We All Have to Grow Up

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photo: Katie Bowman, 2012

Rebekah has looked up to her big brother John since the day she was born. In fact, he is the one who named her “Bekah” after he couldn’t say her full name Rebekah. John was her first friend, her first fight, and her first fun! She has never known life apart from him and oh does she love him and look up to him fiercely.

It’s hard to believe that on Thursday, John will show her the ropes in his school. It will now be her school – they will go together. Actually, when Bekah was in her three’s and four’s (the hardest years ever for me), I often wished for her to be a little older so I could manage the meltdowns better. I struggled so much and I had no idea how fast it would go by and that it was only a season, soon to change. When I saw our recent church photo, I realized just how much our family is growing up. Kindergarten has come and it came so fast.churchfamilyphoto

In the same way that we don’t keep returning to preschool year after year, relearning the basics over and over again, we’re also called to grow up in our faith.

Do you ever feel that resistance not to want to change? I would rather stay in Neverland. I have been reminded of this a lot lately as I see my struggles, hurts, and habits for what they truly are in the bright light – kind of ugly – an insecurity, unforgiveness, or slothfulness in different areas. When I see sinfulness inside me, I’m reminded that I have a lot of maturing to do.

1 Corinthians 13: 11-12 says,

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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Just as a child only has a limited frame of reference and understanding, spiritually we are the same. We can only see life from a limited point of view here on earth. Like my own children, my understanding is imperfect and I have much to learn about God. It’s like trying to see through a mirror that is smudged, cloudy, scratched, dirty, and even broken. My perspective isn’t what it should be.

But soon, we won’t see through a jacked up mirror. We will see face to face the glory and majesty of God and we will eventually know what we don’t yet know right now. Not partially, but fully. 

I’m thankful that while I have so much growing up to do, one day, I will see things as God sees them in its fullest. I will see his people the way he sees them. I will see his plan how he sees it. In heaven, the things we valued and were obsessed about here on earth will be a shadow compared to the beauty and light of Jesus, who is the only one who satisfies our souls.

Growing up and maturing is never easy. I might cry on Thursday or I might be happy and thankful for the break – probably both. But moving ahead is a necessity. When we move past the basics spiritually, we are changed. And it is then that we do begin seeing a little more how heaven sees and we are fine leaving Neverland in order to grow deeper and stronger in our faith.

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When God Interrupts Your Plans

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Photo: Lisa Francis

Three years ago today, our William Daniel was born on a beautiful Monday morning in Dallas. If you’ve followed this blog for a period of time, you may remember my announcement of being pregnant with Will. I was on birth control and exclusively breastfeeding. I found out when my third child, Hannah, was only four months old.

And I cried, oh did I cry. I questioned. I even threw my pregnancy test. How in the world could I be ready for a 4th child – right after just having Hannah? I barely had time to recover from her birth. I was numb and in disbelief, more so thinking about how I would be able to carry the load I already couldn’t bare. Jeremiah and I desired to have four children, but had wanted to wait a few years.

Would I take God at his word? Would I trust him for the strength I needed to survive life with four young children, 5 and under? Ultimately, would I accept this surprise gift as God’s sovereign will for my family and me? It was only a matter of days when God clearly showed me to be still and to surrender control. I accepted this precious gift from God’s hands and kept giving the baby inside me to God. It was a great testing of my faith.

IMG_9432When God interrupts our plans, it is uncomfortable and many times fear and worry consumes our hearts: an unplanned pregnancy, a job change, an unexpected illness, a detour in daily plans, a career change, or perhaps a waiting period that is just too long. But it is often in these diversions, we remember that we are not in control. We cannot be dependent on our circumstances, on people, or even ourselves. We cannot manipulate God’s will and it is then that we have to make a choice:

Surrender or become bitter.

We can murmur, complain, get angry, throw things, and stew on the disappointment. We can shake our fists at God. Or, we can trust that even though we don’t understand what we’ve been given, God is working for our good and loves us. As our heavenly father, he knows what is best for us and yes, even what we can handle. We can surrender control over to him and sometimes that might look like a constant giving over, at every new sunrise because it isn’t always a one time thing.

