If Worry & Anxiety is Choking the Life Out of You …

We were traveling back from visiting my husband’s brother and his family in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and had about 2 hours left on our trip. We stopped at Sam’s Club to stock up on groceries and other items that we don’t have in our small town. I had my four kids with me while Jeremiah was taking care of something at the guest services desk and as I was pushing the shopping cart, anxiety and panic came over me. My three and four-year-old were running ahead and refusing to listen.

From the music blaring through the speakers, the busy shoppers, and stimulation in front of me, I broke down. I went over to the counter where Jeremiah was and left the kids and the big cart at his feet. I darted for the tire aisle so I could hide myself behind all that black rubber and cry. The anxiety and fear was so intense within me that I felt hopeless.

Eventually, my gracious husband took all the kids and did the shopping while I got myself together and cooled off in the car. I was on overload, exhausted from traveling, and unable to deal with the demands in front of me. He didn’t quite know what to think or do with me. I didn’t either.

If you’ve ever been in a place similar to mine, you know that trusting God in the smallest details of your life can be hard especially if anxiety is a daily battle raging in your heart and mind. I often wonder why he tells us so much in Scripture, “Do not fear, Don’t be afraid, Fear not.” 365 times! And how in Matthew, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more of value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:26-27)

That day I’d failed to trust that God could in fact get me through that store with all my kids in tow. I feared them getting lost, stolen, and just the sense of losing complete control (something I love to have). I was fearing everything that day. I was choosing not to abide in Jesus for the help he could provide. I failed to realize that he cares for me as a mom of young children, too. Honestly, I didn’t believe that he saw me that day.

God feeds and cares for the birds of the air. He’s watching over them and I am more valuable? He says that I am. If we are more precious to him than the birds, than how much more does he care about our daily lives? He desires that we trust in his provision for each day. Each hour. Each minute. When we know and believe that he is watching out for our best, loves us infinitely, and longs to provide for us spiritually, emotionally, and physically, worry and anxiety slowly begin to take the back seat. Through a process, we begin trusting God at his Word and that he will do what he says.

Like the birds of the air, we too, are called to live in freedom and not in bondage to our fears and anxieties. But this can’t be done in our own strength. We must be fully dependent on the Lord for help. Recognizing our tendency towards anxiety is the first step– call it exactly what it is. Asking God for help and believing that he will is the next step.

May we be women who cry out more often: “God, help me!”

May we cry out in humility, dependance, and faith that He will answer our need for peace, calm, and hope in our hearts no matter what challenge we’re facing– great or small.

I still struggle with going inside public places with all my kids. I rarely brave big stores with the four. But they are growing older, listening better, and getting easier to juggle when we have to go out. I’m learning to give my anxiety to the Lord. I’m learning that worry robs me of his peace and joy, and more than anything I desire to have a life that is abundant, trusting in his goodness because that is what he wants for me.

I want to live in freedom like the birds do. I know I will fall, but I am striving for His strength working through me. Will you join me?

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. Read more from her book, Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

If you’ve followed my blog for a length of time, you may remember this article I wrote. It ended up going viral in December 2013. Since it’s been almost four years and I have new readers, I wanted to repost it. I pray the Lord will use it to encourage and strengthen your marriage!

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age.

From the expression on her face, I saw a woman who deeply loved her man. A woman who fulfilled her commitment and stood on her word to love him “Until death do us part.” I saw the ache in her soul that he was breathing his last breaths and soon, he would no longer be by her side as her protector, provider, soul-mate, comforter, delight, lover and friend.

And my soul began to ache as I thought about my husband and the deep love we share for one another. It made me think of the vows I promised him on a wintry December day in Virginia amongst all our family and friends eight years ago:

I, Samantha, take you, Jeremiah, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I also thought about the ways I’d failed my husband over the years and how I still have many areas of growth in loving him the way God intends.

Begin with the End in Mind

The five words “Until death do us part” are spoken of at the wedding altar in regards to lasting commitment but the reality of death being the actual end of the marriage is rarely expounded on. After all, the wedding ceremony shouldn’t be depressing right?

But the truth is that in order for our marriages to have the life they need to survive the long haul, we have to begin with the end in mind. Death—no matter how much we try to escape it—is the end and we have made a promise to God, our spouse, and other witnesses to love our spouse until then.

