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. 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Wives, this one desire could be hurting your marriage

It’d been a long day and my husband and I needed to begin our kids’ bedtime routine. While I finished up dishes, he lounged in the recliner looking at his phone to decompress from a busy day. I felt tension and anxiety welling up in me as our kids grew more hyper and silly from being overtired.

“Jeremiah, let’s go. Let’s get them down for bed,” I said.

“Okay,” he replied. “Let me finish reading this article.”

A few minutes later he still sat in the chair and I yelled: “Jeremiah. Come on!”

Eventually I nagged some more and sounded like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. I was so obsessed with him taking action immediately that I kept reacting out of my impatience. My tone of voice was ugly, controlling, pushy, and disrespectful. My “request” turned into an argument that eventually broke our togetherness. If I would’ve given him time – like other occasions – it would’ve saved us from having an unnecessary blow up in front of our kids.

Where Control Originates

Ever since Adam and Eve indulged in the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world, within us lies this desire for control, to be contentious, and argumentative. The desire is so strong that we’d do just about anything to have it. However, this burning impulse to have all the control no matter the cost is not loving.

Proverbs 27:15-16 says, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind…”

Proverbs likens a nagging, quarrelsome wife to the wind- it’s impossible to stop her quarreling once she starts. Her anger, emotions, and frustrations take over, making it impossible to calm down.  As I write this article, the wind is blowing like crazy where we live on the Colorado plains. There’s no way to prevent it from blasting through the trees or blowing my kids over. It comes and goes as it pleases and does not cease.

This kind of contention towards our husbands only causes distance, frustration, anger, feelings of being trapped, and more. My husband said it can make a man feel like he’s dying inside. Now that’s a pretty big deal.

Responding vs. Reacting

My ungodly reactions to him kept moving us toward conflict. My control was further damaging our relationship. In the book, The Mingling of Souls, Matt Chandler writes,

“When we learn to respond to each other rather than react, we will move much more quickly in our conflict toward resolution and reconciliation. Reactions only stoke the fires of conflict; responses, particularly godly ones, help us snuff out the conflict.”

How much different would my struggles have been if I gently responded instead of harshly reacted in selfishness?

Eventually, I began drawing the circle around myself and confessed my sin of control. But acknowledging it was only part of the process. I had to turn from it and seek forgiveness and reconciliation from Jeremiah. Yes, I needed his help, but nothing was happening in our home that was earth shattering at the moment and I could wait until he finished reading his article.

I had a choice on how I’d react when things aren’t done on my timetable. My eyes were opened to the fact that I feared something, too: a loss of control, cranky kids, not getting them in bed at a good time, and my own me-time afterwards.

Letting God take the Reigns

Thankfully, Jeremiah and I were able to extinguish the conflict and reconcile. As my husband’s best friend, lover, and helper, I’ll never completely get it right. I will fall in my sinful nature, but I have the choice to do what’s right. The greatest way I can show him respect and love is to let go of the desire to nag and control. When I release control, I let God take the reigns and be his Holy Spirit- he does a much better job anyway.

I begin not just knowing the famous love passage in Scripture but living it out:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Bringing it Home

Maybe you’re like me and control is a huge stronghold in your life. It’s never too late to begin asking God to show you areas that need real transformation. Ask God to change your heart of stone and make it soft and pliable. He is a gracious and loving Father to you. Begin by confessing it, repenting of your sin, and turning to Christ for help.

His desire is for our marriages to look like Jesus more and more as the years go by. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give your husband today is to release your struggles with being a controlling and nagging wife. Simply call it what it is. You may consider asking him if this describes you or how it makes him feel. Begin taking steps toward healing with him.

Conflict in marriage will be inevitable while on this earth, but choosing to respond in a godly way is God’s will- bringing the oneness, joy, peace, and wholeness that you desire in your relationship with your husband. God wants you to enjoy your relationship to the fullest while bringing glory to Him.

** This article first appeared on Kirk Cameron’s 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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Dear Child: Why You Can Always Depend on God’s Love

Before bedtime a few weeks ago, my 7-year-old daughter Rebekah looked me in the eyes and asked,

“Mom, but… who created God?”

Nighttime is always the perfect opportunity for theological questions and vulnerability from our kids.

“That’s a good question.” I said. “No one created Him. He has always been. He was here before everything.”

“You mean, he always existed?” her eyes grew wide.

“You got it. It’s amazing isn’t it?”

She paused for a minute.

“And, do you know how much he loves you?” I asked.

“Yeah … I think…” she looked up at the ceiling.

“He loves you so, so much- way beyond the moon,” I said.

“Can we read Princess Snowbelle now?” she flips open the first page.

I realize how “I think I know how much God loves me” is an honest answer. It’s difficult to understand. Not only is it unfathomable to think about God always being here before the foundations of the earth, but his love has too.

