Your marriage isn’t ‘sparking joy’? Here are the five next steps you should take

Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant and author who’s inspiring millions through her books to tidy up their homes and find joy in their living environments, is changing lives. Her principles have helped my own cleaning habits. In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she writes, 

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”  (Marie Kondo)

This applies well to the four corners of my home, but can you imagine if we practiced this principle to the marriage relationship? Oh my! When my husband isn’t speaking my language or sparking joy in my heart by leaving his beard trimmings in the sink or not doing what I want in that exact moment, I can’t just throw him out or chuck my marriage away because it’s not bringing me personal fulfillment and happiness.

We made a commitment to one another—a face to face, hand holding, eyes locking, from the depths of our heart promise on the altar before God, family, and friends to sacrificially love one another until death we do part. We swore to love one another no matter what—even if a day would come where we didn’t feel the joy inside. 

Many of us know, years pass on, and you can lose the “feelings” of joy especially with the ever-changing seasons in a relationship. Perhaps you’ve been there or are there right now. The elation and thrill in your marriage has been stolen. Your home might be clean—but your relationship is suffering. This is normal, but what do you do next? Here are five steps:

** CONTINUE READING over on TheCourage.com

 

You’re not defined by a number

I got on the scale this week and didn’t like the number screaming at me in red. Flashbacks to all the peanut butter buckeyes and sugar cookies I’d eaten in the month of December and other delicious treats haunted me. I couldn’t help those yummy plates arriving straight to my door! I’d worked so hard months before then and loved the number I was at. But now? I kind of detest it.

But you know what? The truth is, I’m not defined by that number. Not one bit. Even when I think I am.

I’m not defined by how many followers, likes, loves, friends, Fitbit stats, the numbers in my bank account, the times I’ve messed up, the number of times a project’s been rejected, or the one million numbers someone else has, either.

It’s all so futile. Because you and I- our security and self-worth has nothing to do with a number.

They have everything to do with a cross.

The cross is where we go to find our acceptance, identity, and approval. The cross is where we turn for the forgiveness and healing we desperately need. The cross reminds us of our great, precious worth and the sacrifice it cost Jesus to go there.

The cross turns our gaze upward- not inward.

While it’s so tempting to chase after approval, applaud, and value from others and even within our own expectations of what number we should be, we’ll never be fully satisfied in these numbers- even if we achieve them in all our crazy striving. Sure, we can be excited, want to tell others, and even help others get to where we’re at. But those numbers can’t fulfill us in and of themselves.

Why? Because our value cannot be attached to physical, temporal things in this world. It must be found in a person- the person of Christ. The one who is eternal. The one who gives infinite joy and satisfaction. The one who our souls are longing for, above all else. The one who loves you more than anyone you know. The one who we’ll meet one day face-to-face in eternity.

You can trust in him to find the value you’ve been longing for in this life and more.

This is who he says you are:

  • a child of God – John 1:12
  • a friend of Jesus – John 15:15
  • crucified with Christ & no longer a slave to sin – Romans 6:6
  • a temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor 6:19
  • redeemed and forgiven – Ephesians 1:7
  • a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • the one who supplies all my needs – Phillipians 4:19
  • set free – Galatians 5:1
  • chosen – Ephesians 1:4
  • brought near to God by the blood of Christ – Ephesians 2:13
  • God’s workmanship – Ephesians 2:10
  • complete in Christ – Collosians 2:10
  • raised up with Christ – Collosians 3:1
  • loved – 1 Thesallonians 1:4

You’re not defined by a number. Now, go, and live like you are loved. Because that’s exactly what you are.

Stop judging the mom with screaming kids in the grocery store

Before I became a mom, I never understood the screaming and whining kids I’d see pulling at their mom’s jeans for the Lucky Charms on the shelf just inches from their little fingers. I’d say things to myself like, 

“She needs to discipline her kids. How rude are they?!” 

I’d even stare if there was a child making a ruckus while I was trying to find the quinoa and salmon for my husband and I for dinner that night.

I had no clue. Kinda like when I said I’d nevergive my kids McDonald’s french fries. Who was I kidding? Fast forward to when God gave me four kids, five and under… Now I make those greasy fries in the air fryer.

