Dear Sons: This is what real men do


Not long ago, I was at the gas station and several men brushed by me in a hurry to get inside and the door slammed in my face. I don’t know if they were even aware I was there. But, it still made me feel unnoticed and uncared for as a woman.

The other day when I watched you holding the door for an older couple as they were making their way inside McDonald’s, it thrilled my heart to see you considering others on your own accord.

Even though chivalry might be dead in our culture today, thinking of others never gets old.

Keep seeing the needs around you, and meeting them.

Real men care for others.

When you hear crass words, cussing, and taunting from peers towards those who are vulnerable, stand up for them. Don’t participate in cruelty – choose life-giving words that instill courage into the fragile hearts of others.

Real men choose words of life, not death.

When you see others disrespecting their authority and completely unaware of their surroundings and how they impact others, choose to be different. Let their actions be a lesson to you. Respect your authority and be engaged where you’re at and in tune to what’s going on around you. Be aware of how your actions impact others – good and bad.

Real men understand that actions have consequences.

When the pressures of academics, friendships, family life, athletics, and more are weighing down on you, trust Jesus. Don’t quit and give up when it gets hard. A wise man once said, “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”

Real men fall, but they get back up

Let your trials, hardships, and sufferings be your teacher. You will rise when you overcome your deepest failures and not let them overtake you – making you a slave to shame and fear. God desires to use the pressure points and pains in your life as a platform for him.

Every day you get to decide who you will be. It’s never too late to lead. People need someone brave to follow. They need to know goodness, love, hope, wisdom, guidance, strength, protection, integrity, purity, and more.

But I’ll tell you this. You may be the only one choosing right. And that’s okay. Do it anyway.

Real men were once young boys like you. And somewhere along the way, they chose to grow up. That same choice, my son, will be up to you. Until then, daddy and I promise to help you as best we know how – in the Lord’s strength.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. – 1 Cor. 13:11

I love you with all my heart,

Mama

 

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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God Sees You, Weary Mama – Her View From Home

I’m thrilled to be writing over on Her View From Home this week. It’s amazing how God can put opportunities in your lap without seeking them. Over a month ago after reading one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read in a long time about ministry by a wife and mom- Arianna with Choosing Freelen, I had to reach out to her to say thank you. When she responded to me, she said she read my blog, loved my writing, and encouraged me to submit to Her View. I felt a strong connection with her being a pastor’s kid herself (and my four children being PK’s), a wife, mama, and writer too.

I took her encouragement to heart and submitted some pieces to Her View. I’m so thankful for her heart and for the nudge to put myself out there. I absolutely love the community of writers on Her View and feel honored to share my words there. If you’re not following Her View From Home, do it now! They’re reaching a growing number of mamas with encouragement and support and the writing is beautiful. Here’s a snippet of my first piece and I hope you’ll head over there to read the rest.

 

Dear mama,

I saw you the other day at Target juggling three young children—one on the side of your hip, another sitting in the shopping cart with a runny nose, and your oldest scooping boxes of Fruit Loops into the cart. Your hair was up in a ponytail and you wore your favorite yoga pants and rose gold Fitbit around your wrist. You appeared a bit frazzled as you looked at your phone marking off food items from your list and making sure they fit the budget—wanting to please your husband.

And I wanted to tell you this: the work you’re doing is sacrificial, but it’s still so very sacred. Never forget that.

Sure, you don’t get promotions, bonuses, affirmation or praise from your boss and co-workers in your role as mommy. But you’re shaping a life as you care for the body and soul of those little feet toddling across your hardwood floors and spilling Goldfish as he goes, one crunch at a time.

I see you when you’re up at night for the third time breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, calming your teething baby, and wiping mustard-colored diapers while your husband snores.

I understand your frustrations when your 3-year-old absolutely refuses to put her socks on before preschool and you’re muttering cuss words under your breath.

I know what it feels like to experience loneliness and just needing a friend to vent to who accepts your struggles with yelling and being “monster mom”.