It sounds so easy and simple, but to actually live that out is another story. That’s why so many marriages end in divorce. Contrary to popular ideals, marriage is not a bed of roses, but is a battlefield that demands a daily dying to self.

Because of our sinful, stubborn, selfish natures we inherited in the garden, we continue to bring that nasty nature into our marriages—into all our relationships in fact. The manner in which we relate to our spouses and handle conflict is often broken. Ask anyone who’s been married for a little while and they’ll tell you just how much the molehills become mountains. Often they come out of nowhere and seem impossible to climb.

When we don’t get our way, conflict arises. When our spouse forgets his wallet or keys and makes us late to an important event, we grow angry. When he isn’t fulfilling our needs and desires the way we’d like, we have a pity party. When he doesn’t help out around the house enough, we grow bitter and nag.

When our spouse is short with us or raises his voice, we go on the defense and lash back. When he watches too much football, we tell him to get off the couch and get to work. And the list goes on. Conflict is a natural part of the marriage relationship and if it’s not happening internally at the moment, it’s guaranteed to hit you from the outside in just a matter of time.

Choose Humility & Forgiveness

The hope is that we can still have conflict in the midst of a healthy marriage defined by love. Through confessing our sins, repenting, and seeking forgiveness habitually, God refines those areas where we’re weak. Like iron sharpening iron, God uses our spouse to help change us. We put our hope and trust in God for help and guidance.

It’s having that humility before our spouse to say, “I know I’ve screwed up. But I love you and I’m committed to you every day of my life to make our marriage thrive.”

It’s realizing that, “Will you forgive me?” may just have to become a part of your daily vocabulary.

It’s choosing not to be isolated and asking trusted friends or family to encourage and help you get back on the road to loving and serving one another again.

It’s understanding that even if your spouse is driving you crazy and you want so badly for him to change that you may have to look in the mirror first to see where you need changing. Then you can dig your knees into the ground and pray for him.

It’s remembering that the very act of touching your husband’s hands, sexual intimacy, bearing children, laughing, working, playing, and eating meals together is all an act of grace that should instill gratitude in your heart. All of those life-giving moments are gifts that are not guaranteed or promised forever.

Being able to call him husband is a gift in and of itself.

Fight the Battle Against Sin

Above that beautiful image of the elderly couple, I read that the grandson wrote that they’d been together for 68 years and still kissed 15 times before bed every night.

As the wife sat next to her husband’s death bed, I’m guessing she wasn’t thinking about the times they fought or let each other down, but only the good, sweet, joyful, holy, precious, sacred times God had given them as husband and wife on this earth. There’s no doubt there was gratefulness and a deep sadness in her heart that it was ending.

Life is a vapor, as we know from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and no matter how much we try to deny it, death is waiting for us and our spouse in the end. So the fight against sin in our marriage is worth it because one day, if we know and belong to Christ, He is going to make all our brokenness whole again and we will be made perfect as He is.

And the words “Until death do us part” don’t have to be brushed over, denied, or forgotten, but can inspire us toward a greater, selfless love for our spouse and ultimately for God.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for clearing the table (a wife & mother’s honest reflections)

A few days ago, I stood over the kitchen sink staring at the dishes piled up. I was worn out, sneezing with watery eyes from a cold, and the kids were in typical fighting mode against one another. I needed help and I prayed. I didn’t want to nag and get angry like I do some nights.

Within minutes, God heard my prayer and my husband Jeremiah began gathering the plates, silverware, and glasses from the table and set them on the countertop where I was washing greasy pots and pans. He ordered the kids to take their plates to me. He went for several trips back to gather all that we had from having company over.

You see, some wisdom my mom passed on to Jeremiah not long after we had our second child was how much she appreciated my dad always clearing the table for her after dinner. It made such a difference (and encouragement) in her clean up routine. Jeremiah has cleared the table for me most nights since that conversation six years ago.

I think as wives we could all agree there are many things our husbands do that are often over-looked in the daily, beautiful mess of our ever-changing lives: replacing light bulbs, getting dirty under the car, helping put kids to bed at night, locking the doors, taking out trash, taking care of us financially, assisting with DIY projects, just getting done what needs to be done, and meeting countless other needs.

