When You Find Yourself in a Season of “Stuck”

My three-year-old has been obsessed with going to his room and dressing himself multiple times a day. Recently, I heard a bloodcurdling scream in our living room. I ran to Will as he yelled, “I can’t ge-t-t-it. It’s stu-u-u-ck!” He couldn’t pull the zipper up on his shorts – it was stuck on the fabric. Tears streamed down his eyes.

“Mommy can help you. This isn’t as bad as you think,” I said.

I zipped up his shorts and dried his tears. He ran off to play trains and I was thankful for a drama-free resolve that didn’t include blood or else I would’ve passed out.

In our own lives, what is it about being stuck that makes us feel like we’re screaming inside? Maybe you’ve found yourself sitting on the sidelines waiting to get in the game. You’re not progressing like you want to in parenting your defiant children, career success, marital health, in-law issues, finances, weight loss, and more. You’re simply unsure of what to do next.

I don’t know about you but when I’m not seeing the completion of a process, I feel like a failure and that I’m not doing enough. Is it even okay to be in the in-between?

After publishing my first book, I’m continually asking God what is next? I’m cautious about what big project I jump into next and how it might impact my family and sanity with young children. I’m sometimes fearful of tackling the unknown and something altogether new.

Lately, I’m remembering the mantra my mom often tells me from one of her favorite authors and spiritual mentors, the late Elisabeth Elliott: Do the Next Thing. To which I translate: Do something. Just show up. Don’t stress about a future that isn’t here yet. Be obedient to God’s word and to prayer. Be present and available in the tasks he has before you right now. Don’t detest those baby steps.

“Doing the next thing” is an action that means moving forward. So, I’m writing the next article, pursuing publishing contacts, growing my relationships with author friends, and continuing to write for my local paper and other websites. I’m surprising weary moms with my book in a goodie box (my favorite part!).

God is working in the still spots and He isn’t aloof to my desires. He’s here. He’s more concerned about my contentment and trust in him than the outcomes I want.

This season of “stuck” for you? It won’t last forever just as the overcast April rains soon bring us clear blue skies. Maybe your next thing will be to seek the support of a trusted friend, join that financial peace class, schedule to meet with a counselor, begin writing that book burning wildly in your heart, quit your 9-5 job and create a business from scratch, download a good fitness app to keep on track, or pursue healing with your spouse.

As I was there to help my son’s zipper situation and calm his tantrum so he could get on with playing, God will come to your aid in just the right time and lift you up in the perfect way He sees fit.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

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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Three Simple Ways to Cultivate Faith in Your Child During the Season of Lent {with Katie Bowman}

Research shows that more than half of Christian kids are walking away from the faith once they are college age. I don’t know about you, but I am unwilling that even one of my three kid’s hearts would be lost. The encouraging news is that experts say that what makes the difference is cultivating their faith little by little, day by day. Or as Deuteronomy 6:7 puts it, “Talk about [God’s commandments] when you sit at home and when you walk [or drive] along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Thankfully, elaborate lesson plans and Pinterest perfect crafts aren’t listed in Deuteronomy. Can I get an “AMEN”?!

Even though it’s the day by day that really matters, it’s so easy to let the daily things of life crowd out the meaningful. Early wake up calls from little feet, seemingly never ending to do lists, literally NEVER ENDING bedtime routines, you get it. You live it too.

That’s why I’m so grateful for seasons and times of the year that call us out beyond what we’ve settled into. Lent, or the 40 or so days leading up to Easter have been a part of the church calendar for centuries. For centuries Christians have taken the days leading up to Easter to refocus their eyes on what matters, to be intentional about weeding out distractions.

This season is a great time to think about how I can go a little bit deeper and take my kids with me into that. It not only challenges me to evaluate the way I am teaching them but also helps me focus the posture of my own heart. I can’t lead my kids to places I have never been. I want them to know Christ deeply, so I must go deeper still.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to set up monuments. When life was routine, these monuments would remind them of God’s faithfulness. In the same way, I hope to build traditions into different seasons of our life. Not to neglect the daily discipleship, but to deepen it.

