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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A Prayer for the Weary, Worn-Out Mama

Oh Lord, thank you for who you are and that I’m always welcome to approach your throne in confidence and boldness, no matter how much I’ve failed you. No matter how exhausted I am. I confess to you today that my heart and soul is malnourished and deprived of the nutrients and sustenance that only you can give.

I have tried to manage life on my own, only to fall every time. I’ve tried to control my husband, home life, and children apart from you, and I’m so grateful you’re reminding me today that the only person I can put my hope in is you.

I’m worn out from “doing” when I should be focused on “being” who you’ve called me to be. I’m struggling, Lord, because I don’t want my identity to be in anything else other than you but the temptations and the gradual pull to place my hope in temporary, non-eternal things is a constant tug of war match.

I’m weary from the high calling you have given me as a mother to my children, who I love with all my heart. I don’t always know what I’m doing in shepherding their hearts. I don’t always love them well or know how to handle their sinful nature, nor my own. I call upon you for the help that you are always ready and willing to give in abundance. Humble me so that I will call on your name more.

I know that when I surrender to you and release control, you will take over and that you always lead me to streams of living water. You always bring me satisfaction and joy. For there is rest in you and your yoke is easy – not burdensome.

Please lift the afflictions and grievances off my back so that I may live freely for you today. Rid me of my selfishness and teach me what your love is like so that I may love others well. Teach me how to be the mama you’re calling me to be. Thank you that your love is better than life and I can trust in your unfailing love for me now and into eternity.

In your precious and holy name I pray,

Amen

 

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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Guest Post: How to Reignite the Wintery Soul by Seana Scott

I’m thrilled today that one of my friends and fellow seminary mamas will be writing today’s guest post. Seana reached out to me when our husbands were at Dallas Seminary and we quickly became friends after our first playdate amongst coffee, banana bread, and busy babies. We both share a passion for God’s word and writing so as you can imagine, we have a lot to talk about. Seana has a heart of gold and I love her passion for Jesus, her family, and ministry. .

Seana writes for Seanascott.orgReal. Faith. Moms and when you subscribe to her blog, you receive a free e-book called Joy Made Full: 5 Lies that Trap Moms & How to Break Free. On her blog, you can also scroll down and listen to some of her quick videos on motherhood. Super encouraging!

Thank you, Seana, for today’s post!

————————————————

“Snow! Mama, Snow!” My three-year-old yelled as he watched the floating flakes dance to the ground. Any light dusting of snow in Fort Worth, Texas is reason enough to call off school and put on layers of blizzard gear and play.

I needed to head back into town to pick up my other son from school.

“Alright, Judah. Let’s go.”

We thanked friends for hosting a play-date and opened the front door. Judah dashed out like a puppy on the loose. “Snow, mommy! Can I eat it?” He squatted down to investigate the inch border of fluff on the sidewalk.

“Just make sure there’s no dirt in it.” Is there even enough to pick up?

 He froze in position and stared.

“It’s okay, honey. Look.” I grabbed a little snow and placed it in his hands. “Snow.”

“C-o-o-old,” he said as he took a little lick and giggled—the joy of his first snow encounter.

As I drove an hour back into town, I wondered, Judah delighted in just a dusting of snow. Do I delight in the wonderland of grace?

In Revelation Chapter 2 God commended the church in Ephesus for their commitment, perseverance, and work for the Lord—but chastised them for losing their first love.

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:3-4)

Sometimes I find myself guilty of steadfastness in doing the right things, but cold in love.

When our passion does not equal our commitment, how can we reignite our love for God?

Revelation 2:5 tells us: Take ownership of your short-comings (repent) and do what you did at first.

Do you ever feel stale in your relationship with God? What did you do when you first encountered His love? Return to those things.

When I first became a believer:

  1. I hungered to know God and read the Word often.
  2. I hung out with more mature believers whenever I could.
  3. I attended any worship event I could.
  4. I plugged into a discipleship group.

Of course as a mom of three little people, that looks different now. But I still can read (or listen) to His word, connect with believers, worship through music, and seek mentorship.

How about you? Is your love for the Lord cold?

What is one step you can take today to reignite your love for Jesus?

PRAY: Lord, thank you once again for salvation through Jesus Christ. I need your Spirit to help me love you the way I did at first. Please show me one simple way that I can fuel my first love for you again. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.