But how often do we thank our husbands and affirm them in all that they do, everyday? Has having a heart of gratitude become a lifestyle for us?

It’s easy to point out the negative or what we’d like to see changed in them. It’s easy to nag to death, rather than let the Holy Spirit move in their hearts.

It takes humility and discipline to build him up with our words, rather than tear down in our stubborn pride. It takes an opening of our blind eyes to see all the blessings that are right smack dab in front of us if we’ll only take time to pause, look, and reflect on the beauty of those blessings at our feet.

Our husbands are God’s gift to us, whether they do things exactly how we like them or not. They are God’s provision and protection over us. It is a joy to come alongside them and work together for a purpose and passion.

How God has wired and uniquely gifted your husband is to your benefit and your children’s. God knew what he was doing when he put you two together (even if you sometimes think you’re clearly from two different planets).

You’d think after almost 12 years of marriage that I’d have this whole “building up, appreciating my husband thing” down. But I don’t always. I fall short. I’m praying I will affirm him more and encourage him in all that God has created him to be. I want to be a wife who better praises him, thanks him, and shows him through my actions and behavior that he is worthy; that he is my man and I love him.

I want him to know how much the sacrifices he makes mean to our family and that without him, we would just never be the same. I want him to know that clearing the table every night might seem like such a simple act, but it’s a big deal. It communicates that we’re a team, we’re in this together for a greater purpose, and that my work as a wife and mom is noticed and cared about. The burden is lifted when it’s shared.

As his wife I’ll still fail, have emotional ups and downs, and not always appreciate him the way I should but I’m striving to be the wife God has called me to be, even in my brokenness and weaknesses. I resonate with Ann Voskamp’s words in her book One Thousand Gifts:

I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.

Even if it doesn’t seem attainable, thankfully with Jesus living in us as wives, having a heart of gratitude is possible. When I’m doing the dishes tonight, I’ll be thankful for the abundance of food that six bellies were able to consume because provision has been richly made for us first and foremost through the Lord and the hands of my hard-working husband.

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

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Battling in Fervent Prayer for Your Children

Not too long before my family and I made our big move from Dallas, Texas to Holyoke, Colorado I was in my parents house reminiscing on all our memories, our journey of seminary, and the special city where all our babies were born. I was in my moms sowing/reading room when I saw her journal open with note cards of all her grandkids names written down. My sister’s boys and our four kids, in addition to her prayer partner Bonnie’s grandchild were listed. My mom and Bonnie have been prayer partners for more than 25 years and pray on the phone once a week. Talk about discipline!

I read them one by one and was challenged and encouraged in my own prayer life. In the current ages of our children (8 and under), my husband and I have had our share of challenges in parenting each child’s unique personality. We haven’t always known what is a spiritual vs. a physical battle with each one. But now more than ever, when I’m often pleading for help from Jesus, I’m reminded that prayer is my greatest weapon against the Enemy.

You see, our fight even in parenting, is not against flesh and blood but against the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. We don’t always see the battle before us so we must fight with spiritual weapons. It would be silly and foolish to engage in a spiritual battle with only physical armor. The discipline of prayer teaches us to humble ourselves and seek our greater authority who is fully aware of every situation we face.

Prayer is an invitation for us to bring all our concerns to Jesus and lay them at his feet. We need to be confident to go to the throne of grace- regardless of our weaknesses and brokenness- that he will hear us when we call to him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  Your words will not fall on deaf ears and you can have assurance that your almighty God, maker of heaven and earth cares for you and is fully capable.

My temptation each day for not being fervent in prayer are thoughts like: “Their rebellion is not that big of a deal. They’re just kids. They will learn …” and more. But the reality is that they’re also in a battle against their sinful nature, the darkness in this world, culture’s cunning lies, and the battle of their flesh that says “dive in and enjoy sin to the fullest, even if it hurts you and causes great pain.”

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”

In addition to our parenting strategies and disciplines, what if we trained and disciplined ourselves in prayer over our children’s hearts each day? After all, scripture says that foolishness resides within them just as it does with us. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Their bad attitude, sassy mouth, undisciplined behavior, disrespect for authority, laziness, apathy, not wanting what they desire, sibling rivalry, complaining spirit, lying, stealing, lusts for more, and the list goes on… What if we engaged in prayer like never before over their hearts? What if we entrusted Jesus to do the work that we simply cannot do?

