If you’re experiencing a season of loneliness

Not long ago, my husband and I went through a wave of change in our network of friends. Five families we were close to have moved away all in the same time frame. It wasn’t long before we noticed that God was taking us through a season of having to depend solely on him.

There was another situation when I was uninvited from a get together. A friend felt I’d feel more comfortable not attending this particular event with her friends. I trusted she was right but was tempted to doubt God. He reminded me of his faithfulness and that I wasn’t alone even when it felt a little unwelcoming and awkward.

The truth is that God created us to know others and be known by others no matter our age. We also have a deep longing to be loved by others. Perhaps you know the feeling of:

  • sitting in a sterile room hearing only the hum of the air conditioner
  • attending an event with hundreds of people not knowing anyone
  • scrolling through your friends’ highlight reels of their Disneyworld vacation while you’re sitting on the couch.
  • reaching out to someone but there’s no reciprocation.
  • not being satisfied with the often shallowness of social media and needing face-to-face fellowship with a friend.
  • Requesting, “Table for one please,” at a restaurant you love.

In God’s word and prayer, I’ve found his comfort and I’m reminded that he is with me.

He’s my source of satisfaction and joy. He’s been teaching me truths about contentment that I would’ve never known otherwise. Not just with my circumstances, but contentment in my relationship with Him.

I’ve been asking myself these hard questions: Is he truly enough? At the end of my life, when I will meet Jesus face-to-face, is he all I need, and do I live like it here on earth?

I’m also learning what it means to be intentional and invite others instead of waiting to be invited. I’m able to teach these life lessons to my kids too. Jesus pursues us every day, am I pursuing others with his love and life-changing gospel?

I’m still waiting on prayers to be answered but I’ve found myself anticipating in this time to keep learning more about God, his character, and love for me. In the waiting, Jesus is showing me new depths of how he felt when he walked this earth among people who didn’t always understand, accept, or include Him. He experienced intense periods of loneliness too.

In her new song “You Say,” Lauren Daigle writes,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

I believe what God says of me. If I will only live it.

That I am His. And His love is enough in times of loneliness and in times of deep companionship and community.

Do you believe it too?

— I enjoyed talking recently with the editors at Kirk Cameron’s TheCourage and discussing this article. You can listen to a clip of the audio interview here. 

 

** 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. 
You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

When God’s plans are far better than your own (even in the frustrations of waiting)

Almost five years ago, our son Will was born on a beautiful Monday morning in Dallas. Before Jeremiah and I learned we were pregnant with Will, I was on birth control and exclusively breastfeeding. I found out when my third child, Hannah, was only four months old.

And I cried, oh did I cry. I questioned. I even threw my pregnancy test. How in the world could I be ready for a 4th child – right after just having Hannah? I barely had time to recover from her birth. I was numb and in disbelief, more so thinking about how I would be able to carry the load I already couldn’t bare. Jeremiah and I desired to have four children, but had wanted to wait a few years.

I remember walking into Starbucks with my double stroller and my oldest son walking next to me, and getting all kinds of stares. “Wow, your hands are full!” are what the baristas would typically say. I’d smile and join in conversation yet deep down I was still thinking:

Oh man. My hands are full now and they don’t know that I’ve got another one growing inside me!

Trusting in God’s timing was a true test of my faith. Would I lean on the Lord to carry me through physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Would I trust that his ways are different and wiser than my own?

Perhaps you’re facing your own doubting in God’s timing for your life: an unfulfilled dream, unplanned move, career change, an unexpected diagnosis, a season of unwanted depression, a broken marriage, or more. Maybe you’ve had your life planned out exactly how you desired and something is really upsetting the apple cart.


You’ve found yourself saying, “Why now, God? What on earth are you doing with my life?”

You may be tempted to believe that God is not good, loving, or that His hands are in sovereign control of your life. As the serpent said to Eve in the garden, you find yourself doubting:

“Did God really say?…” (Genesis 3:1)

You know that God’s ways are not your own, but you’re tempted to let go of your faith because life’s not going how you planned.

Rest assured, there really is a better way than to doubt and question – even when God welcomes our weaknesses and understands our humanity.

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Here’s the truth. The better way is to wait.