I have a 6 year old, 3 year old and a 10 month old so I know how hard it is to fit in daily time with the Lord, let alone go above and beyond. But here are some traditions I have found work for us.

Resurrection Garden: God takes dead things and causes new life.

1. Read the Word everyday from now until Easter.

No other book carries the promises of God’s Word. Your time spent in it will not return void. Honestly, I was struggling with this BIG TIME. I have found that waking up 30 minutes before my kids is the best time for me. Sometimes little feet make their way into
the dining room where I am reading. I made sure to set up expectations beforehand that Mommy is not available to meet your needs while I am spending time with God. Instead I read out loud to them or keep a children’s Bible beside me that they can look at quietly.

More than anything, I want them to grow up with the memories of their Mom pouring over the Word. Two practical ways that have made it easy to stay the course are: (1) the She Reads Truth App (2) Leaving a Bible in a place that is accessible, for me that is on the far end of our dining room table where I usually do my quiet time.

2. Give up something for Lent. 

Even though Lent already started you can still make a commitment to put away a distraction from now until Easter. Last year I gave up TV/scrolling my phone in the evenings. It has stuck and instead of doing something that wasn’t feeding my soul (in fact, I found it was life-sucking for me) I started reading character forming books (I could write an entire blog post on how LIFE GIVING this has been for me).

This year I gave up sleep. Just 30 minutes in the morning like I mentioned above. The key is not just giving something up but filling that space with something that is life-giving and draws you closer to Jesus.

Each egg has a meaning on the Easter tree.

3. Find one Easter tradition that will be meaningful to your family.

We have actually found two that we REALLY love. The first is a resurrection garden. I love how we can not only talk about the empty tomb but also how God takes dead things (seeds) and causes new life. You can see what you’ll need to make one over on my blog. The second is an Easter Tree. I didn’t anticipate the big hit this one would be. My kids LOVE learning more about what each egg represents. We have had some fun discussions that we would have never had otherwise. I also love that it can grow with my kids. The older and more mature they become the deeper we can dive into the meaning of each egg.

To cultivate means to foster growth. Gardens don’t grow just by planting alone. They need the loving care of the gardener who studies what each individual plant needs in her care. While praying that God will bring the sunshine and rain, the gardener must study the best times to plant, the best ways to fertilize and protect her crops and when to reap the harvest.

Some seasons call for hard work, some for rest and others still for study and prayer. In the same way, we must be diligent to teach our children the Word and trust God to do what we cannot and cause faith to take root in their hearts. The season of Lent is a great time to put in some extra hard work, all for the sake of growing God’s kingdom in our children’s hearts.

What are some ways that you’re cultivating faith into the hearts of your children?

About Katie Bowman

Katie Bowman has been married to her best friend, Adam, for ten years. She graduated from Liberty University and Dallas Seminary.

She loves being able to stay home with her three kids. Second only to passing on her faith, she hopes to pass on her love of books to her children. For fun she likes to take naps and go to the bathroom alone. She leads this glamorous life in Dallas, Tx. 

 

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A Prayer for the Weary, Worn-Out Mama

Oh Lord, thank you for who you are and that I’m always welcome to approach your throne in confidence and boldness, no matter how much I’ve failed you. No matter how exhausted I am. I confess to you today that my heart and soul is malnourished and deprived of the nutrients and sustenance that only you can give.

I have tried to manage life on my own, only to fall every time. I’ve tried to control my husband, home life, and children apart from you, and I’m so grateful you’re reminding me today that the only person I can put my hope in is you.

I’m worn out from “doing” when I should be focused on “being” who you’ve called me to be. I’m struggling, Lord, because I don’t want my identity to be in anything else other than you but the temptations and the gradual pull to place my hope in temporary, non-eternal things is a constant tug of war match.

