Why You Should Practice the “F” Word



“Rebekah, stop saying mean words to your sister Hannah! She loves you,” I corrected my oldest daughter a few days ago. We have had quite the battles with the tongue lately.

“Noooo! She does not love me!” Rebekah shouted.

“When I was little, she took my paci out of my mouth and it was sooo rude!”

I looked at Rebekah and had to laugh as it reminded me of her pacifier obsession a few years ago. Weaning her from those green rubber suckers was such a work-out! She found them no matter how well Jeremiah and I hid them. I had no idea she remembered Hannah trying to steal them from her.

The conversation reminded me that some things just don’t die off in life or are that easily forgivable even to a young child. Whether it’s a hurtful word or action, an unmet expectation, or a harm done against us that we just can’t seem to move past, forgiveness is really, really hard. It is an act of the will. It is a choice that we are commanded of in Scripture because we have been forgiven of so much. But that doesn’t mean the sting and pain will disappear over night.

I love what Atlanta-based pastor Charles Stanley once said:

Forgiveness does not recant the fact that what happened to us was wrong. Instead, we roll our burdens onto the Lord and allow Him to carry them for us.

IMG_0368_blogWhen we remain in bitterness, anger, and resentment, we remain in our chains. But when we choose to break off those chains, rolling our burdens onto the Lord, we find freedom because He is carrying the load for us. We find peace, love, patience, gentleness, joy, abundant life, transformation and more.

It is only in Jesus’ strength that we can truly forgive someone who has deeply wounded us. It is only by His hands that we can walk through the fires that seek to destroy our hearts. And sometimes he asks us to do hard things: To confess our harbored bitterness or go to the person who has offended us. Sometimes, we have to be really brave and forgive ourselves.

Do your wounds run deep from pain inflicted on you or pain that you have caused? They may not be quite as small as a pacifier offense, but don’t neglect that the hurt is real. Last year, I went through a 12-step recovery ministry at our church in Dallas called Regeneration.  Our leadership from the front strongly encourages people to go through the program because we all have areas where we struggle. During my time, I had to participate in a personal moral inventory where I had to write down every sin committed against me and every sin I have committed against another.

It was a grueling process. And not only that, I had to confess it to two trusted mentor friends. I somewhat dreaded the evening I was to confess. I was a bit terrified of what my friends would think but to my surprise, it was one of the most freeing and healing moments of my 32 years of life. I was accepted, not judged, and met with compassion and understanding. There was just something about writing my sins down and knowing that Jesus had died for every one of them. My sins were why he had to come. And he loved me unconditionally. And not only my sins, but the sins of the whole world. It was also in that process where I was able to see more clearly what I needed to forgive.


The truth is that forgiveness isn’t always a one time deal. It is something we need a great deal of help on and it doesn’t always mean slapping a band-aid on the wound and saying, “Just forgive. Get over it.” The wounds have to be exposed, brought into the light, and cleaned out deeply before they can fully heal.

Forgiveness is also something that has to be practiced. It’s something of a discipline. All I really know is that it’s something of a God-thing. It is only by His power that we can truly forgive.

Remember that Jesus is always there for you when you need to confess: I hurt. I can’t carry this burden of bitterness anymore. Please help me forgive so that I may live a life of freedom and help others in turn.

What do you need to forgive today? Are you practicing the command to forgive?

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For the Love of October

This article was originally published in Samantha’s Salt in The Holyoke Enterprise – October 22, 2015 (photos included in this post only).


when you can wear long sleeves & go barefoot

If there were a month out of the year I couldn’t live without, it would be October. And it’s not just because I was born at the beginning of the month, along with my husband and two oldest children who are late October babies, but I’ve always loved and anticipated this change of season and all of its splendor.

I love the way the wind blows the leaves and they fall patiently to the ground. I love how the trees pop with reds, browns, and golds like a crown of glory. I love the cooler mornings and the warmth of the late afternoon sun. And I don’t think your front porch could ever have too many orange pumpkins or that you could have a shortage of anything pumpkin-spiced.

Just this past weekend while I was at Homesteader’s Park taking some family photos, I was instantly caught up in the beauty of my surroundings – everything from the sun’s golden rays, the shadows, the yellow leaves coming through on the trees, the green landscape, and the slight breeze against my skin. I would’ve planted myself there all morning if I didn’t have responsibilities at home.