Even in the upsets of life’s timing and how unpredictable it is, God renews the strength of those who wait on him. Like an eagle who soars effortlessly as high as the heavens, you can soar above the trials and sufferings as you hope in the Lord for his answers and provision.

You’ll run and not be exhausted. You’ll walk and not pass out from the burdens weighing you down. You’ll be raised out of the valley and onto the mountaintop. God promises to uphold you when you’re waiting on Him.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace his hand, we must trust his heart.”

Will you trust God simply for who He is? Sovereign. Caring. Gracious. Merciful. All-loving. All-powerful. Perfect. Faithful. Just. Holy. Glorious. And so much more.

It’s hard to believe Will turns five on Sunday, August 5th. He isn’t so baby anymore. When I was pregnant with him, I still remember the feelings well. God was patient with me in my questions. He knew what I needed when Will was conceived – even when I couldn’t wrap my mind around the miracle.

I picked up my pregnancy test from the wooden floor and told Jeremiah, “Alright, this is it. This is God’s plan.” And we did the next thing in front of us – which translated to my husband remodeling our master bathroom!

Today, I can’t imagine our family without Will’s outgoing personality, loving spirit, and high-energy hugs on your legs that come at you like a bulldozer. I still give him as many kisses on his cheeks as I did when he was a newborn!

And you better believe that next year when he goes to Kindergarten I’ll be crying again.

Samantha

 


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. 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

Why Godliness is Worth Pursuing More than Body Image

Not long ago, my husband and I began a strict eating plan that has radically changed much of our lifestyle, eating habits, and various sugar addictions. With summer here we’ve also been exercising outdoors more often. Even though it’s painful at times, we’ve felt amazing on the plan and are learning a lot together.

In our home I made a comment the other day about still needing to get my baby weight off (from four years ago) and I could see my inquisitive nine-year-old John thinking in his head about my words. He looked in my eyes and said,

“Mom, but then if you do that, you won’t have anything left to remember us as babies.”

I laughed and told him how I appreciated his viewpoint and thoughtfulness.

A challenge for me right now in the midst of tackling my health and weight loss goals is focusing too much on the outward and physical part of my body. The Lord is constantly reminding me that one day this body will go to the grave. It will not last forever. And while I’m to be a good steward of it and offer it to God each and every day, my ultimate hope is not in my body image or the image I desire for it to be. Nor is my hope found in comparing myself to another person’s outward appearance.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Make no mistake. God desires for us to take good care of our bodies – the Holy Spirit resides in us. But Scripture says that bodily training has only some value in comparison to what growing and training in godliness offers. It reaps dividends not only in our life now, but in heaven when we’ll be given brand new bodies.

So what is the one place you can put your hope in? You better believe that it’s godliness in every way.

Growing in godliness through confessing sin, pursuing reconciliation with others, living out the gospel, loving one another, engaging in Bible studies, growing our prayer lives, knowing others beyond mere talk about the weather, practicing what we’re learning in God’s word, bearing one another’s burdens, and allowing Jesus to form and shape us into his image… These are all just a few ways we can begin stretching our spiritual muscles and focusing not on earthly things but on what will last forever.

If we spent more time focusing on the spiritual matters of our heart, can you imagine how strong spiritually we’d be? If we spent more time looking at the mirror to our soul – God’s precious Word – than we do looking at our body image each day, I’m convinced we’d see huge steps of growth in our walk with Christ. The peace, satisfaction, wholeness, love, and joy we’ve been longing for would be a reality. Our hearts and minds would be renewed.

Getting to what’s at the heart of your spiritual life is what the Lord ultimately desires for your life… As Jesus said to his disciples, so he says to you and me: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:22-23).  

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-31).

Your heavenly father knows your needs (yes, even bodily), and will provide abundantly for you as you seek his Kingdom first in your life.

Blessings,

Samantha

** This article first appeared on TheCourage.com


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. 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

The Surprising Places Where Your Marriage Matures

We were young and barely knew each other but we took a road trip to Atlanta eight hours away for a leadership conference. Some people would call it crazy and I guess we were. In the big city, we visited one of my best friends from high school and went to Eatzi’s market and bakery to grab dinner – it was filled with gourmet cheeses, chocolates, fresh warm bread, samples, and more.

