padded cat’s feet,

silently wrapping steel-sharp wire

around the outside of it;

then pulling—hard!

ripping the

very core

of me.

The pieces land soggy;

three-day-old cornflakes

piling in the pit of my stomach,

curdling, souring.


A song stirs a memory,

and I begin to think of all

the could-have-beens,

the what-ifs

the why-nots.

Stop! I tell myself.

You can’t do this to yourself.

You are where you are.

Deal with it.

“This I recall to my mind.

Therefore, I have hope.


The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is your faithfulness.


‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,

‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’”

(Lam. 3:21-24)


Begin a new morning, I tell myself.

Go the only direction you can—forward—

Making the Lord your portion

And living in great

faithfulness

and soaring

hope.


Those two have a way of crowding out regrets.




Blind Date




How in the world did I get talked into this, Lord?

A blind date?

At my age?


A rivulet of sweat is running from the small of my back

down my legs.

My mouth has turned to cotton.


What will we talk about?


What if he’s a real jerk?


What if he’s too goofy for words?


What is the minimum number of minutes

you’re required to stay on a blind

date?


Why won’t my hair do anything I want it

to?


What if he thinks I look old?


What is he freaks when he finds out I have

children?


Okay, I tell the reflection in the mirror,

I can do this.


Hey, he’s a friend of Sue’s, right?

He couldn’t be that bad.


Well, come to think of it,

he’s really someone Sue’s husband works

with.


Did she say if she’d actually ever met him?


Oh dear, the sitter’s here.

Where’s my other shoe?

Did I ever put blush on?

Oh no, now I put on too much.


“Hello, I’m Shirley Temple,” I can say as I open the door.


Am I truly singing “I Have Confidence”

from the Sound of Music?


I’ve lost it—call the men in the white coats.


Confidence.

Come on, Lisa, confidence.

Just be yourself.

Take a deep breath.

And go downstairs.


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