I have no doubt that we’d begin to see prayers answered, hearts softened, passions rekindled, respect and responsibility in action, and a standing up for the right thing like we’ve never seen before. Perhaps we’d begin to see the healing we’ve been longing for so badly in our home, marriage, and children because of prayer.

Just as my mom began writing down her prayers and claiming them, I too (finally!), have started writing down and praying promises of Scripture over my children. It’s been a great delight and privilege to pray over their struggles. Ironically, I see their battles are very similar to my own.

At the end of the day, for all of us, the sobering question we must face is that if we don’t pray for the hearts of our children in this dangerous and deadly spiritual battle, who will?

Fighting in the war with you,

Samantha

This post was inspired by the book my moms Bible study is going through this fall: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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Faith Reflections from Today’s Solar Eclipse

Today, I met my friend Katie at our city park for a picnic lunch with our kids to watch the solar eclipse. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this phenomenon. I pressed my protective eye wear against my face and looked up at the bright sun.

And there it was. The moon was beginning to cover the sun and it was beautiful. My eyes were focused on the bright orange ring. The darkness began to steadily cover the light within a matter of minutes.

I was amazed that though I couldn’t see this spectacle with my bare eyes, it was still there. God’s creation and glory was clearly on display. His handiwork. His doing. And here I stood as a finite, imperfect being, staring up at the sky observing all this grandeur. I was just a tiny dot on the map. God is the Master-craftsman who formed it all – the heavens and the earth, the skies and the seas, the plants and animals, you and me.

I think about the verse in Hebrews:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” –  (11:1)

Even though I cannot see God, he is here. Even though I can barely scratch the surface in understanding his beauty, holiness, majesty, and greatness, He is still God. Creator and Father. He holds everything together.

Observing the solar eclipse, among many other people today, gave me greater confidence in my faith. Just because I don’t see God working in the darkness and struggles in my own life or in this world, doesn’t mean he is not doing something. The truth is that he’s always moving. He is not slow to keep his promises.

“Look on the ground!” Katie says.

Circular, light reflections from the eclipse dance on the park’s sidewalk below the swaying trees. We snap pictures with our phones and the kids continue to play. The sky grows a little darker and an eeriness is in the air. The landscape looks “metallic-like.” The breeze brushes against our cheeks.

Our friend Sarah joins in on the fun.

The eclipse is at 98% – almost completely dark from where we stood. Darkness covers the sun, but there is still a speck of light. It certainly was a historical moment.

“I want to be out here with the eclipse forever!” says Katie’s daughter Alaina. We agree tickled by her joy.

Sometimes what we see here on earth is jaded. The lens through which we see is muddled. When we begin to see life through the correct lens and ask God for a greater understanding of who he is, we’ll begin to see the glory and beauty we’ve been longing for. We’ll see that our faith, after all, is solidified and we can trust Him fully for who he says that he is and what he will do in our lives.

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me…” – Isaiah 45:5

What if it’s too late?

Last week, while at the Denver airport waiting on my son’s plane to take off for Dallas, a woman came running to the check in counter, hysterical.

“I need to get on that plane! I have kids. We just got here!” She yelled at the gate agent. It had been at least 45 minutes since boarding, if not more.

“I’m sorry, ma’am but it’s too late. All the doors are closed and the plane is ready for take-off,” the gate agent said.

“But, it’s right there!” she yells looking at the plane. “And I have these kids with me,” she points at her 3 teenage sons.

She begs and pleads and I feel her pain as well as the other observers watching this woman.

The woman stares all around and now several gate agents are telling her she can’t get on the plane. She eventually calms down accepts the fact that she’ll be getting a later flight.

I didn’t know this woman’s situation. Maybe she was caught in traffic, didn’t gauge the time right, or just assumed her family would make it fine. The fact that this woman had missed her opportunity to get to her destination got me thinking about my time here on earth and the responsibility I have in sharing my faith with others.

I have friends I pray for each week that they would come to know the Lord, but I have to admit that sometimes it’s easy to give up hope and throw in the towel. Sometimes I coward and don’t want to go deeper. I fear what they’ll think of me. I’m really not crazy, I promise!

