Why it’s actually okay to release control of your life

Ensenada, Mexico

Earlier this year my husband and I embarked on a 3-day cruise to celebrate our 12-year anniversary. On the first night in our cabin, intense fear woke me up in the middle of the night. As I looked out our window I could barely see the ocean waves. I was worried the ship would sink and rehearsed the emergency exit plan in my head.

The lack of control I felt from being on the open water paralyzed me and it didn’t help that I wasn’t fully awake. Were we crazy to take this vacation and entrust our very life to the captain in charge?

That experience got me thinking about faith and how often we can feel like we’re losing a sense of control when we place our trust in Jesus – who we can’t see on a daily basis.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to, “Follow me,” (Matt 4:19) Scripture says that immediatelythey left their nets and followed him. They left their comforts, all that was normal in their trade as fishermen, and what they could control.

I’m guessing they weren’t thinking: At this time and on this day, the Messiah will come out of nowhere and meet us where we’re at…They were not expecting that at all. But that is what happened. Jesus came out of nowhere into their lives and met them right where they were.

Peter and Andrew handed over their life to the One who was greater. They surrendered their life to become a learner of Jesus even when they didn’t exactly understand what that meant.

The truth is that releasing control of our life is the means by which we’re truly free and able to experience deeper intimacy with Jesus. Even as much as our hands want to hold tightly to what we think provides security, Jesus tells us where our ultimate hope is found:

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – (Matt 10:39)

The truth is that I love holding on tightly to my life (my loves, wants, wishes, desires, needs) and thinking only about my inner circle. Yet Jesus calls me to something better. He calls me to seek His kingdom first and then all these things will be given. He calls me to step out of the boat and join him in his mission of winning broken and lost souls for eternity. He calls me to love, selflessness, and servanthood where he’s placed me. That can be both scary and inconvenient.

Placing our faith in Jesus can be terrifying because of the unknown. What will happen if I diligently follow Christ with my life? How will I learn to deal with stresses if I go to Jesus instead of my current coping mechanisms? Does this mean anything for my personal goals and career? What will people think and say when I try to engage them with the gospel? And the list goes on…

When you surrender, Jesus gives you new desires and tastes. What was once pleasing and attractive to your eyes will not be anymore. The intense desire to please others and find your identity in material things begins to lessen. Your mission is no longer self, but to serve your Savior. You become more concerned with living for eternity rather than how many “likes” you have in a day.

You’ll begin to find joy and excitement from continually asking the Lord, where can I serve you today? What can I give away for your kingdom? The unknown becomes an adventure.

He’ll also equip you for exactly what you need in the moment – whether that means reaching out to a stranger, seeking forgiveness, inviting a friend to church, giving up an addiction, seeking counsel, changing your circle of friends, opening up your home to your neighbors, seeking healing in your marriage, confessing sin, investing in an “unlovable” person, starting a ministry from scratch, using buried talents and gifts to build the body of Christ, and more.

On the cruise ship that night, I was stressed out. But before I knew it, it was 8:00 am, the sun was shining, and the boat was docking safely to the Baja shore. Even in my anxieties, the captain knew exactly what he was doing and the next night I slept peacefully.

When we release control and trust in God as our sovereign Creator and Father who loves and cares deeply for us, we can rest easy knowing that the plans he has for us are for our good even when we can’t see the future ahead.

Blessings,

Samantha

** 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.

 

 

 

 

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Where to look when the grass is greener somewhere else

We moved to our small town three years ago this past summer and one of the features we noticed right away were the pristine lawns. Our neighbors take pride in a healthy and vibrant lawn. Every once in a while, I’m tempted to let the one brown spot that sneaks up in my lawn to drive me crazy, especially if no one else’s lawn is dried up near me. It sticks out! I’ll think:

Wow, their grass sure is greener. What’s wrong with ours?

How telling is this in our own lives when we just aren’t content with our current circumstances. The grass looks greener in someone else’s yard and we deceive ourselves into thinking God is neglecting us. Why do I have to struggle financially? Why won’t my children obey? Why does my friend’s husband know her needs better than mine? Why does everyone love their job but me?

