The Surprising Places Where Your Marriage Matures

We were young and barely knew each other but we took a road trip to Atlanta eight hours away for a leadership conference. Some people would call it crazy and I guess we were. In the big city, we visited one of my best friends from high school and went to Eatzi’s market and bakery to grab dinner – it was filled with gourmet cheeses, chocolates, fresh warm bread, samples, and more.

I walked passed the floral section and saw a bouquet of sunflowers with Jeremiah. “Oh I love these!” I said. “My favorite flower.”

After walking around the market, Jeremiah snuck back to the floral shop and scooped the sunflowers up in his arms and paid for them at the register. He handed them to me and my eyes lit up.

The Work of Marriage

That was 14 years ago. Fast forward to this past week. Recently, stopping at a sunflower field after picking my son up from camp, I was reminded of what God birthed in us in our early twenties. The memories of our young love flooded my soul with gratefulness and showed me the miracle of today.

Little did we know as two friends – soon to be lovers – that the winds, rain, and hail would one day attempt to destroy the garden of our marriage. Marriage faces the constant threats of unmet expectations, miscommunication, career changes, parenting hardships, financial pressure, personality differences, selfishness, and more. Little did we know the kind of labor required to cultivate the right conditions for a strong and healthy marriage.

In these moments, I’ve asked, “Lord, how can you make this work when all seems dark?”

How Light Shines In

Over the years I’ve learned that light shines in when I humble myself and let the Spirit work. When I bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things, and endure in all things (1 Cor 13:7).

Light shines in when:

  • I face the hard questions: Will I follow Jesus’ ways or my own selfish desires? Am I willing to take a hard look at where I might be missing the mark and causing pain in my marriage?
  • I let my husband lead, and not try to take control over him.
  • I’m quick to forgive and ask forgiveness for my wrongs.
  • I’m a diligent listener, and slow to speak.
  • I’m his biggest cheerleader, not his critic.
  • I confess, “God, I need your help right now!”
  • I’m willing to fight for our marriage and realize we’re on a battlefield everyday against Satan’s schemes.
  • I allow the gospel to penetrate my heart – that Jesus pursued and loved us in our ugly condition. He rescued us from our bondage to sin and is fully capable of restoring and transforming brokenness.

Seeds Grow in Darkness

If your marriage is suffering under the weight of life’s stresses, that is not the time to throw it out. Seeds germinate in the darkness of soil. They rest under the weight of the dirt pressed in, but despite the stress and pressures placed on them, they quickly take root and sprout. Darkness is where growth happens.

Give God room to work. Through the pain, wait on Him just a little longer and watch for his miracles. You just have to give it time and grow where you’ve been planted.

Sunflowers Mature In the Light

One of the things I love and recently learned about the sunflower is how it follows the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west. It does this for the entire cycle of its life as it matures and begins to produce seed that will create the next generation of life.

After time when our marriage has taken root and found strength from the harsh conditions of challenges and hardships, we need to continue to fix our eyes on Jesus – the Son – who brings life and hope to our relationship again. Marriages mature through strong devotion to Jesus.

Because You’ve Always Dreamed of A Beautiful Marriage

No matter what challenges you’re facing in your marriage, don’t forget how big God is and how abundant his grace is in your life. Remember the memories and joys in your relationship when it first began and how far you’ve come. Don’t uproot the seed that will soon produce fruit.

After difficult seasons, I have thanked the Lord for Jeremiah’s friendship and companionship. There’ve been deep valleys but also mountaintops filled with breathtaking sunsets. God has been faithful, and that bouquet of sunflowers was just the beginning of the abundant gifts God has bestowed on me through my husband’s love and service – even when I didn’t deserve it.

If you hang on, it might not be long before God uses your marriage as an inspiration for the next generation. On the outside, they will say, “Now that is a beautiful marriage.” On the inside, you will know that the surprising places where your marriage grew and matured were through the dark soils of life and strong devotion to the Son.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Samantha


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 
You can follow along with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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The Secret to Raising Girls Who Live Out Kindness and Courage

This summer, my girls have enjoyed watching Cinderella (the 2015 film with Lily James). I’ve found myself quoting the movie to my girls a lot when they haven’t been getting along.

