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The Birth Story of Hannah Kate

Our daughter, Hannah Kate Krieger, has arrived! She came into the world on Saturday, June 30, 2012. We praise God for her birth. Here is the story…

2 days old - photo: Shades of Grey Photography

On Friday, June 29th, Jeremiah and I packed Rebekah and John into the van for a trip to the mall. I knew that more walking might help trigger me into labor. Besides, it was my due date.

The Dallas heat was over 100 degrees and I felt like I was going to pop. At the mall, we ate some Paciugo gelato, let the kids run around in the play area, and took John for a train ride.

We headed home around 7:30 pm, put the kids down and enjoyed some time together. At 10 pm we went to bed but both of us had a hard time falling asleep. At 11 pm, I started having contractions that were on a pain level of about a 4 but I wasn’t sure if they were true labor pains. I was exhausted so I fell asleep, knowing that if they were the real thing, I’d wake up.

At 2 am, I woke up to more intense contractions- the kind I couldn’t sleep through. I called my doula, Melissa, and told her what I was feeling. She suggested I take a warm bath to make sure they wouldn’t die down. But within 15 minutes, I knew I didn’t have time to take a bath and that labor was really kicking in.

My pain level increased and the contractions felt the exact same as when I went into labor with John and Rebekah- like a sharp knife pain. Jeremiah called Melissa to tell her to meet us at the hospital.

I called my doctor’s office answering service and they connected me to my doctor, Dr. Harris. I told him my contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasting for 1 minute and my pain level was intense.

“It looks like this is it. I’ll see you at the hospital,” he said.

I called my mom to let her know to meet us at the hospital. Jeremiah and I packed a few more things into our bag and waited on his sister Charis to come and stay the night at our house. My contractions continued to feel like knives in my lower abdomen.

Each time one came, I grabbed onto the wall and did my breathing exercises. I insisted that Jeremiah come right to my side when I was getting through one. I knew I couldn’t go natural again without his support and encouragement. He was right there with me through every one.

Checking into Baylor Hospital

1 week old - Photo by Tammi Ambrose

At about 3:00 am, we drove to Baylor Hospital and arrived at 3:15 am. When I came through the doors of labor and delivery, there were pictures of babies all over the wall who had been born at Baylor.

That brought comfort to me knowing I was about to meet mine. Everything was also very familiar to me as I had just been here 20 months ago to have Rebekah.

When we arrived at the check-in desk one of the nurses said, “Aw, you look like you’re in a lot pain.”

Really, no kidding?! I’m about to push a baby out. I thought.

I nodded at her.

Then another nurse said, “You’re doing great through those contractions.”

I smiled and said thanks.

After Jeremiah filled out the necessary paperwork and I continued to endure each contraction, a nurse guided us to our room.

“Are you going to want an epidural?” she asked on the way.

“No, I’m planning on going natural.” I replied. “I was able to with my other two children and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it again,” I told her.

Despite all the pain, having unmedicated births in the past had proven itself to be a fast labor, good recovery, a greater connection to the experience, an alert baby, and overall very empowering. But I also knew that anything could happen in the birthing process so I had to go into it without any expectations.

The nurse was fine with that and continued on, “So, no IV? Nothing?”

“No.” I said and drank from my big cup full of ice water.

“Okay. That’s easy.”

She seemed really positive in the fact that I had previous births that went well. So I was encouraged. I had nurses before that I felt doubted my ability to go natural or maybe just thought it was crazy.

When we got to the room, I dressed in the hospital gown and answered all the list of questions. The nurse checked my cervix and I was dilated to a 5. On Tuesday, I was only at a 2 1/2 so I loved seeing that I was progressing. I got out of the hospital bed and walked around, mainly clutching tight to the bar in the bathroom and hanging on to Jeremiah to get through each contraction.

My mom arrived shortly after and then Melissa. Jeremiah got the video camera set up to give to my mom.