Why do I have to wait so long for God’s will? Will he ever fulfill my personal goals and dreams? How come everyone’s social media feeds are blemish-free, when my real life is full of blots?

The list goes on, doesn’t it?

A longing for something better

Someone else’s grass often looks greener when we dwell on the ache in our own soul for something different… Better… Life-giving. And somehow their life has made our shortcomings more obvious! Envy is a sickness in the soul and God knows it robs us of joy, peace, satisfaction, and more.

When my son John was seven, we were playing one day and he told me: “Mom, everything you see is a memory.”

His words were so simple yet profound. If everything in front of us is eventually a memory, that prods me to truly savor it as best I can. If I don’t embrace the life God has given me I’ll miss out on so many blessings – yes even when they feel like heavy burdens. I’ll miss out on what the Lord longs to teach me through my current struggles. I’ll waste precious time and those minutes then transform into a mere memory – never to be experienced again in the flesh but only in my mind and heart.

Psalm 90:12 encourages us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. I’ve always loved this verse especially as I think about friends and loved ones who’ve gone to be with Jesus. Numbering our days means no day ever created by God is wasted. It’s always purposeful. No day, no matter how depressing or discouraging, is worthless in God’s sight. I think of a talk I listened to recently by Ann Voskamp and she said, “God takes our hideous ashes and makes holy art.”

Look at the days God has given you

Wisdom tells you not to covet the life and days of another person, but to treasure the days God has given you. No matter what your circumstances are right now, there’s a blessing to be found somewhere even if it’s just the breath in your lungs.

The truth is at some point, all of us long for something different and better. Our hearts aren’t at home here- they were made for heaven. We all experience the ache from time to time.

The truth is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Everyone gets brown spots and has bad days.

But when we trust in Jesus to give us the contentment that he alone can give, we embrace the life right in front of us. We trust him to do something beautiful and life-giving in our circumstances. Through a process, we learn to count our days and our blessings rather than another person’s. When our eyes are open and our hearts are listening, we’ll find miracles in the mess that we didn’t notice before.

Even when we’re tempted to think God didn’t get it right with us, we remember that He’s still good regardless of our fickle feelings. Step by step, we push back the lies that God doesn’t see us or hear our cries. We choose to believe the truth –  that Jesus cares, he knows, he’s working, he’s trustworthy and all our days are held in his nail-scarred hands.

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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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. 

 

 

 

 

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The one thing your morning routine desperately needs

It’s the kind of question that comes once in a while and when I’m not prepared for it, I’m convicted.

“How’s your time in the word?” one of my closest friends texted recently. She’s the kind of friend that has full permission to ask the hard questions. We’ve built that trust with one another over the last decade. I won’t be judged by giving her an honest answer.

“Not good,” I wrote. “I need to make the sacrifice and just make it happen.”

Laziness and slothfulness is sometimes my natural bent. Discipline hurts; like lifting 15 pound weights when you haven’t set foot in the gym for the last five years.

In my heart I knew I was suffering from not making my time with Jesus priority. Instead, I was filling my time with exercise, cleaning my house, Facebook news feeds, meeting with others, taking care of my family, and working on writing projects – all of which are beneficial and necessary in their own way. But opening my Bible, journal, and spending time in prayer which I know is what always feeds my spirit, was not at the top of my to-do list.

I was addicted to busyness and productivity – a common issue for many of us. It’s practically become our identity – all the more with technology today. But it was hurting my spirit, and it took a friend that cared deeply for me to tell me not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed. And knowing that she’s a woman of the word and prayer, her gentle prodding encouraged me to begin cutting out the clutter.

The next morning I decided to get up with my husband in the early hours of the morning and open my Bible with him. I downloaded a reading plan from the Bible app (Authentic Prayer by James MacDonald) and joined friends who are reading along in the app too. I dug out my journal and wrote prayer requests for family and friends.