It was payback time and as a new mom, the grocery store began to terrify me. So much that sometimes I’d even have a panic attack. Once I ran from the grocery section in Sam’s Club to the tire section and broke down in tears (true story).

I’d do everything I could to avoid grocery shopping with my kids. And on the days where the fridge was bare and I had no choice, I sucked it up and put on my big girl pants.

This one particular day I had all four kids in tow. Two seated in the double seated cart, one walking beside me, and the infant in his car seat in the basket (which I always wondered if that was officially OK or not). I felt like a wreck and as if all eyes were looking at me wondering what in the world I was doing. I didn’t have much makeup on and my attire was nothing short of mediocre living in a big city that boasted fashion and style.

To focus on my list was just impossible between my toddlers not being able to sit still in their seats and pinching each other. The infant screaming bloody murder and needing his milk, and my walking son being distracted by everything in his sight. My head started to pound and my muscles were tired from pushing all those pounds. I kept thinking what product could I take to have more energy?

When I walked down the cheese and meat aisle, condemning stares of other shoppers cut through me like a knife. My kids were loud and interrupting the peace and quiet of their peaceful shopping experience. And I hated that because I was a people pleaser. Their shrills were drowning out the elevator music coming from the speaker’s above.

But I was trying as best I could. I felt alone as a mom with a husband working lots of hours and adjusting to a new home and community. I was sleep deprived, hormonal, and depressed. And to add grocery shopping to my to-do list, just overwhelmed me to no end.

When we finally arrived at the checkout line, I felt like my chest was going to burst and I prayed the kids would be patient. I thanked the Lord for stickers and lollipops from the cashier and her friendly smile. Oh her warm smile gave me hope again.

She must have kids of her own, I thought.

I felt burdens lifted when I was helped to my suburban and groceries were put in my trunk.

I know I’m not the only one who’s felt judged and picked apart at the grocery store with young kids. It happens often. But I believe there should be no judgment of other moms who are just making it, getting food in for their family, and simultaneously handling meltdowns and discipline needs. It was a brave act for them just to get their young children there.

On top of that, there are emotional needs and challenges she may be facing in her marriage and family that weigh on her while she’s walking the aisles. Chances are high, she’s fighting battles of her own and doesn’t need to fight a battle of disapproving glares while she’s trying to provide the most basic needs for her family. 

Chances are good she’s trying to get through the aisles as fast as she can so she can reward her child with a ring pop at checkout. Who was the genius that decided to put every sugary candy there is in the checkout line anyway? 

The truth is we’ve all been there as moms- on the outside looking in and on the inside looking out. It’s far easy to judge what we see with our naked eyes. It takes hard work to pause, examine the situation, see what’s going on beneath the surface, and be compassionate and understanding towards another mom by:

  • Giving her the biggest smile you’ve got
  • Sharing an encouraging word or compliment
  • Going out of your way to offer a helping hand
  • Sharing your own stories of struggle and how you overcame

I laugh today when I think about the mom I was before I had kids. I just didn’t know. But now I do, and it’s up to me to extend that same compassion and grace that I long for other moms to have towards me.

Like what you read? More from Samantha in her book: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches

Serving My Husband is a High and Noble Calling – Her View From Home

As a strong-willed and determined woman from an early age, it’s taken a lot of wisdom, growth, maturity, and lessons learned over our last 13 years together to realize the depth of my selfishness. I’d be lying if I told you I’m done learning. I often have to step outside of my comfortable bubble to study his world.

In the early years of my marriage, I often thought about how my husband should serve me. When my feet hit the floor in the morning, I thought very little of him and his needs.

I’ve learned that it’s the little things in our marriage where I can serve him better and take more notice—like ensuring his favorite stainless steel coffee mug is washed, put away in our coffee cupboard, and ready to grab the next morning.

I know it sounds like such a simple act of service but…

** Continue Reading over on Her View From Home

Dear Husband: This is how our marriage wins

The other night, it didn’t feel like we were a team. I thought you were against me, didn’t care how I felt, and were being inconsiderate. But then I took a step back, reevaluated our conflict, and realized you were in fact for me. Pride told me otherwise.

The truth is we’re not against each other. No matter what lies we feed on or how Satan tempts us, God has put us together to lift one another up when we’re weak, not to tear the other person down. This God-ordained union of marriage is for our good, not to make us miserable.