At the beginning of the film when Ella’s mother is on her deathbed, she says:

Ella, my darling. I want to tell you a secret, a great secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. You must always remember this: Have courage and be kind.”

Those last five words are what I’ve been saying a lot around my home.

Sinners Sin

Little did Ella know that her golden childhood would fade away as she grew older. She was banished to an attic and mistreated by her evil stepmother and stepsisters. But in spite of it all, she stood strong in the midst of adversity and clung to the words of her mother. We know how the rest of the story goes when she meets the handsome prince.

In real life, the truth is that we can all be like the angry stepmother when life tastes bitter. We were born sinners, therefore, we sin. We know very well that as moms, we ourselves aren’t always understanding and kind but we desire for our girls to be!

I was talking with my friend the other day who’s dealing with hitting, pinching, name-calling, and sassy attitudes. The attitudes can impact the entire household and make you fear how they’ll treat others who aren’t their siblings. I felt better that we weren’t the only ones dealing with non-princess-like behavior.

Seeking Jesus Alone

So often we try to find the next good parenting book, podcast, and inspirational quote. We seek counsel from all over, and more in how to raise godly girls. Many times, those are good things- don’t get me wrong as I’ve taken advantage of all those.

But how often do I first seek what Jesus has to say in his precious word about the attitudes and actions in our home? How often am I on my knees for my child’s wayward heart? And better yet, for my own heart that can be filled with pride?

In God’s Word, Jesus speaks to us. His word is alive and active—convicting us and revealing the depths of who we really are. It shows us how to live. In my own power, I don’t have the ability to change my child’s heart, but Jesus does. When I desire to see love in their hearts that I desperately desire, I must take them to the very source of kindness, love, peace, joy, gentleness, and self-control—Jesus alone. I must do the hard work of asking God to search my heart to see if there are any offensive ways in me. (Psalm 139:23-24).

A Work of God to Produce Kindness & Love

This cannot be done in my own strength or my girls’ unique abilities. It’s a work of God to transform their little hearts, making them moldable to his ways. But yes, let’s keep reinforcing the good truths even found in Cinderella.

Let’s keep encouraging our girls to do the right thing by including others, building each other up, speaking words that are sweet to the soul, not holding grudges, forgiving one another, making new friends feel welcome, choosing the narrow road, standing up for truth, being a friend to the lonely, and more. Let them see that we do these things in our lives, too.

Let’s not grow weary in teaching and modeling truth to them when it gets discouraging. Let’s be quick to ask forgiveness when we fail every day and lean on new mercies the next day.

Let’s remember that we’re sinners but we serve a great Savior who has washed our sins away, loved us in our mess, and saved us out of bondage. He is the King who has come to rescue us from our depravity.

Let’s keep reminding our girls that the greatest secret that will carry them through all of life’s trials is having an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ – the One who has the power to change the hardest heart.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

** This article was first published on TheCourage.com 


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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4 Ways to Prioritize Your Spouse Above Your Schedule … and Even Your Kids

A few years ago, a woman in my discipleship group at church pulled me aside after our time together and shared some wisdom I’ll never forget.

She had two teenagers and was on the brink of a divorce. Her family was falling apart and she blamed the dissolved relationship on her own choices. In our group time I told how my husband and I were getting away for the weekend to focus on our marriage, but I was nervous about leaving the kids behind. She encouraged me not to worry about it.

“Samantha, get away with him. Don’t put the kids’ schedules first,” she said. “I did that all our marriage with sports and all they had going on. I kept myself busy at the cost of my marriage. I wish we’d taken time for each other, but we didn’t. I eventually had an affair. I regret all of it.”

My eyes grew wide thinking about my kids still in diapers. Tears welled up in her eyes as she brushed her strawberry blonde hair away from her face.

I could sense the ache and pain in her heart. I prayed for her, that God would restore their family.