In the novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne declares: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

IMG_9848Don’t you just love Anne’s words? “Thrill” couldn’t be a more perfect description of autumn. Each morning I step outside and see the colors changing and notice new trees shining in their brilliance, I sense that thrill and rush. The beauty is revitalizing and inspiring.

On Tuesday, my daughter Rebekah was playing in our front yard and picking the leaves off the tree while she waited for her ride to preschool. “Momma look – a heart-shaped one,” she said as she brought the leaf up to my face. The sun sparkled in her light blue eyes and she smiled while she continued to pick them off one by one. “Look Mom – another one!”

I told her that we needed to keep them on the tree so we could enjoy them. I soaked up the sweetness in our moment together, remembering these were her last few weeks as a four-year-old. It was hard to believe another October had arrived.


Rebekah’s joy and excitement gave me the opportunity to celebrate the stillness of the moment. It reminded me of God’s goodness in my favorite season and in every season knowing that in no time the multicolored leaves will soon grow brown. They will cover our yards and be thrown into bags. Winter will bring its chill and barrenness and will have us waiting for the spring flowers to bloom.

IMG_0064 (1)No matter the doubts, struggles, anxieties, and fears we have at times­­– even in the midst of such a beautiful time of year, the Lord gently assures us that He is here. His creation, handiwork, and creativity are all around us and they are ours for the keeping to enjoy to the absolute fullest, similar in the way that He desires for all of us to live our lives (John 10:10). May this season of coolness usher in the warmth of God’s nearness to your life.

Well, it appears you are finished with this column. What are you waiting for? Get outside!


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Strong God, Strong Mom


At the beginning of the year, my husband and I were asked to speak for my mother’s group on the topic of marriage. During our talk, I shared some stories on how our kids have impacted our relationship and how I struggle at times with anger and control in raising our four young children. Sharing the more raw details of life can be a scary risk that involves vulnerability but I always figure that if it can help someone else, being authentic is worth it.

Well after our talk, one of my mom friends who I respected and was a “super mom” in my eyes, came up to me and said how much she related to what I had to say.

“Really?” I asked her…

Read the rest on FortheFamily.org




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When There are No Words, but Tears and Hope {Reflections on the Life of Cassidy Hale}


Last Wednesday, I had just arrived at church for a prayer meeting when I heard that a serious accident happened just a minute away on County Road 41. It was a fatality.

My heart raced as I learned more about the family and their daughter, Cassidy Hale, who had just been hit by a pick-up truck while on a walk with a friend. She was only 15 1/2 years old. I had never met this beautiful family but immediately I began tearing up as we prayed for them. I couldn’t imagine the pain they were experiencing. One of our church members Roger told me had just seen her just a little bit ago.

My mind and heart immediately reflected back to when I was a freshman in high school in North Carolina and lost two classmates from a car accident weeks before school was about to let out for the summer. The same ache I had for them struck me thinking about Cassidy and her family. I couldn’t stop thinking and praying for them all week.

When I woke up yesterday, a dense fog hovered over our town. My heart had been anxious for this day. It was the day of Cassidy’s funeral. I got showered, the kids all dressed, and dropped them off to my neighbor Jill’s (my brave friend willing to take on a lot of kids!). My husband was there early among other pastors to help where needed.

As I parked and made my way into our town’s event center where the funeral was being held, I saw parents and students supporting one another, huddled in circles and crying on each other’s shoulders. They walked by the table to see Cassidy’s artwork and baby photos up until she was a teenager.

IMG_0522I then saw her casket over to the left. After signing the guestbook, I made my way over and saw her beautiful lifeless body. The moment felt surreal as if I was in a dream and my heart couldn’t keep up with what my eyes were seeing. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her picture frame on top of the casket.

As I sat down, Christian hymns were played on the piano while people were being seated. “All in All,” is the one that hit me the most. As the funeral began, a family member read a piece that Cassidy’s dad wrote about her love for superheroes, overcoming the daily grind of life, and always putting a smile on people’s faces. The pastor spoke about her life and how she was a light, a ray of sunshine to all who knew her. She knew Jesus and was now with him and would want us to know how much He too, loves us. Many came up for prayer after the invitation and showed love and support to her family. About 700 people filled the room.