See, we have a choice every day to fill our schedules or our souls first. We decide what takes precedence. And Satan would do anything to keep you from being in God’s word enjoying intimate fellowship and communion with the lover of your soul.

I once heard a pastor say that if we’re too busy not to pray or be in the Word, we’re simply too busy. We may need to take a hard look at our priorities and schedules to see what needs decluttering. This might mean unplugging from our devices, deciding to pull our kids out of sports so we can eat dinner around the table again, or weeding out anything making us ineffective and overwhelmed. They could be good things too, which may require a sacrifice (that could hurt!).

That morning while in God’s word, my kids came upstairs with bellies growling for breakfast. I was ready to face them and the day ahead. The quiet time fueled my faith and satisfied my hungry soul. I wasn’t so quick to act in my flesh either. I didn’t realize how much I missed being with Jesus until he opened my eyes to see my desperate need.

The depressed mood I’d been in for several days was gone and I was reminded of my purpose again. Joy had returned to my heart and my eyes shifted from being consumed with self, to serving others.

The more we feed our spirit and put Jesus first, the more we’ll desire to hear from the Lord and we won’t settle for less. Our schedules lose the power they once had over us.

So, I’ll now turn the question to you, “How’s your time in the Word?”

This article was originally published on TheCourage


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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Love Covers a Multitude of Sins – Even in Marriage & Motherhood

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This past Monday, I was a wreck. I went on my morning run to try to get rid of the mess inside of me. But even after listening to encouraging worship songs and working up a good sweat, I was tired, cranky, emotional, and irrational in my thought life. I couldn’t escape it all day long no matter how hard I tried.

If you’ve ever heard of the H.A.L.T. acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, you know that sin is creeping at your door when you have one, two, three, or all of these going on. And that you truly do need to halt! My issue was the T. My husband and children took the grunt of my exhaustion. My words and actions weren’t exactly a portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman.

I felt like giving up as a wife and mom. Tears ran fast and down my pillow that evening.

My sins are numerous, I thought. I just can’t get it together. Everywhere I turn I create a disaster.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there but it can be so discouraging when your sinful nature is not tamed and you feel like some sins you’ll never be able to overcome.

I remembered how tired I was and began to think rational again. I knew many of my reactions were due to that. I played my part by getting God’s word in my heart,  settling down, and asking forgiveness. I remembered the verse:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

I drew upon this truth because the Enemy’s lies in my head were:

You’re not good enough

You can’t handle this

God is ripping you off

You will never overcome

And then in that moment God’s word began to flood my soul with life-giving words:

You are enough

You can handle everything in my strength

I love you

I will help you overcome

Truth tells me that no matter how far I stray, love still covers a multitude of sins. My love for Jesus covers that. My love for those closest to me. And even the acceptance of myself.

Even on our very worst days, love still covers the darkest corners of our homes – the ugliest moments in marriage and motherhood. When we have failed those we love dearly, all the other 1,000 moments of love in a week that we have bestowed on them still trumps the 100 sins that have made us feel like an absolute failure of a wife and mom.

There is no sin that hasn’t been covered by his blood. 

Jesus understands our brokenness and thank goodness, his love never stops covering us – day in and day out. If you’ve found yourself swallowed by your own wake of disaster and exhaustion, know that you are loved, forgiven, bought at a high price, and set free from that sin. His grace is always available to draw upon in your time of need.

And by all means, HALT when you need to.

Cheering you on in the trenches,

Samantha

 

My One Word Resolution for 2015

Last year, I ditched the long list of resolutions and clung to a one word resolution instead. As we approach the end of 2014, I’m happy to report that I loved honing in on one word and remembering it throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong, historically I’ve been a goal setter and definitely believe in beginning with the end in mind but as a busy wife and momma, I did so much better last year focusing on one key word to implement in my life.

