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The Next Step

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It has felt like boot camp every time I’ve gone. The women to my right and left are trim, toned, and can lift the heavy weights. My mid-section is a bit pudgy being six weeks out of having my third child and I have to choose the light weights as a beginner.

As we dive in to chisel class, my fitness instructor, Galey, wastes no time through each workout and each set within the workout intensifies. My arm, back, and leg muscles strain and ache from the barbell lunges, squats, and dead lifts.

During pushups and abs, my arms are shaky and I wonder if I can keep going. I gaze at the clock wondering if I’m at the end yet. I’m starting to feel a little sick, but I know I can do it.

“This is hard,” Galey yells while crunching her abs. “Remember that’s OK!”

Finally, the ab drills are over. My whole body feels like jello and I can barely muster up the strength to do the stretching exercises. I put away my barbell and hand weights and smile at the other women. We all have that look of relief on our faces.

As I head out the door to pick up my kids from childcare, I overhear Galey talking with a new member of the class, “The key to these classes is you have to keep coming. Then you’ll start to get the hang of it and get better.”

I nod my head as I hear her talking. I know that the key is faithfulness if I want to see results. But not only would I need to be faithful, perseverance through every exercise would have to become by best friend in order to grow lean and strong.

Perseverance through Experience

If there’s anything I’ve learned at 29 years old it’s that without perseverance it’s nearly impossible to withstand the winds and the rains that beat against the doors of the Christian life. And the means by which we learn perseverance is through life experiences.

Here are a few experiences God has used to teach me perseverance:

  • Undergoing years of intense study to earn my undergraduate/graduate degrees
  • Praying for my dad’s brain tumor diagnosis in 2004
  • Training and running my first marathon
  • Enduring an ACL soccer injury, the surgery, and physical therapy
  • Trusting God with my husband’s career changes
  • Getting through the excruciating pain of childbirth

When I think of perseverance I’m reminded of my friends Kavan and Lindsey. In February, Kavan deployed for Afghanistan to serve our country in the Army. Their second baby girl was born just a month after he left. While it was difficult, Lindsey stayed strong and began adjusting to life with two.

Kavan’s words of encouragement, Facebook posts, and flowers from Afghanistan on Mother’s Day helped her press on in the waiting. She’s endured hard days in motherhood and being in a city all by herself. Yet she knows the hope that lies ahead. In just a few days, Kavan will return home, reunite with his bride, and meet his daughter for the first time. What an exciting day that will be for their family.

What Saves a Man?

C.S. Lewis once said that, “what saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”

Every endeavor worth pursuing requires a first step. And I believe the first step just might be the hardest because there’s such a battlefield in the mind to overcome. It’s easier to become discouraged and throw in the towel. I have to not only fight the big letdowns, but the lies in my mind and heart that subtly say:

  • I can’t
  • God could never use someone like me
  • I don’t have any gifts or special abilities

And exchange them for truth:

  • I can do anything through Christ’s strength
  • God wants and desires to use me
  • I’ve been uniquely talented and gifted for God’s glory

Walking by faith is no easy task. God’s path isn’t always brightly lit. His ways are often not my ways. And trials and adversity can wear even the strongest soul down but obstacles are often the best tools for our sanctification and growth.

In difficult circumstances, the next step is all that’s required of me. It’s comforting to know that the burdens aren’t my own to carry either. My responsibility is to be faithful and obedient to the Lord.

Amazing Grace

Persevering in my faith also means that I’ve been called to continue in a state of grace to the very end as the beloved hymn puts so well:

T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far… and Grace will lead us home.” – Amazing Grace

I can’t forget that God’s grace is what carries me, day by day. Somehow I lose sight of that at times and forget it is even there for me to draw upon. I’ve been given access to His grace whenever and however I need it.

One day my life will come to an end. Either Jesus will come or I will be taken home. Knowing such truth gives me the hope to endure life’s trials. I know that everything will be okay because I have Jesus and He will be there at the end.

Well in case you were wondering I just completed my 3rd week of chisel class at the gym. Every class has been different and it never ceases to be challenging. But my clothes are getting looser, my little girl’s baby carrier feels lighter, and I feel stronger than I was a month ago. By God’s grace I’ll make it to the 30th week!

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Samantha Krieger is a writer and editor in Dallas, Texas. Through story, personal reflection, and biblical insight she is passionate about helping others live out their faith in everyday life. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she wrote Bible study curriculum for Bluefish TV -- one of the largest Christian video publishing companies. She's written for LifeWay's Collegiate Magazine, Focus on the Family Magazine, StartMarriageRight.com, and has contributed to books on Christian living. She holds a B.A. in English from Liberty University and a M.A. in Religion with an emphasis in Church Ministries from Liberty Theological Seminary. Samantha and her husband, Jeremiah, have three children: John, Rebekah, and Hannah. She blogs weekly at: samanthakrieger.com and tweets at: @samanthakrieger.

6 Comments
  • JK

    Great encouragement. I needed that this morning. Thank you!

  • Mark Allman

    I have often told my children that starting something is frequently the toughest element of accomplishing something worthwhile. I would agree with you; that first step is key. Perseverance is accomplished a lot of times by knowing there is an end game. The clock will turn over and you will say enough. The project will be done; etc. Also key to perseverance is the will to do something repeatedly regardless that the brain and body saying you don’t have to. Take that first step and take it most everyday. Setting milepost of accomplishments helps to as and endpoint marks time and achievement.

  • very well said. So true: “Perseverance is accomplished a lot of times by knowing there is an end”. I think that is the ultimate hope indeed- knowing the struggle won’t go on forever.

    Thanks for your insight, Mark.

  • Akofa

    Thanks for sharring these encouraging words, Samantha K! God bless you!

  • Betsy

    Great article! One note of caution about ab work postpartum. It takes usually 6 months for your abdominal gap or diastasis recti to close, so if you are doing sit-up type ab exercises it will make the gap worse. I have friends who did lots of ab exercises postpartum without knowing this info and now their gap will not close without surgery. Good luck!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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The Next Step

by Samantha Krieger time to read: 4 min
6