I’m weary from the high calling you have given me as a mother to my children, who I love with all my heart. I don’t always know what I’m doing in shepherding their hearts. I don’t always love them well or know how to handle their sinful nature, nor my own. I call upon you for the help that you are always ready and willing to give in abundance. Humble me so that I will call on your name more.

I know that when I surrender to you and release control, you will take over and that you always lead me to streams of living water. You always bring me satisfaction and joy. For there is rest in you and your yoke is easy – not burdensome.

Please lift the afflictions and grievances off my back so that I may live freely for you today. Rid me of my selfishness and teach me what your love is like so that I may love others well. Teach me how to be the mama you’re calling me to be. Thank you that your love is better than life and I can trust in your unfailing love for me now and into eternity.

In your precious and holy name I pray,

Amen

 

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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Appreciating Your Husband for Who He is

A few years ago, my husband found a killer deal for a nice bed frame off Craigslist that he wanted to get for us. We’d been married 9.5 years and had never experienced the thrills of a king-sized bed. The problem was that it was nap time for our kids and we had to drive his chevy pick up truck in order to haul the frame and mattresses and comforter and so on. Not to mention the air conditioner on his truck was out, and the trip was not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump.

“I don’t know about this trip,” I told Jeremiah who thrives on spontaneity. “We’ve got to haul a lot of stuff and our four needy kids.”

“It will be fine,” he responded. “They can sleep on the way.”

It will be fine. Those four famous last words.

I started to whine about what could go wrong and how miserable the trip would probably be. But I decided to do it anyway. We had a flexible schedule that day.

Well the 2.5 hour trip to Denver turned into 3 hours with potty breaks, gas, and hungry bellies. We ran into bumper to bumper traffic, got cussed out by a crazy driver, and the kids were unhappy the entire time. We had to make too many stops that I didn’t care for and by the end of the day I was spent, vowing I would never do that again. It tested my patience and I was not a happy wife or momma. At all.

On our way home, Jeremiah agreed that I should have stayed home with the kids. “But I always like doing things together as a family,” he said.

I rolled my eyes and told him how some things are just not worth it. But after he assembled the bed together and we plopped our exhausted bodies onto our new bed and mattress, I was thankful we labored for it all. And I always appreciate how he loves being with all of us.

Admiring, Affirming, Appreciating

I’m guessing you’ve had an experience like mine where your husband’s idea seemed crazy and you sensed that strain and stress might be coming your way. But you followed his lead because you knew that’s what he desired.

The feelings and emotions are often different in our dating days. We often don’t second guess. We can’t imagine not going along with our lover’s plans or that things might not be “easy.” But in marriage, we eventually see how hard it can be to follow our man. To let alone love him in the way he understands.

When we talk about “loving” our husband what we really mean is how well are we admiring, affirming, and appreciating him? How well are we coming alongside him as his help-meet? That is what love looks to a man. In the wonderful book Creative Counterpart, author Linda Dillow says,

Learning to accept your husband’s feelings, tastes, and attitudes can go a long way… Does it matter whether acorn squash is good for him if he doesn’t like it? Accept his tastes. He doesn’t need a dietician or a substitute mother. Maybe he gets a kick out of football, and you feel the sport is stupid. Voice that opinion once or twice, and what will you communicate? That you feel you married a stupid man. How willing do you think he’ll be to express his likes and dislikes if he is called stupid when he does?

I can relate to Dillow’s football and food comment. I definitely have my opinions and I don’t always hold my tongue or communicate in the nicest manner, but over time in our marriage, I have been challenged to begin dwelling on the characteristics that I love about my husband: his intelligence, skillfulness, leadership ability, sexual capacity, courage, financial expertise, protection, prudence, and more. When I draw on what I appreciate the most about him, it helps me admire and respect him. And then eventually it turns into praise and affirmation which is what he craves to hear.

Knowing Your Man

To love your husband well you also need to know him. What makes him tick? What does he hate? What does he love? You might consider these questions.

