Area Single Mothers Finding Reason to SMILE In Hard Times

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A recently formed support group is giving a network of support and understanding to single mothers, finding it hard to cope – with rising costs, raising kids alone and dealing with being both mother and father to kids in a tough world. 

SMILE, or Single Mothers In the Lord’s Embrace began meeting in January of this year, to give these ladies a place to share stories, network, with others in similar situations, with a sympathetic ear to their trials and tribulations. 

The group was the brainchild of Pat Blackwell, who came to the area from Spokane, Washington to visit family. Falling in love with the area, she moved to Crockett, bought a cute house, with all the love and care and expense of keeping our historic cute homes in working order.

“The house has so much character and, as I soon found out, a few character flaws,” Blackwell joked. 

She decided to start the group to help single moms have a platform to share both wins and losses with others either going through the same situation, or with those who have been there before. 

“I believe we have a God who’s focused on relationships with Him and with each other. And this is a group about relationships. The ladies often are alone. I have five women who either have lost their moms or have broken relationships,” Blackwell explained. “Just being able to come alongside in a motherly, grandmotherly role is often helpful – to find friends who have experienced some of the same things or may have survived what they’re going through.”

The group meets at Good Shepherd Church in Crockett the third Thursday of each month at 5:45 p.m. Dinner and daycare is always included, so the moms can share a meal, relax and get some much needed support, while the kids play and enjoy themselves, too. 

While it’s not a Bible study per se, the group does go to the good book to find inspiration and gain hope, even when all can seem lost. 

“I know from experience, the word of God works, you have to apply it but if you don’t know what the Word says, and you don’t know the character of God, it’s hard to apply that,” Blackwell said. “My goal is to help these women understand who our God is, that we are designed by Him, and then how to apply that to make it work effectively in our lives.”

Blackwell is happy to help any and all single mothers in the area who need help – but she has a strict definition of what a “single mother” is. 

“If you’re living with your boyfriend or your marriage is weak, and he’s not really parenting – you’re not a single mom. This is for true single mothers, on their own. If you’re a grandmother or aunt raising a child alone, you’re qualified.”

With a wide range of ages and situations, some of the situations are hard to take, with some single moms forced to stay with relatives, sometimes sleeping on floors, trying to juggle jobs and family, in a world where a buck just doesn’t go as far as it used to. 

While there have always been widows, or men who go out for a carton of milk, only to never return, the burden of single-motherhood seems to get worse each year. 

Blackwell agreed and said it’s a sign of our times.

“When we come to a place in our society, where marriage is not valued, where sex is casual, and the attitude toward the family unit has disintegrated, people get in shallow or unfulfilled relationships. They don’t know how to make it work. We’re in a culture where it’s easier to throw something out than try to fix it. We’ve seen women of all walks, all economic levels come through because they don’t have good foundation. I believe that foundation has to be in Jesus through the Bible. And when you do that, you have something real you can rely on – something that really works.”

The group, Blackwell said, has found comfort in the message of the Bible, giving them strength, knowing there is hope and a higher power to help them, even when it seems there is no way out of a difficult situation. 

“When you understand how completely the love of the Father God is for us, then nothing rattles us. Because we know we’re going to be okay. Nothing’s going to shake us, nothing’s going to throw us off. That builds endurance and endurance is going to build some character,” Blackwell said. 

If you are a single mom in search of support or would like to contribute in some way to help the group, you may contact Good Shepherd Church and find out how.  

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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