One Powerful Word to Get You Through Hurting Seasons in Marriage

Fall is my absolute favorite season of all. The crisp air, falling leaves, pumpkins, mums, pumpkin-spiced lattes, boots, flannel tops, regular visits to the pumpkin patch, and more. I love making memories with my family raking leaves into piles, baking pumpkin pie, making chili and cornbread, and putting on a light coat to walk the dog.

Just as we approach the changing season ahead and much anticipation is in the air, I believe we can learn something transformative in our marriages too.

The reality is we all face different seasons in our relationship. Some seasons are absolutely joyful and exciting while others are dark and painful. Some usher in newness of life and others are filled with dryness, stillness, and waiting.

My husband and I just finished a long season of remodeling our kitchen and dining room to better suit the needs of our family and guests. My husband worked hard on this project and I appreciate his handy work so much. But what you might not see on HGTV is how much demo and remodeling can negatively impact your relationship: communication failures, exhaustion, time consuming projects, mishaps, and financial pressure to name a few.

Different seasons in marriage also require ever-changing demands: job challenges, the birth of a child, your kids’ numerous activities, financial adjustments, accidents, health issues, mental struggles, aging parents, and more.

Sometimes we wonder, will we even make it to the next season? It feels so far away. We just can’t keep living like this.

Over the last 12 years of our marriage, I’ve learned that holding on to hope goes a very long way. As newlyweds when my husband lost his job, hope got us through that anxious time of doubt and waiting. When we struggled to get along, hope showed us that God would teach us how to love each other. When we gave birth to our four children, hope carried us through delivery and holding each child for the first time.

When my husband was in seminary and working full-time to provide for our family, we held onto hope that he’d make it across the stage to receive his degree. Years later when he was accidentally shot in the arm at the rifle range, hope carried us through our hospital stay, two painful surgeries, and a long road of recovery that impacted our children and daily life.

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Hope is a powerful thing. It enables us to get through anything thrown at us that we didn’t ask for. God also orchestrates circumstances to give us hope in miraculous ways: through the provision of others, a song we hear on the radio, God’s living word, prayer, the body of Christ, the testimony and life change of another marriage, learning from our sins and choosing differently, and watching God work in ways we never expected.

If your marriage is suffering right now under the weight of life’s trials, remember that hope is in front of you if you choose to believe it. Never forget that hope is often closer than you think. And before you know it, the expectation and longing for a certain thing to happen in your relationship becomes reality. You’re no longer looking at it from a distance, but you’re actually embracing it.

God can breathe back vibrancy, joy, and life into your relationship that you’ve never experienced before. Just keep holding on to Him. And one day you’ll look back and realize,

Hope got us through.

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

-Danny Gokey, “Hope in Front of Me”

Blessings,

Samantha

 

** This article originally 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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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.

 

 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

 

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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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How we can still sing to God in our sorrows

As I stood on the other end of the line, frustration and anger burned within me. “They did what?” I asked my mom while we were away at a pastor’s conference for the purpose of being renewed and equipped in God’s word.

“Hannah and Will ran from me and hid under your Suburban and ended up getting oil all over themselves,” she said in a struggling, battle-worn tone as any mom or grandma would.

This was just one of the many incidents of disobedience she’d endured while keeping our four kids. Not only after praying it would all get better, on our way back we were delayed in coming to my mom’s aid due to a blizzard that shut down the roads and caused power outages.

I found myself crying out to God. When will it get better for her, Lord? When will my kids have a heart of submission and obedience? What do I need to do differently? I remembered Psalm 13 when David asks, How long, Oh Lord? How long?

After we ended the call, I tried my best to focus on the time we had at hand with our friends among wonderful teaching and preaching and to trust in the Lord’s provision. I recognized the spiritual warfare too. But still in the back of my mind I found myself asking:

How Long, Oh Lord?

Have you ever found yourself in a similar place as the Psalmist David? More specifically, he cries out in Psalm 13:1-3:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day? 

Perhaps you feel neglected and forgotten by God. Your prayers are hitting the roof, a thousand times over. You don’t see God’s face, hear his voice, or receive his words and counsel. So you feel the only thing left is to look for counsel in your own soul (and you know that never satisfies). You reside with sorrow in your heart all day long like David.