I think the greatest thing I’ve learned when plans don’t go my way is that of humility. Pride says, “I’ve got this figured out. I’m in control. I’m pretty good at knowing the way. I am the master of my destiny.” Humility says, “I don’t have life figured out. I need a Savior whom I can depend on. I need his guidance and direction every moment of my life. I need Jesus in all of life’s circumstances.”

IMG_5390Well, the last three years with Will have been an absolute joy. He completes our family and is our baby. He is full of life, energy, intelligence, silliness, and a deep love for his siblings. God knew what he was doing even though I didn’t see it on the results of my pregnancy test. He did know what I was capable of handling even on the days I have pulled my hair out!

And just like that, Will is three. We put away our last crib a few months ago, which felt surreal. He’s now in a big boy bed, partially potting training, saying all kinds of words, and goes to morning preschool in the fall. I love watching him grow and being his Mommy. I know that the days are long, but the years are short and it goes way too fast to even realize it.

I still have plenty of days where family life feels like it is spinning out of control with four kids, but I’m always reminded that not being in control is a pretty good place to be.

Happy Birthday, Will Will. You are loved so, so much!

 

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The Courage to be You, Bravely

6-13-sweet-pearIt’s funny how sayings stick in your head. “Be You, Bravely” was the theme for my Mother’s of Preschooler’s group (MOPS) in Dallas a few years ago and I have reflected on it a lot this week.

Whether it comes through scrolling down the highlight reels of friends on Facebook and Instagram or comparing myself to what another person has in their life, God is teaching me to be me. And me alone. The temptation is to believe that other friends have it better, are more gifted, and suitable for their work. But the truth is that we all have challenges in our lives – some obvious, some unseen. We’re all gifted uniquely for God’s purposes – fashioned according to His will.

It takes courage to be You. And no one else. It’s much easier to be busy about what others are doing, instead of taking a good hard look inside your own heart and seeing what God is doing in you. Who has he made you to be? What dreams has he given you?

Recently, I was given an exciting opportunity from a Christian publishing company to be one of three writers to submit writing for an upcoming project they are working on with a respected author. They seemed very interested in my sample writing and was hoping I would move forward in letting the author see my samples. The problem was that I thought it was going to be a co-write and soon learned that it was a ghost-write. My heart immediately became unsettled.

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image: thejellyjars.com

If you aren’t familiar with ghostwriting, you are hired by a publisher to write the story/content that is officially credited to another person – in this case it was someone quite famous in the Christian world. In ghostwriting, you take on their voice but you receive no credit on the cover and you cannot reveal it in your portfolio. You’re usually given a good sum of money in ghostwriting, too. There are pros and cons to it.

Now, many in publishing don’t see this as a big deal. There are many books written by celebrities that have been ghostwritten. However there is another camp of people that believe it is unethical/bearing false witness/deceiving. Best-selling author Randy Alcorn has this point of view. Having never been asked before to consider ghostwriting, I wasn’t sure where I stood.

I can see why writers do it as it helps someone who may not be gifted in writing to get their story told. I do know writers that ghostwrite and I don’t judge them. But in my heart, I didn’t feel it was right for me. It also wasn’t in line with my personal goals in my writing career. I talked to trusted friends and my Dad who’s an excellent businessman and received affirmation not to move forward with it.

It was hard to let the publisher know I wasn’t interested, but I felt peace. I believe it is giving me greater clarity in what to pursue next in my writing career. It has taught me above all, to be me and to stick to my convictions. To not look at what everyone else is doing, and then determine what choice I should make based on that.

There is always temptation to look back and wonder if I made the best decision, but the still, small voice inside me continues to say, “Yes. Trust me. This is not a shut door, but an open one. Keep trusting me.”

Do you ever find it hard to be You? When have you been tempted to doubt what you knew was right?

– Samantha

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Orlando, Radical Faith, & Surrendering Fear

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I heard the news of the Orlando massacre after church on Sunday. My kids were playing in our living room and I was crouched over our kitchen countertop in disbelief as I scrolled through Facebook. Is this real? I thought. Terrorism had once again revealed its evil and ugliness in all its forms.

My seven year old was next to me and I kept the news to myself while he played with his rescue bots. Soon enough, John would begin to understand the evil in our world and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share what I had just learned so I stayed silent, praying for the innocent victims and the horrors of radical Islam. I looked in his brown eyes and thought about his innocent heart.

