Monday, August 29, 2016

Car Shopping Lessons for a Single Mom-How I became an educated buyer without being taken for a ride

Welcome again everyone to today's Monday Marker. 

I'm excited to welcome a guest blogger today.

Lisa Hetzel is a sought-after freelance writer who recently published her experience in a four-part series, A Journey Through Kidney Donation in The Rockdale Citizen. Definitely a must-read! Kidney Donation Story

Lisa is a single mom, a recently retired school teacher and director of our local writer's group, East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers.

Today Lisa shares her slightly humorous, yet seriously eye-opening used-car-buying experience with her teenage son.

Here's Lisa!


It started with a Ford Ranger. I wasn’t even looking. However, my son and I had talked about splitting the cost for a late model, used vehicle. (For those of you who get confused like me, late model means old. That’s cool. At 55, I can now refer to myself as a late model.)

My friend’s grandson was thinking of selling his truck. I went to look at it, took photos, and showed it to my teenager. 

First piece of advice, NEVER show your child something that you are thinking of buying without expecting their immediate desire to have it NOW.

Lesson learned.

Six years as a single mom has taught me that every penny counts. So, I sat my soon-to-be-out-the-house son down and proposed a plan.

Our budget would be $3000.00. The car had to meet all of my requirements: safety, low insurance rate, low mileage (under 100,000 miles), low miles per gallon, low ad valorem, an inspection by our mechanic, along with ANY additional criteria that I deemed necessary. 

While he continued to look for his “dream car,” I started a search of my own on the internet. I found several checklists of things to consider when looking at a car, as well as, things to check when running a test drive.

If we went to a used car dealer, we could ask to see the vehicle health report. If it was a private seller, we could order a report (usually costs about $40.00).

Either seller should be able to produce the title. If the word “salvage” appeared in the title, walk away from the deal. Also, the name and address on the title should match the dealer.

When he found a car, I felt pretty confident we could look. The photos and information looked okay. The seller lived an hour away, so we took one of my son’s friends (who works in a garage) with us.

Little did I know that this was a teenager’s dream car. In spite of my attempt to become educated, I didn’t understand that there was no way I should help my son buy a 1999 Ford Mustang GT, with a V8 engine, custom wheels and some kind of fancy muffler that made the house rattle. 

What did I know? 

While my son drooled, I looked under the hood, at the tires, in the interior and in the trunk. I thought I was being pretty thorough.  The name on the title matched the seller. Lots of work had been done.

However, the plates on the car were from New York. We live in Georgia, so there would be ad valorem taxes.

There were at least 3 large dings and scratches and it had been in a wreck. The passenger door had been hit, so it would have to be replaced. 

In spite of the fact that the car was designed for STREET RACING, I was drooling, too. It was pretty.

Thank the good Lord that the seller wouldn’t accept a check. I told him that we were interested, but would have to check several items before buying:
  •  My auto insurance rate wouldn’t raise.
  •  Ad valorem would be less than $100.00
  • The vehicle health report would be good.
  • My advisors (big brother, neighbors, and local mechanic) would agree it was a good deal.

I felt that I had done a great job. However, my gut was telling me to be cautious.

It was Sunday, so weren’t able to find out about insurance or ad valorem until the next day. After church, I told my friends about our latest find. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such rapid head shaking.

Immediately, they replied, “Walk away!”

Between that night and the next morning, I learned that the car would need a lot of work, use a lot of gas, and most importantly, be a huge temptation for speeding.

I hadn’t even started the health report yet. 

Telling my son this wasn’t the car was hard. However, it was a good decision. 

I’ve learned a lot since then, including consulting at least one of my advisors before showing my son a serious interest. 

I’ve come across several reliable sources for anyone looking for a used vehicle. If you are ever in the market, here are some links for you to consider:

Popular Mechanics’ list when you look and test drive a used car Popular Mechanics,

Kelly Blue Book There are pages of checklists and things to help you make an informed decision,

CarFax, (they provide low-cost vehicle health reports).

In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to help my son search for a car that meets both of our expectations.

So far our car-buying venture is successful because of my many advisers.

As Proverbs 15:22 states, Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

What car-buying lessons have you learned? Feel free to share in the comment area below.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our Homes: Building Up or Tearing Down?

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, 
the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1. 

Your house is your home. It does not matter if it's a small apartment or 4,000 square foot house. Your home is where you live, either alone, or with others. 

Women hold tremendous power in our homes. It does not matter if you're single, married or a single mom, you hold the keys to building up your home or tearing it down. 

We've all heard the phrase, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. 

It's well-known too, that it's difficult to have two women in one household ruling the roost. (Southern slang for boss).

The wise and foolish woman cannot live in the same house. 

