If You’re Worried About Your Child’s Future

Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s a thought in the back of my mind. But when these words and worries come, they’re fierce and have the ability to hold me captive.

What about the safety of my child, Lord? Will he follow you all his life or turn away? Will he make the right choices and choose good friends? Will he be okay in this ever increasingly evil world?

Today, it doesn’t take much to become worried and concerned for our child’s safety and overall well-being: terrorist attacks, sickness, mass shootings, sexual abuse, bullying, internet dangers, suicide, pornography, ISIS, unhealthy friendships and the list goes on.

I have found my own heart questioning how my child will grow up in such a world – a culture  lacking in peace, love, and joy. A culture that has forgotten God and has instead made self and sin kings on the throne. I sometimes find myself doubting God’s plan and goodness through it all because it can be so overwhelming.

After watching the delightful and comical movie The Star with my husband and kids last week at our local theatre, I was touched and reminded by all the good that was still happening leading up to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Regardless of King Herod’s evil attempt to hunt down and murder baby Jesus soon to be born, God’s sovereign plan prevailed each and every step of the journey.

The star led Joseph and Mary to the exact place where Jesus was meant to breathe his first breath in the lowly stable. Even in the midst of the chaos and evil in their present day, light had still come to pierce the darkness and bring peace. Man’s feeble attempts to destroy that plan were shaken and overcome. And one day, that shepherd King would sacrifice his life on the cross, providing salvation and rescue for each and every one of us.

Still for today, God’s plans will not be hindered.

When it comes to our own children and our natural concerns for their future, we can trust that God knows what he is doing. He brings light into the darkest situations and provides hope, healing, and restoration. That is who he is and that is what he does. Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In the Christian life we’re not promised a life of ease void of suffering contrary to some popular theology. In fact, we’re told that in this life we will face hardship, affliction,, and persecution. But we’re promised that God will be with us and will never forsake us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

He has plans to give us hope and a blessed, abundant future. We must remember this for our children too. Ultimately, they are God’s and he knows their future before we do. He goes before us. And he will be there before our feet arrive.

Our children will face trials and even darkness, but we have to remember that the light is still among us just as it was that night in Bethlehem. When you’re looking out at the world and the darkness is frightening, look up to Jesus. His light has led you and you can have confidence that it will lead your children too.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

 
* This article first appeared on The Courage. 

 

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

 

 

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Why You Should Find Time to do Absolutely Nothing This Christmas

A few days ago, I came home and collapsed on our brown leather couch. I just sat there– didn’t even stare at my phone for the latest news, cute photos of friends’ kids, or even check our bank account. I just rested my mind and body. Prior to that day, I organized a cookie exchange and fellowship for the women in our church, attended a “muffins with mom” at my daughter’s preschool, met several writing deadlines, labeled and addressed Christmas cards, and helped my husband with several work projects. Not to mention being up at night with our kids wetting their beds from the hot chocolate they drank at our town’s parade. Needless to say, I was spent.

That sacred time on the couch being absolutely useless gave me time to think and reflect on life and what was going on around me. I began to actually hear from the Lord and to understand what my soul was craving. It didn’t need the peppermint chocolate Hershey’s kisses in the mason jar next to me or the better-get-it-now Amazon deal, but my heart needed sweet time with Jesus in prayer and His word. My soul was craving what we all have inside us- a hole that can only be filled by God alone. No matter how much we try to satisfy it with what the world or our flesh has to offer, we’ll still be left wanting more. He is the only path to true, lasting, infinite peace and joy.

Honestly, I want to do…

… Continue Reading the rest of this post over on Kirk Cameron’s website TheCourage

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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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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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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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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