  • What is the happiest thing that has ever happened to your husband?
  • What has been the hardest experience of his life?
  • What are his secret ambitions, his goals for life?
  • What are his deep fears?
  • What about you does he appreciate the most?
  • What traits of you would he like to see changed?
  • What man or men does he most admire?

(Creative Counterpart, page. 109)

You might write the answers down on paper and ask your husband if you were on target. No worries if you don’t get the answers right! It is never too late to learn something you didn’t know before. You might have him answer these questions about you. Jeremiah and I did this together several years ago and it was fun to exchange answers and see who got the most right.

Complete – Don’t Compare

The man God gave you is different than the man God gave me. Your husband is uniquely gifted in his role just as you are uniquely qualified to complete and compliment who he is. There is nothing more destructive than comparing our man to other men. Thoughts like, I wish he were more like ________ . Why doesn’t my husband do _________?  No perfect husband exists. Each has his own faults and limitations. Each has his own talent and unique abilities.

Focus your heart and mind on being grateful for the husband God has given you. Start to appreciate the qualities and interests that you don’t understand in him or can’t relate to. When you’re interested in what he is passionate about, it communicates that you care for him. When you admire and appreciate him through your attitude and actions, it communicates, “I love you. I respect you.”

I still fail at times to be the wife I know I should be. I can be pretty spicy and strong-willed. It is definitely a falling forward process of sanctification and dying to self. But I am growing, learning, and I know one thing is sure: I want my husband to know that I am for him.

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This article first appeared on FortheFamily.org as “Loving the Man God Gave You”

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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3 Reasons Why Women Are Valuable to the Church

This week, as our Tuesday morning moms Bible study gathered around the couches in our church’s loft to discuss our video session, the Lord spoke to my heart in a way that I wasn’t expecting. As I listened to my friends share how God was working in their life, I was so encouraged. Many of them play an active role in their churches and our community and I thought to myself:

Women are valuable to the church. All women – wives, young moms, moms of teens, moms of grown adults, single women, working women, working moms, elderly women, widowed women, young women, tweens, teens, and college-aged women. Each of us has a distinct role to play in ministering to the church body, all of which are different, none of which are better than another.

We all know the woman who can make Butterfinger cookie dough cheesecake bars like nobody’s business, the woman who’d come to your aid within minutes to offer a helping hand, the woman who eloquently speaks the truth in love, the woman who has rockstar teaching abilities, the woman who makes the cutest crafts for kids church, and the woman who brews the coffee every Sunday morning (because you know without some caffeine, there will be grumpy church goers).

We’ve all been given gifts for the building up of each other. And without each body part functioning together, we’d be missing an eye, an ear, a nose, a toe, and it would be quite dysfunctional. There are many reasons women are valuable and precious to the church, but here are three ways:

1.) Women are valuable to the church because God says so.

God created male and female and he blessed them (Genesis 5:2.). God saw all that he had made and it was very good. He sees us as his beautiful masterpiece. In fact, we were created in his image. We are equal in value to men, but are distinct in our roles and responsibilities.

God has specific jobs for you and without your service the work would be incomplete and insufficient. He knew what he was doing when he created you! When you serve, you serve unto the Lord, and what you bring to the table is unique and necessary for God’s kingdom to be built. You are valuable to God and he sees your work as worthy.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” You are of great worth in Jesus’ sight and that was proven through his shed blood on the cross. You were bought at a high price.

2.) Women are valuable to the church for the training and encouragement of younger women.

These verses have always been an encouragement to me because I don’t know about you, but I feel like I often need guidance and training on how to be a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend. God knows what he’s doing when he commands older women to teach the younger women on how to live in the four corners of their homes. I also recognize the value I bring to younger women through my life experiences and shortcomings.

Older women are valuable for mentoring younger women in the ways of God. They’ve traveled the journey of life longer and can provide much-needed wisdom and insight that no one else can. They encourage, edify, rebuke, and counsel other women away from sin and into a life that is pleasing to God. I honor the relationships with older women in my life. They have “been there and done that!” which helps me persevere.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  – Titus 2:3-5

3.) Women are valuable to the church in building relationships with those far from God. 

