When You Find Yourself in a Season of “Stuck”

My three-year-old has been obsessed with going to his room and dressing himself multiple times a day. Recently, I heard a bloodcurdling scream in our living room. I ran to Will as he yelled, “I can’t ge-t-t-it. It’s stu-u-u-ck!” He couldn’t pull the zipper up on his shorts – it was stuck on the fabric. Tears streamed down his eyes.

“Mommy can help you. This isn’t as bad as you think,” I said.

I zipped up his shorts and dried his tears. He ran off to play trains and I was thankful for a drama-free resolve that didn’t include blood or else I would’ve passed out.

In our own lives, what is it about being stuck that makes us feel like we’re screaming inside? Maybe you’ve found yourself sitting on the sidelines waiting to get in the game. You’re not progressing like you want to in parenting your defiant children, career success, marital health, in-law issues, finances, weight loss, and more. You’re simply unsure of what to do next.

I don’t know about you but when I’m not seeing the completion of a process, I feel like a failure and that I’m not doing enough. Is it even okay to be in the in-between?

After publishing my first book, I’m continually asking God what is next? I’m cautious about what big project I jump into next and how it might impact my family and sanity with young children. I’m sometimes fearful of tackling the unknown and something altogether new.

Lately, I’m remembering the mantra my mom often tells me from one of her favorite authors and spiritual mentors, the late Elisabeth Elliott: Do the Next Thing. To which I translate: Do something. Just show up. Don’t stress about a future that isn’t here yet. Be obedient to God’s word and to prayer. Be present and available in the tasks he has before you right now. Don’t detest those baby steps.

“Doing the next thing” is an action that means moving forward. So, I’m writing the next article, pursuing publishing contacts, growing my relationships with author friends, and continuing to write for my local paper and other websites. I’m surprising weary moms with my book in a goodie box (my favorite part!).

God is working in the still spots and He isn’t aloof to my desires. He’s here. He’s more concerned about my contentment and trust in him than the outcomes I want.

This season of “stuck” for you? It won’t last forever just as the overcast April rains soon bring us clear blue skies. Maybe your next thing will be to seek the support of a trusted friend, join that financial peace class, schedule to meet with a counselor, begin writing that book burning wildly in your heart, quit your 9-5 job and create a business from scratch, download a good fitness app to keep on track, or pursue healing with your spouse.

As I was there to help my son’s zipper situation and calm his tantrum so he could get on with playing, God will come to your aid in just the right time and lift you up in the perfect way He sees fit.

Blessings to you,

Samantha

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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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 Courage to be You, Bravely, in 2017

It’s funny how sayings stick in your head. “Be You, Bravely” was the theme for my Mother’s of Preschooler’s group (MOPS) in Dallas a few years ago and I have reflected on it a lot the last several months.

Whether it comes through scrolling down the highlight reels of friends on Facebook and Instagram or comparing myself to what another person has in her life, God is teaching me to be me. And me alone.

The temptation is to believe that other friends have it better, are more gifted, and suitable for their work. But the truth is that we all have challenges in our lives – some obvious, some unseen. We’re all gifted uniquely for God’s purposes – fashioned according to His will.

Purpose in Publishing

Recently, I was given an exciting opportunity from a Christian publishing company to be one of three writers to submit writing for an upcoming project they are working on with a respected author. They seemed very interested in my sample writing and was hoping I would move forward in letting the author see my samples. The problem was that I thought it was going to be a co-write and soon learned that it was a ghost-write. My heart immediately became unsettled.

If you aren’t familiar with ghostwriting, you are hired by a publisher to write the story/content that is officially credited to another person – in this case it was someone quite famous in the Christian world. In ghostwriting, you take on their voice but you receive no credit on the cover and you cannot reveal it in your portfolio. You’re usually given a good sum of money in ghostwriting, too. There are pros and cons to it.

I know writers that ghostwrite and I don’t judge them. But in my heart, I didn’t feel it was right for me. It also wasn’t in line with my personal goals in my writing career. It was hard to let the publisher know I wasn’t interested in moving forward, but I felt peace.

God had purpose in that experience as it led me to write my own book and collaborate with like-minded friends and it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, especially hearing from readers and friends who have found hope and encouragement through it.

Boasting in Our Weaknesses

I believe that staying true to who we are takes a lot of courage, indeed. Not only staying true to our calling in Christ and who he has created us to be, but also not hiding who we are in our brokenness and weaknesses.

I love what the Apostle Paul says,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Cor. 12:9

Paul gladly boasted in his weaknesses. He didn’t exactly have a stellar resume before Christ met him on the road to Damascus. He didn’t pride himself in who he was, because he knew what he was before Christ, and it wasn’t pretty. Being true to who we are requires that we take a good look inside our hearts and our own shortcomings. We are not self-sufficient, but Christ-sufficient.

When we acknowledge and admit we are powerless over our struggles and sin, we give God room to work. We allow him to search who we really are. I know when I allow him to do that, I find that I am utterly dependent on him for any good thing. I rarely can do good apart from him. Even on my best day, I still fall short.

A Great Opportunity 

It takes courage to be You. And no one else. It’s much easier to be busy about what others are doing, instead of taking a good hard look inside your own heart and seeing what God is doing in you. Who has he made you to be? What dreams has he given you? What scars and brokenness do you have that can be shared for the benefit of another friend?

In a culture where social media offers “all the feels” as Jen Wilkin recently wrote in her article Beware the Instagram Bible in 2017“It [the Instagram gospel] preaches good news in part, but we need the whole. It may move us in the moment, but it cannot sustain us through the storm.”

As women who follow Jesus, we have a great opportunity in 2017 to shine the light into who we truly are. We have a great opportunity to get to know our friends in real time, beyond the mere scrolling of our thumb on a phone screen. We have an opportunity, like never before, to come out of hiding and show others how great our God is.

 

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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