Thankfully, because God has clarified this in His word, we can know which one we are.

Below is a list of a few traits of the wise woman. 

  • She fears the Lord. Not the scared kind of fear, but reverant fear, that moves us to surrendered worship of our King and Savior, Jesus. Fearing the Lord isn't simply going to church. It's a deep and growing personal relationship with Him.
There are numerous scriptures stating that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but this one sums it up:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; 
all who follow His precepts have good 
understanding. Psalm 111:10
  • She seeks understanding and knowledge of Him above worldly knowledge, knowing this is where her happiness, joy, and contentment is found. To gain this, she steadily reads her Bible and seeks wise counsel from others.
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be 
pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect 
you and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:10-11

  • She prays. She lays aside anxiety and talks to God, openly and honestly, while thanking Him, and trusting Him, knowing that this is where she finds peace.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests 
be made known to God and the peace of God, which passes 
all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds 
through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
  • She oversees and cares. She manages and sets the tone of her household, whether single, married or a single mom. Except when there's abuse going on, we women know, don't we, that we set the tone and atmosphere of our homes? I'm not talking about clean, spotless homes, with material things, but taking care of herself and family through her example of edifying with actions and words. Making her home a haven to live in. 
She watches over the affairs of her household and 
does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

If you're thinking it's impossible to be this wise woman, you're correct. It's impossible in your own strength, but totally possible with God's empowering spirit living in us. It is a lifelong process that begins guessed it....the fear of the Lord. It's Him who does the work in you. 

What a relief!

Now, for a few traits of the foolish woman who tears her house down. None of us have ever set out to intentionally tear down our homes. We don't want to destroy our home. But satan does; homes, families, marriages, you name it, he's going to work to tear down these things. He does it cunningly and craftily when we're not seeking God's wisdom and help in building up our homes.
  • She worships idols, like money, greed, pride, self, beauty. Looking for love and security in all the wrong places.
Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, 
nor can they rescue you because they are useless. I Samuel 12:21
  • She rejects instruction, insists on her own way through manipulation in her words and actions.
The way of a fool is right in their own eyes. Proverbs 12:15
...but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7b

  • Anxiety, worry and fear rule her heart. We may struggle with these 3 things, but to let them rule our life, is distrust in the Lord, by neglecting prayer and fellowship with Him.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind 
word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. I Peter 

  • She's argumentative and tears down with words and actions.
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky 
roof in a rainstorm. Proverbs 27:15
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 25:24

I confess that I'm a work in progress. I haven't always strived to be that wise woman. In many little ways, I was disassembling my home. Thank God He got my attention before it was too late.

I'm thankful for the work of the cross where Christ bore all my sin, making me whole and righteous by His blood. I'm fully dependent on the Holy Spirit's indwelling power to empower me to become this wise woman who enjoys the benefits that come with it.

How about you? Which woman do you want to be? I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Your fellow wisdom seeker,

Monday, August 15, 2016

I've Recently Realized Something

Welcome to Monday Markers everyone!

Would you agree that perspective is everything? Perspective is a mental view or outlook; the ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

When our perspective about something changes, the new change becomes reality.

When I see a bird perched on the highest point of a tree, it just looks like a brown bird to me. 

When I zoom in using binoculars or a camera, I gasp, ”oh wow!” My perspective of that bird completely changes. 

It’s suddenly a bright yellow gold finch (my favorite) or a striking painted bunting. 

I've always noticed birds and enjoyed them. But that's the extent of it. 

Because of my husband's passion and knowledge of birds, my perspective of them and desire to learn more has changed, as I've been his student in the classroom of all things birds.

For over 33 years I have loved God, have always noticed Him in my surroundings and acknowledged His faithfulness. He has walked intimately with me through life’s sorrows and sufferings, always bringing me to the other side…


My perspective about my position with Him was blurred. Through my eyes, I couldn’t grasp all the 
spiritual blessings I already have in Christ. I struggled with taking hold of that which Jesus took hold of for me. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or 
have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to 
take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took 
hold of for me. Philippians 3:12

What did Jesus take hold of for you and me?

Well, for starters…salvation. From His death on the cross, to His resurrection and now seated at the right hand of God, He makes intercession for us. He’s not condemning us, He’s praying for us!

So, girlfriend, where is your condemner?

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. 
Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who 
was raised to life – is at the right hand of God 
and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

That’s not all. Jesus didn’t just stop at salvation. He fulfilled His promise to send Someone to empower us to live this Christian life on earth.

Dear believer, if you’ve trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit has been deposited into your very heart (soul)! He lives inside of you!

This truth alone blows my mind when I FOCUS on it.

There’s more though. Much more and impossible to write about all of it in a little blog post. 