When I look at the canvas print on her wall showcasing the moment when she and her sister chopped their hair secretively in the kitchen one slow summer afternoon. God knew every strand cut then. He knows every lock that’s grown out. I observe her physical changes and how her face has matured since that photo. I think about how God knit and fashioned her in my womb and knew her before she was born.

Even though time is slipping away as I watch her permanent teeth grow in, her favorite sparkly leggings shrink, and her maturity developing at a rapid speed, God’s love remains steadfast and unchanging for her even in the midst of my imperfect motherly love.

There are many things I want to teach my daughter that it can be overwhelming. But perhaps I’ve made it more complicated than it should. There’s really only one thing that matters most in her life and it comes from Ephesians 3:17-19:

“… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  

My daughter, I want you to know this about God’s love:

“Be rooted and established in love …” (vs. 17)

May you know this love intimately from your Creator and heavenly Father. Be rooted in love, like a tree planted by streams of living water that never grows thirsty or dry but is constantly a source of life, growth, and blessing. I pray your life will be grounded on God’s overflowing love because everything you do springs forth from that.

“Grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” (vs. 18)

You can trust in God’s love because he proved it by sending Jesus to save you from every sin, bad word, wrong behavior, offensive action, or thought. In Christ, you have the power to grasp this love and to believe it personally. His death on the cross and resurrection proved this love and that he is indeed King forever and in fact King and rescuer of your heart.

“Know this love that surpasses knowledge…” (vs. 19)

You can depend on him to love you like no other earthly daddy, mommy, or man ever could because love is who he is. His love isn’t broken, half-hearted, or lukewarm. His love for you is perfect, complete, and a consuming fire. No person can even compare to him.

Even though human relationships will inevitably let you down and cause you pain at times, Jesus won’t. His love surpasses human knowledge or wisdom because it is from above – it’s not of this world. It goes beyond the mind and into the heart. You don’t have to be on a chase to find an earthly love to satisfy what only God can.

“That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God …” (vs. 19)

There’s so much the world wants to pour into your heart from a young age: the desire to be beautiful, popular, accepted, noticed, followed, liked, and treasured. I pray you’ll experience the fullness of God being near to your heart. He is the source of your joy, satisfaction, and happiness. Live for him and not the short-lived approval of your peers. Grab hold of how good and wonderful He is. He will show himself to you.

Because of his deep love for you, love Jesus in return by worshipping him with every ounce of your being. You were made to glorify him and enjoy him forever.

May our daughters grasp this love and believe it their whole life. May God’s kindness draw them in as it did for us (Romans 2:4). As mothers, may we tangibly display this love in their life with God’s continual help and guidance.

Rebekah’s eyes are glazed over after reading about princess friendship in Frostovia. I close the book, say prayers, and kiss her goodnight. She peeks out her window and sees the light shining in from the moon.

“God is watching over me. Goodnight, Mommy.”

 

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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Learn These Three Questions to Draw You and Your Spouse Together

The furniture looked like something dated from the 70’s. There was no luxury beach out our patio door or even a pool, and we were in the middle of the Garden Isle of Kauai. Instead, I stared at a green rustic cabana with an outdoor tub and shower. Not to mention there was no central air. This was not my idea of a honeymoon and I sure let my husband Jeremiah know.

Jeremiah was hurt. I was disappointed. He became angry. He worked hard to plan the perfect place. We were in a shouting match for the ages. We were terrified that in the couple days before when we stood at the altar that somehow we’d made a colossal mistake. Eventually, he reluctantly took us to a resort and charged an enormous sum to our credit card.

In that moment, we were more concerned about declaring our opinions about the other person’s failure than asking questions to know the other person’s heart. The prideful path we were starting out on as newlyweds was clearly not God’s plan.

When we reflect back on that time in our life, we laugh now. Life was so different. We were different. By God’s grace, so much has changed for the good. We’ve learned over time the power of asking questions. No matter where you are in your marriage journey, here are three questions every couple should ask that will help bring them together instead of apart:

1.) Will you forgive me?

When hungry-for-answers Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?

Jesus responds, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven.”

I can imagine the look on Peter’s face. Often, we think there’s a certain number of times we can only forgive and then we’re done. Everything in our fleshly nature wants to remain in bitterness and resentment especially when a wrongful act has been committed against us: How dare he commit such an act against me?

It takes the power of Jesus and his word to help us choose forgiveness when everything in us does not want to forgive. But Jesus commands us to forgive, regardless if the feelings aren’t there. And he’s our perfect example who has forgiven us for every sin we’ve ever committed. There is life-change in the question, “Will you forgive me?” It’s the first step to healing, restoration, and being one in spirit again.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Ephesians 4:31-32

2.) How can I serve you today?