I don’t want any of them to be on the outside looking in only wishing they’d accepted God’s love but were so close. I know the truth in how precious and valuable life is and that as the cliche goes, we’re never promised tomorrow. When we die, we will give an account to God as to whether he was the ultimate authority over our lives– the one in whom we wholeheartedly trusted for our salvation by grace through faith– not because of any good thing we’ve done.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. – 2 Cor. 6:2

I don’t know about you but I want to be bolder in my faith, especially as I get older. But I need God’s strength working through me to accomplish his will. I actually pray every day, “where do you want me Lord? What is my mission field for today?” I need his constant direction and guidance.

If you’ve been wanting to talk to a friend about your faith, but just haven’t, do it and don’t wait for the perfect timing, emotions, feelings or day. Count this blog post as a little nudge to go across the room and reach out through a Facebook message, text, phone call, or coffee outing.

Better yet, I’d love to be in prayer with you if you have a friend you’ve been praying for. Feel free to share with me here and I will remember and be in prayer for them.

God includes you in the work He is doing and it is exciting. May we be women who love unconditionally, boldly, and pursue God’s purpose for our lives by fulfilling the Great Commission right where we are.

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mama, and author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

 

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Why God doesn’t always give us what we want

Recently my family and I were on our summer vacation at a Christian retreat center and I decided to grab a Gold Peak sweet tea out of the vending machine before the speaking session. The man in front of me pressed the buttons for a Mountain Dew and to his surprise a Diet Coke came out instead.

“Aw man, it gave me what I needed, not what I wanted,” he turned around and said to me.

I smiled and empathized with him, offering my extra change.

“No, it’s okay. I’ll just take it anyway,” he said reluctantly.

As I went to carefully press the buttons for my tea, I thought about his words and how true they were in our spiritual lives.

Jesus is concerned about what we need, more than what we want. In fact, our wants, desires, and cravings can often lead us down a path of unneccesary pain, hurt, and tears: Coveting something that is not ours to the point of our family’s ruin, desiring the latest fad that only leaves us feeling empty, overindulging in sugar that gives us exhaustian and an expanded waistline, and more.

Jesus is the one able to give us more than we can think of or imagine. He is more than a quick fix but offers us everlasting joy and peace because he is the Living Water. What we see and long for here on earth barely sctraches the beauty and majesty of the abundant life that he says he offers us today and into eternity. He knows what our soul needs most and it is Christ alone. Nothing more. Nothing added. No substitutes. Not Jesus + _______ (you fill in the blank).

It seems though, that we’re still on a meaningless chase to find happiness and joy that is already in front of us.

C.S. Lewis famously quoted:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Jesus is the only one who can bring the lasting infinite joy and pleasure that our souls are longing for so deeply. Truly, we know we were made for something beyond ourselves and what this world skillyfully markets to us, but is a false sense of happiness and security.

Later in the day, as my kids play in the white sand and build castles with sticks, leaves, and rocks, they’re in their own world with not much at their fingertips but the gift of nature. Yet, they’re pleased, satisfied, and completely entertained. They laugh and dance by the water. The sand covers their skin and they’re hot now.

“Let’s take a dip in the cool water!” I say.

“Yeah!” they yell, setting their shovels and buckets down for a better reward of crashing waves and clean skin. Their bodies are engulfed by the refreshing water and their little souls are refreshed.

May we be men and women who are not too easily pleased by the “wants” in our life, but instead are “all in” when it comes to enjoying the beauty, greatness, and holiness of our God who promises that when we come to him that we’ll never be thirsty again.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” – John 7:37

Why God doesn’t always give us what we want was originally published on Kirk Cameron’s site, The Courage.

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mama, and author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

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How to Restore the Brokenness in Your Marriage – from TheCourage.com

This week, I’m excited to be writing over on The Courage – a new digital destination meant to inspire, give hope, and call people to something better, especially in the areas of faith, family, and culture (founded by Kirk Cameron). It’s an honor to be a regular contributor and I hope you’ll check out the site and “like” them on social media. I think you’ll love what they’re doing!

One of my favorite parts on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” is when Chip and Joanna walk to the back of a garage, shed, or attic of the house they’re working on and discover something useful to implement into the remodel. What looks like an old pile of wood, happens to be a stack of doors that once provided privacy in the home.