But the “something that I’ve recently realized” is what I want to share.

Are you like me and sometimes walk through this world feeling defeated, beat down and powerless?

Have you accepted the status quo and mundane as your reality? Do you feel like you’ve fought your last battle and are down for the count, too tired to get up and fight? 

I have some encouragement for you today. First let’s adjust the lens of the eyes of our hearts and focus in on something.

My prayer and hope is that you’re perspective changes as you take hold of the reality that we, as daughters of God, can live in. Right now.

First, do this: Ask God to replace your blurred or distorted view with His vision.

Now let’s zoom in and focus…

As a believer in Christ, you have been bought by Him at the highest price ever possible. Therefore, you are His possession, His greatest treasure. 

Your were bought at a price. 
Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:20 
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, 
a holy nation, God's special possession, 
that you may declare the praises of Him who has 
called you out of darkness into His 
wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9

Because Jesus is our King, we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms.
...he exerted when He raised Christ from the
dead and seated Him at His right hand in the
heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:20
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him
in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6

God has given us EVERY spiritual blessing we will ever need to defeat the devil’s sleazy schemes and empower us to live out our Christian life. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly 
realms with every spiritual 
blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 

You don’t have to try to be righteous because you can’t. You already are! 

This righteousness is given through faith in 
Jesus Christ to all who believe.  Romans 3:22

So stop exhausting yourself by trying to be perfect.

Because of all this, we can stand…with the authority of Jesus, and take back what the devil has stolen while we've been focusing on defeat and discouragement, down on our back for the last count. 

do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance
the Lord will bring you today. Exodus 14:13

While you’re taking your place and standing firm, clothe yourself in His armor He’s given to you. I strongly encourage you to get your Bible and turn to Ephesians 6:10-18, paying special attention to each piece of armor God has provided.

Think of it like that bird sitting atop the highest point of a tree and it just looks brown from where you’re standing. Until you zoom in focus on each detail.

Ask God to give you vision and focus on these realities. Ask God for His perspective to dissolve your perspective. 

Now, go for it! Grab hold of what Christ has taken hold of for you and experience new strengths and victories.

Grabbing on to these realities has given me a “second wind”, even after all these years. It will move us forward as we stay the course,


Monday, August 8, 2016

Life on the Other Side of Divorce

Good Monday morning everyone!

Last week I shared some tips about what NOT to do and what you CAN do when facing an unwanted divorce.

Today I have some encouragement for you about life after divorce. As you surrender your brokenness to Jesus Christ, you will come to the place where you can enjoy life again and walk in newness and healing.  

It’s been 27 years since my divorce. God carried me through the hard realities of double betrayal and into the scary world of single-parenthood. While my husband and best friend carried on as if nothing was wrong with what they were doing, my children and I bore the brunt of most of it, or so it seemed at the time.

We didn’t come out unscathed. But through it all, we saw God’s hand in miraculous ways and enjoyed His blessings of peace and comfort in the midst of difficulties.

During the beginning of my separation and divorce, I can remember thinking to myself…three years…in three years I’ll be past all of this.

I don’t know why three years was stuck in my head, but it seemed within reach. I knew the dark clouds would part, the sun would shine again and the pain wouldn’t be felt as much.  

In the meantime, I curled up in God’s lap and drew every ounce of strength I had from Him. His word, my Bible, was my lifeline as I placed my hope and trust in His promises.

With each loss that we endured, God provided something new. When I stood on God’s promises during a crisis He came through. Usually it was never in a way I would have thought.

I discovered early on that He wanted to use what the devil thought would destroy me, for His glory. God wanted to turn every defeat into a victory and He’s still doing it to this day!

When bad things happened, God aligned incredible people, opportunities and sweet memories to outshine the bad. I learned to
enjoy simple pleasures. For 19 years while being a single mom, God opened doors when others would close and provided comfort and healing through it all.

Something I never thought would happen is I learned to enjoy my own company and being alone. I discovered who I am in Him in ways I couldn’t have if not for my brokenness.

He took all the pain and heartache and turned it into a writing ministry and opened doors to a non-profit ministry to single parents.  
You intended to harm me, but God 
intended it for good…Genesis 50:20

I’m still curled up in His lap, but now it’s to learn from Him, gain wisdom and direction as He continues repurposing my life, which now includes a sweet new husband of eight years.

Whatever stage you may be in of a separation or divorce, I want to encourage you, and comfort you with these words:

Praise be to the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of 
compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves 
receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Now, put me in place of us and my in place of our and I in the place of we. And re-read the above verse.