Transition Time

Fifteen minutes later, the nurse checked my cervix again and I was already at an 8! Contractions were growing more intense, frequent, and close together. I felt like I had to use the bathroom  and that everything was going to fall out of me. During transition, I felt like I could never catch up as each contraction came so close together and so intense. I groaned and moaned and fell into Jeremiah’s chest during every one.

I sat on the toilet and rocked back and forth to keep things moving like Melissa encouraged. I tried to fix my mind on the precious little girl that was about to be born instead of the pain I experienced. My next goal was to dilate to a 10. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom into the room, staying close to Jeremiah’s side.

Dr. Harris sat at the end of the bed with his gloves on. The nurses were quiet and watching me. One nurse chimed in:

“You’re doing so well.”

“Am I almost there?” I asked.

“I’m just waiting for you to make that sound,” my doctor replied. “Then we’ll know it’s go time.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about.

“You are so close. You’re doing amazing. You’re going to meet her soon.” Jeremiah said.

“Yes, it’s going so fast. It will be over before you know it,” Melissa added.

I was hungry and continued drinking from my water cup. I felt weak and ready to give up. But I knew I had to press on. And I could eat when labor was done with. The room was so quiet as if the world had stopped. Then all the sudden, I had the urge to push!

“I need to push!” I yelled and headed to the bed. Everyone got in position.

Photo: Tammi Ambrose

Dr. Harris broke my water and with the next contraction I pushed but felt like I got nowhere. I waited for the next one, but didn’t feel an urge.

“If you don’t feel the need to push in those contractions, that’s okay. You don’t want to force it,” Dr. Harris said. “Let’s wait for the next one.”

Then out of nowhere, Hannah’s heart rate dropped. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the nurse put an oxygen mask on me because she needed to breath. The mask annoyed me because I wasn’t used to it.

I wondered if I had done something wrong in the pushing. I didn’t have contractions for a little bit and it was as if my body knew I needed the break. They monitored me and Hannah and thankfully after a few minutes her heart rate came back up.

The next contraction came and I pushed with everything in me.

“I H-A-T-E pushing! I suck at pushing!” I yelled. I moaned and groaned, moving my head side to side. My eyes felt like they were going to pop out of their sockets. I could feel the tearing from all the pushing. I could feel stretching, numbness, and stinging like a ring of fire.

“Mom?!” I yelled out. “Mama?” Like a little child I just wanted my Mama in the pain.

“You’re doing great, Samantha,” her voice encouraged me to keep going.

The next contraction came in no time. I pushed through it, long and hard- grabbing on to Jeremiah’s arms. I just wanted to see progress and feel her head coming out. I pushed again and felt Hannah’s head crowning. Jeremiah said her arms were coming. Dr. Harris grabbed the rest of her tiny body and a huge relief fell across my whole body.

The Arrival

Hannah Kate Krieger arrived at 4:50 am. She was 7 lbs. 15 oz, 19 1/4 inches long.

She barely cried. I wondered if she was okay. He lifted her up into my arms and cut the umbilical chord. She was beautiful with a little bit of dark hair on the back of her arms, lower back, and on her head. Her eyes were dark brown and eyebrows were a blonde color. The vernix coated her skin and I couldn’t stop smelling her. The smell reminded me of John and Rebekah when they were born.

As I held her, I was also in so much pain from the tearing. I said “Ow” probably 10 times and kept asking when the pain would subside. I had a 2nd degree tear. After the placenta delivered, Dr. Harris gave me the localized anesthesia and spent 20 minutes stitching the tears. I finally felt some relief after 15 minutes and was able to enjoy her more and soak the whole experience in.

I asked Melissa if it was a good time to breastfeed. She agreed it was. Hannah latched on perfectly and sucked for a long time. This was our time now to bond- one of the best feelings in the world.

My nurse kept leaning over my shoulder to watch Hannah as if it was the first time she had seen a newborn latch on. She was mesmerized and I thought it was so sweet how she observed us.

“Aw,” she said. “I wish all my patients were as easy as you. I didn’t have to chart anything.”

I smiled and said thank you and that it was all God’s grace.