Within the church, we should always be thinking about the next ten people that walk through our doors that have yet to find the hope that is in Jesus. Because women are typically natural at connecting and building relationships, we have amazing opportunities to reach those far from God.

I have one mom friend who can connect you with whatever person you need to get the job done. Financial planner? She knows one. Plumber? She’s got one. Photographer? Yep. Pediatrician? Of course. Best massage? Indeed. A certain kind of church you’re looking for? She can describe it and get you plugged in with a friend already there. If you’re moving to a new city, she knows someone there who’d probably become your best friend. She is gifted in connecting people to their real needs.

Sometimes we overlook the beauty of how God has hard-wired us for relationships. In fact, relationships are really where it all begins in ministering to others. A simple call, text, or invite of “Would you like to come to church with me? Would you like to meet for coffee?” can have a significant impact on someone eventually coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

The work you’re doing in the daily grind is not in vain: Scheduling nursery volunteers, serving in AWANA, counseling a friend in crisis, preparing meals, leading music from the stage, visitations, facilitating a small group, teaching children God’s Word, working with youth, writing devotionals, designing powerpoint slides, organizing outreach events, greeting others at the door, getting the prayer chain going, marketing activities through social media, and more are all significant ministries that keep the church moving forward and touching lives.

God sees your efforts, sacrifices, and even the messiness that comes with the territory in working with people. He’s using you to reach others in ways you may not even realize and without you, a critical part of the body would be missing.

Never forget how valuable you are to Christ’s bride, whom he loves and gave himself up for. Now, go and live like it!

There are many other reasons why women are valuable to the church. How has the life of another woman made a difference in your life? How does she add value to the ministry?

* Feel free to share this post and tag her in it! *

 

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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Guest Post: How to Reignite the Wintery Soul by Seana Scott

I’m thrilled today that one of my friends and fellow seminary mamas will be writing today’s guest post. Seana reached out to me when our husbands were at Dallas Seminary and we quickly became friends after our first playdate amongst coffee, banana bread, and busy babies. We both share a passion for God’s word and writing so as you can imagine, we have a lot to talk about. Seana has a heart of gold and I love her passion for Jesus, her family, and ministry. .

Seana writes for Seanascott.orgReal. Faith. Moms and when you subscribe to her blog, you receive a free e-book called Joy Made Full: 5 Lies that Trap Moms & How to Break Free. On her blog, you can also scroll down and listen to some of her quick videos on motherhood. Super encouraging!

Thank you, Seana, for today’s post!

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“Snow! Mama, Snow!” My three-year-old yelled as he watched the floating flakes dance to the ground. Any light dusting of snow in Fort Worth, Texas is reason enough to call off school and put on layers of blizzard gear and play.

I needed to head back into town to pick up my other son from school.

“Alright, Judah. Let’s go.”

We thanked friends for hosting a play-date and opened the front door. Judah dashed out like a puppy on the loose. “Snow, mommy! Can I eat it?” He squatted down to investigate the inch border of fluff on the sidewalk.

“Just make sure there’s no dirt in it.” Is there even enough to pick up?

 He froze in position and stared.

“It’s okay, honey. Look.” I grabbed a little snow and placed it in his hands. “Snow.”

“C-o-o-old,” he said as he took a little lick and giggled—the joy of his first snow encounter.

As I drove an hour back into town, I wondered, Judah delighted in just a dusting of snow. Do I delight in the wonderland of grace?

In Revelation Chapter 2 God commended the church in Ephesus for their commitment, perseverance, and work for the Lord—but chastised them for losing their first love.

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:3-4)

Sometimes I find myself guilty of steadfastness in doing the right things, but cold in love.

When our passion does not equal our commitment, how can we reignite our love for God?

Revelation 2:5 tells us: Take ownership of your short-comings (repent) and do what you did at first.

Do you ever feel stale in your relationship with God? What did you do when you first encountered His love? Return to those things.

