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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What I saw in Whole Foods

Last week I went to Whole Foods to grab some drinks and trail mix for our afternoon at the lake. I hurried to the express lane and waited behind a heavy-set woman with long, tangly light brown hair sitting in a power scooter. She was digging through her purse trying to find the exact change.

The cashier rolled her eyes waiting for her. The people behind me stood impatiently and it was one of those moments where all eyes were on this lady including my own. I was thinking, Are you serious? Come on. I started to judge her based on her appearance and grew impatient with her.

There was another checkout station in front of her so I was called to that one. The lady continued rummaging through her big purse. I started to realize that my attitude had been wrong towards her. I needed to serve her. So I asked, “Do you need any money?”

I thought that maybe she couldn’t find any. The cashier looked at her for a response. “Oh, no. I’m fine,” she replied in a drawn out voice. I nodded my head, said okay and headed back to the car.

On the way to the lake I started to wonder if that lady was a beautiful, savvy, well-dressed woman who stood tall, if she would have been treated differently. I thought about how I didn’t have a servant’s heart initially. I followed Christ and needed to have patience towards her.

I look at what’s on the outside way too much and form my opinions and conclusions. I sometimes esteem someone greater because of their good looks or awesome abilities. But how shallow is that? I know the cliche that beauty is only skin deep.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Sam. 16:7

The heart is where we find the whole person: the thoughts, the motives, the sin, the hurts, the struggles, the hopes, the dreams, and the joys. The heart is where the wellspring of life is kept and it is a most precious thing.

The outward appearance, whether beautiful or ugly, can deceive. I’ve had my own days where I kept a certain image on the outside, but inwardly I was experiencing pain no one else knew. Outwardly, I’d smile, laugh, and continue to act how I wanted to be. But there was something more to the story.

It was definitely frustrating to wait in line behind this lady, but who knows what she was going through and  where she stood with God. Why would her appearance then matter so much? The bottom line is that God is her Creator. She was made in His image and has needs like all of us. She needs the gospel lived out in her life like all of us. She needs to be shown patience and compassion.

So who am I to think I am any better? The make-up on my face, my sporty outfit, and nice purse don’t show a full picture of my heart. Frankly, they don’t really mean anything.

I’ve been called by God to love and serve all people, especially those who seem difficult to love. And while I feel very far from this, I’m thankful God can help me do it.

I never got to know this lady at all and I hope she found her change, but God used that incident to help show me what’s in my own heart. I pray God will bring more people into my life like that so he can use them to help change me.

DVD Bible Study Review: The Organic God

_organic-god-cover-final-full-sizeEven in our Christian culture, we have a tendency to not see God for who he is- natural, organic, essential and pure. We forget his beauty and the adjectives described in His word that make Him who He is. In The Organic God Kit, Margaret Feinberg invites you to know this “Organic God” for all that he is.

The name in itself, “Organic God” is an interesting one, but don’t look too hard for the meaning. It simply means knowing God for who he truly is—without all the additives or pollutants that often distort his awesomeness.

God’s Big-Hearted Love is an adjective Margaret taught on in Session 2 that stood out the most to me. God, as our heavenly father, is deeply in love with us. However, many of us carry experiences with our earthly fathers that have polluted our view of God. The real-life story produced in this section was powerful as a mid-aged woman describes her relationship with her earthly father and the impact it has had on her relationship with God.

The way to truly know God and what makes His heart beat is to know Him in the Scriptures. All of us have had a bruised heart some time or another, as Margaret describes, but we all have the opportunity to heal from that and run towards a relationship with Christ.

This DVD Bible study is filmed right on location near the glaciers, streams, forests, and mountains in Alaska. I have to admit that my heart was longing to be where Margaret was teaching from- it was longing to get out of the bustling city and into raw, organic nature! And it was incredibly refreshing to hear her teach in that setting.

The Leader’s Guide and corresponding workbooks complete the DVD study. It is in the written material, where you and your group will go more in depth and will be able to dive deeper into the topics Margaret addresses. The video will be the perfect catalyst for the content, allowing for life-changing discussion among your group.

Discover for yourself what the Organic God is all about.

Video Friday: Masterpiece

Ever since I can remember, my mom told me that I was a masterpiece created by God. God has fashioned us all in his image. We are beautiful because He is beautiful. Every day he is chiseling us into his image. Because of the cross, we now have healing from the stripes and death for life… as Amena beautifully articulates.

(low-res version)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZpz7rUQ5tQ&feature=PlayList&p=A7FA3C2AC87D0AF0&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=36]

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