Our relationship won’t always be smooth-sailing, but it will be sanctifying. Battling selfishness is never roses and sunshine. Our marriage at times will expose anger, hurts, habits, our past, brokenness, idols, stubbornness, and much more. It will reveal areas in our hearts we never knew existed. It will push us beyond our limits – teaching us sacrifice, compromise, patience, trust, a dying to ourselves, perseverance, and more.

All the more- this is why we have to be a team. Because that’s exactly what we are. Marriage is too hard not to work together. It shouldn’t be a constant tug-a-war match between our strong wills, but we know that sometimes it just is. We’re sinners in need of a Savior…

** CONTINUE READING on TheCourage.com

 

 

When I wondered if I was seen as a mom

A few days ago, my kids and I made our way to the local golf course to catch the hills for sledding. After several runs up and down the hills, I told the kids I was going to venture down the hill and take a walk in nature for a few minutes alone. They followed me down (mom radar!) and to our surprise we stumbled across a sparrow struggling in the deep white snow- all by herself.

My eight-year-old daughter Rebekah was the first to arrive on the scene and noticed the bird couldn’t fly even when it flapped its wings. She reached out her gloves and scooped up the bird even though I cautioned her not to mess with it.

“I’m fine mom. I have gloves on,” she said. I didn’t argue with her.

The kids and I continued to watch the bird and Rebekah kept following it and picking it up. It was sad to see the struggle especially for my ten-year-old son.

In motherhood, there are times I feel like that little sparrow just making her way through the trenches- yet deeply struggling to survive. The challenges involved in raising children can be overwhelming. It’s hard work that often goes unnoticed and is rarely praised. You don’t exactly get promotions and bonuses or affirmation from your boss.

Half the time, I’m just hoping I’m doing it right and praying, “God help me not to ruin my kids.” And then I pray that the love I bestow on them far outweighs my sin and failures.

Inward struggles exist as well – battling a stubborn sinful nature, impatience, anger, pride, worry, comparisons, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

That afternoon on the golf course reminded me of how Jesus sees and watches over the sparrow. How much more does he watch over me?

“Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns–and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

He knows me as his daughter- his child- who understands sorrow and struggle that took him to a rugged cross. He says I’m valuable. Will I live like I believe it?

He cares and is fully aware of the hardships I face- even the ones that might seem so minimal like regulating the constant fighting and battle of wills between my kids that can drive me to the edge. And the nights of lost sleep when I act like monster mom the next morning.

Truth is- I’m seen as a mom. You’re seen as a mom. We’re not alone – even in the times it feels like we’re barely making it through the snowstorm. Truth is- we all have struggles from one degree to another. And we need each other.

We need to tell each other, “You’re seen, and I think you’re doing a great job.”

We need each other to remind us that God sees- even when no one else seems to see or even care, quite frankly.

And those worries and anxieties we lug on a daily basis as moms?

He knows those too and He’s here to help us deal with them. We just need to throw them over to him like we’d willingly drop any heavy luggage weighing us down and keeping us from effectively moving forward.

 “Cast all your anxiety on Him for he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

That day, the sparrow continued trying to fly but its wings were damaged, but that didn’t make her any less valuable.

Rebekah eventually carried her over to the brush – out of the deep snow that looked like it would swallow it whole. Rebekah understood we had to leave the bird and go home to warm up. She gently set the bird down and we walked up the hill to our car.

I knew that even though we were gone, that sparrow wasn’t truly alone. And I won’t forget the lessons it taught me that winter day.

** This article was first posted on TODAY Parents

 

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. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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Dads and Moms: Five Reasons Why You Should Be Spoiling Your Kids Spiritually

What parent doesn’t love to spoil their kids – when they’re behaving of course?! I absolutely love rewarding my children when their behavior is exceptional – a date with mom, an ice-cream cone, a toy from the dollar aisle, or a fun getaway in nature. I also love spoiling my kids through the privilege of playing a sport they love or honing their musical skills.

Lately I’ve been challenged by the idea as to whether I’m spoiling them enough spiritually. Meaning, am I prioritizing their spiritual life above all the good things God gives us like sports, friends, social life, games, technology, and more? Am I lavish towards them in what will impact them for eternity – teaching them God’s word, spending time in devotions and prayer, memorizing Scripture, worshipping through our praise and thankfulness, making sure our home is one that reveals God’s love and acceptance?