I began to think about the battle we are engaged in as Christ-followers. It is a spiritual one indeed. Just as Satan disguised himself in the garden and many times throughout Scripture, I believe he too is disguising himself under the name of radical Islam. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus says that He has come to bring us life – abundant life to the fullest. I’m well aware from my Islamic Doctrine class in seminary that these radicals are out to kill everyone – no matter if they’re gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and more. I’m well aware that they want to take over the world.

We need to get serious as a nation about the battle being a spiritual one.

Naturally, fears race through my mind and reading Fox News and CNN doesn’t help. The news fuels my fears. What if terrorism continues to increase in America? What about the safety of my children, family, and friends? What if we continue to have spineless leadership in our nation that is unwilling to call it what it is?

Fears plague my heart if I do not surrender them to Jesus. Ironically, I have been reading the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as I was encouraged recently to begin reading biographies. As a German theologian and pastor during the rise of the Nazi’s, Dietrich had much to fear yet in his story, he revealed how the only thing we really should be fearing is God – our Creator.

Bonhoeffer stood up for biblical principles in a time when even the German “Christians” believed in wiping out the Jewish race. He knew that God created all person’s equal. After eventually joining the resistance movement against the wickedness in his day, he was imprisoned and hung.

His faith remained unshakable and radical. He knew that his faith in Jesus was worth dying for. He knew that the only thing in life worth fearing is God. And that God would take care of him until death.

Bonhoeffer’s story is nothing short of inspiring as he clung to his faith in the midst of the horrors of the Nazi regime. It is nothing short of supernatural. Right now in America, we are facing all kinds of other forms of evil invading our land. We too, have the choice to remain steadfast and unmovable in our faith or to cower in fear.

It is in this time that it is tempting to doubt God and his plans. It is tempting to doubt his love for us. For me, it is just tempting to fear continually, on a daily basis if I let the nightmares get to my heart. But I know that Jesus’ perfect love casts out fear and like Bonhoeffer revealed, the only one I truly need to fear is my God – who has the ultimate authority over my life and death.

It is also in these times that prayer is vital. When we feel like all is lost and forsaken, we need to get our knees dirty and shake the dust off our Bibles. We need to be busy in God’s will because the days are short. We need to exchange our fear, worry, and anxiety with trust, peace, and hope in Jesus – the One who will one day, make all things right.

As I look into my girls’ blue eyes and my boys’ brown eyes, I see hope, joy, peace, and a contagious child-like faith. And I certainly need more of what they have.

The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms. – Phil Wickham

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Love Covers a Multitude of Sins – Even in Marriage & Motherhood

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This past Monday, I was a wreck. I went on my morning run to try to get rid of the mess inside of me. But even after listening to encouraging worship songs and working up a good sweat, I was tired, cranky, emotional, and irrational in my thought life. I couldn’t escape it all day long no matter how hard I tried.

If you’ve ever heard of the H.A.L.T. acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, you know that sin is creeping at your door when you have one, two, three, or all of these going on. And that you truly do need to halt! My issue was the T. My husband and children took the grunt of my exhaustion. My words and actions weren’t exactly a portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman.

I felt like giving up as a wife and mom. Tears ran fast and down my pillow that evening.

My sins are numerous, I thought. I just can’t get it together. Everywhere I turn I create a disaster.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there but it can be so discouraging when your sinful nature is not tamed and you feel like some sins you’ll never be able to overcome.

I remembered how tired I was and began to think rational again. I knew many of my reactions were due to that. I played my part by getting God’s word in my heart,  settling down, and asking forgiveness. I remembered the verse:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

I drew upon this truth because the Enemy’s lies in my head were:

You’re not good enough

You can’t handle this

God is ripping you off

You will never overcome

And then in that moment God’s word began to flood my soul with life-giving words:

You are enough

You can handle everything in my strength

I love you

I will help you overcome

Truth tells me that no matter how far I stray, love still covers a multitude of sins. My love for Jesus covers that. My love for those closest to me. And even the acceptance of myself.

Even on our very worst days, love still covers the darkest corners of our homes – the ugliest moments in marriage and motherhood. When we have failed those we love dearly, all the other 1,000 moments of love in a week that we have bestowed on them still trumps the 100 sins that have made us feel like an absolute failure of a wife and mom.

