The Courage to be You, Bravely, in 2017

It’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 the last several months.

Whether it comes through scrolling down the highlight reels of friends on Facebook and Instagram or comparing myself to what another person has in her 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.

Purpose in Publishing

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.

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.

I 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. It was hard to let the publisher know I wasn’t interested in moving forward, but I felt peace.

God had purpose in that experience as it led me to write my own book and collaborate with like-minded friends and it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, especially hearing from readers and friends who have found hope and encouragement through it.

Boasting in Our Weaknesses

I believe that staying true to who we are takes a lot of courage, indeed. Not only staying true to our calling in Christ and who he has created us to be, but also not hiding who we are in our brokenness and weaknesses.

I love what the Apostle Paul says,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Cor. 12:9

Paul gladly boasted in his weaknesses. He didn’t exactly have a stellar resume before Christ met him on the road to Damascus. He didn’t pride himself in who he was, because he knew what he was before Christ, and it wasn’t pretty. Being true to who we are requires that we take a good look inside our hearts and our own shortcomings. We are not self-sufficient, but Christ-sufficient.

When we acknowledge and admit we are powerless over our struggles and sin, we give God room to work. We allow him to search who we really are. I know when I allow him to do that, I find that I am utterly dependent on him for any good thing. I rarely can do good apart from him. Even on my best day, I still fall short.

A Great Opportunity 

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? What scars and brokenness do you have that can be shared for the benefit of another friend?

In a culture where social media offers “all the feels” as Jen Wilkin recently wrote in her article Beware the Instagram Bible in 2017“It [the Instagram gospel] preaches good news in part, but we need the whole. It may move us in the moment, but it cannot sustain us through the storm.”

As women who follow Jesus, we have a great opportunity in 2017 to shine the light into who we truly are. We have a great opportunity to get to know our friends in real time, beyond the mere scrolling of our thumb on a phone screen. We have an opportunity, like never before, to come out of hiding and show others how great our God is.

 

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.  

 

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

 

5 Things I Learned in January

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I’ve always been someone who needs to reflect and process the world around me. Sometimes I feel like I have lost the moment if I don’t think and write about what just occurred. Perhaps that’s why I have 15 journals since middle school. So when I recently saw how author Emily Freeman regularly practices the art of “looking back” on her blog, I thought it would be a great discipline for me to implement once in a while in my own writing space.

Here are five simple things I learned in January:

1. I would rather be faithful to Jesus than successful in the world’s eyes.

Do you ever feel that deep drive for success – to be known, good at what you do, and appreciated by others? I think that’s a natural feeling most of us have inside us. But Jesus views success in a much different light than the world – not by numbers, praise, accomplishment, getting even, climbing to the top and more. He got down on his knees and washed – probably scrubbed in that day – the dirty, smelly feet of his disciples. He came to serve and not to be served – to give his life as a ransom for many. At the end of my life, I don’t want others to say I was successful, but that I was faithful in what God gave me to do.

2. I’m often quick to tell God what should happen, instead of allowing him to lead.

When my son John was five he came to an understanding that Jesus died for his sins and that he needed a Savior. I had always wondered when he’d be ready to be baptized, but I felt he needed to wait until he was older and truly understood it. I feared that we would make a mistake in the timing as parents. He is now seven and my husband has been working with him on understanding the meaning and why we do it.

Last week, Jeremiah said that John was ready to show our community of faith that he has trusted in his Savior. We’re so excited that John will be baptized at the end of this month among others in our church who want to publicly declare Jesus as their Savior. We’re confident in the timing and God is teaching me to trust his plans and that He knows best, even in the midst of my fears and concerns.

3. I need to get back up.

Just because I wrote down my one-word resolution “Clean” for the year doesn’t mean it will happen perfectly each day. I have already failed at my aim for clean eating when I ate my child’s preservative filled Welch’s pack of gummies yesterday. They were good! I’ve failed to have clean lips at times. I’ve failed to build up my husband and children with my words.

When I sin, the important thing is that I get back up and dust the dirt off my feet. Instead of wallowing in shame or in my sin, I need to do the next thing that’s required of me and seek reconciliation. When I hurt those closest to me, I need to ask forgiveness and own my part in the conflict. Living in this truth every day is life changing knowing that His grace allows me to start fresh again.

4. Life is too serious not to laugh.

I can be a pretty serious and sensitive person. In our ten years of marriage, my husband has helped me find the humor in things that I simply cannot find on my own. In my Tuesday morning Bible study, we usually don’t get through the serious stuff in our book without a good laugh or at least a good laugh at ourselves.

Life is already heavy, isn’t it? It is hard. The burdens we carry are sometimes so unbearable. Proverbs says that a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul. I love what my friend wrote in a text recently, Just give yourself grace. It reminded me that I take myself too seriously sometimes.

 5. Contentment is great gain.

When it’s winter, we long for the flowers to bloom. When it’s summer, we wish for the leaves to fall. When our babies are young, we want them grown up. When they’re older, we wish they were young again. After moving to Colorado, we left behind a stunning master bath Jeremiah had remodeled. It was my place of retreat at the end of the day and the gorgeous tub was my “push present” after delivering my son Will.

I miss that jacuzzi tub with the inline heater so much. But I know I can’t dwell on the past but I can be thankful for all the many blessings God has given us in our new home and town. The Lord is teaching me to be content in all circumstances and to be present in the now.

There are many other things I learned in January, but those stick out the most. I think that when I reflect on my life years from now I’ll be thankful I took the time to practice the art of looking back.

What did you learn in January? Is there anything that comes to mind that you don’t want to forget?

My One Word Resolution for 2016

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Several years ago, I ditched writing down the long list of New Year’s resolutions and instead adopted the idea of sticking to a one word theme for the whole year thanks to the website MyOneWord.org. It’s not that I didn’t fulfill my goals in past years, but when I fell short on them, I felt like a failure. Plus, I needed more simplicity and something different.

I loved the idea of choosing one word to inspire you the whole year and throughout each day. On our way driving back from Christmas vacation in the Midwest, I saw a church sign that read:

Daily devotion is better than a New Year’s Resolution.

That really struck a chord with me. I want to be devoted daily to the disciplines and responsibilities that are required of me right now, rather than being so committed to a pie in the sky resolution that isn’t specific or realistic.

In 2014, I chose to go with the word discipline. In 2015, I picked the word joy. And this year, it took me a few days to decide on the word C L E A N. I don’t know about you, but there are areas in my life that need some cleaning. I’m naturally a bit messy. I have to work hard at organization. My brain just doesn’t function in an orderly manner all the time. I want to be clean in the respect of my home.

Spiritually, I desire to have a clean heart and lips. I want my heart to be pure so I can more clearly hear from the Lord. I want to build others up this year with my words. I also want to have clean eating – less foods that include preservatives and additives and more foods made from scratch. I’m sure as the year progresses, I’ll find more areas that involve the word  C L E A N.

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In case you set some New Year’s Resolutions and are finding it difficult to stay committed to them, may I suggest that you choose one word for your 2016 instead? Some ideas for your word could be: balance, contentment, freedom, strength, trust, courage, prayer, simplicity, service, perseverance, peace, healthy, community, creativity, and more. It might take some time to think about which word suits you well. Once you have the word, write down why you chose it and what you hope to gain from committing to that word. You could go even further and paste it on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror so it’s easily visible. The important thing is that you allow yourself to be regularly reminded of it so you can take daily action.

2016 is a clean slate and a time to start from scratch. May you have a great beginning, daily devoting yourself to the tasks in front of you right now.

Have you already chosen your one word? What word do you think suits you well for 2016?

Blessings,

Samantha

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