When I first became a believer:

  1. I hungered to know God and read the Word often.
  2. I hung out with more mature believers whenever I could.
  3. I attended any worship event I could.
  4. I plugged into a discipleship group.

Of course as a mom of three little people, that looks different now. But I still can read (or listen) to His word, connect with believers, worship through music, and seek mentorship.

How about you? Is your love for the Lord cold?

What is one step you can take today to reignite your love for Jesus?

PRAY: Lord, thank you once again for salvation through Jesus Christ. I need your Spirit to help me love you the way I did at first. Please show me one simple way that I can fuel my first love for you again. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.


Seana Scott is a pastor’s wife and mom to three kiddos. She is working towards a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. She enjoys walks with her family, talking with women over a cup of coffee, and exploring the beautiful world. You can get a free copy of her Ebook for moms, Joy Made Full, or schedule her to speak at SeanaScott.org.

 

Guilt vs. Grace: Battling the Never-ending Voices of Motherhood

Last night when I was picking up my 3 and 4 year old from Awana, before I could realize it, they darted out into the church parking lot. I yelled at them to “Stop!” and was fuming with anger. Headlights beamed and cars were making their way out.

I ran as fast as I could to grab them. Other kids were watching my kids in their disobedience. I rebuked them and disciplined them for not listening to Mommy. My heart beat fast as we made our way home and I told them they were in big trouble.

After the incident, I beat myself up pretty bad about what could’ve been done differently. Did I not do a good job at telling them what to expect? Do they need more discipline? (yes, always!) I was embarrassed. I prayed and cried and honestly just felt like a failure. I already have major anxiety with my kids in parking lots and streets.

You see, it is this subtle voice after a long day’s work of child-rearing, managing daily responsibilities, making sure the wheels on the house are running smoothly, disciplining defiant children, and more, that says:

You’re not good enough. You’re not the mom you should be. Your kids are a reflection of you. When will you get it together?

The voice of guilt. The voice of condemnation. It’s a cunning voice that sneaks into the cracks of unexpected places with the potential to freeze me from doing anything worthy. Now don’t get me wrong. Guilt can be a very good thing – to show us our offense and to make us keenly aware of our need for repentance. In this situation however, it was a false guilt.

It took my eyes off Jesus and his ability to carry me, and had me focusing on myself, my weaknesses, my struggles, and my incapabilities. It took my eyes off gratitude and filled my heart with negativity, self-pity, and depression. I never once thought of the blessing that I could run fast enough to catch them!

Lisa Terkeurst says,

Learn to be more thankful for what you are than guilty for what you’re not. Cut the threads of guilt with grace.

Grace- God’s unmerited favor, goodwill, and loving-kindness toward us as imperfect sinners. Grace says that God is for us. He loves us and wants to teach us a better way to live. He’s not angry and waiting for us to get our act together, but he is patient and guides us as our loving Father.

  • In the name of grace, there is no condemnation or a constant beating over the head. “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1 
  • In the name of grace, there is no fear in His perfect love. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18 
  • In the name of grace, God is sanctifying and purifying us to be holy. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

I don’t know if you’ve felt the grip of guilt on your heart but may I encourage you to let God take it off of your chest – just for today? Don’t worry about tomorrow. Allow him to shower you with his grace in your present situation. His love for you is not contingent on what you do or don’t do as a mom.

And the way your children behave at times that’s out of your control? That doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom nor is that where your identity is found.

The voice of guilt and the voice of grace are always at odds, battling it out with each other on a daily basis. As you begin to listen to them more and see them for what they are, you will see that the voice of grace is always greater.

It is the voice of freedom.

Striving in grace with you,

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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What I Want My Sons to Know About Being Bold & Brave in a Hurting & Hostile Culture

samanthakrieger.com

A few months ago before bedtime, my oldest son John expressed to me that a friend at his school was struggling.

“Mom, he told me on the playground that he thinks God hates him.”

I was shocked by those words coming from a young child.

“So I told him that God does love him and that I could bring him a Bible.”