I see how skilled you are in balancing ….

CONTINUE READING over on Her View From Home

Motherhood & the moment that found me on a Tuesday afternoon

I dropped him off last Tuesday for his first day of preschool. I’m still wrapping my mind around the reality that this is his last year before Kindergarten. My fourth child Will is losing his baby face and becoming a young boy.

After picking him up, we made macaroni and peaches for lunch. We looked out the window and noticed the grey storm clouds rolling in. Rain began to fall and sounded like marbles dropping on our roof. After it settled down, we went outside to explore puddles and find worms.

“Momma, look the baby one! Aww!” Will exclaimed.

He’s always had a passionate love for bugs, worms, rolly pollies, frogs, and anything crawling.

As Will splashed in the puddles – stomping his camouflage boots- I knew this was the real stuff of life right here. Nothing fancy. Nothing grand. Not a Disney World experience. Just a rainy, typical Tuesday afternoon with my brown-eyed boy. Some would call it mundane, but I found it magical. Heavenly, in fact.

A moment where there were no struggles with his strong will, but he was completely content as a friend to the worms. It was a moment where we were together, and the cool breeze and leaves falling on the ground gave us joy that fall was on its way.

Will bent down near one of the puddles looking for new wiggly creatures. He scooped them up and stretched them out with his fingers.

“Look?! I’m tearing them apart Mommy!” his hands were shaped like a spider-web.

The rain water revealed a reflection of his little hand and I thought back on his delivery day that summer in August when his tiny little fingers curled around my own and he was completely dependent on me for his life and sustenance. When I couldn’t stop smelling his newborn scent or kissing his cheeks.

Now, he no longer needs the comfort and nourishment from my breasts but walks and runs as he pleases- constantly on the go and seeking adventure. This unlatching has brought new milestones and growth that have made him more and more independent. Yet, he still needs Mommy just as much as he did on the day of his birth.

In it all, God has been growing him in each precious season of his life. He has sustained his very life and breath. In the day to day, typical moments. In his first steps, words, and solid foods. In potty training, naps, and discipline. In making friends, learning to share, and listening to daddy and mommy. In sleeping, eating, and drinking. In reading books, walking to the park, riding bikes, and much more.

I’ve been grateful to be by my son’s side in every single stage—the challenging and the joyful. The I-just-blew-it moments. The mundane and the magnificent. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I know these are the days I’ll look back on when I’m older and want again.

After playing in the puddles and awaiting his brother and sister’s arrival home, out of nowhere Will gave me a huge squeeze on my cheeks – to the point where it kind of hurt. I then realized where those fingers had just been- ripping apart those worm bodies!

“Eww, Will! You got worm juice all over my face!” I cringed and squirmed. “Gross!” I yelled.

We laughed together, and he ran to grab the bottle of soap.

 

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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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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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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Seven Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Mom

Motherhood. You never know the extent of what to expect until you actually become a mom for the first time and begin living out the joys and challenges. Nine years ago, I didn’t know what I was in for after I delivered my first born child on a beautiful October morning in Dallas. I’m certainly better today because of the sanctifying, dying-to-self work that’s required in mothering and nurturing my four children today.

Here are seven truths that would’ve helped me prepare for the journey:

1.) Sleep-Deprivation is the new normal. Sleep? Who needs it anyway? Because the first few years you won’t be getting it so you might as well live with it. Coffee will be your best friend even if you didn’t drink it before. Sneaking in naps when the time allows will be your saving grace. Don’t feel guilty for giving your body the rest it needs.

2.) You’ll love your child so much that it hurts. Disobedience, harsh words, tantrums, sibling fighting — oh how it can make your blood boil and provoke you to anger. It hurts when your child hurts you, others, and doesn’t obey. But loving your child wholeheartedly means risking wholeheartedly too. I promise, it’s still worth the risk to keep loving them unconditionally.