Years have passed since that evening…

CONTINUE READING the rest of the article on FamilyLife.com.

 

 

How Your Husband’s Differences Can Bring Beauty in Your Life & Relationship

I love to play it safe and err on the side of caution. Jeremiah thrives on adventure, spontaneity, and risk. So on our way home the other night from eating out together, he wanted to take the back roads home.

“Remember, we have about 20 minutes until I told our babysitter we’d be home,” I responded.

“We’ll be fine,” he said.

We veered off the highway and onto one of the many dirt roads we aren’t familiar with in rural Colorado. The sun began to set and its brilliance illuminated the grassy farmlands filled with grazing cows, rustic barns, and golden wheat.

I felt the temptation to look at my Fitbit for the time but then a gentle voice in my spirit nudged me to be still and just take it all in. Jeremiah continued following the dirt path and as the sun set, we parked the suburban, rolled down the windows, smelled the country air, and talked. It was a perfect escape from daily life and its demands.

As we recently hit 12.5 years of marriage (women always know these half way marks it seems!), I’ll admit there have been moments I haven’t always appreciated how different we are. In fact, I’ve been resentful and bitter at times. Selfishness has won my heart and I haven’t valued how God wired Jeremiah. I have often felt like my way was the better and only way.

But as I look back on our years together, I’m able to better see just how “normal” my life would be without him gently challenging me to be unconventional. Even when I resisted it and maybe through some fits, he’s known what I’ve needed and I’m better today for it. And I know in the future, I’ll continue to grow in ways I wouldn’t naturally choose.

As wives, no matter how many years we’ve been married we can still learn to embrace and respect the unique gifting and abilities in our husbands. And I believe it will bring a closeness and unity in our relationship that we’ve never experienced before. Instead of saying or thinking:

“You’re crazy!”

“What in the world are you doing?”

“We are so different! How will this ever work?”

“How did we end up together, again?”

“You want to do what?!!”

What if we just buckled up and enjoyed the ride right beside our husband in humility and acceptance of who he is and the ideas that are birthed in his own mind and heart? What if we just trusted him to take us on an adventure that is actually good for our soul- even if it stretches us and makes us uncomfortable?

You see, I most likely wouldn’t have taken the back roads that night. I’m a planner and punctual – I often resist change. But if we didn’t take that beautiful route, I would’ve missed out on sweet conversation and time spent bonding together.

I would’ve missed soaking up the wide open spaces and God’s breathtaking creation. I didn’t know it when we turned off the beaten path, but Jeremiah had created a little space for my soul to breathe and be close to him. He opened my eyes to slow down and not worry so much about the predictable schedule.

And it was exactly what I needed. The adventure was what it was because we were together.

After the sun went down, we got back on the familiar highway to home. We pulled in the driveway about ten minutes late, and everything was just fine.

“We need to do that again,” I said.


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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Why a Father’s Love is So Important

Recently my seven-year-old daughter put on her sun dress, tied a pony tail in her golden-brown hair, slapped on some tutti-frutti scented lip gloss, and headed straight for my husband.

“Daddy, look at me!” she said.

“Oh Rebekah, you look beautiful.”

She smiled with her head down, acting a bit shy but enjoying his presence.

Daughter or son, within every child lies a desire to please their father and win their undying love and attention. I was no different than my daughter. While my dad traveled a lot with work, I always anxiously awaited his arrival home. I loved cuddling up on his lap and rubbing my cheek against his five-o’clock shadow. I craved his affection and attention.

Daddy- the Protector

God has given daddies the wonderful privilege and responsibility of leading the home and protecting his family – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I asked my husband just this morning why he believes a father’s love is so important. I was curious to see how his answer would differ from what I was thinking. He said, “It plays a huge role in the overall trajectory of a child’s life.”

My husband grew up with a father who suffered deeply from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from Vietnam. He knows very well what this means as his own father struggled with anger and exploding from the trauma he experienced in war. My husband has had to depend on God’s strength to overcome his own battles from growing up with secondary PTSD.

Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior

When I think of the very course of a child’s life and the implications, I think of Psalm 127:3-5 which says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”

Because God says children are a blessing, not a burden, daddies have the privilege to bend and shape their child for God’s plans. They’ve been given the task of directing his arrows so that they’ll be purposeful and on point in service to God. Daddies have been given the position to ensure that his children will be on target in life, not missing the mark. He’s a steward of his children – training them to be arrows of righteousness who do good and not harm. This is his responsibility until the day he bends back the bow and sets each arrow free into the world.

The truth is that no earthly father will ever love and bend back his bow perfectly. Only our heavenly Father can do that. But we can’t forget that even in imperfect love, a daddy’s love, affection, time invested, and attention is critical and vital to the overall well-being and success of his child. Words spoken, behavior, lifestyle, actions, experiences, character, priorities of daddy and more will stay with his child all his life.

The Wonderful Challenge

It’s a wonderful challenge to seek the Lord’s help and direction even in weakness and the battle against sin. It’s a wonderful opportunity for daddies to view their children how God does– as a reward – a gift to open up and find delight. It’s a wonderful challenge for daddies who didn’t have a present father growing up, to choose a different way and find the healing they need in their heavenly father.

Daddies, your children need your strong hands and steadfast position on this battlefield. They are desperate for your voice, touch, strength, help, counsel, affection, leadership, godly wisdom, courage, and much more. Our culture desperately needs you too.

After my daughter was reassured by her daddy’s attention that day, she ran off and played freely- confident in his love for her no matter what.

** This article originally appeared on the TheCourage.com


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. She enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

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The Beautiful Brand of You


A few days ago, my friends and I met for lunch at an internationally known golf course that’s just a few miles away from our town to celebrate our dear friend Katie who’s moving to a different state. It was the perfect place to escape and enjoy the rustic scenery, rolling chop hills, and tranquility in Northeast Colorado.

It’d rained that morning, but as we were seated at the long wooden table the sun started to peek through the clouds and before we knew it, the sky was bright blue. Glass jars of iced water with lemon sat at each placemat. As we sat down with hungry bellies, my heart filled with gratitude.

We’d journeyed together in Tuesday morning Bible study for the last two and a half years. We’d dug into God’s word together but also shared our very lives – struggles and joys, tears too. We’d come to understand what “better together” truly meant.

As I looked at each of my friends I was reminded about how we’re all different in our gifting, talents, and abilities. In our group of moms we have some that are hospitable, organizers, introverts, extroverts, creative, sensitive, exercise enthusiasts, counselors, teachers, coaches, crafters, behind-the-scenes women, and more.

We’re unique in how we raise our kids, manage our homes, the sports and activities our kids do, our husbands’ line of work, and more.

I found myself being so grateful that God had used each of them in my life to show me more about his sovereignty in creating us. I thanked God for how he’s provided for me through their life in tangible ways. Because you know there’s always the temptation to wish you had your friend’s gifting.

Lysa Terkeurst once said, “There’s an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful.” And I just love her words. I believe as women we beat ourselves up too much with the wrong kind of thinking: “If only I were a better organizer, skinnier, prettier, smarter, multi-tasker” and the list goes on. We focus so much on what we’re not instead of what God has given us right at our fingertips.

We wallow in self pity as we spend unhealthy amounts of time comparing ourselves to each other’s Facebook and Instagram feeds frustrated with how we don’t measure up. All the while, God is trying to get our attention in letting us know that He has made us just the way we are for His purposes. He is saying to us,

You are the exact brand of beautiful that I’ve created you to be. You have gifts and talents and abilities that I long to use through you. Yes, even in your failures and disappointments, I have plans for you. You are my masterpiece, created to do good works for me. Do you trust my love for you and my plan for your life?

Are we convinced of this, though? That the gifts we’ve been entrusted with are enough? Am I convinced? I want to be. Through a process, I’m beginning to see that how God wired me is just what He wanted and to actually trust that He will use me to the fullest in the way He desires. Yes, even in all my brokenness.