Growing up, my dad and mom were intentional in how they raised my sister and me. Our spiritual lives were priority to them even as we were busy athletes. In fact, they chose our church primarily because it had a strong youth group. They also knew how important it was to set a foundation early so they encouraged us to take mission’s trips, attend Bible studies and Wednesday night Bible study, participate in church-wide evangelism, serve others through hospitality, engage in discipleship groups, read our Bibles and devotionals, and more.

I remember thinking one day, I can’t believe my parents are letting me do this, when traveling to Puerto Rico with my youth group to share the gospel and restore homes for others. I can’t recall a time when they said “no” to opportunities that would grow and stretch my faith and belief in Christ.

Rebekah began learning piano this month

Even at a time when my heart drifted towards rebellion from the Lord, his Word was always sown in my heart because of their faithfulness to focus on me spiritually. I still knew God’s love for me even when I wasn’t living like it.

I’m convinced today that as parents you can never out due your children in giving them opportunities to experience God’s love and faithfulness in their life. Sports, trophies, and medals won’t last forever but the hard work you put into sowing spiritual seeds will reap future dividends.

Spoiling your kids spiritually will teach them that…

  • They are to grow up not only physically, but also in their faith as they’ve tasted God’s goodness. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  – 1 Peter 2:2-3
  • As parents God has given you the responsibility to shepherd their hearts toward righteousness- so they will not forsake it. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” – Prov. 1:8-9
  • True blessing and satisfaction is found first in a relationship with Jesus – not in worldly ways of fame, power, control, lust, pleasure, self-glorification, and more. “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Prov. 3:6
  • The greatest command is to love God. And the second greatest is to love others. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – Matt. 22: 37-39
  • You value and care most for their soul more than any other material blessings or experiences in their life. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Prov. 4:23

We spoil our children with good things because we love to see the joy and happiness in their hearts- may it be so spiritually too. I pray that you’ll join me in taking a deeper look at the priorities in your family life. Life gets crazy busy and we all have to adjust along the way- even daily!

When that day comes for your children to leave home, may they know without a doubt that their faith in Jesus was most important because of what you taught and treasured above everything else.

** This article first appeared on TheCourage.com

Blessings to you and yours,

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. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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How Can I Live a Life of Thanksgiving When I’m Hurting Deeply?

Lately I’ve been watching fall football with my husband and no doubt around this time every year, commercials with luxurious cars driving through snowy mountains stir something inside me.

A little girl with bright big eyes peers out her window and sees all the twinkling lights. Santa is coming. Snow is falling. And she and her perfect family are savoring the season driving in the car of their dreams. I begin to feel like that little girl too.

A new Lexus sounds pretty good at the end of the year wrapped in a giant red bow. I may even feel like I “need” a new 2019 Range Rover fully loaded with leather seats and a sunroof that extends to the backseats.

Marketing geniuses know how to tap into our longings for “more.” They’ve done their homework. They give us all the “feels” and stir our senses for what’s beautiful, nostalgic, functional, and trendy making us think we’ll be happier.

We know the truth though. No material possession can fully satisfy our longings. In 2030, the 2019 cars will be old. There will always be newer, better, and more technologically advanced toys by then.

A Life of Thanks

As I think about gratitude this Thanksgiving (instead of Christmas and pretty cars!), I’m trying not to look so hard at what I don’t have and instead think deeply on all I’ve been given. Because this is the heart of God. This is what he desires for my life- to be content with what he’s already given me.

To live in such a way that my life spills over with Thanksgiving every day there’s breath in my lungs – not just on Thursday when we gather around the table with our loved ones.

But the truth is, it’s hard to give thanks when life hurts. In suffering, I can give thanks to you God? In loneliness I can thank you? In an unexpected diagnosis I can praise you? In conflict? Hurt and pain? When someone wounds me with their words? Even in confusion and times of chaos? Even when I believe something has been taken from me?

Take a look at what Jesus did in the Upper Room with his disciples:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 22:26-28).