God’s Faithfulness

While sweet Hannah laid peacefully in my arms, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness during the whole pregnancy and childbirth process. I had prayed that she would come on her own and that I wouldn’t have to be induced.

I prayed that there wouldn’t be any complications and that I would be able to endure yet another laborious labor. I even prayed that she would come on my nephew Parker’s birthday, June 30th! And she did. What a gift for them to share birthdays together in the years to come.

All my prayers were answered regardless of the doubts, fear, and worry I had at times. Through the whole process, it was as if God was always saying, Will you trust me? Don’t worry about anything else in this world, but trust that I’m taking care of you. I know the exact day of your daughter’s birth and she will come in my time.

His faithfulness has spurred me on to love and trust him in my life all the more.

I’m so thankful for my doula, Melissa. She taught my first childbirth class and was one of the first women to encourage me to try going natural. She has played an integral part in all our children’s births and has been there for every one right by my side, cheering me on and showing me techniques that I would have never known how to do on my own. I love her passion for mommy’s and babies and wouldn’t have made it through without her.

I’m so thankful for Dr. Harris, who evidently loves his patients and his job. His heart for God and for people inspires me and it has been the greatest honor that he has delivered all our babies.

I’m also so thankful for all my mom’s help in preparing for Hannah. She was here for several weeks taking trips to the grocery for us, planning and cooking meals, watching John and Rebekah during Dr. visits, painting the nursery, and being on call for whenever we needed her. She is one of the greatest servants I have ever known.

Photo: Tammi Ambrose

And last, I’m so grateful for my husband Jeremiah. He is my best friend and the man I love spending all the days of my life with. He was my shoulder to cry on, speaking words of truth and encouragement the whole way through. I would have never gotten through it without him. It is a privilege to be his helper in marriage and an honor to grow our family together.

I know we have a lot ahead of us in the weeks, months and years to come with a 3  1/2 year old, 1 1/2 year old, and a newborn. But I know that God is faithful and He will continue to carry us through. He always has. He always will.

Welcome to the world Miss Hannah Kate. You are loved with an Everlasting Love.

Article: Pondering Pet Peeves

I recently accepted the offer to be a regular contributor for Ungrind Webzine. I absolutely love their mission to encourage 20 and 30 something women in their daily walk with Christ.

This article went live yesterday. It’s on the lighthearted side. Feel free to share what your biggest pet peeve is… over there!

I’d just found a comfy chair to work on a writing deadline I had for an article. I listened to the faint chatter around me and opened my laptop anxious to flesh out some words on the blank screen. Then out of the corner of my eye a man in his 40′s plops down in the leather chair caddy corner from mine.

He opened his laptop and rustled through the notes in his briefcase. He looked at them intensely and took a deep breath. Whatever he was reading must have been really good from all the “oh’s,” “wow’s,” and “hmm’s” flowing unashamedly out of his mouth.

My eyes were glued to this man. I was waiting to see if he would quiet down at all or maybe get a hint. But he didn’t…

Read the rest over on Ungrind

Why You Need Others to Speak Truth Into Your Life

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Recently, I tried on some black pants to go with my new black glittery TOMS that I got for my birthday. I looked in the mirror and felt pretty good about the pants.

I opened the dressing room door and took a good look in the big mirror. I asked the college-aged girl a few feet in front of me if she would give me her honest opinion about my pants. She stared at them for a while and said:

“I don’t LOVE them. You know, you and me, we kind of have short legs, and I don’t know. I don’t LOVE them.”

I was a little surprised by her response but took in what she was saying.

“Okay, yeah, thanks for being honest. I really appreciate it.”

She nodded her head and went back into her dressing room. My pride was a little crushed but I loved her honesty.

The black pants I had on were skinny jeans and I happened to have several pairs in my closet that I wear regularly. I went back into my dressing room and took a harder look in the mirror. I discovered that the black pants really weren’t flattering on me. And none of the skinny jeans I’d owned fit that t.i.g.h.t.!