I don’t need to doubt His ways in creating me. I don’t need to dwell on past hurts in regards to my gifting and abilities that can sometimes feel like fresh, open wounds. I need to believe that what He says of me is true:

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10

And I’m determined to believe Him at his word.

At the end of our lunch, we took a photo with Katie in front of the green. We checked the phone to make sure we looked okay. Our various styles shined through in the picture: cardigans, jean jackets, sandals, cowgirl boots, floral tops, brown hair, blond hair, long hair, short hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, jeans, and flip flops.

Everyone smiled brightly – an exact brand of beautiful with hearts and minds created to serve our Creator. Together – just the way it was meant to be.

** This article originally appeared on TheCourage.com

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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Four Spiritual Lessons Learned from My Daughter’s First Swim Meet

“But I don’t want to go!” My seven-year-old Rebekah screamed as I woke her up at the crack of dawn for her very first swim meet of the summer season. She hid under her covers in a ball.

“Let’s go.”  I said. “We’re going right now. Everyone’s waiting in the car.”

“I don’t want to. I don’t want to!”

I pulled off her purple and white floral sheets and looked into her blue/green eyes. “Rebekah, you’ve practiced. You’re ready for this. Your coach Brenda says you’re ready too. Will you trust us?”

“But what if I can’t swim the whole lap? The water is going to be cold. No. I’m not doing it!”

After lots of dialogue and struggle, we drove to the meet. She remained nervous and anxious when we arrived and refused to let me help her put her cap on. I grew unsure of what we committed to. Will she back out of racing because she’s too scared?

In no time, my friend Trisha scooped Bekah up in her arms and carried her to the tent where she’d wait for her heat to be called. Coach Brenda let Rebekah be her “helper” and she coached her on what it would be like on the starting block. She showed her exactly what to do.

After “Swimmer’s, take your mark!” and the buzzer went off she jumped into the water and swam the 25 Freestyle. She didn’t stop at all and had a smile on her face at the end. I felt relieved and was so proud of her for overcoming her fears.

She swam her backstroke and relay races with no complaints. Getting a free sugary snow cone from winning a heat helped too. This new experience taught me a whole lot about our faith in Jesus- more than I even realized. Here are a few lessons:

1. We must be willing to risk something. 

Signing my child up for swim league took a risk on my part. What if she doesn’t like it? What if she can’t do the hard work? What if, what if, what if… At some point, we just had to commit, and I needed cooperation from her. Rebekah had to risk diving into unchartered territory of the unknown.

When we put our trust in Jesus, we don’t always know what he will ask of us. Will he ask me to give up an addiction, lifestyle, or way of living? Will he ask me to step out of my comfort zone and love on someone different than me? Will I have to suffer or struggle for a season of my life? Whatever Jesus calls us to do, we have to embrace risk and not run from it in fear. If we’re not risking something, we’re not fully living.

2. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others.

I found myself looking at the seasoned swimmers. I’d been a swimmer my whole life and knew Rebekah would enjoy it too, but I had to remember this was her first meet. Butterflies were in her stomach, there were lots of people cheering on the bleachers, and anything new can bring anxiety. She had to swim her race – not anyone else’s. And thankfully a few seasoned moms shared with me their own stories of their kids at one point needing a barf bag before races! It made me feel better that we weren’t necessarily unique.

In our faith, we’re all on different journeys. We struggle to various degrees. Our spiritual gifting and disciplines are all unique and that’s how God intended it to be. We need to be content with where we’re at and not wish we were in another person’s lane. God has us right where he wants us and is growing us in his timing.

3. We need each other.

Before my daughter’s first race, there was only so much I could do as her mom to encourage her heart to be strong. It was because of the help of my friends and her coach (and prayer!) that ultimately gave her the courage to work through her fears.

In our faith, we’re crazy to think we can walk this life without anyone by our side. On the days we think we’re crazy for following this man Jesus, we need to know that we’re not, in fact, lunatics. God has given us the gift of each other to remind us of his goodness and love and that we’re placing our faith in the person of Jesus. He is with us. He uses others to show us his grace in amazing ways. There’s such a beauty in leaning on others for help and strength. It’s up to us to accept that support.