I walked passed the floral section and saw a bouquet of sunflowers with Jeremiah. “Oh I love these!” I said. “My favorite flower.”

After walking around the market, Jeremiah snuck back to the floral shop and scooped the sunflowers up in his arms and paid for them at the register. He handed them to me and my eyes lit up.

The Work of Marriage

That was 14 years ago. Fast forward to this past week. Recently, stopping at a sunflower field after picking my son up from camp, I was reminded of what God birthed in us in our early twenties. The memories of our young love flooded my soul with gratefulness and showed me the miracle of today.

Little did we know as two friends – soon to be lovers – that the winds, rain, and hail would one day attempt to destroy the garden of our marriage. Marriage faces the constant threats of unmet expectations, miscommunication, career changes, parenting hardships, financial pressure, personality differences, selfishness, and more. Little did we know the kind of labor required to cultivate the right conditions for a strong and healthy marriage.

In these moments, I’ve asked, “Lord, how can you make this work when all seems dark?”

How Light Shines In

Over the years I’ve learned that light shines in when I humble myself and let the Spirit work. When I bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things, and endure in all things (1 Cor 13:7).

Light shines in when:

  • I face the hard questions: Will I follow Jesus’ ways or my own selfish desires? Am I willing to take a hard look at where I might be missing the mark and causing pain in my marriage?
  • I let my husband lead, and not try to take control over him.
  • I’m quick to forgive and ask forgiveness for my wrongs.
  • I’m a diligent listener, and slow to speak.
  • I’m his biggest cheerleader, not his critic.
  • I confess, “God, I need your help right now!”
  • I’m willing to fight for our marriage and realize we’re on a battlefield everyday against Satan’s schemes.
  • I allow the gospel to penetrate my heart – that Jesus pursued and loved us in our ugly condition. He rescued us from our bondage to sin and is fully capable of restoring and transforming brokenness.

Seeds Grow in Darkness

If your marriage is suffering under the weight of life’s stresses, that is not the time to throw it out. Seeds germinate in the darkness of soil. They rest under the weight of the dirt pressed in, but despite the stress and pressures placed on them, they quickly take root and sprout. Darkness is where growth happens.

Give God room to work. Through the pain, wait on Him just a little longer and watch for his miracles. You just have to give it time and grow where you’ve been planted.

Sunflowers Mature In the Light

One of the things I love and recently learned about the sunflower is how it follows the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west. It does this for the entire cycle of its life as it matures and begins to produce seed that will create the next generation of life.

After time when our marriage has taken root and found strength from the harsh conditions of challenges and hardships, we need to continue to fix our eyes on Jesus – the Son – who brings life and hope to our relationship again. Marriages mature through strong devotion to Jesus.

Because You’ve Always Dreamed of A Beautiful Marriage

No matter what challenges you’re facing in your marriage, don’t forget how big God is and how abundant his grace is in your life. Remember the memories and joys in your relationship when it first began and how far you’ve come. Don’t uproot the seed that will soon produce fruit.

After difficult seasons, I have thanked the Lord for Jeremiah’s friendship and companionship. There’ve been deep valleys but also mountaintops filled with breathtaking sunsets. God has been faithful, and that bouquet of sunflowers was just the beginning of the abundant gifts God has bestowed on me through my husband’s love and service – even when I didn’t deserve it.

If you hang on, it might not be long before God uses your marriage as an inspiration for the next generation. On the outside, they will say, “Now that is a beautiful marriage.” On the inside, you will know that the surprising places where your marriage grew and matured were through the dark soils of life and strong devotion to the Son.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Samantha


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. 
You can follow along with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

The Secret to Raising Girls Who Live Out Kindness and Courage

This summer, my girls have enjoyed watching Cinderella (the 2015 film with Lily James). I’ve found myself quoting the movie to my girls a lot when they haven’t been getting along.

At the beginning of the film when Ella’s mother is on her deathbed, she says:

Ella, my darling. I want to tell you a secret, a great secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. You must always remember this: Have courage and be kind.”

Those last five words are what I’ve been saying a lot around my home.