The college girl was right after all.

The more I live my life, the more grateful I am to have others who will tell me not just what I want to hear, but who will tell me the truth in love. Even if it stings a little. Okay, a lot.

Because when we know the Truth, it guides us closer to healing.

Let me share a story.

One of my closest friends, Julia, and her husband Jay, were over for dinner at our place one night several years ago. We were laughing and having a good time. But in the course of our time together, at one point, my actions and tone of voice were very disrespectful to my husband Jeremiah.

The evening carried on and before Jay and Julia were about to leave, Julia approached me one on one and said she noticed my behavior and how it made Jeremiah look bad. In a loving, caring way, she helped open my eyes to my sin.

It hurt deeply to hear her words. I felt exposed and it was humbling. But I was able to tell her flat out that I struggled with disrespect and not knowing how to communicate my frustrations with my husband.

Julia encouraged me to talk to Jeremiah and really work on that area in my life. I asked her to hold me accountable. I knew how serious it was to find healing from this sin in my marriage.

Her willingness to speak truth into my life brought me closer to grappling with my sin and fighting it.

Over the years, I often remember that life-changing evening and as a wonderful friend, Julia has consistently held me accountable and I appreciate how open our relationship is. While I’m still imperfect at times, I’ve been able to see my sin clearer and make the necessary changes to build up our marriage, instead of tearing it down.

Indeed, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is our ultimate healer, but by His grace He chooses to use other people in our life to help fashion us more into his image.

Are you speaking the truth to those you love? Are you allowing them to tell you the truth? Maybe you have a story of your own…

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Prov. 27:17


Sexual Purity: Is the Fight Really Worth It?

I remember picking up the phone and calling my mom to share a struggle I had. I was in seminary and had just started dating my husband Jeremiah. I had a strong attraction to him spiritually, emotionally, and physically and I felt like temptations to compromise my purity were all around me.

I shared with my mom how I couldn’t wait to get married so those struggles would disappear. She paused for a minute and shared a very important truth:

“Samantha, even when you’re married, you’ll have to work hard at your purity….

I’m writing for StartMarriageRight.com today. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts over there. Continue Reading…

What I saw in Whole Foods

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Last week I went to Whole Foods to grab some drinks and trail mix for our afternoon at the lake. I hurried to the express lane and waited behind a heavy-set woman with long, tangly light brown hair sitting in a power scooter. She was digging through her purse trying to find the exact change.

The cashier rolled her eyes waiting for her. The people behind me stood impatiently and it was one of those moments where all eyes were on this lady including my own. I was thinking, Are you serious? Come on. I started to judge her based on her appearance and grew impatient with her.

There was another checkout station in front of her so I was called to that one. The lady continued rummaging through her big purse. I started to realize that my attitude had been wrong towards her. I needed to serve her. So I asked, “Do you need any money?”

I thought that maybe she couldn’t find any. The cashier looked at her for a response. ”Oh, no. I’m fine,” she replied in a drawn out voice. I nodded my head, said okay and headed back to the car.

On the way to the lake I started to wonder if that lady was a beautiful, savvy, well-dressed woman who stood tall, if she would have been treated differently. I thought about how I didn’t have a servant’s heart initially. I followed Christ and needed to have patience towards her.

I look at what’s on the outside way too much and form my opinions and conclusions. I sometimes esteem someone greater because of their good looks or awesome abilities. But how shallow is that? I know the cliche that beauty is only skin deep.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Sam. 16:7

The heart is where we find the whole person: the thoughts, the motives, the sin, the hurts, the struggles, the hopes, the dreams, and the joys. The heart is where the wellspring of life is kept and it is a most precious thing.

The outward appearance, whether beautiful or ugly, can deceive. I’ve had my own days where I kept a certain image on the outside, but inwardly I was experiencing pain no one else knew. Outwardly, I’d smile, laugh, and continue to act how I wanted to be. But there was something more to the story.