And also these promises:

But now, this is what the Lord says, he who created 
you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, 
for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by 
name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, 
they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the 
fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set 
you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the 
Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Isaiah 43:1-3a

Now, insert your name in the place of Jacob and Israel and re-read the above verse.

Wherever you may be in a separation and/or divorce process, God is a redeeming God. He is the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

God is close and ready to heal your broken heart when you’re ready.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and 
saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds 
up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Are you facing a separation or divorce?

I invite you to share below your thoughts if you’ve experienced an unwanted divorce or are facing one now. If you’d like to email me privately, simply fill out the contact form on the right.

Until next Monday, stay the course,


Monday, August 1, 2016

When you Don't Want the Divorce

Welcome ladies, to Monday Markers!

Today’s post is part one of two parts, as I share some pointers that can help you navigate through an unwanted divorce.

Next week’s part-two will be about life on the other side of divorce.
I don’t have statistics, but I’m willing to suggest that most women who have faced divorce didn’t want it.

Or maybe at the end of your marriage, following one-sided attempts at salvaging it, you were ready for divorce, even though it wasn’t what you wanted.

If you’re facing an unwanted divorce, you may be wondering how you can go on, thinking you’ll never recover.

If you have children, your situation is more complex and overwhelming, and you’re wondering how you’ll survive as a single mom.

The pain that comes with the ending of a marriage is indescribable. The emotions of hurt and anger wrapped up like a burrito, mixed with a lot of stuff can be downright messy.

This is where I found myself many years ago. Facing divorce and single-parenthood, while sorting through the blinding mud of infidelity and blows of shocking news, trying to sort out truth and lies.

Blaming God.

I didn’t want my divorce. I fought for my marriage the best I knew how. For the longest time I was in denial of what was happening before my eyes.

After a year-long separation, it was apparent that divorce was inevitable.  

As I think back over that tumultuous time in my life, I made a lot of mistakes that prolonged my agony, as I lived out strong co-dependent tendencies.

But I also did a lot to maintain normalcy and a calm stability for me and my kids, which provided us the comfort and security we needed to get through this awful time.

I’m going to share with you the top five things to NOT do (take it from someone who knows), then give you the top five things you CAN do instead. 

This can help you navigate through the rough spots and get you to the other side where miracles and healing happen.

Here are my top 5 suggestions of what NOT to do:
  1. Don’t play the phone game. Period. If you don’t have children with your spouse/ex-spouse, there’s no reason at all to put yourself through the whacky insanity of back and forth calls and texts, fighting, begging, blaming and threatening. If you have children and must communicate, keep conversations at a
    minimum, ONLY with the children’s best interest as top priority. Avoid arguments that send you over the edge and the kids have to absorb what they hear.
  2. Do not stalk or do drive-bys or seek revenge. It’s like pouring gasoline on wildfires. If there’s any avenging needing to be done, that’s God’s job.
  3. Don’t bear the burden of responsibility for their choices. But accept responsibility for your part in the demise of the marriage, even if it’s only 10%.
  4. Don’t make any major decisions, if possible, for the first year following the finality of your divorce. Stay put, if you can. And by all means stay out of the dating scene for at least a year. Trust me when I tell you this!
  5. Do not run from God during a time when you need Him. He will be the true anchor for your sinking heart. He will!

My top 5 things to DO:
  1. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible, who support and encourage you in positive ways.
  2. Dive into God’s word. Grab on to it as if it’s your lifeboat. As you do, the Lord will meet you smack in the middle of the storms and messes. I can promise you this!
  3. Keep making coffee and tea. Sounds weird, I know, but the
    simplest of things provide normalcy and comfort during this unpredictable time. Keep mealtime schedules and evening routines with your kids. Do simple household chores.
  4. This one is a biggy for me: Set clear,
    healthy boundaries! Do not…I repeat, do not, allow your estranged spouse/ex-spouse to cross these boundaries. I remained open to reconciliation even after our divorce, but confused that with blurred boundaries. This resulted in ongoing, un-necessary heartbreak. For your sanity and healing, set and STICK to clear,
    uncompromising boundaries. I can’t
    stress this enough. 
    If setting and enforcing boundaries results in
    bullying threats, as was in my case, take it to the furthest extent of the law from the first instance and DO NOT compromise under the pressure of threats.
  5. Reach out for help in your community and church. Find a local Divorce Care ministry and plug in. Connecting with others who have survived divorce, is crucial. Their wise counsel from personal experience can save you a lot of un-necessary pain and grief.

There are many more, but these are my top 5.

Have you experienced divorce and have some tips I didn’t mention that you can share with us? I invite your input in the comment section below. Feel free to comment anonymously or sign in through your Google+ account if you have one.

I can’t wait until next week as I share about life after divorce.

Until then, let’s stay the course,