All of us go through these seasons in our soul whether through motherhood, marriage, family life, relationships, the loss of a loved one, broken friendships, and more. David understood that place, God did, and he understands our state too. There are times we need to acknowledge the state of our being and the sorrow within us- to question God and plead for answers because we are absolutely dependent on Him for our very life, breath, and hope. We’re dependent on him to lift our heads out of the muck.

Your Steadfast Love for Me

At the end of Psalm 13 in verse 5 David says, “ButI have trusted in your steadfast love;”

No matter the danger, difficulty, fear of death, and enemies surrounding him, he could place his faith and trust in God’s love for him.

And so can we. We can trust in God’s love that holds us fast. It’s not that we’re so good at holding on to him but he is holding us securely. His love is unmovable and unwavering even when we’re changing like the tides.

David continues:

“My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13:5-6

His love alone gives us a reason to sing in our sorrows. A love that suffered, died on the cross, and rose again so that we could be set free from sin. Because he saved us and redeemed our life, we have joy. And one day, he will make all things new. Our hearts can sing because he is still good, gracious, and liberal in bestowing gifts on us each and every day.

I will Sing in my Sorrow

My kids didn’t exactly improve their behavior from the “rolling around in oil” episode and they had to face serious consequences when we got home, but I thank God for my mom’s humility, patience, grace, and sacrifice to love my children unconditionally. They asked for her forgiveness and understood how their sin was not okay and grieves God.

I thank God that my husband and I were spiritually fed and able to learn together for our ministry. There’s still pain in my heart in the longing for my children to obey immediately, but I know God hasn’t forgotten me as a mom. I know he is changing me in the sanctification process, too, and something beautiful will come out of it all.

I can still sing to Christ in the sorrows- great or small. His face will not be hidden forever and he knows me by name.

For his anger endures but a moment; in his will is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5

 

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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You can give him everything, but you must give your husband this:

A few days ago, my husband and I were going crazy indoors with our kids from the bitter cold temperatures in Colorado. We packed them all in our suburban and headed to a rec center to swim. As soon as their little feet hit the concrete, they were beaming with joy. Splashing, playing pool volleyball, laughing, talking and enjoying themselves instead of fighting was a relief for us.

My husband swam side by side with my four-year-old and shot hoops with my nine-year-old. At one point, I took a rest on the side and just observed my surroundings. Several dads enjoying the pool with their kids. One child in an over-sized red life jacket was throwing a tantrum because his dad was trying to get him comfortable in the water but he was scared. One wife pointed her phone from the bleachers to shoot pictures of her husband and three kids wading in the shallow end.

It got me thinking just how critical dads are in the lives of their children and how I need to do a better job affirming my man as a father. It is too easy to criticize their weaknesses or overlook the daily blessings dads bring to the family. As wives, we also share with our husbands our hearts, our beds and bathrooms. During birthdays and holidays we work creatively to plan their perfect gift. We can share many things and we can give them everything. But our husbands need to know:

1.) They are valued and appreciated in the home.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our husbands is to affirm them in their role– regularly voicing our appreciation for all they do. Often, this affirmation can disappear in the chaos of life or the backdrop of mundane life. Constant criticism, demeaning, and comparing him to others is like deadly poison to a family. Respect, love, patience, encouragement, and kindness builds them up and results in a thriving home. Appreciation for our husbands is one of their greatest needs.

2.) Their role as protector and provider is crucial. 

Husbands and wives are equal in value, but distinct in roles and responsibilities. The burdens that our husbands carry daily (or hourly!) such as financial stability, our family’s safety,  feeling valued in their jobs, and more is much different than what we may carry as wives. Leading the family is a huge responsibility that requires us coming alongside them as a teammate, cheering them on in the difficult realities of life. Their role is an important one that should be praised.

3.) Their presence with their children is life-changing.

My husband doesn’t sit around and think about how awesome he is when he teaches our son how to mow the lawn, hammer a nail, or shoot a BB gun. He just does it because that’s what dads do. But as a wife and mom, I know how huge this is relationally. He is investing in their little life, teaching them new skills, and prioritizing father/son bonding time. All these deposits make our sons who they are becoming and how they will be as responsible adults. As women, we can come alongside our husbands and remind them of how they are changing lives.

4.) There’s no one else that can fill the father role like they can.