3.) Prioritizing your husband is a non-negotiable. Your kids can be thriving in the home, but if your relationship with your husband isn’t, then adjustments need to be made. Do everything you can to put your husband first and not make excuses in the midst of the chaos and demands for, “Mommy! Mom! Momma!?” Protect your marriage like it’s your newborn baby.

4.) Fingerprints on newly cleaned windows, playdough stuck in the carpet, and pee everywhere is only the beginning of the never-ending messes. We’re barely scratching the surface here, moms. Get ready for the mess because it will be daily and sometimes it will be GROSS. Every home has them, large and small. Kids will be kids. Don’t let the messes get under your skin too much even if you’re OCD.

5.) Motherhood is sacrificial, unnoticed work. Promotions? Bonuses? Affirmation and praise from your boss and co-workers? Lunch breaks? Maybe at your job, but not exactly in your role specifically as “mom.” You’ll barely get a bathroom break. Your work in the daily grind will often be disregarded and unappreciated. But your reward is in heaven and God sees. Your kids do too, even if they don’t express it. Look for the “sweet” in the sacrifices and by all means indulge in some chocolate.

6.) You need your mom friends and they need you. Isolation is an enemy because you’ll feel you’re all alone and your circumstances are different than other moms, adopting a “why me?” mindset. Authentic community with other moms brings you outside of yourself, realizing that we all face similar struggles. Let others into your reality even if it’s not exactly tidy. Reach out to friends for their help and support in this season of your life.

7.) Even in your imperfections, building a legacy and investing in the life of your child is an amazing gift. No matter how hard and taxing motherhood is on you emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and regardless of your flaws and mistakes, you are still pouring your life out for the good of your child. The seeds you’re planting will one day come to fruition: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

And… don’t forget to give yourself lots of grace (and good coffee!).

Blessings,

Samantha Krieger

 

  • This article originally 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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How to find joy this Christmas when you’re in the middle of pain

Several Christmas seasons ago when I had four kids all under the age of five, I struggled immensely through the holidays. I was physically and emotionally drained, sleep deprived, and my husband was traveling a lot with his work schedule. Expectations with how Christmas would be didn’t always go as planned. My joy had disappeared and in fact, I remember using the word “wasteland” to describe how I felt inside managing my kids, home life, and daily adult responsibilities.

In the Christian life, it can be easy to allow our circumstances to impact the joy in our hearts. It doesn’t take much to discourage us: a job loss, illness, disobedient kids, unmet expectations, accidents, a broken relationship, death of a loved one, hurting marriage, not feeling like we measure up and more.

So, how do you pray for the joy to return to your soul once again this Christmas? Here are four simple ways.

  1. Confess your hurting heart to God. “Jesus, my joy is gone. Will you restore it?” can be some of the most precious words for him to hear. There is something about confession that reminds us that we are fully dependent on the Lord for his strength. Confession acknowledges our current state and that we aren’t choosing to hide but need help. It is a beautiful thing when we cry out to God to do what only he can. 
  2. Pray for light at the end of the tunnel. “Jesus, I need a way of escape. I need your deliverance.” Sometimes we just need a Jonah moment in our life. We need God to work powerfully in our life and get us out of the deep dark, nasty hole. We need a miracle. Prayer is our weapon against the Enemy’s lies and attacks too. When we pray, we ask God to do what only he can.
  3. Accept help from others. Pride is always something that stands in the way of reaching out and asking for help. Choose humility instead and realize that those who love you are happy to offer a helping hand, especially in moments of deep crisis and pain. Don’t let an attitude of “I can do this on my own” keep you from experiencing the blessing of others lifting you up and encouraging your heart. God wants to use the body of Christ for the benefit of others, including you!
  4. Give yourself grace. In dry and difficult seasons it seems like the world is off color and offset. Even your own heart and how you perceive life can be very dark. Remember to extend grace to yourself and your situation. We’re often most critical of ourselves in those times and it’s easy to beat ourselves up. Soak up Jesus’ new mercies for each new day and wait in anticipation for his rescue. He will lift you up in due time. Wait on Him.          