Seana Scott is a pastor’s wife and mom to three kiddos. She is working towards a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. She enjoys walks with her family, talking with women over a cup of coffee, and exploring the beautiful world. You can get a free copy of her Ebook for moms, Joy Made Full, or schedule her to speak at SeanaScott.org.

 

Guilt vs. Grace: Battling the Never-ending Voices of Motherhood

Last night when I was picking up my 3 and 4 year old from Awana, before I could realize it, they darted out into the church parking lot. I yelled at them to “Stop!” and was fuming with anger. Headlights beamed and cars were making their way out.

I ran as fast as I could to grab them. Other kids were watching my kids in their disobedience. I rebuked them and disciplined them for not listening to Mommy. My heart beat fast as we made our way home and I told them they were in big trouble.

After the incident, I beat myself up pretty bad about what could’ve been done differently. Did I not do a good job at telling them what to expect? Do they need more discipline? (yes, always!) I was embarrassed. I prayed and cried and honestly just felt like a failure. I already have major anxiety with my kids in parking lots and streets.

You see, it is this subtle voice after a long day’s work of child-rearing, managing daily responsibilities, making sure the wheels on the house are running smoothly, disciplining defiant children, and more, that says:

You’re not good enough. You’re not the mom you should be. Your kids are a reflection of you. When will you get it together?

The voice of guilt. The voice of condemnation. It’s a cunning voice that sneaks into the cracks of unexpected places with the potential to freeze me from doing anything worthy. Now don’t get me wrong. Guilt can be a very good thing – to show us our offense and to make us keenly aware of our need for repentance. In this situation however, it was a false guilt.

It took my eyes off Jesus and his ability to carry me, and had me focusing on myself, my weaknesses, my struggles, and my incapabilities. It took my eyes off gratitude and filled my heart with negativity, self-pity, and depression. I never once thought of the blessing that I could run fast enough to catch them!

Lisa Terkeurst says,

Learn to be more thankful for what you are than guilty for what you’re not. Cut the threads of guilt with grace.

Grace- God’s unmerited favor, goodwill, and loving-kindness toward us as imperfect sinners. Grace says that God is for us. He loves us and wants to teach us a better way to live. He’s not angry and waiting for us to get our act together, but he is patient and guides us as our loving Father.

  • In the name of grace, there is no condemnation or a constant beating over the head. “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1 
  • In the name of grace, there is no fear in His perfect love. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18 
  • In the name of grace, God is sanctifying and purifying us to be holy. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

I don’t know if you’ve felt the grip of guilt on your heart but may I encourage you to let God take it off of your chest – just for today? Don’t worry about tomorrow. Allow him to shower you with his grace in your present situation. His love for you is not contingent on what you do or don’t do as a mom.

And the way your children behave at times that’s out of your control? That doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom nor is that where your identity is found.

The voice of guilt and the voice of grace are always at odds, battling it out with each other on a daily basis. As you begin to listen to them more and see them for what they are, you will see that the voice of grace is always greater.

It is the voice of freedom.

Striving in grace with you,

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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What I Want My Sons to Know About Being Bold & Brave in a Hurting & Hostile Culture

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A few months ago before bedtime, my oldest son John expressed to me that a friend at his school was struggling.

“Mom, he told me on the playground that he thinks God hates him.”

I was shocked by those words coming from a young child.

“So I told him that God does love him and that I could bring him a Bible.”

I smiled and told John how brave he was to encourage his friend like that. And it got me thinking how I need to be praying more for both my boys to grow into men who will stand up for truth, have courage, and love others well in a world that is hurting and hostile toward God.

I sometimes feel like I’m not doing enough in preparing and training my children but I know it’s never too late to begin fervently praying for them. I pray that my boys will grow into men who will:

  • Fear the Lord and seek his wisdom from a young age
  • Stand up for what is right even when no-one else is
  • Live a life of purity where the women in their life are valued, treasured, and honored
  • Know how to turn their eyes away from lustful things that seek to deceive and harm them
  • Love their future wives as Christ loved the church– unconditionally, sacrificially, and with whole-hearted devotion
  • Confess their sin and turn to the Lord all of the days of their life

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There’s no doubt that it’s a bit fearful and intimidating as we consider beginning with the end in mind in parenting our boys. What kind of men do we want them to become? How can we begin to help them live like the men we desire them to be?