One of the greatest lies I believe men face is that they aren’t good enough or have what it takes. These thoughts may be deeply ingrained by the way they were raised, a broken relationship with their own parents, or insecurities from physical or emotional loss (eg. pains that might come from previous physical or emotional abuses, accidents or losses in life). As wives, we can remind them of truth instead:

  • they do have what it takes
  • they’ve been given the gift of leading the family
  • they are wanted and needed
  • and we support them 100%.

No husband, wife, marriage, or family is perfect. We all fall short, but with God’s help and strength working through us, we can remind our husbands through our words and actions just how much they mean to us. As the father of our children, their work and efforts are worthy. They shouldn’t go unnoticed. What are some creative ways you can let your husband know?

 


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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One Surprising Word in 12 Years of Marriage

In our early years of marriage, Jeremiah and I served in an apartment ministry where we built relationships with residents and provided meals once a week in order to build community retention. One evening when we were hosting one of our largest meals for well over 100 residents, we got in a fight while he was making his way into the room with dishes and I was working in the kitchen. My blood boiled inside and I launched a wheat dinner roll at his face.

Jeremiah yelled. I yelled, and the incident got really heated before it got any better. We both felt blindsided with pride, and friends were arriving soon. Nothing like two Christians loving each other unconditionally!

The arguments and quarrels we got into our first few years of marriage were pretty silly and petty, but so revealing of our selfish sinful natures as two young lovers. And make no mistake, my sinful nature is still alive and well just as it was then, but with time I feel like something has changed.

I’ve grown to appreciate the man I married for who he is, not who I want him to be or who I think he should be. I’m slowly learning selflessness instead of being self-serving. Especially after a traumatic shooting accident last year at a nearby rifle range where my husband’s life was almost taken, I’m learning to trust God in his sovereign plans for us. Through all this, the word JOY comes to my mind after crossing our 12 year mark on December 17, 2017. According to Theopedia.com,

Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.

It’s amazing that in the trenches of pain, struggle, and challenges of marriage that God can still produce our character and shape us into who he longs for us to be and that if we’d just hold on a little longer our pain can actually birth in us a contagious joy. Joy that isn’t fleeting and temporary like butterflies-in-my-stomach happiness, but is rooted and grounded in the biblical and sacrificial love of the Gospel.

The power of the Gospel

Over time I’ve become even more aware of the areas in my life where I fall short. I’ve come to understand my own weaknesses. As my failures have shown through the years, my experience of God’s grace has grown with equal measure. Through Jesus I have experienced forgiveness. In his shed blood, I have acceptance. He tells me I am worthy when I feel worthless. As he does this for me, he also empowers me to share this gift with my husband. My husband shares it with me. God turns isolation and separation from our brokenness into the joy of redemption and restoration.

I appreciate and respect my husband more than I ever have and it’s all by grace. The love I have for him is much deeper and richer than it ever was. Marriage to him gives me great joy. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the fact that he loves me in spite of the “messy me” stained by sin, baggage, past hurts, and crazy hormones. The other day I was in a cranky mood but he kept wanting me to relax and watch our favorite series. I texted from upstairs while he was on the couch downstairs:

Do you still want me even though I’ve been mean?

Of course. I love you. Come down.

How humbling. It blows my mind that he sees every part of me and still desires me. It is how Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her not because of any good thing she had to offer but purely out of unconditional love and acceptance rooted in God’s character.

Joy has birthed from twelve years of marriage through confessing our sins to one another, doing the hard work of communicating, learning to let go expectations, prioritizing sexual intimacy (yes!), allowing others into our relationship to give us counsel and biblical insight, learning to cherish one another, forgiving faults daily, putting our relationship above the kids, weathering trials together and not against each other, and above all, allowing Christ to inform and direct our relationship.

Thousands upon thousands of books have been written on how to have a thriving marriage, but it’s something that doesn’t come immediately like cooking chicken in your insta-pot. You have to give it lots of time and patience to work– more like a crock pot! You have to be willing to patiently strive for the peace, love, and contentment you desperately desire.

The final (& surprising) word on joy:

If our goal is to first please Jesus and glorify him as best we can in our marriages,  joy is what pushes us to endure the challenges we will face:

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

Thankfully, after the flying dinner roll episode in our apartment community, Jeremiah and I were able to cool down, reconcile, and remember why we were there – to serve others. We became a team again. In spite of the painful, hard work, I’ll always remember that special season in our journey. And I’m thankful for the real truths that it reminds us of today.