Sinners Sin

Little did Ella know that her golden childhood would fade away as she grew older. She was banished to an attic and mistreated by her evil stepmother and stepsisters. But in spite of it all, she stood strong in the midst of adversity and clung to the words of her mother. We know how the rest of the story goes when she meets the handsome prince.

In real life, the truth is that we can all be like the angry stepmother when life tastes bitter. We were born sinners, therefore, we sin. We know very well that as moms, we ourselves aren’t always understanding and kind but we desire for our girls to be!

I was talking with my friend the other day who’s dealing with hitting, pinching, name-calling, and sassy attitudes. The attitudes can impact the entire household and make you fear how they’ll treat others who aren’t their siblings. I felt better that we weren’t the only ones dealing with non-princess-like behavior.

Seeking Jesus Alone

So often we try to find the next good parenting book, podcast, and inspirational quote. We seek counsel from all over, and more in how to raise godly girls. Many times, those are good things- don’t get me wrong as I’ve taken advantage of all those.

But how often do I first seek what Jesus has to say in his precious word about the attitudes and actions in our home? How often am I on my knees for my child’s wayward heart? And better yet, for my own heart that can be filled with pride?

In God’s Word, Jesus speaks to us. His word is alive and active—convicting us and revealing the depths of who we really are. It shows us how to live. In my own power, I don’t have the ability to change my child’s heart, but Jesus does. When I desire to see love in their hearts that I desperately desire, I must take them to the very source of kindness, love, peace, joy, gentleness, and self-control—Jesus alone. I must do the hard work of asking God to search my heart to see if there are any offensive ways in me. (Psalm 139:23-24).

A Work of God to Produce Kindness & Love

This cannot be done in my own strength or my girls’ unique abilities. It’s a work of God to transform their little hearts, making them moldable to his ways. But yes, let’s keep reinforcing the good truths even found in Cinderella.

Let’s keep encouraging our girls to do the right thing by including others, building each other up, speaking words that are sweet to the soul, not holding grudges, forgiving one another, making new friends feel welcome, choosing the narrow road, standing up for truth, being a friend to the lonely, and more. Let them see that we do these things in our lives, too.

Let’s not grow weary in teaching and modeling truth to them when it gets discouraging. Let’s be quick to ask forgiveness when we fail every day and lean on new mercies the next day.

Let’s remember that we’re sinners but we serve a great Savior who has washed our sins away, loved us in our mess, and saved us out of bondage. He is the King who has come to rescue us from our depravity.

Let’s keep reminding our girls that the greatest secret that will carry them through all of life’s trials is having an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ – the One who has the power to change the hardest heart.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

** This article was first published on TheCourage.com 


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. 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

4 Ways to Prioritize Your Spouse Above Your Schedule … and Even Your Kids

A few years ago, a woman in my discipleship group at church pulled me aside after our time together and shared some wisdom I’ll never forget.

She had two teenagers and was on the brink of a divorce. Her family was falling apart and she blamed the dissolved relationship on her own choices. In our group time I told how my husband and I were getting away for the weekend to focus on our marriage, but I was nervous about leaving the kids behind. She encouraged me not to worry about it.

“Samantha, get away with him. Don’t put the kids’ schedules first,” she said. “I did that all our marriage with sports and all they had going on. I kept myself busy at the cost of my marriage. I wish we’d taken time for each other, but we didn’t. I eventually had an affair. I regret all of it.”

My eyes grew wide thinking about my kids still in diapers. Tears welled up in her eyes as she brushed her strawberry blonde hair away from her face.

I could sense the ache and pain in her heart. I prayed for her, that God would restore their family.

Years have passed since that evening…

CONTINUE READING the rest of the article on FamilyLife.com.

 

 

How Your Husband’s Differences Can Bring Beauty in Your Life & Relationship

I love to play it safe and err on the side of caution. Jeremiah thrives on adventure, spontaneity, and risk. So on our way home the other night from eating out together, he wanted to take the back roads home.

“Remember, we have about 20 minutes until I told our babysitter we’d be home,” I responded.

“We’ll be fine,” he said.

We veered off the highway and onto one of the many dirt roads we aren’t familiar with in rural Colorado. The sun began to set and its brilliance illuminated the grassy farmlands filled with grazing cows, rustic barns, and golden wheat.