Once Chip and Joanna decide to use the doors and refinish the glass, it might be used on an indoor cabinet or in the front windows of the home. The doorknobs are even used as creative design elements. Reclaiming what appears to be old, good-for-nothing junk is as natural as breathing for them. Nothing is wasted. They restore and renew what most people would readily abandon.

In their years of experience working on fixer uppers, they know you don’t ignore the cast-offs. You figure out their potential and how they can be made effective again.

In marriage, when the going gets tough, we can be tempted to throw the marriage away like those cast-offs... CONTINUE READING on TheCourage.com

Keeping Place: An Interview with Jen Pollock Michel, wife, mother, speaker and Christianity Today award-winning author

I’m excited to introduce you to Jen Pollock Michel about her new book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. Jen is a wife, mama to 5, award-winning author, regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, and more! My Bible study group recently went through her book and Rightnow Media video series Teach Us To Want and learned so much from it.

Jen has written a book that I believe is timely for us as women. How should we properly view our work in the home? What about this heartache we sometimes experience for our heavenly home?

Thank you, Jen, for your time and willingness to answer a few questions about your book. In Keeping Place, you challenge us to consider the ordinary and beautiful spaces of our homes and how taking care of them is, in fact, sacred. How do you define a faithful homemaker?

 Jen: I really think we can look to God as a Homemaker. I know that’s not traditionally a title we would give to God, but I think Genesis 1 and 2 give us this wonderful glimpse into God’s acts of homemaking. He’s making a world for his children to live in!

I’m struck by the idea that making a home isn’t about beauty for beauty’s sake or comfort for comfort’s sake. Homemaking is a work of welcome, and it’s always in service to others. It’s a work centered on people and a work anyone can do. You don’t have to be a married woman with children. You don’t have to live in a big, fancy house. You can be a young professional. You can be an empty nester. We can all make home for others in the world by following God into his work of hospitality, and this is all about seeing people, helping them to find belonging, and loving them in concrete ways.

 

Samantha: How has understanding God as your Homemaker drawn you closer to himself and those under your own roof?

Jen: First, to consider God as Homemaker inspires in me a very real sense of his love. I think that’s what the Psalmist had in mind in Psalm 8 when he looked at creation and said, “How could so big a God care about someone so small as me?” And Scripture does testify to the very personal and intimate care that God takes of us. He numbers the hairs on our head. He knows our words before we’ve yet spoken them. He collects our tears in his bottle. He wants to know us—and dwell with us.

Because God’s care is so intimate and personal, I want to know that kind of love to my children. This kind of intimate, personal love requires a lot of patient listening. It means drawing people out with questions, being available especially at inopportune moments. I want to be better at this: just loving my husband and children by being present with them and seeking to know them intimately.

 

Samantha: What encouragement can you offer to those of us who struggle to “keep house” (ahem, such as myself J) and live out the daily grind with an eternal perspective?

Jen: It’s tempting for all of us to want home without the housekeeping. And what I mean by this isn’t so much that we should be mopping and dusting more, although maybe we should be doing that, too! Instead, it’s really just this idea that you can’t have the welcome of home apart from the work of home. I remember this every time we host overnight guests, which means washing lots of extra towels and sheets. People in our homes, whether children or friends, creates work. It’s work to feed people, work to make a home welcoming. Especially with young children, home is a lot of repetitive and seemingly meaningless work.

But maybe we can think of it through the lens of John 13, where Jesus took up a basin and a towel to wash his disciples’ feet. He didn’t just say to his disciples, “Man, I love you guys!” He demonstrated that love by taking their dirty feet in his own hands and washing them clean.

When we pick up socks and wash towering stacks of dishes and wipe the table for the fourteenth time of the day, we are following Jesus into his housekeeping work. A home can’t be made apart from those menial efforts.

 

Samantha: After knowing the unconditional love, acceptance, and welcoming arms of our Savior, what is our responsibility to those who have yet to receive the gospel?

Jen: Similarly, it’s just this idea that we must love our neighbors in concrete ways. A lot of this is about being present to our neighbors’ suffering. What is breaking the heart of the person next door? What is the particular grief in your neighborhood or city? Do we take that suffering to God in prayer? Do we look for ways to practically meet needs? That kind of practical love doesn’t replace a verbal witness of the gospel, but it sure goes a long way toward improving its reception!

