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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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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Choosing Gratitude

This week- just a day before Thanksgiving- I’ve been reminded of how ungrateful I am over so many things. It’s such a crazy thing because I’d normally consider myself a thankful person but I’ve been taking a good look into my heart and I’ve found some ugly parts that aren’t so beautiful.

Like being ungrateful that:

  • we live in a tiny apartment with no space for anything
  • I can’t fit into any jeans because I’m in the awkward stage of post pregnancy
  • we are always paying bills and can’t seem to build our savings account how we want
  • the weather is 80 degrees in late November
  • I rarely have time for “me” because my toddler needs constant attention

Instead of being grateful that:

  • we have a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over our head, and seminary life is for a season
  • I just gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl
  • God has given us the ability to make money and our needs are met above and beyond
  • It’s not so cold that you can’t go outside
  • I’m investing into the life of my child so he can make a difference in the world one day

It’s hard to be thankful when things aren’t always the way I hope they’d be. But supernaturally, God is able to help me choose gratitude and give me real joy– every day- not just when I’m gathered around the table for turkey once a year.

And that is what’s beautiful!

Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thes. 5:16-18

Being Thankful = Remembering

A few months ago, Jeremiah and I drove to Half Price books to purchase a very special book for our family. He’d been talking about getting a “Blessing Book” for a long time. So for $4.99, he picked out a brown and orange vintage floral journal.

We decided that we needed to start recording God’s faithfulness and his answers to our prayers over the years and that the Blessing Book would be the official landing place to write out those things simply because…

It’s easy to forget God’s work in the every day details of our lives.

Since then, we’ve recorded a lot of answers to prayers and twice now, we’ve gone through it so we can Remember.

Remembering God’s faithfulness and provision in the past has given me an overwhelming joy, thankfulness, and gratitude. It gives me great hope to face the uncertainties in the future.

There are all kinds of ways to reflect and remember. I stumbled upon Megan’s blog the other day and she’s created a Thankfulness Banner. I absolutely love this idea- especially as it really helps your kids tangibly see God’s goodness in their life.

One Thanksgiving when I was home from college, I printed out each of my family members’ names in big, bold writing on separate pieces of paper. All of us wrote a brief note saying how thankful we were for that person. It was a bonding time for our family and provided a ton of affirmation.

Well, I can’t wait when John can understand what our Blessing Book is all about so that he can share in what God has done and is doing in our family.

How do you remember God’s faithfulness and blessings during this time of year?

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