I felt the temptation to look at my Fitbit for the time but then a gentle voice in my spirit nudged me to be still and just take it all in. Jeremiah continued following the dirt path and as the sun set, we parked the suburban, rolled down the windows, smelled the country air, and talked. It was a perfect escape from daily life and its demands.

As we recently hit 12.5 years of marriage (women always know these half way marks it seems!), I’ll admit there have been moments I haven’t always appreciated how different we are. In fact, I’ve been resentful and bitter at times. Selfishness has won my heart and I haven’t valued how God wired Jeremiah. I have often felt like my way was the better and only way.

But as I look back on our years together, I’m able to better see just how “normal” my life would be without him gently challenging me to be unconventional. Even when I resisted it and maybe through some fits, he’s known what I’ve needed and I’m better today for it. And I know in the future, I’ll continue to grow in ways I wouldn’t naturally choose.

As wives, no matter how many years we’ve been married we can still learn to embrace and respect the unique gifting and abilities in our husbands. And I believe it will bring a closeness and unity in our relationship that we’ve never experienced before. Instead of saying or thinking:

“You’re crazy!”

“What in the world are you doing?”

“We are so different! How will this ever work?”

“How did we end up together, again?”

“You want to do what?!!”

What if we just buckled up and enjoyed the ride right beside our husband in humility and acceptance of who he is and the ideas that are birthed in his own mind and heart? What if we just trusted him to take us on an adventure that is actually good for our soul- even if it stretches us and makes us uncomfortable?

You see, I most likely wouldn’t have taken the back roads that night. I’m a planner and punctual – I often resist change. But if we didn’t take that beautiful route, I would’ve missed out on sweet conversation and time spent bonding together.

I would’ve missed soaking up the wide open spaces and God’s breathtaking creation. I didn’t know it when we turned off the beaten path, but Jeremiah had created a little space for my soul to breathe and be close to him. He opened my eyes to slow down and not worry so much about the predictable schedule.

And it was exactly what I needed. The adventure was what it was because we were together.

After the sun went down, we got back on the familiar highway to home. We pulled in the driveway about ten minutes late, and everything was just fine.

“We need to do that again,” I said.


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. 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

Why a Father’s Love is So Important

Recently my seven-year-old daughter put on her sun dress, tied a pony tail in her golden-brown hair, slapped on some tutti-frutti scented lip gloss, and headed straight for my husband.

“Daddy, look at me!” she said.

“Oh Rebekah, you look beautiful.”

She smiled with her head down, acting a bit shy but enjoying his presence.

Daughter or son, within every child lies a desire to please their father and win their undying love and attention. I was no different than my daughter. While my dad traveled a lot with work, I always anxiously awaited his arrival home. I loved cuddling up on his lap and rubbing my cheek against his five-o’clock shadow. I craved his affection and attention.

Daddy- the Protector

God has given daddies the wonderful privilege and responsibility of leading the home and protecting his family – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I asked my husband just this morning why he believes a father’s love is so important. I was curious to see how his answer would differ from what I was thinking. He said, “It plays a huge role in the overall trajectory of a child’s life.”

My husband grew up with a father who suffered deeply from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from Vietnam. He knows very well what this means as his own father struggled with anger and exploding from the trauma he experienced in war. My husband has had to depend on God’s strength to overcome his own battles from growing up with secondary PTSD.

Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior

When I think of the very course of a child’s life and the implications, I think of Psalm 127:3-5 which says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”

Because God says children are a blessing, not a burden, daddies have the privilege to bend and shape their child for God’s plans. They’ve been given the task of directing his arrows so that they’ll be purposeful and on point in service to God. Daddies have been given the position to ensure that his children will be on target in life, not missing the mark. He’s a steward of his children – training them to be arrows of righteousness who do good and not harm. This is his responsibility until the day he bends back the bow and sets each arrow free into the world.

The truth is that no earthly father will ever love and bend back his bow perfectly. Only our heavenly Father can do that. But we can’t forget that even in imperfect love, a daddy’s love, affection, time invested, and attention is critical and vital to the overall well-being and success of his child. Words spoken, behavior, lifestyle, actions, experiences, character, priorities of daddy and more will stay with his child all his life.