When my feet hit the floor in the morning and I turn on my Keurig to insert that anticipated k-cup, I’m thinking about myself and my needs. It takes a conscious effort to look at the needs of my husband and think about how I can encourage and serve him. I can imagine how different our marriage would look if that was my attitude every day.

When we think about the life of Jesus and who he was to the people he came to save, it’s amazing that he got down on his knees, took a towel, and washed his disciples’ dirty, stinky, calloused, smelly, worn-out feet. He wasn’t thinking about his own agenda, but that of the Father’s. His mission was to serve and he lived it out faithfully.

In marriage, our mission should be to serve. That’s what truly makes you a great spouse. “How can I serve you today?” will help you see what your spouse needs just for today. The answer to that question will help you know how to practically meet that need and in turn strengthen your relationship.

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” – Matthew 23:11

3.) Where would you say we’re drifting apart?  

Sometimes in our “heated conversations” I have to remember that Jeremiah and I are a team even when it feels like the roof is caving in on us. One time it literally did in our first home! We’re not against each other even though it feels like it. The truth is that we have an Enemy and our sinful natures warring against us constantly trying to tear us apart from being one flesh.

“Where would you say we’re drifting apart?” is a question worth asking. Sometimes our bank accounts, weekly schedules, and personal goals can be more inwardly focused and unknowingly exclude the other person. This question helps you pinpoint areas for growth in your relationship. And we all have them! God calls you and your spouse toward oneness and doesn’t want you to settle for less.

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Matthew 19:6

These questions aren’t easy. Not one bit. But they’re necessary. Jeremiah and I cannot go back and undo the past. We can only learn from it. We can only wonder how much frustration we would have spared our marriage had we possessed the humility to ask these questions of each other more quickly. 12 years later, we’re still learning how to ask these questions.

We did, in fact, resolve our differences after the dust settled that honeymoon day way back then. We had to do some soul searching. We eventually mustered up the strength to overcome the pride within us and ask for forgiveness. We had to take an other-person-centered attitude in order to learn to become one flesh.

Well, after only having been at the resort for two days, we were sitting at the poolside living out our honeymoon dreams. I looked at Jeremiah and asked, “Can we go back to the cabana? I kind of miss it.”

His face turned beat red.

 

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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Why You Should Find Time to do Absolutely Nothing This Christmas

A few days ago, I came home and collapsed on our brown leather couch. I just sat there– didn’t even stare at my phone for the latest news, cute photos of friends’ kids, or even check our bank account. I just rested my mind and body. Prior to that day, I organized a cookie exchange and fellowship for the women in our church, attended a “muffins with mom” at my daughter’s preschool, met several writing deadlines, labeled and addressed Christmas cards, and helped my husband with several work projects. Not to mention being up at night with our kids wetting their beds from the hot chocolate they drank at our town’s parade. Needless to say, I was spent.

That sacred time on the couch being absolutely useless gave me time to think and reflect on life and what was going on around me. I began to actually hear from the Lord and to understand what my soul was craving. It didn’t need the peppermint chocolate Hershey’s kisses in the mason jar next to me or the better-get-it-now Amazon deal, but my heart needed sweet time with Jesus in prayer and His word. My soul was craving what we all have inside us- a hole that can only be filled by God alone. No matter how much we try to satisfy it with what the world or our flesh has to offer, we’ll still be left wanting more. He is the only path to true, lasting, infinite peace and joy.

Honestly, I want to do…

… Continue Reading the rest of this post over on Kirk Cameron’s website TheCourage

How to Restore the Brokenness in Your Marriage – from TheCourage.com

This week, I’m excited to be writing over on The Courage – a new digital destination meant to inspire, give hope, and call people to something better, especially in the areas of faith, family, and culture (founded by Kirk Cameron). It’s an honor to be a regular contributor and I hope you’ll check out the site and “like” them on social media. I think you’ll love what they’re doing!

One of my favorite parts on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” is when Chip and Joanna walk to the back of a garage, shed, or attic of the house they’re working on and discover something useful to implement into the remodel. What looks like an old pile of wood, happens to be a stack of doors that once provided privacy in the home.

Once Chip and Joanna decide to use the doors and refinish the glass, it might be used on an indoor cabinet or in the front windows of the home. The doorknobs are even used as creative design elements. Reclaiming what appears to be old, good-for-nothing junk is as natural as breathing for them. Nothing is wasted. They restore and renew what most people would readily abandon.

In their years of experience working on fixer uppers, they know you don’t ignore the cast-offs. You figure out their potential and how they can be made effective again.

In marriage, when the going gets tough, we can be tempted to throw the marriage away like those cast-offs... CONTINUE READING on TheCourage.com

New Article: 5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

Last week was an exciting week being able to share an article I wrote that was inspired by a photo I saw. It was a blessing to hear from readers on Start Marriage Right and KirkCameron.com

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will be encouraged as well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age…

Continue Reading…

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