Looking back on that wasteland season with my kids, there was still so much hope in my life. While my husband had to be out of town Christmas day, my parents provided an abundant Christmas and multiple homemade meals for all my kids. I’ll never forget how all the sparkly, ribbon-wrapped presents overflowed out of our pre-lit tree and the adorable video footage we captured. Several friends from my Mothers of Preschoolers group and family members came to my aid with meals, gift cards, and babysitting my kids (the best gift ever!). Somehow I survived to write about it and my heart feels with joy thinking about it to this day.

This Christmas season, my kids are all nine and under. I have new, unique challenges and there is still a temptation to think God has left me in the moments of chaos and confusion. But I want to choose joy, and I am striving for it even though it can be really hard. I want to live an abundant life in Christ and I know He is the one that can give me the joy I desire.

Will you join me?

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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Battling in Fervent Prayer for Your Children

Not too long before my family and I made our big move from Dallas, Texas to Holyoke, Colorado I was in my parents house reminiscing on all our memories, our journey of seminary, and the special city where all our babies were born. I was in my moms sowing/reading room when I saw her journal open with note cards of all her grandkids names written down. My sister’s boys and our four kids, in addition to her prayer partner Bonnie’s grandchild were listed. My mom and Bonnie have been prayer partners for more than 25 years and pray on the phone once a week. Talk about discipline!

I read them one by one and was challenged and encouraged in my own prayer life. In the current ages of our children (8 and under), my husband and I have had our share of challenges in parenting each child’s unique personality. We haven’t always known what is a spiritual vs. a physical battle with each one. But now more than ever, when I’m often pleading for help from Jesus, I’m reminded that prayer is my greatest weapon against the Enemy.

You see, our fight even in parenting, is not against flesh and blood but against the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. We don’t always see the battle before us so we must fight with spiritual weapons. It would be silly and foolish to engage in a spiritual battle with only physical armor. The discipline of prayer teaches us to humble ourselves and seek our greater authority who is fully aware of every situation we face.

Prayer is an invitation for us to bring all our concerns to Jesus and lay them at his feet. We need to be confident to go to the throne of grace- regardless of our weaknesses and brokenness- that he will hear us when we call to him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  Your words will not fall on deaf ears and you can have assurance that your almighty God, maker of heaven and earth cares for you and is fully capable.

My temptation each day for not being fervent in prayer are thoughts like: “Their rebellion is not that big of a deal. They’re just kids. They will learn …” and more. But the reality is that they’re also in a battle against their sinful nature, the darkness in this world, culture’s cunning lies, and the battle of their flesh that says “dive in and enjoy sin to the fullest, even if it hurts you and causes great pain.”

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”

In addition to our parenting strategies and disciplines, what if we trained and disciplined ourselves in prayer over our children’s hearts each day? After all, scripture says that foolishness resides within them just as it does with us. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Their bad attitude, sassy mouth, undisciplined behavior, disrespect for authority, laziness, apathy, not wanting what they desire, sibling rivalry, complaining spirit, lying, stealing, lusts for more, and the list goes on… What if we engaged in prayer like never before over their hearts? What if we entrusted Jesus to do the work that we simply cannot do?

I have no doubt that we’d begin to see prayers answered, hearts softened, passions rekindled, respect and responsibility in action, and a standing up for the right thing like we’ve never seen before. Perhaps we’d begin to see the healing we’ve been longing for so badly in our home, marriage, and children because of prayer.

Just as my mom began writing down her prayers and claiming them, I too (finally!), have started writing down and praying promises of Scripture over my children. It’s been a great delight and privilege to pray over their struggles. Ironically, I see their battles are very similar to my own.

At the end of the day, for all of us, the sobering question we must face is that if we don’t pray for the hearts of our children in this dangerous and deadly spiritual battle, who will?