Discipline was the word I chose last year and it came to mind often. I have seen discipline in my life when it comes to: reading and studying the Bible, committing to a running routine/accountability partner, writing 2 book proposals, meeting weekly with my community group girls, and home organization. I didn’t do so great at journaling, putting letters in the mail or relying less on caffeine.

When I look at what I want 2015 to hold, the word JOY is inescapable for me. Theopedia defines joy as:

A state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. It appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books; 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books…

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Joy is actually an area that I struggle with particularly in motherhood. The daily demands of meeting my children’s needs is often overwhelming, especially at their ages. It is a serious job indeed, but I don’t think I laugh or smile enough. Sometimes the daily grind affects my relationship with my husband when I really don’t want it to. Too often, I allow the pressures, trials, and temptations of life in general to steal my joy. And it shouldn’t be that way.

For a while, I thought I was the only one who needed more joy in my life until I talked with my friend Amy over coffee a few months ago and she boldly shared that she was praying for this in her life as well. I would’ve never guessed she was praying for more joy too. We talked about some joy stealers:

  • Comparing yourself/children/husband to others
  • Discontentment with where God has you
  • Unmet expectations
  • Coveting what someone else has
  • Unforgiveness
  • Constantly giving of yourself and no time for solitude
  • Resentment
  • Self-pity
  • Loss of purpose
  • Thinking God didn’t get it right
  • Finding hope in yourself instead of God and more…

I realize that joy will not come by my own strength or will, either. It is not something I can create with my own hands or wish for. This second fruit of the spirit is only found in Jesus as he produces this spirit inside me as I submit to him. It is not dictated by circumstances or experiences. It is a condition of the heart and it remains even in the midst of great suffering and adversity.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

I don’t know what 2015 will hold, but I know Who holds the future. When I’m tempted to worry of fear about tomorrow, I can instead place my hope and joy in Christ. I’m confident that He will give me what I need and that joy can actually be more real and evident in my life than ever before.

Have you made any resolutions or considered choosing one word you’d like to focus on? If you struggle with joy, let’s team up and fight for it together this coming year.

 

Don’t Tell Me To Be Patient

“I want to ride bikes, Mommy!”

My three-year-old pleads with me as we’re riding the elevator up to our apartment.

“Not right now, John. We have to put the groceries away.”

“Noooo! I want to ride bikes now!” He screams a little more and throws himself on the floor.

After a few minutes, the fact that we won’t be riding bikes settles in. He whines, gets up, and follows me into our place.

Even from infancy, patience isn’t a word that we quite understand. It’s not a practice that comes naturally. If anything, no matter how old we are, we often detest the very word and act itself.

I didn’t set any specific New Year’s resolutions this year (surprisingly because I’m typically very goal oriented), but I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to work on practicing patience in my life- simply because I feel like this is one of the hardest virtues and spiritual disciplines to live out.

I need the person standing in front of me to move out of the way because I have two screaming children and need to check out

I want God to lead and guide our family, right now, to the perfect neighborhood after our lease is up in seminary housing

I want my friendships to grow on a deeper level, now.

I want to see the physical results immediately from my strength training class I take every week

I need God to heal the broken and sinful areas in my heart, right now. Why does sanctification have to be such a process?

I want all my dreams to be fulfilled now because time is of the essence. Besides, I turn 30 this year and I’m not getting any younger!

Our concept of time is so different from God’s. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Timing doesn’t thwart His plans or throw him off schedule. Thankfully, He’s told us a lot about patience in His Word, one being that we have to put it on. He knew that patience wouldn’t exactly be a part of our everyday wardrobe.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Col. 3:12

There it is. A command that we must follow and obey. And we are His children.

Holy. Chosen. Beloved.

He is taking care of me and I don’t need to fret about the things I can’t see clearly or the prayers that have been left unanswered. If I’m to put on patience, then that means I must take off any impatience, anxious thoughts, pride, irritability, anger, and more. Any sin that hinders me from living the life God intends.

In the book Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot writes:

We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness.

If God requires me to walk in seasons of darkness, then I know that eventually His light will shine through and prayers will be answered according to His good and perfect will.

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