Accepting God’s Will

Jesus Messiah. God of the Universe- not far from being betrayed and murdered on the cross, gave thanks to his father in heaven. He knew the cup of God’s wrath would be poured out upon him and it would be a bitter one.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would even fall with his face to the ground praying and asking God to take the cup from him (Luke 22:39). He knew the agony, excruciating pain, and torture he’d experience dying a criminal’s shameful and violent death, yet he humbly accepted God’s will as his son.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

He knew the weight of the world’s sins would crush him, yet he chose to praise God. He knew the story wasn’t over- a greater purpose and plan was unfolding.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

And he didn’t just give thanks with his lips, he displayed it by giving up his life.

His body was broken for you… in thanksgiving.

His blood was shed for you… in thanksgiving.

And he did so willingly to save you. He took on the punishment that we deserved.

There’s no greater love than this.

He is our ultimate example of one who chose to thank God and accept his will in the midst of deep anguish and suffering. He knew the joy that was set before him- our precious gift of salvation that we could never earn on our own.

He knew it would get better and three days later he would rise, and the gravestone would be rolled away- conquering death once and for all. And because of his accomplished work on the cross, we can choose gratitude too.

Your Story Isn’t Over

No matter what you’re facing this Thanksgiving, you have great hope that these temporary trials and afflictions won’t last forever. And until you meet Jesus face to face and enter the gates of heaven, you can continually ask for his strength in your deepest pains and hurts.

Until that glorious day where he’ll make all things new with no more tears, death, suffering, or sin – you can thank him here and now and trust his love for you personally- proven to you on that costly, rugged, redeeming cross.

His death has brought you life. And what you see here and now isn’t the end of your story, either.

Blessings,

Samantha

Recommended resources: One Thousand Gifts book and devotional by author and farmer’s wife Ann Voskamp – www.onethousandgifts.com

 ** This article first appeared on TheCourage.com 

 

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. She writes regularly for Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage.com, Her View From Home, and For the Family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Son: May You Always Treasure the Women in Your Life

Dear Son:

Daddy texted me the photo of you at the hospital gift shop helping purchase a bouquet of pink and white roses for Mrs. Barbara in our church. It made me so proud to see you serving with your little hands and thinking of others.

Mrs. Barbara is a widow in our church who lost her husband years ago and was recovering from surgery. It brightened her day not only to receive a beautiful arrangement but also seeing you there with daddy.

My prayer for you is that you’ll always value and treasure the women in your life – no matter how young or old you are. That you’ll treat them with honor, respect, value, and great care as you would one of your most treasured possessions.

May you treat them with….

CONTINUE READING on Her View From Home

Dear Sons: This is what real men do


Not long ago, I was at the gas station and several men brushed by me in a hurry to get inside and the door slammed in my face. I don’t know if they were even aware I was there. But, it still made me feel unnoticed and uncared for as a woman.

The other day when I watched you holding the door for an older couple as they were making their way inside McDonald’s, it thrilled my heart to see you considering others on your own accord.

Even though chivalry might be dead in our culture today, thinking of others never gets old.

Keep seeing the needs around you, and meeting them.

Real men care for others.

When you hear crass words, cussing, and taunting from peers towards those who are vulnerable, stand up for them. Don’t participate in cruelty – choose life-giving words that instill courage into the fragile hearts of others.

Real men choose words of life, not death.

When you see others disrespecting their authority and completely unaware of their surroundings and how they impact others, choose to be different. Let their actions be a lesson to you. Respect your authority and be engaged where you’re at and in tune to what’s going on around you. Be aware of how your actions impact others – good and bad.

Real men understand that actions have consequences.

When the pressures of academics, friendships, family life, athletics, and more are weighing down on you, trust Jesus. Don’t quit and give up when it gets hard. A wise man once said, “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”

Real men fall, but they get back up

Let your trials, hardships, and sufferings be your teacher. You will rise when you overcome your deepest failures and not let them overtake you – making you a slave to shame and fear. God desires to use the pressure points and pains in your life as a platform for him.

Every day you get to decide who you will be. It’s never too late to lead. People need someone brave to follow. They need to know goodness, love, hope, wisdom, guidance, strength, protection, integrity, purity, and more.

But I’ll tell you this. You may be the only one choosing right. And that’s okay. Do it anyway.

Real men were once young boys like you. And somewhere along the way, they chose to grow up. That same choice, my son, will be up to you. Until then, daddy and I promise to help you as best we know how – in the Lord’s strength.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. – 1 Cor. 13:11

I love you with all my heart,

Mama

 

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. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

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