The Wonderful Challenge

It’s a wonderful challenge to seek the Lord’s help and direction even in weakness and the battle against sin. It’s a wonderful opportunity for daddies to view their children how God does– as a reward – a gift to open up and find delight. It’s a wonderful challenge for daddies who didn’t have a present father growing up, to choose a different way and find the healing they need in their heavenly father.

Daddies, your children need your strong hands and steadfast position on this battlefield. They are desperate for your voice, touch, strength, help, counsel, affection, leadership, godly wisdom, courage, and much more. Our culture desperately needs you too.

After my daughter was reassured by her daddy’s attention that day, she ran off and played freely- confident in his love for her no matter what.

** This article originally appeared on the TheCourage.com


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. She enjoys connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

The Beautiful Brand of You


A few days ago, my friends and I met for lunch at an internationally known golf course that’s just a few miles away from our town to celebrate our dear friend Katie who’s moving to a different state. It was the perfect place to escape and enjoy the rustic scenery, rolling chop hills, and tranquility in Northeast Colorado.

It’d rained that morning, but as we were seated at the long wooden table the sun started to peek through the clouds and before we knew it, the sky was bright blue. Glass jars of iced water with lemon sat at each placemat. As we sat down with hungry bellies, my heart filled with gratitude.

We’d journeyed together in Tuesday morning Bible study for the last two and a half years. We’d dug into God’s word together but also shared our very lives – struggles and joys, tears too. We’d come to understand what “better together” truly meant.

As I looked at each of my friends I was reminded about how we’re all different in our gifting, talents, and abilities. In our group of moms we have some that are hospitable, organizers, introverts, extroverts, creative, sensitive, exercise enthusiasts, counselors, teachers, coaches, crafters, behind-the-scenes women, and more.

We’re unique in how we raise our kids, manage our homes, the sports and activities our kids do, our husbands’ line of work, and more.

I found myself being so grateful that God had used each of them in my life to show me more about his sovereignty in creating us. I thanked God for how he’s provided for me through their life in tangible ways. Because you know there’s always the temptation to wish you had your friend’s gifting.

Lysa Terkeurst once said, “There’s an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful.” And I just love her words. I believe as women we beat ourselves up too much with the wrong kind of thinking: “If only I were a better organizer, skinnier, prettier, smarter, multi-tasker” and the list goes on. We focus so much on what we’re not instead of what God has given us right at our fingertips.

We wallow in self pity as we spend unhealthy amounts of time comparing ourselves to each other’s Facebook and Instagram feeds frustrated with how we don’t measure up. All the while, God is trying to get our attention in letting us know that He has made us just the way we are for His purposes. He is saying to us,

You are the exact brand of beautiful that I’ve created you to be. You have gifts and talents and abilities that I long to use through you. Yes, even in your failures and disappointments, I have plans for you. You are my masterpiece, created to do good works for me. Do you trust my love for you and my plan for your life?

Are we convinced of this, though? That the gifts we’ve been entrusted with are enough? Am I convinced? I want to be. Through a process, I’m beginning to see that how God wired me is just what He wanted and to actually trust that He will use me to the fullest in the way He desires. Yes, even in all my brokenness.

I don’t need to doubt His ways in creating me. I don’t need to dwell on past hurts in regards to my gifting and abilities that can sometimes feel like fresh, open wounds. I need to believe that what He says of me is true:

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10

And I’m determined to believe Him at his word.

At the end of our lunch, we took a photo with Katie in front of the green. We checked the phone to make sure we looked okay. Our various styles shined through in the picture: cardigans, jean jackets, sandals, cowgirl boots, floral tops, brown hair, blond hair, long hair, short hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, jeans, and flip flops.

Everyone smiled brightly – an exact brand of beautiful with hearts and minds created to serve our Creator. Together – just the way it was meant to be.

** This article originally appeared on TheCourage.com

 

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. 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

Four Spiritual Lessons Learned from My Daughter’s First Swim Meet

“But I don’t want to go!” My seven-year-old Rebekah screamed as I woke her up at the crack of dawn for her very first swim meet of the summer season. She hid under her covers in a ball.

“Let’s go.”  I said. “We’re going right now. Everyone’s waiting in the car.”