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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5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

If you’ve followed my blog for a length of time, you may remember this article I wrote. It ended up going viral in December 2013. Since it’s been almost four years and I have new readers, I wanted to repost it. I pray the Lord will use it to encourage and strengthen your marriage!

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.

From the expression on her face, I saw a woman who deeply loved her man. A woman who fulfilled her commitment and stood on her word to love him “Until death do us part.” I saw the ache in her soul that he was breathing his last breaths and soon, he would no longer be by her side as her protector, provider, soul-mate, comforter, delight, lover and friend.

And my soul began to ache as I thought about my husband and the deep love we share for one another. It made me think of the vows I promised him on a wintry December day in Virginia amongst all our family and friends eight years ago:

I, Samantha, take you, Jeremiah, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I also thought about the ways I’d failed my husband over the years and how I still have many areas of growth in loving him the way God intends.

Begin with the End in Mind

The five words “Until death do us part” are spoken of at the wedding altar in regards to lasting commitment but the reality of death being the actual end of the marriage is rarely expounded on. After all, the wedding ceremony shouldn’t be depressing right?

But the truth is that in order for our marriages to have the life they need to survive the long haul, we have to begin with the end in mind. Death—no matter how much we try to escape it—is the end and we have made a promise to God, our spouse, and other witnesses to love our spouse until then.

It sounds so easy and simple, but to actually live that out is another story. That’s why so many marriages end in divorce. Contrary to popular ideals, marriage is not a bed of roses, but is a battlefield that demands a daily dying to self.

Because of our sinful, stubborn, selfish natures we inherited in the garden, we continue to bring that nasty nature into our marriages—into all our relationships in fact. The manner in which we relate to our spouses and handle conflict is often broken. Ask anyone who’s been married for a little while and they’ll tell you just how much the molehills become mountains. Often they come out of nowhere and seem impossible to climb.

When we don’t get our way, conflict arises. When our spouse forgets his wallet or keys and makes us late to an important event, we grow angry. When he isn’t fulfilling our needs and desires the way we’d like, we have a pity party. When he doesn’t help out around the house enough, we grow bitter and nag.

When our spouse is short with us or raises his voice, we go on the defense and lash back. When he watches too much football, we tell him to get off the couch and get to work. And the list goes on. Conflict is a natural part of the marriage relationship and if it’s not happening internally at the moment, it’s guaranteed to hit you from the outside in just a matter of time.

Choose Humility & Forgiveness

The hope is that we can still have conflict in the midst of a healthy marriage defined by love. Through confessing our sins, repenting, and seeking forgiveness habitually, God refines those areas where we’re weak. Like iron sharpening iron, God uses our spouse to help change us. We put our hope and trust in God for help and guidance.

It’s having that humility before our spouse to say, “I know I’ve screwed up. But I love you and I’m committed to you every day of my life to make our marriage thrive.”

It’s realizing that, “Will you forgive me?” may just have to become a part of your daily vocabulary.

It’s choosing not to be isolated and asking trusted friends or family to encourage and help you get back on the road to loving and serving one another again.

It’s understanding that even if your spouse is driving you crazy and you want so badly for him to change that you may have to look in the mirror first to see where you need changing. Then you can dig your knees into the ground and pray for him.

It’s remembering that the very act of touching your husband’s hands, sexual intimacy, bearing children, laughing, working, playing, and eating meals together is all an act of grace that should instill gratitude in your heart. All of those life-giving moments are gifts that are not guaranteed or promised forever.

Being able to call him husband is a gift in and of itself.

Fight the Battle Against Sin

Above that beautiful image of the elderly couple, I read that the grandson wrote that they’d been together for 68 years and still kissed 15 times before bed every night.

As the wife sat next to her husband’s death bed, I’m guessing she wasn’t thinking about the times they fought or let each other down, but only the good, sweet, joyful, holy, precious, sacred times God had given them as husband and wife on this earth. There’s no doubt there was gratefulness and a deep sadness in her heart that it was ending.

Life is a vapor, as we know from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and no matter how much we try to deny it, death is waiting for us and our spouse in the end. So the fight against sin in our marriage is worth it because one day, if we know and belong to Christ, He is going to make all our brokenness whole again and we will be made perfect as He is.

And the words “Until death do us part” don’t have to be brushed over, denied, or forgotten, but can inspire us toward a greater, selfless love for our spouse and ultimately for God.

Blessings to you,

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.

 

 

 

 

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