4. We’re racing to win the prize.

Just as swimmers race to win or beat their previous time, in our faith we’re called to win the prize. Throughout scripture the Apostle Paul talks about the need for self-discipline. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says to run the race of faith in such a way to win the prize. He says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Following Jesus and placing our faith in him requires strict training – yes, this is contrary to popular theology today. We aren’t running this race of faith aimlessly, to always “feel good” or with an apathetic attitude. We have a goal to share the gospel with others and to live it out until the Lord takes us home to be with him forever. We’re racing to win the prize. The race is final, not a warm-up before the real thing. Our calling as believers is indeed a high calling and we’re not racing for a temporary crown, but an imperishable crown. And our final goal is Jesus himself.

A few days after the swim meet, Rebekah received her first medal. “Ohhh!” she said as I handed it to her. She put it around her neck and smiled at it. She now understood that her hard work in all those practices resulted in something.

The initial risk was now a reward to behold.

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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What is God Doing When Our Plans Change?

In a matter of days, I’ll say goodbye to a dear friend and neighbor who I’ve grown close to since our move to Holyoke almost three years ago. Katie Wilson and her family have been a treasure to my family. She’s changed my youngest son’s diapers, we’ve celebrated our girls’ birthdays together, and she’s watched our kids any time we had a need.

When I needed encouragement, she’d bring me chocolate and coffee unannounced (yes, hold on to that friend!) I’ll always remember our shopping trips to Denver and Greeley and her wisdom and insight from sitting beside her in Bible study the last 2.5 years. I’ll always remember her girls raiding my pantry for food and how they loved playdates. Katie has been a true friend and a delight to know.

Katie’s husband, Dr. Wilson, has been a part of our family as well- he was always available to answer any of Jeremiah’s medical questions after the shooting accident in 2016. He never cared if it was after-work hours. He was a blessing to many people in our community as a wonderful doctor and a man of integrity who loved and deeply cared for others.

In these coming days, I’ll be preparing my heart and my kids’ hearts to “let go” of their playdates with the Wilson girls, hearing their girls’ voices echoing across the road while on the tire swing, and just knowing they were always there.

Change is never easy. Sometimes the very word causes us to cringe in our seat. In fact, our human nature is pretty resistant to it. But it’s a natural part of life that if we don’t embrace, we may become bitter at God for allowing something into our lives that we didn’t ask for.

Perhaps, in your own experience you’re having to let go too. Or maybe you’re bracing yourself in regards to a different situation – sending your child off to college, a career change, saying goodbye to a family member or someone you love, or trying to figure out the new normal in your present situation. I think of Abraham in Scripture who the Lord told to,

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Further on, we see that Abraham obeyed immediately and left idol worship in the wicked land of Ur to settle in the land of Canaan. He was seventy-five years old and I’m guessing he was quite comfy living right where he was. But God had called him to go. He had a plan that involved some pretty amazing things including that many nations will be blessed because of his obedience, his descendants will be more than all the stars in the sky, he will inherit the land, God will act for Abraham even though he is childless with Sarai, and that through his very lineage, Jesus Christ- the Savior of the world- would be born.

It’s important to note that God says to Abraham, “Go to the land I will show you.” This was not about Abraham’s plans and agenda, but about what God was doing through the people of Israel and the plan he had for the redemption and rescuing of mankind. He was going to use Abraham in a mighty way, even though Abraham had no idea how God’s promises would exactly unfold.

Sometimes in life we’re forced to move forward and it’s beyond our control. Or sometimes we’re quite comfortable living in a land of prosperity and would rather stay complacent. Or sometimes we just know it’s time to move on. Whatever the case, God works in all our circumstances – good and bad. He never changes who He is, but he’ll often call us to change for our own growth and to fulfill his plans in our life.