Fighting in the war with you,

Samantha

This post was inspired by the book my moms Bible study is going through this fall: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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Keeping Place: An Interview with Jen Pollock Michel, wife, mother, speaker and Christianity Today award-winning author

I’m excited to introduce you to Jen Pollock Michel about her new book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. Jen is a wife, mama to 5, award-winning author, regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, and more! My Bible study group recently went through her book and Rightnow Media video series Teach Us To Want and learned so much from it.

Jen has written a book that I believe is timely for us as women. How should we properly view our work in the home? What about this heartache we sometimes experience for our heavenly home?

Thank you, Jen, for your time and willingness to answer a few questions about your book. In Keeping Place, you challenge us to consider the ordinary and beautiful spaces of our homes and how taking care of them is, in fact, sacred. How do you define a faithful homemaker?

 Jen: I really think we can look to God as a Homemaker. I know that’s not traditionally a title we would give to God, but I think Genesis 1 and 2 give us this wonderful glimpse into God’s acts of homemaking. He’s making a world for his children to live in!

I’m struck by the idea that making a home isn’t about beauty for beauty’s sake or comfort for comfort’s sake. Homemaking is a work of welcome, and it’s always in service to others. It’s a work centered on people and a work anyone can do. You don’t have to be a married woman with children. You don’t have to live in a big, fancy house. You can be a young professional. You can be an empty nester. We can all make home for others in the world by following God into his work of hospitality, and this is all about seeing people, helping them to find belonging, and loving them in concrete ways.

 

Samantha: How has understanding God as your Homemaker drawn you closer to himself and those under your own roof?

Jen: First, to consider God as Homemaker inspires in me a very real sense of his love. I think that’s what the Psalmist had in mind in Psalm 8 when he looked at creation and said, “How could so big a God care about someone so small as me?” And Scripture does testify to the very personal and intimate care that God takes of us. He numbers the hairs on our head. He knows our words before we’ve yet spoken them. He collects our tears in his bottle. He wants to know us—and dwell with us.

Because God’s care is so intimate and personal, I want to know that kind of love to my children. This kind of intimate, personal love requires a lot of patient listening. It means drawing people out with questions, being available especially at inopportune moments. I want to be better at this: just loving my husband and children by being present with them and seeking to know them intimately.

 

Samantha: What encouragement can you offer to those of us who struggle to “keep house” (ahem, such as myself J) and live out the daily grind with an eternal perspective?

Jen: It’s tempting for all of us to want home without the housekeeping. And what I mean by this isn’t so much that we should be mopping and dusting more, although maybe we should be doing that, too! Instead, it’s really just this idea that you can’t have the welcome of home apart from the work of home. I remember this every time we host overnight guests, which means washing lots of extra towels and sheets. People in our homes, whether children or friends, creates work. It’s work to feed people, work to make a home welcoming. Especially with young children, home is a lot of repetitive and seemingly meaningless work.

But maybe we can think of it through the lens of John 13, where Jesus took up a basin and a towel to wash his disciples’ feet. He didn’t just say to his disciples, “Man, I love you guys!” He demonstrated that love by taking their dirty feet in his own hands and washing them clean.

When we pick up socks and wash towering stacks of dishes and wipe the table for the fourteenth time of the day, we are following Jesus into his housekeeping work. A home can’t be made apart from those menial efforts.

 

Samantha: After knowing the unconditional love, acceptance, and welcoming arms of our Savior, what is our responsibility to those who have yet to receive the gospel?

Jen: Similarly, it’s just this idea that we must love our neighbors in concrete ways. A lot of this is about being present to our neighbors’ suffering. What is breaking the heart of the person next door? What is the particular grief in your neighborhood or city? Do we take that suffering to God in prayer? Do we look for ways to practically meet needs? That kind of practical love doesn’t replace a verbal witness of the gospel, but it sure goes a long way toward improving its reception!

 

Samantha: What were some of your favorite reflections throughout Keeping Place?