There is no sin that hasn’t been covered by his blood. 

Jesus understands our brokenness and thank goodness, his love never stops covering us – day in and day out. If you’ve found yourself swallowed by your own wake of disaster and exhaustion, know that you are loved, forgiven, bought at a high price, and set free from that sin. His grace is always available to draw upon in your time of need.

And by all means, HALT when you need to.

Cheering you on in the trenches,

Samantha

 

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A Wife & Mother’s Response to Target’s New Bathroom Policy

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waiting for Target’s doors to open – 2013

This blog is about marriage, motherhood, and faith. I prefer to stay out of politics and cultural affairs, but in light of recent news regarding Target’s new bathroom policy allowing transgender guests to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, I cannot stay silent.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon of being just another blog post that has something to say. I’m just an ordinary mom with a husband and four children living in a small town. I’m an imperfect sinner saved by grace. I believe in being a light in this dark world and submitting to governing authorities. I believe love covers a multitude of sins – not hate and judgment or attack. I love and respect those with different values.

With that being said, for as long as I’ve been a momma, I have loved me some Target. I can count many a mornings rolling into their parking lot with my stressed-out self, toting four children to the doors, and strapping them tightly into the red kids cart. My first priority being a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso. Target even thought of the cart cupholder. Genius.

Cleaning supplies, adorable kids clothes, jewelry, groceries, cards, toys, a new pair of sunglasses. You name it and I’ve bought it.

While we don’t live in the city anymore and don’t have immediate access to one, Target is still dear to me. I look forward to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to get my hands on one and the Chick-fil-a next to it. Target’s not just another retail giant in my eyes, but it’s a place of refuge, fun, and sanity.

With their recent news, I’m at a loss as to what to do as are many other moms I’ve talked to. I’m saddened. I understand the argument, “Why are we surprised? This is where our culture is headed. The church hasn’t been standing up for truth. Why should we expect the world to have Christian standards?…”  I’m not surprised, either. I am in shock! Do I still shop at Target and just not use the restrooms? (that’s impossible with young kids). Do I pray they will change their policy (yes!) Do I boycott and give someone else the business I would give Target? (I’d rather not).

I know Target doesn’t uphold to biblical standards so I wouldn’t expect them to but still… This policy feels like a dangerous, slippery slope where the line has been crossed.

My main concern is for women and children. Target’s policy will be taken advantage of – it already has in other bathrooms across the country according to news outlets. Three days ago the AFA wrote in Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!,

Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?

It’s not just about being inclusive and welcoming everyone. We know all too well the depravity of the human heart. As parents, we have a great responsibility to protect our children from harm – physical, emotional, and sexual. That has always been our responsibility no matter if we’re in a bathroom stall or at home.

Because Target is the first retail domino to fall, there is an opportunity to send a sound and clear message to all retailers that this America where men are allowed into women’s restrooms and vice versa is not the America we desire. If those who are for privacy and safety in the restrooms are the majority, then that majority must speak out or its voice will be deafened by the silence. Let retailers who stand in favor of public safety and privacy for our children know that we appreciate them and will patronize their efforts on our behalf.

I’ve decided to shop elsewhere in hopes that other retailers won’t follow suit and assume this is what consumers want. Of course that makes this mama-Target-loving heart sad, but I will continue to leave what makes me angry and upset in God’s hands and ask for his help to navigate the ever-changing tides in our culture.

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When God Feels Far: From Barren to Beautiful

13000412_10102547634542308_443667638_oThis morning as I was getting breakfast and glanced outside our kitchen window, I noticed the first few buds beginning to burst with flowers. On Monday when my husband and I left for the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, there was no sign of new life. The trees were barren.

Today, even though it is dark and gloomy outside and thunderstorms and rain are in the forecast, there is an explosion of new life in my yard.

“Look kids! The flowers are budding!” I said.

They jumped out of their seats and ran outside to see. My son John snapped some photos of the new life before his big brown eyes.

During the winter months, the hardened buds and lifelessness from the trees are all we see but we know that in Spring, the buds are set up to blossom again. And much of the deadness all around us in the winter months actually protects the buds so they will sprout again and in the right time.