I want them to know they can be brave and bold right now in a world that’s hurting and in need of the hope that is found in Jesus.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

I pray they’ll be confident leaders who speak the truth in love and understand that true leadership is service– it is not lording it over people in their pride, position and power but is that of humility, strength, and selflessness.

In a world that screams hate, violence, and craves conflict and strife, I pray my boys will return their words and actions with love, peace, and hope in the midst of chaos. I pray they will be givers, and not takers. That they would trust in Jesus when it gets really tough.

In a world that’s rejecting God as their sovereign Creator, I want my boys to know that Jesus is our perfect example who took a towel and washed the feet of his disciples, who entrusted his life to the Father and waited on His timing for everything. Who didn’t entrust himself to men because he knew the evil in their hearts. Yet he pursued them in their mess of sin and loved them still.

I want my boys to know when they look to Jesus they’ll never be disappointed.

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Not many days after our bedtime conversation, I volunteered in John’s classroom and his friend who’d shared those feelings about God happened to be in my reading group. The lesson was on friendship and the discussion questions led into him telling me that a family member of his had died.

“Yeah, we’ve been going through a lot lately,” he said.

One of his pets had died too. My heart ached for him and it all made sense as to why he felt that God was not for him.

He shared some more and had such a heart of compassion. It made me realize there are endless opportunities to love on the people God puts on our path and seek to understand where they’re coming from.

In a culture that’s in need of Jesus’ love, great opportunity lies ahead as we teach our boys how to be the men God desires them to be – even when we feel inadequate. As their mommas, may we be their biggest prayer warriors.

Cheering you on in the trenches,

Samantha

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Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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The One Thing You Probably Need Most Today

It is often at the end of the day, where I feel most attacked in motherhood. Satan whispers lies: You’re not doing this right. You’re going to screw up your kids. You’re unqualified. You’ll never overcome the anger, control, pride, and more. You don’t have what it takes.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that this is all a very works-based mentality. That if I could just “do” more and be “better” as a wife and mom, then the path will be straight and God will love me.

Oh, but this is far from the truth because it leaves out one word out that I desperately need daily:

G R A C E

Grace comes to us as God’s undeserving gift and kindness. It is not something we earn or have to work hard for. It is not something that if we just get our act together, the odds will be in our favor. It is not conditional as to whether we meet a certain standard of righteousness. It is not how we often treat our children: If you do this, then I will love you. If not, then you have fallen short of my standard and I will like you less.

Another word for grace is also mercies. His mercies are new each and every day. The slate is wiped clean. I don’t know about you, but that is good news.

In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah was under intense affliction, wandering, and pain. He says, “My soul is downcast within me” (vs. 20). Yet in the next verse he reveals, “Yes this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (vs. 21) – the steadfast love of the Lord is what spurs him on in the midst of trouble.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

Because of God’s unwavering, unconditional, steadfast love, we won’t drown in despair. When we end the day feeling battle-worn, wondering if the morning will be any different, we have great hope because his grace and mercy toward us are always moving in strength, like a raging waterfall – regardless of how well we have done. We can trust him to carry us in the deepest of valley’s, brokenness, and suffering. Because that is what our Father does for his children.

Because his great love for you never ceases, his grace doesn’t either. Grab hold of it today – knowing He has covered your guilt, shame, dissatisfaction, self-sufficiency, self-loathing, and more. He has covered the lies that tempt you. He will give you what you need just for this very moment.

Most of all, let his grace and love captivate your heart unlike anything else in your life.

Questions for Reflection: Is there anything in your life you feel God could never forgive? How can you better cling tight to his grace, instead of a works-based acceptance mindset?

I was lost
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

(“Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin)

 

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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Why I Choose to Connect with You, and Not Compete

One day in the midst of the craziness of getting my coffee made, I scrolled through Facebook for a mommy break. In the newsfeed, my friend Katie had shared a photo of her pristine, cute, crafty living room that looked like a Pinterest explosion. My eyes were glued to the design in her home and the eye candy on her walls!

She’s so much more gifted than I am. How does she do it? My home isn’t as beautiful as hers. Sadly, I dwelt on these thoughts and they put me in a bad mood. I was holding up the measuring stick to a dear, trusted friend of mine. I was competing and comparing and it had the best of me.