Jen: A borrowed reflection in the book is something from Henri Nouwen in his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Henri Nouwen talks about his own realization regarding this familiar parable of Jesus. For so long, he’d read the story and identified himself as one of the sons. He’d been the younger son, estranged from God because of his overt rebellion. He’d also been the older son, estranged from God because of his inner resentment. But as he continued to read and reflect on the story and on Rembrandt’s painting of this story, he began to see that in Christ, God moves the church into the role of Father. That we aren’t just the ones who are being loved, but that we are the ones who do the loving. That we aren’t just the ones being welcomed, but the ones doing the welcoming.

I think that’s where the biblical story of home really takes us: into the work of mission.

Thank you so much, Jen!

Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want, Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year, as well as Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home (May, 2017). Both books have been produced as original video series by RightNow Media. Finalist for The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association New Author Award in 2015, Jen writes widely for both print and digital publications. Additionally, Jen travels to speak at churches, conferences, and retreats. Jen holds a B.A. in French from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) and an M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She is married to Ryan and together, they have five school-age children and live in Toronto.

 

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3 Reasons Why There’s No One Like You, Mama

This morning among the craziness of getting everyone out the door, my 6-year-old was feeling the pressure and in an unhappy mood. She started teasing her siblings and began to have a meltdown, shouting that she didn’t want to go to school. Even though she was so excited about her field trip today to the dairy farm. Her emotions got the best of her. She could barely finish her Honey Nut Cheerios.

“Rebekah, why don’t you go get in the shower?” I said.

“No, Bekah don’t do it. Don’t do it. You can’t get in the shower!” my husband chimed in.

Reverse psychology works well on Rebekah. She began cracking a smile and dug her chin into her chest. She finished her cereal and sprung out of her chair. She headed for the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, she came out a new young lady. Her face brightened, she got dressed, and she was more self controlled. She got out the door in time and made it to school.

Not every morning goes like this, but over the years through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about Rebekah and her needs. Some mornings are hard for her to handle (thanks to her mom who isn’t a morning person either). Even though she might not need a shower from having a bath the night before, the hot water, time to herself, and the calming effect helps her tremendously.

As moms, I think one of the greatest gifts we’re able to give our children is the ability to meet their needs as they change in each new developmental stage. Sometimes we overlook just how important this really is. God knew best when he chose you for your child. Here’s why:

1. No one else knows the deepest needs and desires of your child like you do.

Do you have a friend that treats your child in the same manner that you or your family does? You know if you have a friend like that, she’s pretty much a gem. You birthed your child into this life, clothed her, fed her and wiped away her first tear. You’ve seen her first steps and have been by her side at all hours of the night. You’ve experienced this sweet sacrifice.

You know her strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and who she is in the deepest parts. No one can love her like you do. No one knows her emotional, physical, and spiritual needs like you do. What a privilege to meet those critical needs throughout her life.

2. There’s no one else your child would rather be with than you.

You might be thinking, yeah right, my child just disrespected me and is constantly disobeying me. Maybe your relationship seems distant and not the parent-child relationship you desire. Regardless of outward behavior, her heart still beats for you. You are her only momma. She wants your attention, closeness, love, and time – whether that’s communicated clearly or not.

When you’re not physically with her, she still thinks of you and asks about you. Mommy is her favorite word and Mommy is who she’s thinking of when she’s away from you.

3.) No one else has the kind of influence over your child than you do.

The example you live and the impact you have upon your child is enormous. The way you talk, love, and teach her will shape and mold her into the adult she’ll become. I don’t know about you but this reality always hits me hard because I’m imperfect. I’m a sinner. I don’t always get it right. I know the impact and consequences my sin has upon my children.

However, we serve a big God who can help us love our children well. Relying and depending upon His power is where the real strength lies as we seek to be the kind of mom God wants us to be.

May the truth that there’s no one like you – no more perfect mama than you for your child – inspire you in knowing that your role in motherhood is significant, valued, cherished, and esteemed in the eyes of God and to your children.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

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