I smiled and told John how brave he was to encourage his friend like that. And it got me thinking how I need to be praying more for both my boys to grow into men who will stand up for truth, have courage, and love others well in a world that is hurting and hostile toward God.

I sometimes feel like I’m not doing enough in preparing and training my children but I know it’s never too late to begin fervently praying for them. I pray that my boys will grow into men who will:

  • Fear the Lord and seek his wisdom from a young age
  • Stand up for what is right even when no-one else is
  • Live a life of purity where the women in their life are valued, treasured, and honored
  • Know how to turn their eyes away from lustful things that seek to deceive and harm them
  • Love their future wives as Christ loved the church– unconditionally, sacrificially, and with whole-hearted devotion
  • Confess their sin and turn to the Lord all of the days of their life

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There’s no doubt that it’s a bit fearful and intimidating as we consider beginning with the end in mind in parenting our boys. What kind of men do we want them to become? How can we begin to help them live like the men we desire them to be?

I want them to know they can be brave and bold right now in a world that’s hurting and in need of the hope that is found in Jesus.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

I pray they’ll be confident leaders who speak the truth in love and understand that true leadership is service– it is not lording it over people in their pride, position and power but is that of humility, strength, and selflessness.

In a world that screams hate, violence, and craves conflict and strife, I pray my boys will return their words and actions with love, peace, and hope in the midst of chaos. I pray they will be givers, and not takers. That they would trust in Jesus when it gets really tough.

In a world that’s rejecting God as their sovereign Creator, I want my boys to know that Jesus is our perfect example who took a towel and washed the feet of his disciples, who entrusted his life to the Father and waited on His timing for everything. Who didn’t entrust himself to men because he knew the evil in their hearts. Yet he pursued them in their mess of sin and loved them still.

I want my boys to know when they look to Jesus they’ll never be disappointed.

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Not many days after our bedtime conversation, I volunteered in John’s classroom and his friend who’d shared those feelings about God happened to be in my reading group. The lesson was on friendship and the discussion questions led into him telling me that a family member of his had died.

“Yeah, we’ve been going through a lot lately,” he said.

One of his pets had died too. My heart ached for him and it all made sense as to why he felt that God was not for him.

He shared some more and had such a heart of compassion. It made me realize there are endless opportunities to love on the people God puts on our path and seek to understand where they’re coming from.

In a culture that’s in need of Jesus’ love, great opportunity lies ahead as we teach our boys how to be the men God desires them to be – even when we feel inadequate. As their mommas, may we be their biggest prayer warriors.

Cheering you on in the trenches,

Samantha

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Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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The One Thing You Probably Need Most Today

It is often at the end of the day, where I feel most attacked in motherhood. Satan whispers lies: You’re not doing this right. You’re going to screw up your kids. You’re unqualified. You’ll never overcome the anger, control, pride, and more. You don’t have what it takes.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that this is all a very works-based mentality. That if I could just “do” more and be “better” as a wife and mom, then the path will be straight and God will love me.

Oh, but this is far from the truth because it leaves out one word out that I desperately need daily:

G R A C E

Grace comes to us as God’s undeserving gift and kindness. It is not something we earn or have to work hard for. It is not something that if we just get our act together, the odds will be in our favor. It is not conditional as to whether we meet a certain standard of righteousness. It is not how we often treat our children: If you do this, then I will love you. If not, then you have fallen short of my standard and I will like you less.

Another word for grace is also mercies. His mercies are new each and every day. The slate is wiped clean. I don’t know about you, but that is good news.

In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah was under intense affliction, wandering, and pain. He says, “My soul is downcast within me” (vs. 20). Yet in the next verse he reveals, “Yes this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (vs. 21) – the steadfast love of the Lord is what spurs him on in the midst of trouble.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

Because of God’s unwavering, unconditional, steadfast love, we won’t drown in despair. When we end the day feeling battle-worn, wondering if the morning will be any different, we have great hope because his grace and mercy toward us are always moving in strength, like a raging waterfall – regardless of how well we have done. We can trust him to carry us in the deepest of valley’s, brokenness, and suffering. Because that is what our Father does for his children.