Similarly, I’ve gone through seasons of intense dryness spiritually where my soul is cold and numb to the things of the Lord. Where I don’t thirst for Jesus, the Living Water, as I should. Where I don’t treasure the gospel like I should and cling to his all-sufficient grace because I’m selfish, full of pride, the difficulties of life have choked me, and idols fill my heart. I have sometimes questioned, “Is God even working in the cold, winter months of my soul? Is he here?”

I’m still in a season of struggle or should I say “struggling well,” where I desire to be closer to Jesus and further away from my sin. But I know He is here just as sure as Spring promises new life.

I may not see the fruit in the waiting, but I know he is working. I may not behold what I want to “now.” I may not see change or growth in my anger, control, and people-pleasing struggles right away but it will come. This process of sanctification changes in each season and it is indeed a process of patience. Motherhood teaches me this every, single day.

We may not think we are growing or becoming a different person right now, but God sees the last paintbrush stroke on the canvas.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

In his grace, God carries us all the way to becoming more like his Son. It is always a gift of grace. And perhaps the greatest truth is that we can’t do it in our own feeble strength. But we can always look to Him for help.

What might appear as barren and cold in our souls, if we wait patiently, might actually be beautiful in due time. Just like the buds are exploding with new life, color, and vibrance, I know that God is fully able to work in our life in a way that we’ve never experienced before.

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What I Want My Daughters to Know About Beauty & Worth

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“Momma, I need some lips,” my 3 1/2 year old daughter Hannah exclaims while we are shopping the aisles at our grocery store. “Lips” is our word for lipstick. She heads over to the makeup section and grabs a lipstick off the shelf.

“I need this one,” she says. I smile as she chooses the bright red colored one, like Taylor Swift’s choice lipstick color.

I could use that color, I think to myself knowing that I will end up using it more than Hannah will. I’ve always had a lipstick-lip gloss obsession.

What Really Makes You Beautiful

Now that I’m a mom of four – two that are girls – who are looking up to me as I put on my makeup in the mirror each morning, I’m realizing the great responsibility I have in raising them to understand what really makes us beautiful and worthy as women. Is it the bronze powdered blush, the lengthy eyelashes, the shiny lip gloss, the wavy hair, and flattering outfits? Is it being, trim, fit, fashionable, and attractive?

In a culture that is obsessed with image, how do I communicate to my girls that beauty is only skin deep as the cliche goes? I remember the feelings I had in middle school seeing the magazine covers and trying to measure up to a standard of beauty, only to fail. I remember wanting all the clothes that were in style – staring into the mirror and wondering if I looked anything like the gorgeous, airbrushed model staring back at me.

Many times when I tell our girls they are pretty, I will follow up and say, “You’re beautiful, but did you know what? Your heart is even more beautiful and what’s inside is what matters most.”

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I’m not sure if they’re getting it yet – they’re young – but I am praying these truths will sink in as they grow older. I want them to know that they are beautiful masterpieces in God’s sight and that they don’t need to chase the world’s affirmation for that or a boy’s approval. They don’t have to compare to an instagram feed, another person’s selfie, or the magazines at the checkout counter. They don’t have to look for love in all the wrong places because they are already deeply loved and accepted by their heavenly Father.

Heart, Soul, & Spirit

I want my daughters to know that the hidden person of the heart is where imperishable beauty is found. The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is what we should desire most (rather than how the world is telling us to act or be). It is what is most precious in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4). I love that Scripture is not murky in this area but is crystal clear that we’re to work diligently on our hearts and inward beauty regarding:

  • Our character & values
  • Our attitudes
  • Our thought-life
  • What we allow to consume & influence us
  • What directs & shapes our heart
  • Our strength in times of testing/adversity
  • The core of our very soul

This doesn’t mean we don’t take good care of ourselves, wear nice clothes, and desire to look acceptable and even beautiful. I think we all desire and aim for that. I strive to take good care of myself for my husband and children, family, and friends. I love makeup, jewelry, and a nice tan. The problem is when it’s an obsession that consumes me and when I put more work into my outward appearance rather than my heart, then I need to change and consider where I’m placing my identity and value.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. – Prov. 31:30

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Jesus Makes You Radiant

I’ve certainly had mornings where I was all dressed up and ready to go, but my heart was far from the Lord. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks and my words weren’t pretty. My inner beauty was lacking and my children and husband saw my sour attitude and felt it. I’ve told my husband many times, “I need to get in the Word before I start this day. I need to say Good Morning, Lord, before I say Good Morning to anything else!”