IMG_1353I never knew Cassidy, as we’ve only lived here a few months, but her life and this whole tragedy has impacted me deeply. Many people would say her life was cut short. And that is true, but she lived a full life, evidence from those who knew her best. In the short amount of time she lived, her impact will reach farther and wider than most people. Because of her life, others came to know the Lord this week. Because of her life, others were encouraged to shine their light brighter too.

It is so difficult to understand the why’s. I have found myself rethinking the accident scene and how it happened and why. I have driven by it a few times. There are no words to say about her sweet young life being cut so short and the pain and suffering her mom and dad and sister are bearing. It is an unimaginable grief.

While at the graveyard, I broke down in tears watching Cassidy’s mom, dad, and sister set their roses on top of her casket. As a mother to four children, my heart ached most for her mom as I watched the pain she was enduring for her first born child. Her precious daughter that she raised and loved and sacrificed for. It was an image forever seared in my mind that I will never forget.

The hope in the midst of such a heartbreaking tragedy is that this earth is not our home. This earth and everything in it will pass away. We have all been given a dash. Cassidy’s was from March 14, 2000 – September 16, 2015. God has an appointed time for me and you. We must be ready for that time because we never know when it will be.

Do you know Jesus? Not just know of him, but do you know him intimately? Do you have a personal relationship with him and are confident that when you die you will meet him face to face and will have to give an account of your life spent on earth? Do you know how crazy in love he is with you, so much that he suffered and died on a cross to save you from your sins? Are you ready to accept his free gift of salvation and choose him as your Savior?

These are the questions Cassidy would want us to confidently answer.

In reflecting on this tragedy and Cassidy’s life, I’ve also seen that there is so much hope and light seen when a community comes together and genuinely supports each other. We hear the news immediately. We pray on the spot. We show love through serving. No matter how well we know the person, we mourn together. It is an ache that does not go away.

IMG_1349There is hope when we know that one day God is going to redeem all that has been lost from us. There is hope because we know The story isn’t over. There is hope that one day Jesus is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will indeed be no more suffering. For those who know Jesus and knew Cassidy, there will one day be rejoicing in heaven together.

After the fog lifted off our little town the day of her funeral, the sun peered through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze. It was as if God was letting us see the light to remind us of the brilliant sunshine that Cassidy was to so many people in our town. And to also remind us that it is only through that we will find everlasting life.

You are thought of constantly and remembered, Cassidy Hale. You are in my prayers Jackie, Randy, and Tayler.

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Summer in Holyoke: A Little Taste of Heaven

I was recently offered the opportunity to write a column for our local newspaper. It has been so much fun! This article was originally published in my column: Samantha’s Salt in The Holyoke Enterprise – September 3, 2015 (photos included in this blog post only).

First Baptist Church Holyoke

Jeremiah caught this rainbow a few weeks ago. Our new church home: First Baptist Church Holyoke (side & back view)

Before my husband began the interview process for his job in Holyoke, we never knew such a town existed on the map. The mountains were all we’d experienced in Colorado so it was a surprise to learn of the Northeastern plains. When we drove in for the first time and saw the cornfields, water tower, parks, elementary school, and nicely manicured lawns, I could sense it was a special place. The serenity is what struck me most.

I didn’t grow up in a small, rural town. I moved twice in my childhood and my dad’s work brought us to medium-sized cities on the east coast. During my summer breaks in college, I traveled overseas and did several out of state publishing internships. After I met my husband at seminary in Virginia, we moved to Dallas for more schooling. The big city has been our life for the past eight years.

IMG_7954 (1)

Breaking in our new yard. This will be the year of the John Deer :)

In June, when our big yellow Penske truck made its way to our driveway, I felt the baseline stress of the big city falling off my shoulders. The air was clean. The wide-open spaces refreshed my spirit. The slow pace of life was new to me and was what my soul had been craving. The orange, yellow, pink, and red radiant bursts of color in the sky at sundown gave me something to look forward to each evening.

Before we moved out, I wondered how the adjustment would go. Would I go into shock not having access to all the “stuff” and entertainment? Would it be difficult living somewhere more remote?