Saying goodbye is never easy on my end. I can be selfish and want things my way but God is helping me trust him through the different seasons. I can thank him for the precious memories I’ll always have with the Wilson’s in Holyoke. I can give him thanks for bringing them into our lives when we needed them most. I can thank him for giving me a sweet taste of real friendship. I can praise Him for using them in a great way to better the lives of so many people in our town.

There’s so much to be thankful for even when change is hard and there’s a temptation to doubt God’s goodness. Just as we see the flowers starting to bloom and the deadness from winter disappear, let’s watch together in anticipation with how the Lord longs to bring newness and life to our situation that we’ve never experienced before.

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Mom and Dad: Don’t be a bystander

A few weeks ago while my friend and I were watching our kids at the park, our sons came running over to us. They informed us of a boy who’d called them an inappropriate word while they were playing in their “secret fort” off in the distance.

I told my son the word wasn’t acceptable and unkind and that we don’t say those words to one another. We only want to build each other up. I told him I was sorry he had to hear that and be affected by it. Before I knew it, the boy had left the park and I couldn’t approach him. Weeks passed by, and I forgot about the incident. Until yesterday.

“Mom, there’s the boy that called me the bad word,” my son said at school drop-off. I looked over to where he was pointing.

“Oh okay,” I replied. “I may go talk to him,” I hesitated a bit.

“Don’t be a bystander, mom!” he responded in a singing, encouraging voice.

I smiled and looked at his sandy brown hair and brown eyes. I was challenged by his wisdom.

I looked at the boy and still didn’t feel it was right to approach him. But I had to do something. So I drove home and emailed our principal, received a response immediately, and he handled the situation with the boys involved that morning. He assured my son that he can always go to a teacher or parent if he’s been hurt and to always share what he’s feeling. I felt reassured as a parent that our principal’s first interest is in protecting his students. My son felt more at ease too.

What struck me in this experience was that even though the hurtful word wasn’t on my radar, it sure was on my son’s. He’d brought it up twice. God was prodding me to take more action as the parent.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, a bystander is defined as:

One who is present but not taking part in a situation or event : a chance spectator”

In our parenting journey, we’ll make mistakes and not get it right all the time. We don’t always know what to do in the moment. We’ll come across forks in the road where we have a choice to actively take part in our child’s life or stand on the sidelines. But our children need us as their protectors, nurturers, and biggest fans. If they’re consistently communicating the same messages to us, we need to humbly listen. If they aren’t saying anything, we need to draw out what’s in their heart.

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” – Proverbs 20:5

We need to fight for them in a culture that’s increasingly hostile to truth, goodness, and honoring others. So what are some practical ways we can prevent from being a bystander?

1. Engage. Engage. Engage. Kirk Cameron’s new resource for parents called Engage: Five Lessons for Raising Kids in a Social Media Generation is spot on. We have to be fully present in their lives to know what’s really going on. What’s on their phone apps? Have we set boundaries regarding screen time? Do we really know their friends? Are we aware of the photos they consume, post, and share? We set the rules because we love them. We have the right to know the full story because we’re accountable to God in how we parent. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12

2. Take action when sin has been committed. When a wrong has been done by another child or your own, don’t brush it under the rug as if it never happened. Face it head on no matter the cost. Take responsibility. Acknowledge the sin, work through the conflict and both sides of the story, and aim for reconciliation as far as it depends on you. Training your child to work through conflict and disappointment will be one of the greatest gifts you give because real life will be full of difficult people, let-downs, unfair circumstances, and more. Real life also involves real consequences for our actions. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

3. Love your child unconditionally. Some of my friends who were strong-willed children share how much they deeply love their parents today. Their parents had to be firm and discipline often, but they knew it was for their good. They knew they were loved. We can never outdo love for our children. They are God’s and we have the responsibility to teach them his ways and to obey his commands, that are not burdensome but a blessing. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

Your role as a parent is massive- you’re shaping a life made in God’s image. If you’ve been sitting on the bench, it’s never too late to stand up. Don’t allow any amount of shame or apathy to keep you from starting new. You have much to be thankful for in being able to play an active role in your child’s life.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get in the game!