We’ve all encountered women at some point in our lives who were drop-dead gorgeous, but nasty and ugly in character and attitude. We’ve also known women who might not be considered pretty by the world’s standards, but their heart, character, and happy smile made them so, so incredibly beautiful. Their inward joy radiates into the lives of others.

If there’s anything I really want my daughters to grasp, it is that they don’t have to be on a constant chase, like I was so often growing up. Even raised in a loving, Christian home, I didn’t always rest in the truth that love was right there with me and it was in Jesus – the author of love and absolute perfection. I want my daughters to know that it is Christ in us, who ultimately makes us radiant as his spirit is lived out in our lives. It is in Christ where we find all the fullness of love, acceptance, worth, joy, and hope.

As women, we are made in his image. Created by him no matter what shape, size, and features he has given us. We are his. Working on the inner beauty of our heart is worth every effort, no matter how difficult our days may be and even when our pride says not to do the hard work of focusing on our inner person.

Make no mistake, the inward beauty of your heart will eventually spill out into the lives of other people and it will be contagious.

You are seen. You are Known. You are Loved.

Blessings,

Samantha

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Mommas Need Good Friday Too

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I don’t remember exactly what my son had done that afternoon, but it involved disobedience. I remember where we were – in our backyard on a hot summer’s day in Texas. He was pushing my buttons at just the right time. He continued with his defiance and it was in that moment that I grabbed him and lashed out at him, yelling and all. There is a point as mommas when we discipline for correction and there is a line that we cross when we break a child’s spirit. I had done the latter.

Anger filled my heart. And I was done. I wanted to throw in the towel. Guilt and shame flooded my soul for the way I had hurt him – my precious first born baby whom I loved with all my heart and soul.

After cooling off and just wanting to hide in a corner, I confessed my sin to the Lord and to my son. “I’m sorry, John. Mom is struggling and the way I treated you was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

“Of course, Mom. I love you,” were his words.

Oh the forgiveness that I did not deserve. But with welcoming, child-like faith my son accepted my apology. He loved me anyway and our relationship was restored.

I don’t know where you are in your journey in motherhood, but perhaps like me you’ve been there. Maybe today. You see your brokenness, humanity, and sinful nature for what it is and it ain’t pretty. You would rather isolate and not expose it for what it is. You carry burdens of shame and guilt. You don’t know how to manage it. You know that you simply can’t on your own. I get it.

Jesus does too.

By His Wounds You are Healed

Because of the costly price of our sin, Jesus took care of the enormous debt we could not pay. Because of our sin and weakness, he willingly went to the cross to be crucified. He suffered, he bled, and he died a criminal’s death.

His love ran red for you. His blood on the cross took care of your sin problem. And by his wounds, you are healed.

His wounds save you from the outbursts of anger, the covetousness, the discontentment, the cursing, the lusts of your flesh, the struggle with control, the need for approval, the desire to have more, the need to be successful, the intense struggle with your children, the pride and more.

You see, Good Friday is not just for the church-goer on Sunday morning but doesn’t yet have a real faith in Jesus, but it is for the one who is broken. It is for those who know their great and desperate need for a Savior. Good Friday is not only for the businessman, social worker, doctor, teacher, politician, and more but it is also for the Momma who is weary and trembling in her calling to raise up her children in the way they should go.

Mommas need Good Friday too. And Jesus was thinking of you on the cross. He understands your struggle and suffering too. The truth is that we can’t manage our sin in motherhood, but Jesus can. The truth is that we don’t have it all together and we need his grace every hour.

Stop Doubting & Believe

After Jesus’ victory over death and sin and after he rose from the dead, doubting Thomas still struggled to believe that Jesus was who he said he was – the Messiah. The Savior of the world. More importantly, his personal Savior.

After the resurrection when Jesus was with his disciples, he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

And Thomas responded: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas had touched his Savior’s wounds. The proof was before his eyes. Jesus was the Son of God. He had no excuse not to believe.

And Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:26-29).

He is for You

There is much we don’t see in our calling as mommas, but do we still believe that Jesus is who he said he is? Do we believe that his wounds have set us free in our struggle with sin and will continue to set us free in the hard days to come?