 

Samantha: What were some of your favorite reflections throughout Keeping Place?

Jen: A borrowed reflection in the book is something from Henri Nouwen in his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Henri Nouwen talks about his own realization regarding this familiar parable of Jesus. For so long, he’d read the story and identified himself as one of the sons. He’d been the younger son, estranged from God because of his overt rebellion. He’d also been the older son, estranged from God because of his inner resentment. But as he continued to read and reflect on the story and on Rembrandt’s painting of this story, he began to see that in Christ, God moves the church into the role of Father. That we aren’t just the ones who are being loved, but that we are the ones who do the loving. That we aren’t just the ones being welcomed, but the ones doing the welcoming.

I think that’s where the biblical story of home really takes us: into the work of mission.

Thank you so much, Jen!

Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want, Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year, as well as Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home (May, 2017). Both books have been produced as original video series by RightNow Media. Finalist for The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association New Author Award in 2015, Jen writes widely for both print and digital publications. Additionally, Jen travels to speak at churches, conferences, and retreats. Jen holds a B.A. in French from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) and an M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She is married to Ryan and together, they have five school-age children and live in Toronto.

 

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3 Reasons Why There’s No One Like You, Mama

This morning among the craziness of getting everyone out the door, my 6-year-old was feeling the pressure and in an unhappy mood. She started teasing her siblings and began to have a meltdown, shouting that she didn’t want to go to school. Even though she was so excited about her field trip today to the dairy farm. Her emotions got the best of her. She could barely finish her Honey Nut Cheerios.

“Rebekah, why don’t you go get in the shower?” I said.

“No, Bekah don’t do it. Don’t do it. You can’t get in the shower!” my husband chimed in.

Reverse psychology works well on Rebekah. She began cracking a smile and dug her chin into her chest. She finished her cereal and sprung out of her chair. She headed for the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, she came out a new young lady. Her face brightened, she got dressed, and she was more self controlled. She got out the door in time and made it to school.

Not every morning goes like this, but over the years through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about Rebekah and her needs. Some mornings are hard for her to handle (thanks to her mom who isn’t a morning person either). Even though she might not need a shower from having a bath the night before, the hot water, time to herself, and the calming effect helps her tremendously.

As moms, I think one of the greatest gifts we’re able to give our children is the ability to meet their needs as they change in each new developmental stage. Sometimes we overlook just how important this really is. God knew best when he chose you for your child. Here’s why:

1. No one else knows the deepest needs and desires of your child like you do.

Do you have a friend that treats your child in the same manner that you or your family does? You know if you have a friend like that, she’s pretty much a gem. You birthed your child into this life, clothed her, fed her and wiped away her first tear. You’ve seen her first steps and have been by her side at all hours of the night. You’ve experienced this sweet sacrifice.

You know her strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and who she is in the deepest parts. No one can love her like you do. No one knows her emotional, physical, and spiritual needs like you do. What a privilege to meet those critical needs throughout her life.

2. There’s no one else your child would rather be with than you.

You might be thinking, yeah right, my child just disrespected me and is constantly disobeying me. Maybe your relationship seems distant and not the parent-child relationship you desire. Regardless of outward behavior, her heart still beats for you. You are her only momma. She wants your attention, closeness, love, and time – whether that’s communicated clearly or not.

When you’re not physically with her, she still thinks of you and asks about you. Mommy is her favorite word and Mommy is who she’s thinking of when she’s away from you.

3.) No one else has the kind of influence over your child than you do.

The example you live and the impact you have upon your child is enormous. The way you talk, love, and teach her will shape and mold her into the adult she’ll become. I don’t know about you but this reality always hits me hard because I’m imperfect. I’m a sinner. I don’t always get it right. I know the impact and consequences my sin has upon my children.

However, we serve a big God who can help us love our children well. Relying and depending upon His power is where the real strength lies as we seek to be the kind of mom God wants us to be.

May the truth that there’s no one like you – no more perfect mama than you for your child – inspire you in knowing that your role in motherhood is significant, valued, cherished, and esteemed in the eyes of God and to your children.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

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