Hope

Hope.

It sounds pretty, and it even looks cute when you see it in fancy cursive on home décor. I admit that the images that usually come to mind are beautiful too, a peaceful sunset, a newly hatched chick under her mother’s wing, a fawn in a dewy field in a serene meadow.

But I’ve learned that “hope” doesn’t always look pretty when you need it the most.

Life is hard. Broken relationships are hard. Separation is hard. Divorce is hard. Loneliness is hard. Death is hard. Raising kids is hard. Raising teens is hard. Finding hope is hard.

Where do you find hope when you feel like you’re drowning?

Like many of you, I’ve been through times and circumstances that I thought would certainly pull me under.

And yet, during one of the hardest times of my life, God gave me a vision of what hope looks like.

I was in the storm. On a ship that was surely going down. It was dark. It was painful. The waves crashed and the rain was relentless. Pounding. Both the rain and the thunder. The storm clouds were black. The moon only shone enough that I could see its reflection on the massive swells about to crash into my ship.

This is it. The end.

But wait. I felt someone gently turn me away from the eye of the storm to look behind me.

A lighthouse. Pelted by rain. Waves crashing up to its shore. It stood in the darkest night and yet:

Hope.

Light. Shining into the darkness. It was there for me. Signaling to me. It was there all along, but I was looking the wrong way.

I had to look up from the pain, the hurt, the despair, the confusion, the chaos; and there it was.

It didn’t look the prettiest. The rain was still pounding, thunder still roared, and the darkness still engulfed me.

But God. He was still holding onto me.

Hope isn’t just an idea. It’s not just a pretty word to comfort you. Hope is real and it’s meant for you.

Ironically, I chose the middle name “Hope” for my daughter 13 years ago. I thought it was those pretty ideas. Peaceful, sweet, graceful. And yet, through my journey, I’ve learned the true meaning of hope.

Hope is where it all begins.  It’s what gets us to the good stuff. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.” Romans 15:13

“Where Single Moms Find Hope.” That is our slogan at MOMS Canada. Not because it sounds good, but because it’s true. No matter what storm you’re in, or what problem you’re facing, there is hope.

But God. God, the source of hope. The source of light.

As Charles Stanley says, “It’s not easy, but it’s simple.”

Turn around, look away from the chaos, and look towards Him.

I’m still on the journey. The storms still rage. I’m just grateful that my source of hope has not waivered, I only need to look over my shoulder to see the light.

“Rain came, wind blew but my house was built on You. I’m safe with You, I’m going to make it through.” (Firm Foundation)

“We who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:18-19

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Screen Time Safety

MOMS Canada is honoured to feature Naomi Holland on our Blog! Naomi is the owner and founder of Redeemed with Purpose – an ethical jewelry brand using its platform to raise funds and awareness to fight sexual exploitation and trafficking. Naomi is a passionate advocate for the safety and well-being of children and families. Through her initiative Redeemed with Purpose, she focuses on empowering individuals to lead purposeful lives in an increasingly digital world. She offers valuable insights on creating a balanced and safe digital environment for children. Her wisdom and expertise provide a fresh perspective on how to protect and empower single moms and their children in the digital age. Here are her top tips including “Do’s and Don’ts” divided into age categories. 0 – 5 Years “For babies and toddlers, there is NOTHING helpful, educational, or beneficial about screens, even though there is so much being marketed as education for babies. Young children learn in relationship with human beings, they do not learn from a device.” – Dr. Susan Linn Top doctors say absolutely no screens under 2 years old. According to top medical experts, this age needs face-to-face interaction for healthy brain development. As you know moms, once you start giving screens it is hard to take them back. Delay as long as possible! If you choose to allow screens under 5, try to avoid interactive devices (touch screens). DVD/movies are best as it moves slower and is less addictive. Classic cartoons or shows are much better than newer shows such as Cocomelon. New graphics/shows tend to be too fast and stimulating and can shorten your child’s attention span, while also giving them short bursts of dopamine that the brain cannot handle. Don’t give screens in the car, while running errands, or when attending events such as sibling’s sports games. Allow your child to observe and interact with the world around them. Beware of screen dependency! “For every hour a day a child under 3 consumes media, they increase their risk of ADHD by the age of 7 by 10%.” (Dr. Carl Marci, Scrolling to Death Podcast) Do give your child toys or even Tupperware! Recycle toys (putting some away for a while and bringing them back). Playdates are great, outside time is invaluable, take turns babysitting other kids to give moms a break, and ask for help! You cannot do this alone. “During 0 – 5 years, the maximum amount of brain development occurs in a life time. What makes the brain function is the connections between neurons. These connections are formed by loving responsive relationships with adults. When babies cry and you respond, this builds circuitry in the brain. Think of it like a tennis game. Your child gives you hundreds of cues in a day (a serve) when you respond (return the serve), this it becomes the foundation for their brain to develop! The speed at which these neuro-connections are being built are 1 MILLION per second! This is why 0 – 5 is the worst time to put them in front of a screen. You don’t want screens shaping their brains for life.” –  Dr. Madhu Rathore, @thescreenfreeparent 6 – 14 Years Our youth are facing an unprecedented mental health epidemic. Across Western, English-speaking countries we have seen a “hockey stick rise” in depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide attempts, and suicide. This rise began right around 2010 – 2011 the years most youth got Instagram and Snapchat. Studies show these powerful apps CAUSE depression and anxiety in youth, especially in girls. (The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt) Do everything in your power to keep children off social media. Make it a family rule. Social media/Apps are highly addictive, and will feed your children with harmful content. Children can also be exposed to pornography, sexual content, drug dealers, and predators! Find other ways for your kids to communicate with friends. It can be done. Check out https://www.waituntil8th.org/ Social scientists say the two most critical developmental stages for youth are when kids transition from elementary school to high school and when they move out of the house. There is SO MUCH going on hormonally and physiologically during these two big moves, they don’t need the added pressure from social media.  “The most dangerous place for a child right now is alone in their room with a smart device.” FBI Agent, Save the Kids Podcast Find ways to get your kids together with other kids. I know it’s more work, it’s messy, inconvenient but social interaction is what they need to function in the real world someday. IF they need a device, look at flip phones! They are coming back. They don’t need the internet. BEFORE children start school and ride the school bus, start the conversations with them about what to do when they see images of a naked body on a device (sadly it’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when). Many children first see pornography on the school bus on another child’s device, or at recess. Prepare yourself and them for what to do. I recommend these books to help: https://www.defendyoungminds.com/books Video Games. Today’s games are HIGHLY ADDICTIVE! Be careful parents. You will lose your children to the virtual world. Kids on the autism spectrum are most at risk.  Watch this powerful short video on how this family dealt with their autistic child’s gaming addiction: www.instagram.com/tv/CEAG7aAF1Rn/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igsh=MzRlODBiNWFlZA== More info on gaming addiction here: https://gamequitters.com/ 15+ Years Ahhhh now the stakes are higher! The adolescent brain is super curious, spontaneous, quick to act, slow to think, does not consider consequences, is fuelled by emotion, and does not have brakes (that’s the front part of the brain, which doesn’t finish developing until early-20s for girls, mid-20s for boys). Video game companies, social media companies, and pornography companies know this about the teen brain and they create content to get them addicted. They know if they can hook them now, they may have loyal customers for life. That’s how these companies think. Below are

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