 

** This article first appeared on Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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Wives, this one desire could be hurting your marriage

It’d been a long day and my husband and I needed to begin our kids’ bedtime routine. While I finished up dishes, he lounged in the recliner looking at his phone to decompress from a busy day. I felt tension and anxiety welling up in me as our kids grew more hyper and silly from being overtired.

“Jeremiah, let’s go. Let’s get them down for bed,” I said.

“Okay,” he replied. “Let me finish reading this article.”

A few minutes later he still sat in the chair and I yelled: “Jeremiah. Come on!”

Eventually I nagged some more and sounded like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. I was so obsessed with him taking action immediately that I kept reacting out of my impatience. My tone of voice was ugly, controlling, pushy, and disrespectful. My “request” turned into an argument that eventually broke our togetherness. If I would’ve given him time – like other occasions – it would’ve saved us from having an unnecessary blow up in front of our kids.

Where Control Originates

Ever since Adam and Eve indulged in the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world, within us lies this desire for control, to be contentious, and argumentative. The desire is so strong that we’d do just about anything to have it. However, this burning impulse to have all the control no matter the cost is not loving.

Proverbs 27:15-16 says, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind…”

Proverbs likens a nagging, quarrelsome wife to the wind- it’s impossible to stop her quarreling once she starts. Her anger, emotions, and frustrations take over, making it impossible to calm down.  As I write this article, the wind is blowing like crazy where we live on the Colorado plains. There’s no way to prevent it from blasting through the trees or blowing my kids over. It comes and goes as it pleases and does not cease.

This kind of contention towards our husbands only causes distance, frustration, anger, feelings of being trapped, and more. My husband said it can make a man feel like he’s dying inside. Now that’s a pretty big deal.

Responding vs. Reacting

My ungodly reactions to him kept moving us toward conflict. My control was further damaging our relationship. In the book, The Mingling of Souls, Matt Chandler writes,

“When we learn to respond to each other rather than react, we will move much more quickly in our conflict toward resolution and reconciliation. Reactions only stoke the fires of conflict; responses, particularly godly ones, help us snuff out the conflict.”

How much different would my struggles have been if I gently responded instead of harshly reacted in selfishness?

Eventually, I began drawing the circle around myself and confessed my sin of control. But acknowledging it was only part of the process. I had to turn from it and seek forgiveness and reconciliation from Jeremiah. Yes, I needed his help, but nothing was happening in our home that was earth shattering at the moment and I could wait until he finished reading his article.

I had a choice on how I’d react when things aren’t done on my timetable. My eyes were opened to the fact that I feared something, too: a loss of control, cranky kids, not getting them in bed at a good time, and my own me-time afterwards.

Letting God take the Reigns

Thankfully, Jeremiah and I were able to extinguish the conflict and reconcile. As my husband’s best friend, lover, and helper, I’ll never completely get it right. I will fall in my sinful nature, but I have the choice to do what’s right. The greatest way I can show him respect and love is to let go of the desire to nag and control. When I release control, I let God take the reigns and be his Holy Spirit- he does a much better job anyway.

I begin not just knowing the famous love passage in Scripture but living it out:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Bringing it Home

Maybe you’re like me and control is a huge stronghold in your life. It’s never too late to begin asking God to show you areas that need real transformation. Ask God to change your heart of stone and make it soft and pliable. He is a gracious and loving Father to you. Begin by confessing it, repenting of your sin, and turning to Christ for help.

His desire is for our marriages to look like Jesus more and more as the years go by. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give your husband today is to release your struggles with being a controlling and nagging wife. Simply call it what it is. You may consider asking him if this describes you or how it makes him feel. Begin taking steps toward healing with him.

Conflict in marriage will be inevitable while on this earth, but choosing to respond in a godly way is God’s will- bringing the oneness, joy, peace, and wholeness that you desire in your relationship with your husband. God wants you to enjoy your relationship to the fullest while bringing glory to Him.

** This article first appeared on Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

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