“I don’t want to. I don’t want to!”

I pulled off her purple and white floral sheets and looked into her blue/green eyes. “Rebekah, you’ve practiced. You’re ready for this. Your coach Brenda says you’re ready too. Will you trust us?”

“But what if I can’t swim the whole lap? The water is going to be cold. No. I’m not doing it!”

After lots of dialogue and struggle, we drove to the meet. She remained nervous and anxious when we arrived and refused to let me help her put her cap on. I grew unsure of what we committed to. Will she back out of racing because she’s too scared?

In no time, my friend Trisha scooped Bekah up in her arms and carried her to the tent where she’d wait for her heat to be called. Coach Brenda let Rebekah be her “helper” and she coached her on what it would be like on the starting block. She showed her exactly what to do.

After “Swimmer’s, take your mark!” and the buzzer went off she jumped into the water and swam the 25 Freestyle. She didn’t stop at all and had a smile on her face at the end. I felt relieved and was so proud of her for overcoming her fears.

She swam her backstroke and relay races with no complaints. Getting a free sugary snow cone from winning a heat helped too. This new experience taught me a whole lot about our faith in Jesus- more than I even realized. Here are a few lessons:

1. We must be willing to risk something. 

Signing my child up for swim league took a risk on my part. What if she doesn’t like it? What if she can’t do the hard work? What if, what if, what if… At some point, we just had to commit, and I needed cooperation from her. Rebekah had to risk diving into unchartered territory of the unknown.

When we put our trust in Jesus, we don’t always know what he will ask of us. Will he ask me to give up an addiction, lifestyle, or way of living? Will he ask me to step out of my comfort zone and love on someone different than me? Will I have to suffer or struggle for a season of my life? Whatever Jesus calls us to do, we have to embrace risk and not run from it in fear. If we’re not risking something, we’re not fully living.

2. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others.

I found myself looking at the seasoned swimmers. I’d been a swimmer my whole life and knew Rebekah would enjoy it too, but I had to remember this was her first meet. Butterflies were in her stomach, there were lots of people cheering on the bleachers, and anything new can bring anxiety. She had to swim her race – not anyone else’s. And thankfully a few seasoned moms shared with me their own stories of their kids at one point needing a barf bag before races! It made me feel better that we weren’t necessarily unique.

In our faith, we’re all on different journeys. We struggle to various degrees. Our spiritual gifting and disciplines are all unique and that’s how God intended it to be. We need to be content with where we’re at and not wish we were in another person’s lane. God has us right where he wants us and is growing us in his timing.

3. We need each other.

Before my daughter’s first race, there was only so much I could do as her mom to encourage her heart to be strong. It was because of the help of my friends and her coach (and prayer!) that ultimately gave her the courage to work through her fears.

In our faith, we’re crazy to think we can walk this life without anyone by our side. On the days we think we’re crazy for following this man Jesus, we need to know that we’re not, in fact, lunatics. God has given us the gift of each other to remind us of his goodness and love and that we’re placing our faith in the person of Jesus. He is with us. He uses others to show us his grace in amazing ways. There’s such a beauty in leaning on others for help and strength. It’s up to us to accept that support.

4. We’re racing to win the prize.

Just as swimmers race to win or beat their previous time, in our faith we’re called to win the prize. Throughout scripture the Apostle Paul talks about the need for self-discipline. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says to run the race of faith in such a way to win the prize. He says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Following Jesus and placing our faith in him requires strict training – yes, this is contrary to popular theology today. We aren’t running this race of faith aimlessly, to always “feel good” or with an apathetic attitude. We have a goal to share the gospel with others and to live it out until the Lord takes us home to be with him forever. We’re racing to win the prize. The race is final, not a warm-up before the real thing. Our calling as believers is indeed a high calling and we’re not racing for a temporary crown, but an imperishable crown. And our final goal is Jesus himself.

A few days after the swim meet, Rebekah received her first medal. “Ohhh!” she said as I handed it to her. She put it around her neck and smiled at it. She now understood that her hard work in all those practices resulted in something.

The initial risk was now a reward to behold.

 

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. 

 

 

 

Subscribe to SamanthaKrieger.com & receive weekly encouragement:

Delivered by FeedBurner