In today’s episode we interview Cassie Rajewich and discuss resources for single parents and their children.
Books Recommended in This Episode:
Terrie: Welcome to “Books that Spark” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today, we have a very special guest Cassie Rajewich. Cassie is the creator of Unconventional Motherhood: Helping Single Moms Master Messy Places. After ten years of mastering her own mess of single motherhood, she ditched the security and comfort of the life she had built, upped and left her residence of Las Vegas, and made the move to Southern California where she began a new adventure, blending a family. She now helps other women navigate the sometimes-difficult journey of single motherhood. You can visit her site at cassierajewich.com or check out her Facebook group The Savvy Christian Single Mom to learn about how she offers her heart and how-to tips to help other single moms master their mess and step into the life God has called them to. Cassie. I’m so glad you joined us today.
Cassie: Thank you so much, Terrie. Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here with you.
Terrie: Well, tell us first, a little bit about the ministry you have.
Cassie: I am a, I serve single moms really is what I do. I serve them in messy places and messy places can look like a lot of things. But I serve them in two ways as a lifestyle strategic and as a certified financial coach, I meet them in those hard places, either transitioning out of divorce. But also just that messiness of single motherhood. So maybe there’s a lot of mindset issues or mindset management. Finances definitely are big and boundaries. A lot of times just explaining what those things are and, but just really loving on them and the overwhelm of single motherhood is what I do.
Terrie: That’s awesome. How can a busy single mom find time to read to her kids?
Cassie: Well, I was going to say busy, single moms could do Audible. That’s not going to be reading to their children, but you’re going to have to be intentional and carve it out. Many times I know a lot of times it’s at the end of the day when everyone just wants to wind down, usually after bath, and just say, okay, we’re going to take–even if it’s setting a timer–we’re going to take 20, 15, 30 minutes, pick one, two books, whatever you have capacity for in that moment would be how I did it and how many moms are doing it.
Terrie: And how has reading with and to your children been important to you.
Cassie: As a single mom for 10 years and with my journey and I had my little one, I would say was started our single mom, my single mom journey with her. She was 18 months. So, you know, really right off the get go and the father was hit and miss. And then we moved out of state. Gosh, we had a lot of topics to cover in that time. So for me it was, it had a lot of ways for me to connect one. It was, I was, I was busy, so for us to bond and just have that space where it’s just her and I, because she, they really need that. She really needed that with me. Another way is to address conversations that have our children afraid or worried or overwhelmed, and it’s bringing in scenarios that can comfort them.
Terrie: Yeah. So what are some books you would recommend reading to children, especially, do you have some specifically for dealing with that transition during divorce or losing a parent?
Cassie: I have one little book that is sweet. It’s called Two Homes and it’s a sweet story, really welcoming the conversation. It’s actually called Two Homes. It’s by Claire Maurel. And like I said, it’s a sweet story, welcoming the conversation of divorce and living in two separate homes. It’s really important to understand the dynamic and, and you would know the mother would know, or the father would know, you know, maybe there is not even another parent to, to have to go to. So there may not even be a co-parenting, but this is a sweet little story about a little one that goes back and forth and it just kind of unboxing that conversation of, of living in two homes.
Terrie: That’s great. What other books would you recommend?
Cassie: Lysa TerKeurst has a really neat book out, and it’s called It Will Be Okay. And it’s a beautiful book serving the hearts of our little ones, especially during times of change and things, these types of topics divorce or separation or a loss of that just really trigger fear. That’s a cute little story about little seed and little Fox and they’re facing their fears and when things are changing, right, because our little ones, they thrive in times of safety or security or consistency. So when there is that upheaval can really challenge their emotions. So this is a really sweet story, about little seed and little thoughts, and that is Lysa TerKeurst.
Terrie: I love that book. I think it’s such a sweet book. Well, I want to talk about some books too, that would help parents going through transition and helping their kids through these times. Do you have some books you would recommend for moms and dads?
Cassie: Well, I did pull two books that I really like for single moms. But you did touch on dads and for single dads, there’s just so much more out there for moms. It seems like you’re going to have to dig a little bit more for the dads and the single dad topics, especially, and that’s, that goes even beyond books, but there is a really sweet book it’s called Ask Me and it’s by author Bernard Waber I think is the correct pronunciation and Suzy Lee. It’s a favorite book for me to recommend to dads. And it’s a story about a little girl, and she’s simply asking her father questions and commenting on the world. And it’s just a really sweet dynamic of a father daughter conversation just brings in that narrative of the dad and the daughter. So it’s sweet. Nice.
Terrie: And then what would you recommend for single moms?
Cassie: Well, I think because I find this often is the mindset we can really, you know, dealing with the shame and the guilt and the transition and out of a marriage, maybe you weren’t even married. So there’s going to just be lots of mindset, challenges, and emotions to overcome. There’s a great book by Jess Connolly and it’s just out last year and because I love challenging and to go big and bold places, this is a great book. And it’s titled You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You. And I mean, it just says it right there, but it’s just stepping up to the plate and saying God’s called me regardless of whatever choices I’ve made or whatever. It’s his capacity and his willingness to meet me where I’m at, and he’s gonna walk with me through a journey to do big things and bold and brave things.