I miss those conveniences occasionally. But the majority of the time I appreciate fewer choices and less stuff. Less temptation is present to hit the Starbucks and Chick-fil-a drive thru. Amazon Prime has been my best friend. You can’t beat free two day shipping. We have taken a few trips out to the surrounding cities and it’s always nice to return.


Will in the field of dandelions behind our house

My kids have found joy in exploring new swimming pools, lakes, parks, dirt roads, animals, and farms. My son got to ride on a combine for the first time and learn about harvesting. Our new church family has opened up their arms to us and is becoming the family we couldn’t bring with us.

The ability to hop on our bikes and ride to Subway, Heidi’s (the dirty chai tea latte is my favorite), mail a package without waiting in a long line, or peruse The Oak Tree is something I’ve never had before. And a 1-minute drive to the marketplace… it doesn’t get any better than that when you practically live at the grocery store with four young mouths to feed.

I realize the story I’m writing may be different when the streets are blanketed with ice and snow and all I’ll want to do is hibernate under the covers. Since it’s human nature, I will probably grow familiar with the charm and hidden blessings this little town has to offer. I know it’s not a perfect town- no place is. No people are.

12032349_10102246540751678_1138077519_nBut I pray that my heart will always find something to be grateful for here. Many people would love to live in such a place where you get the kind of “feel” you just don’t have on city streets. Where you meet some really special people who genuinely care for others – whether it’s found in a friendly wave, a genuine conversation, or in a surprise vegetable delivery on your front porch.

I definitely realize your perspective may be different than mine, especially if you’ve lived here all your life. I’m an outsider looking in. I find it amazing that you could stay planted somewhere for so long. But now I understand why. You’re in Holyoke.

As the leaves will soon fall to the ground and the air grows crisp, I will remember and be thankful for what this town meant to our family this summer – a little taste of heaven in the midst of a big transition.

And as the Lord wills, we do plan on staying a while.


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Loving the Man God Gave You


A few months ago, my husband found a killer deal for a nice bed frame off Craigslist that he wanted to get for us. We’d been married 9.5 years and had never experienced the thrills of a king-sized bed. The problem was that it was nap time for our kids and we had to drive his chevy pick up truck in order to haul the frame and mattresses and comforter and so on. Not to mention the air conditioner on his truck was out, and the trip was not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump.

“I don’t know about this trip,” I told Jeremiah who thrives on spontaneity. “We’ve got to haul a lot of stuff and our four needy kids.”

“It will be fine,” he responded. “They can sleep on the way.”

It will be fine. Those four famous last words…

Read the rest over on Forthefamily.org

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Learning to Release Your Children to The Lord


It had been a normal Saturday with my husband and two year old son, John. We had plans to enjoy the morning at the lake. We parked our car and walked to the bridge where the geese and ducks were. The setting and serenity were perfect. My son stuck close to us as we showed him the beauty of God’s creation. Bicyclers flew by us and other runners on the bridge. Out of nowhere, my son darts out in the middle of the path just as a bicycler is heading straight for him. He screams, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Get out of the way!” My heart stopped…

Read the rest over on FortheFamily.org

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6 Surprising Ways to Survive the Younger Years


If you’re like me and you’re in the trenches of raising young children you’ve probably at least thought or said the words, “Help! I’m in survival mode!”

This has been true for my husband and I for the last several years. Our four children are a blessing to us – a gift from God whom we love and cherish with all our hearts – but we still have our share of challenges, trials, and conflict on a daily basis.

Just a couple hours ago, my 1.5 year old took a nice big bite into my 4 year olds cheek. She was screaming with tears running down her face simultaneously with my cranky 3 year old who has a runny nose and fever. Meanwhile, my 6 year old is in the bathroom having a hard time, and well, let’s just say there was a mess to clean up…

Read the rest here

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A Letter to My Son (The Kindergarten Graduate)

IMG_7500I am pretty excited to be writing as a new contributor for Forthefamily.org. Especially as our family has grown in size over the last few years, I find myself having a lot of ideas for articles. Or rather, the struggle in raising children and keeping your marriage #1 is so real that I can’t not write about it! I wrote this letter a while back for my son and decided to edit it now that he is a kindergarten graduate. I read it to him recently and it was a sweet time between the two of us. I hope this brings you encouragement as you train, love, and disciple your own children and hopefully keep your hair in tact. :)

Dear Son,

You are growing into such a smart and sweet-spirited young boy. This past year you’ve gone from reading only a few words to reading chapter books and doing addition and subtraction. You recently graduated from Kindergarten and it feels like yesterday that your tiny fingers wrapped around mine and I couldn’t stop smelling your soft baby skin, over and over again.