A few months later, I didn’t heat up another coffee cup in the microwave but instead got one at Starbucks with Katie. We talked about our struggles and I shared how I compared myself to her and all her gifts. She revealed how she’d done the same with other mom friends who were always going on outings with their kids.

“I can barely get out of the house each day,” she mentioned. “I feel like I’m not doing enough with my kids.”

I felt similar feelings. We laughed and talked about how you rarely see the whole picture of a friend’s life in your highlight reels. You see the joys and milestones, rarely the fighting with your husband, no make-up, unshaved legs, disaster-of-a-house kind of days, the dark reality of depression, defiant children, a broken marriage, tears on your pillow at night, or the pain of how life can be so stinkin’ hard (literally).

It’s much easier to be preoccupied with another friend’s perfect life, instead of choosing to have a heart full of gratitude for own own.

There is a way to celebrate those gifts and talents we see in our friends: the friend who can creatively homeschool all five of her kids and still remain sane. The friend who lives, eats, and breathes essential oils when you have no idea how to use them. The friend who eats squeaky clean and has chiseled shoulders from Beachboy workouts when you’re eating your kids’ processed mac and cheese. The friend who managed to fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans within two weeks after giving birth.

The friend who can sell Plexus, LuLaRoe, Norwex, and Rodan + Fields like nobody’s business. The friend whose husband can build anything from a scrap of wood. The friend who is traveling the world, while you’re wiping nasty noses and changing dirty diapers. The friend who seems to juggle ten different responsibilities when you can barely muster up one simple task. And more…

Comparisons sneak up in all kinds of ways and they indeed steal joy, but we can choose to be devoted to love and honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10). We can choose to praise each other for the gifts God has given us.

It takes time, humility, understanding, love, and patience to connect, instead of compete with one another in our hearts. It requires pulling up a chair at the table and listening. It also means calling competition and comparison what it is: Sin.

Envy, jealousy, and covetousness is not the way God desires for us to live. There is a better way. A more freeing, satisfying, and joyful way. There’s so much gratification, fulfillment, and sweet friendship when we connect with our friends to learn the full story of who they are and their unique challenges, not just making judgments from the mere snapshots on the screen. Because the Lord knows, we’ve all got mountains to climb!

When we reach out, it gives us a better appreciation for one another and helps us see that we’re simply not alone. Most of all, we discover the blessing of a friend knowing who we really are and loving us still– and vice versa– which is perhaps what our hearts have been longing for in the first place.

In my sinful nature, I still struggle at times with competing, but I’m determined to confess it to God, do my best to catch myself when I do, and instead ask a friend out for coffee.

If you’ve read Quiet Time, this story is what I’m referring to on Page 5. If you haven’t read a copy yet, you can do so here.

 

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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{Photos} Quiet Time Devotional Book Signing at Inklings & More Bookstore – Holyoke, CO

Last weekend, I had a wonderful time signing my new devotional book at our local bookstore Inklings and More in Holyoke (which is adorable by the way, for you out-of-towners. It even has a coffee shop/bakery attached to it… and a craft store… and an antique store.. and more!).

Several months ago, they not only asked to carry my book but offered to let me have a book signing. I jumped at the opportunity! Upon arriving, sneaky and thoughtful Bev from our church surprised me with teal carnations, a cute coffee mug, and lollipops to decorate the table.

Joylyn at the bookstore was a huge help in making sure the table was set up and there wasn’t too much sun coming in the window. She took care of a lot of the details. My friend Leslie snapped these photos and I’m so thankful she did because I probably would have forgotten. My friend Jean helped me manage the table and provided the humor (as always).

My moms Bible study surprised me at the very beginning and it was so much fun seeing them. I really enjoyed interacting with visitors and friends. Many who came by bought multiple copies for their friends and family. My husband is not in these photos as he was taking care of our kids, but he was a huge part of this project from start to finish, and continues to be. He snapped a photo and put it on social media and it was fun to see friends and family from a distance getting excited about the book and sharing it from Amazon.com.

Many thanks to owners Lucas and Jennifer Hayes, and Susan Hinck for allowing me to be here and share about Quiet Time! You do such a great job with Inklings and More. Our community is thankful for you. Thank you to my readers, friends, and family for your continued support in launching Quiet Time!

 

Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. 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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