Terrie: Wow. That sounds really like an amazing book. I hadn’t heard of that one. I love it. I love the title
Cassie: I do too. I do too. And it’s a really good book and it just, I, as a single mom, myself, I had a lot of questions and working with single moms, we have a lot of questions and the enemy has a great way of creating doubt in us that this was all a big mistake. And where do I go from here? And so it really begins to say, Hey, wait a second, that’s got a plan for you and he’s got it. He’s going to take you there.
Terrie: Oh, that’s awesome. Just as a kind of a side note, would you comment on the church and how you think the church is in accepting and nurturing, and being there for single moms and children in single parent families today?
Cassie: I was a single mom. And this is a great question. I love that you asked it, Terrie. This is a really important question and that’s probably why God called me to serve and have, has called so many single moms to serve because we’ve experienced the healing, the deliverance, they, the life giving that he’s poured into us and we’re able to give that back. But as far as the church, as the church building goes, personally, my experience has been lacking. A lot of, you know, churches are traditional the nuclear family and it’s hard for a single mom maybe to even just have the capacity, the bandwidth, the energy to even get to the building. Oftentimes when she does arrive every net doesn’t all look like her. And that could be really so I don’t, I don’t know so much if it’s the church, but it’s a combination of that relationship that can, that can really kind of impede on the welcoming and the relationship of growing in that place. Jennifer Maggio, she’s out of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She’s got an actual book—Overwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom, but she’s doing really great things and serving churches and helping equip churches with single moms situation. So there are resources out there if this, the lands on anyone’s ears that has the ability to bring in that the resources that anyway, Jennifer Maggio has got a great curriculum and just different tools for churches to help them with that topic.
Terrie: That’s awesome. It was so interesting. We were missionaries in Taiwan for 15 years and one time I came home ahead of my family and I was very pregnant with my fourth child and probably shouldn’t have been traveling, but I was. I went to church with my mom, and it was a new church. They didn’t know me. And it was so interesting because I’m a pastor’s wife and a missionary. So I’m used to going to churches and everyone just kinda like buzzing around asking questions and, you know, being very accepted because that’s my role as a missionary. Here I am this pregnant woman coming to the church with my mom and stepdad. And the way I was treated that Sunday was so eye-opening. It was like, people weren’t sure how to talk to me. I think they all thought I was a single mom coming to see my mom and I was pregnant. And it was like, they didn’t want to know my story. And it was just weird because I could sense the difference in people’s attitude. Then when they found out that I just had come ahead of my family and that they would be there and that I was a missionary, then all of a sudden everyone was interested and weren’t afraid to talk to me. And I thought, Oh my goodness! If this is what it feels like to be a single parent, especially if you’re pregnant and suddenly single and coming into a church and no one’s coming around you and welcoming you and wanting to hear your story, how heartbreaking that would be and how discouraging that would be. And it just totally opened my eyes to that. And I just thought, Wow! It really shocked me. I had no idea that it would be that palpable, that obvious that there was such a difference in attitude.
Cassie: And, and I love the way you put that. And of course that’s a whole other conversation, but it is, it is true. And it is real. And I very much remember experiencing that my myself trying to push my way in knowing God had, had called me a big one that had ran from a call. And just trying to overcome so many things, the place where it’s that conversation of man, this is, I don’t understand it, or this is too hard for me, or this is uncomfortable, or I’m going to say the wrong thing. So you, you just, you just don’t touch it at all. Right. And, you know, God is doing a great thing in the body of Christ right now, where he is rising up people, you know, just like myself or like you, or, you know, in the podcast and, and all these different movements we have going on, where there are more people that are willing and ready and equipped to handle hard situations. So that, that gives me hope.
Terrie: Yeah. I agree. I see it too. More and more, but that was just really interesting to go through. Okay. I want to bring it back to books and I want to ask you, what was your favorite picture book as a child?
Cassie: They were the Golden Books. Yeah. I loved the like the Jack and Jill. They were very traditional that I loved. I loved them. I loved my baby dolls. I was that kind of gal, even though I was a tomboy and I played outside, I had a very sense of just being a girl and something about those Golden Books I really liked. And the pictures that they displayed, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them.
Terrie: Yes. Yeah. I grew up with them too. My favorite one was it was the under the ocean or something, which it showed you the weird fish in the bottom of the ocean that had the lights and stuff. And I just loved that book. I would read it and look at the pictures over and over again. And it was a Little Golden Book. I loved those too. I had a bunch. What were your favorite picture books to read to your own children when they were little?
Cassie: I have one. So the one I was did my single mom journey where I feel like I have two separate lives. Terrie, I feel like I’m two separate people. On some days, my journey of raising my daughter, I didn’t remarry until she was just at a lot. She’s almost 11, but that book with her and still is a favorite. Cause I’ve got three other ones now that are little. And we do read often is I Miss You Stinky Face. And have you read that?
Terrie: I’ve never heard of that one.