I consider my role as your Momma a serious responsibility and privilege to which I will be held accountable to God. Every day I get to spend with you is a gift to invest in your precious life. I know that the time I have with you in these formative years is numbered. I still can’t believe you’ll be entering first grade in the fall. How can it be?

Read the rest over on FortheFamily.org



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What’s Next on Our Horizon? – Part II

kriegerfamilyphoto2015This post is continued from my husband’s blog today, “What’s Next on Our Horizon? – Part I.”

This past weekend, we traveled to the golden plains of Northeast Colorado for Jeremiah to preach at First Baptist Church Holyoke. For the past several months he has been interviewing with them for the Senior Pastor position as what has become their first choice candidate. And in that time we have been in much prayer about the next steps for our life and ministry as Jeremiah mentioned. Since the time we were dating, 11 years ago now, we have both sensed a strong desire for full-time ministry but we weren’t sure how that would be fulfilled and when that might happen. So after we got married, getting the right training and preparation was the most natural next step.

Dallas Theological Seminary was where we landed in 2006. We got plugged into our beloved church, Watermark, and were involved in an apartment outreach for two years. During this time, Jeremiah was a nurse and student part-time. We had our first child, John in 2008. We began developing some of the richest friendships we have ever had with our community group at church and fellow friends in seminary. Seminary was one of the most rewarding and challenging times of our life. We continued to grow our family and before we knew it, Jeremiah completed his Master’s in Theology in May 2012, we had our third baby and bought our first home in East Dallas. The desire for ministry remained in our hearts but we knew we needed a sabbatical so we stayed put.

Jeremiah was faithful to get his resume out there and Dallas Seminary started sending his information directly to churches. One of those churches was First Baptist Holyoke. From the get go, they were excellent in their communication (this is huge these days) and Jeremiah began the interview process through Skype calls. They flew us out in March to see the town and to gauge whether it might be a place we’d like to be permanently. They were sensitive to the fact that I didn’t grow up in a super small town and wanted to make sure I felt comfortable there.

The search committee made welcome bags with home-made cookies, coloring books and crayons for our kids. They gave us a great tour of the area and we attended the church to get a feel for it. We felt refreshed by the church body and sensed a connection with the people. They are using their gifts in a great way and have a heart to reach their town with the gospel. They have a brand new building on land and remained debt free through the building process. By the end of that trip, I felt like it was definitely a place I could see us serving in. While it is a very small town, it has a lot to offer young families. A few weeks later, Jeremiah was invited to come back and preach. The congregation would vote on him as to whether or not to extend a call for him to be the next pastor.

This past weekend he preached their Saturday night and Sunday morning services and did a greeting at the Spanish evening service. He did a wonderful job preaching out of Hebrews. I was pretty nervous during that time, but he wasn’t! The members of the church finished casting their vote on Sunday night, the search committee called him in, and let us know that the vote was very favorable and he was offered the position for Senior Pastor. Everything felt surreal and we accepted the offer, knowing this was where God was leading us. We are humbled by God’s goodness in seeing a desire and dream come to fruition that was birthed in our hearts over a decade ago.

As we embark on this new opportunity in finding out what God desires to do in and through us in Holyoke, CO, we value your prayers and support for the work that lies ahead. We know it won’t be easy, but God will be with us. We are excited for the change ahead, but of course, it is bittersweet leaving behind our family, friends, and church in Dallas.

I feel a little like Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. She was once a city girl turned country. She has four kids and is also a writer and blogger. I am not exactly an exceptional cook though! I am looking forward to supporting my husband, new friendships, wide open spaces, sunsets, stars at night, fresh air, and a little more quiet (outside our crazy house, of course). :)

Thank you for hearing our hearts and walking alongside us. We appreciate it so much!

– Samantha & Jeremiah


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