Because his great love for you never ceases, his grace doesn’t either. Grab hold of it today – knowing He has covered your guilt, shame, dissatisfaction, self-sufficiency, self-loathing, and more. He has covered the lies that tempt you. He will give you what you need just for this very moment.

Most of all, let his grace and love captivate your heart unlike anything else in your life.

Questions for Reflection: Is there anything in your life you feel God could never forgive? How can you better cling tight to his grace, instead of a works-based acceptance mindset?

I was lost
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

(“Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin)

 

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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Why I Choose to Connect with You, and Not Compete

One day in the midst of the craziness of getting my coffee made, I scrolled through Facebook for a mommy break. In the newsfeed, my friend Katie had shared a photo of her pristine, cute, crafty living room that looked like a Pinterest explosion. My eyes were glued to the design in her home and the eye candy on her walls!

She’s so much more gifted than I am. How does she do it? My home isn’t as beautiful as hers. Sadly, I dwelt on these thoughts and they put me in a bad mood. I was holding up the measuring stick to a dear, trusted friend of mine. I was competing and comparing and it had the best of me.

A few months later, I didn’t heat up another coffee cup in the microwave but instead got one at Starbucks with Katie. We talked about our struggles and I shared how I compared myself to her and all her gifts. She revealed how she’d done the same with other mom friends who were always going on outings with their kids.

“I can barely get out of the house each day,” she mentioned. “I feel like I’m not doing enough with my kids.”

I felt similar feelings. We laughed and talked about how you rarely see the whole picture of a friend’s life in your highlight reels. You see the joys and milestones, rarely the fighting with your husband, no make-up, unshaved legs, disaster-of-a-house kind of days, the dark reality of depression, defiant children, a broken marriage, tears on your pillow at night, or the pain of how life can be so stinkin’ hard (literally).

It’s much easier to be preoccupied with another friend’s perfect life, instead of choosing to have a heart full of gratitude for own own.

There is a way to celebrate those gifts and talents we see in our friends: the friend who can creatively homeschool all five of her kids and still remain sane. The friend who lives, eats, and breathes essential oils when you have no idea how to use them. The friend who eats squeaky clean and has chiseled shoulders from Beachboy workouts when you’re eating your kids’ processed mac and cheese. The friend who managed to fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans within two weeks after giving birth.

The friend who can sell Plexus, LuLaRoe, Norwex, and Rodan + Fields like nobody’s business. The friend whose husband can build anything from a scrap of wood. The friend who is traveling the world, while you’re wiping nasty noses and changing dirty diapers. The friend who seems to juggle ten different responsibilities when you can barely muster up one simple task. And more…

Comparisons sneak up in all kinds of ways and they indeed steal joy, but we can choose to be devoted to love and honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10). We can choose to praise each other for the gifts God has given us.

It takes time, humility, understanding, love, and patience to connect, instead of compete with one another in our hearts. It requires pulling up a chair at the table and listening. It also means calling competition and comparison what it is: Sin.

Envy, jealousy, and covetousness is not the way God desires for us to live. There is a better way. A more freeing, satisfying, and joyful way. There’s so much gratification, fulfillment, and sweet friendship when we connect with our friends to learn the full story of who they are and their unique challenges, not just making judgments from the mere snapshots on the screen. Because the Lord knows, we’ve all got mountains to climb!

When we reach out, it gives us a better appreciation for one another and helps us see that we’re simply not alone. Most of all, we discover the blessing of a friend knowing who we really are and loving us still– and vice versa– which is perhaps what our hearts have been longing for in the first place.

In my sinful nature, I still struggle at times with competing, but I’m determined to confess it to God, do my best to catch myself when I do, and instead ask a friend out for coffee.

If you’ve read Quiet Time, this story is what I’m referring to on Page 5. If you haven’t read a copy yet, you can do so here.

 

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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