The good news, Momma, is that the burdens of shame and guilt that you carry have been covered by Jesus’ blood on the cross. I know it’s hard to believe, but you can live in victory over your sin by his strength and in his power. And he is fully able to help make you the Momma you desire to be.

He sees you. He knows you. He is for you as you shepherd the hearts of your children.

And it is in fact, a very, very, Good Friday.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

 

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Writing Platform: Staying True to Who You Are

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If you’ve followed along with me for some time in this little space, you may remember that my husband and I submitted a book proposal on marriage to one of my favorite Christian publishers in 2015. After one of my articles went viral in 2013, the publisher reached out and asked about my interest in writing a book. Some of you have asked about the status of the project and I felt I should update you here.

The whole experience has been such an honor talking with the Associate Publisher, brainstorming ideas, conducting interviews, doing research, writing the proposal, dreaming of it impacting our audience, and sending it off. After months and months of waiting, we heard back and were told that as first-time authors the publisher was going to have trouble getting the proposal through the publishing board who looks carefully at prior book sales and author platform. We were so far in the process and were sad to receive that news, but we accepted that this may not be the right timing. Or the right project. I had peace in my heart because I knew God was in control. We had played our part.

Many wonderful authors today experienced rejection after rejection before their idea sold. Part of the back story on this proposal is that I had submitted another one prior to it that didn’t make it. So that makes two rejections. I remember the words from my chancellor in college,

“You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or his wealth or his education. But you determine a man’s greatness by what it takes to discourage him.”

The publisher mentioned other options as far as us putting our book online chapter by chapter, and soliciting feedback and building an audience for the book before it is published. I have thought about shopping the proposal to different publishers or coming up with a whole new idea for a different audience. An author friend of mine said she would be happy to pass the proposal on to her literary agent which I’m highly considering.

But as of now I’m praying about the direction to go as I don’t want to give up on the idea. There are no books currently on the market like it. And platform? Well, platform is a big deal in the publishing industry. It’s important to have a large audience and influence for book sales. Your book has to make money after all and publishers take great risks. But I also know that God is the ultimate one who builds my platform. It is not something that I craft or manipulate with my own hands. That’s not to say I don’t play my part, but I leave the results to the Lord.

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My husband has been a testament to this as I’ve watched him wait on the Lord for many years until God fulfilled his plan for him in full-time ministry and to now see his faithfulness rewarded as he is now leading a wonderful congregation of believers as lead pastor. As his wife, I’ve witnessed his platform in the home and in the workplace and it has been one of service, patience, love, faithfulness, integrity, humility, perseverance, and more. To me, platform is about serving others. As Jesus says, “the greatest must become the least.” So in whatever capacity God gives me to serve, I will accept it as my platform.

I also have to stay true to who I am in my dream to author books and do my part in working diligently. I can’t allow a “no” to discourage me from God’s calling on my life to keep writing. It sure is tempting though to give up and just focus on the writing assignments I have at hand. It is tempting to make excuses and say I’m too busy, have too many kids, or just simply can’t balance it all. Which is all true, but I still don’t want to give up on my dream. I know the hard work isn’t in vain.

My five-year-old daughter Rebekah reminds me of someone who is absolutely true to herself. She doesn’t mold into someone she is not. She lives on the edge, walking barefoot near the road (it drives me crazy). She will often get out a piece of paper and her paint brushes and create the most beautiful picture from her imagination. She is artistic, spicy, smart, and introverted. God has specific plans for her gifting as I know he does for me. I don’t think she is the least bit worried in how God will choose to use her either. She inspires me in her childlike faith.

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Recently, our friend Scott who has traveled the writing journey with us and leads one of the largest pre-marital ministries in the country emailed a few weeks ago saying to keep going and not give up. He has read just about every Christian marriage book on the planet. He strongly believes in our idea, writing, and his words were just what I needed to hear to get me back on the road again. I love how God uses the body of Christ when we need a gentle push.

Well right now, the proposal sits on my computer but I plan on taking action with it in the coming weeks. I would love your prayers as I seek to know if God has further plans for it. If he doesn’t have a plan for this particular project, I’m okay with that. I will continue writing. But I want to be faithful to at least keep trying and to not let any discouragement keep me down.

Thank you for reading!

Samantha

 

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