Cassie: It’s a collection of stinky faces. And but this one is I Miss You Stinky Face. There is, I Love You Stinky Face, but it’s such a, especially for moms or parents of single parenting, there is this sometimes just this connection and the sadness and this loss. And sometimes even a fear that what if you go missing, you know, what, if even what we have right now doesn’t work or what if you don’t come home from work one day, mom and I miss you. Stinky face was a book of my mom had found and brought into my home with my little girl. And even recently I found that book of hers. I have a little one for our, for a new one that I bought for my three younger ones. But I have the older one that we had that had pulled it out a few months ago. And I read it to her. I called her and I read it to her on the phone. And she just, we just all did. It just took us back to when she was little cause they need that sometimes don’t they Terrie?
Terrie: I read picture books to my kids all the time. They like it. Is there anything else you’d like to share that’s on your heart or mind right now?
Cassie: Well, I had, and thank you for asking. I had one more book and it was Boundaries with Kids because as single moms, there’s not two of us. There’s only one. And obviously you want to bring in the best community that you can, that gives you more eyes and ears and hands and hearts. But boundaries with kids is a wonderful place to go for moms that are struggling with managing the children and just trying to guide them and direct them. So that’s a great resource. And then I didn’t really touch too many books on. I deal with a lot of moms who have walked out of abusive relationships, and this is a place where the body of Christ has really dropped the ball and educating, or, or just even loving and trusting and hearing and leaning in to the abuse that’s going on. And the marriages. And often times we’ve got, we have to get away. And that was my story. It was like, I don’t, I do not want to divorce. Oh my gosh, can I hang on to this? But for safety reasons, I have to step away and it never healed. It never got on, got to the place I had desire. So desired it to go. So knowing your situation, knowing your children you know, there’s a tons, tons of books out there, but are they going to meet your child’s needs? And are they going to meet the needs of your home and your heart and where God is taking you? So that is probably one of my, my biggest advices was meal because of this. There’s a, there’s an aching place, a deep aching in, in a child’s heart. Sometimes when it, when it, when life isn’t easy to co-parent when there, when that kind of abuse and that level of dynamic has reached the heart of the home. And I’m sorry, that sounded probably a little heavy, but that’s the truth. This is a truthful place of what’s going on.
Terrie: Yeah. And we don’t want to talk about it, but I mean, there’s even abuse within the church that needs to be addressed. And I have at least two friends who were formerly pastor’s wives who were abused by their pastor husbands and that’s something, I mean, to bring healing to that kind of a situation and to support people going through that, I we’ve tried to do what we could over the years and it is a hard ministry. Yeah. I’m glad to know that part of your ministry is, is that is helping abused spouses to get out of a situation that’s not safe. How can we support you and help you in your ministry that God has given you? What can we do as listeners of this podcast, what would you say that we could do to help you?
Cassie: I guess, if you know of a single mom that is in need of support of someone that’s gonna walk the side, her that’s feeling lonely, that’s needing encouragement. That needs to be injected hope or you are of a nonprofit of that type that needs someone to that, you know, you’re trying to understand this dynamic yourself. You can visit my website and which is CassieRajewich.com and when you can also send them to, I have a single mom group that really helps single moms. Many of them are coming out of abusive relationships, but also they’re just in the middle of the overwhelm. And that is the Savvy Christian Single Mom on Facebook.
Terrie: I’ll put the links in our show notes, so people can find you easily. So be sure to check out the show notes that those links will be there. Okay. Anything else you’d like to add today?
Cassie: No, Terrie, I so appreciate the conversation and you being willing to have me on.
Terrie: Well, I’m happy you came on. Since we met, I have just been so impressed with you and just love the heart and the ministry that you have. For people who don’t know Cassie, she is a very bubbly, energetic person that has the most encouraging and optimistic spirit. And I think it’s wonderful. I can just see how God would use you to bring healing in people’s lives because of your own journey, but also because you have such a trust in a God who heals. And I think it’s very evident when people meet you that that’s the truth. And I love it.
Cassie: Terrie, you’re going to just make me cry with all your words. I think that’s probably one of the sweetest things I ever heard besides the comment my mom made on Facebook the other day, but that was my mom.
Terrie: Good. I’m glad I can encourage you.
Terrie: Thank you for joining us for Books that Spark a podcast, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions. I hope our discussion will spark meaningful conversations with the children in your life. Be sure to check out my website, TerrieHellardBrown.com. When you join my mailing list, you automatically receive access to several freebies just for those who sign up.
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.
Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.
Her blog posts are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.
For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com
Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.
Her motto is “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.
Disclaimer: Although Terrie majored in psychology and sociology for her bachelor’s degree and has taught AP Psychology, she is NOT a licensed therapist. She sometimes mentions items in her blog and podcast that could be considered comments on psychology, but these comments are based on ministry experience and ministering to people through the missions and church work she’s done for the past 36 years. If you have questions about psychological disorders or counseling needs, please consider finding a reputable, licensed counselor in your area. Terrie’s comments should be seen as anecdotal and ministry-experience-related or scripture-based. Thank you!