It was definitely frustrating to wait in line behind this lady, but who knows what she was going through and  where she stood with God. Why would her appearance then matter so much? The bottom line is that God is her Creator. She was made in His image and has needs like all of us. She needs the gospel lived out in her life like all of us. She needs to be shown patience and compassion.

So who am I to think I am any better? The make-up on my face, my sporty outfit, and nice purse don’t show a full picture of my heart. Frankly, they don’t really mean anything.

I’ve been called by God to love and serve all people, especially those who seem difficult to love. And while I feel very far from this, I’m thankful God can help me do it.

I never got to know this lady at all and I hope she found her change, but God used that incident to help show me what’s in my own heart. I pray God will bring more people into my life like that so he can use them to help change me.

Guest Post: Love Changes Everything by Ellie Bakk

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This is a guest blog by Ellie Bakk, winner of last week’s contest. It also just so happens that today is her Birthday! Happy Birthday, Ellie! I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, contact me here for guidelines.

When I began to love. I began to cry. True story.

Not that I’ve ever lacked emotion in my life (I’m sure my parents could testify to my adolescent years…represent 14!)…sure, I dealt (okay, deal) with my fair share of emotions. Anger, fear, joy, jealousy, sadness, trust, even love.

Love.

Oh, love…it changed me. It made me cry.

When I met my husband, back when he was not my husband, rather just a rugged, mysterious Alaskan who could’ve passed for The Man From Snowy River every day of the week, and I was, well an 18 year old Texan, who acted like she had it all together, and sort of kind of almost did.

Anyway, way back then, he fell in love fast and was unashamed.

And then there was me…little ole me. I was slow at forming the words with my mouth, even though my heart was ready. Sooooo slooooooow.

“I love you, Ellie.”

“Thanks!”

Is how our dates at the foot of the San Juan Mountains would end for MONTHS. On any given night, we would have just ridden bare back on a horse up the side of a mountain where he would have built a fire out of branches and his bare hands (there was no burning of hands, but you get the picture) and we would have talked and talked under the Colorado stars where he would confess his love…and in the end, all I had to say was “thanks!”

Who does that?

Some freckle-face full of sassiness whose head put a cap on her emotions, that’s who.

Some girl who talked herself out of feeling too much, that’s who.

Okay, me. That’s who.

Over time, though, his romance-esqe novel ways wore me down and my heart’s contents bubbled over (pardon the cheese)…I loved him too.

I knew it, I felt it, and I had to tell him.

And so I did.

Slowly but surely, the permission I gave myself to really love him seeped into my entire being…all of a sudden I felt emotion about so many things so much more deeply.

And that’s where the tears come in. I started to cry…really cry.

Don’t hear me say I was ever stone-cold…Hallmark commercials had always made me teary, the star-spangled banner regularly choked me up and a friend relaying a story of hardship would bring tears to my eyes…but as far as FEELING the tears and letting them fall…that happened only when I really allowed myself to love…and be loved, let’s be honest.

Maybe this doesn’t sound like a very fitting Valentine’s Day post – being about tears and all – but I have definitely experienced that the more I love, the more I cry.

I fell in love with my husband.

I loved him with a capacity I’d never known.

I cried.

I fell in love with my firstborn child.

My capacity to love grew.

I cried harder.

I fell in love with my second born child.

My capacity to love grew even more.

I cried even harder.

Now that I think about it, those aforementioned peeps cry harder than the one above them as well…maybe this elucidates my tears?

No, those aren’t the type of tears I’m talking about.

I’m talking living-life-abundantly-and-really-feeling-it type of tears.

I’m talking well-up-with-pride-because-your-husband-is-gifted-by-God-to-do-great-things type of tears.

I’m talking sweep-the-hair-out-of-your-three-year-old’s-eyes-and-stare-speechless-in-them-when-she-says “I sure love to hold your hand Mama” type of tears.

I’m talking ache-to-the-depths-of-your-soul-for-your-baby-and-the-potential-adversity-she-may-endure type of tears.

I’m talking turn-your-face-to-the-ground-because-the-thought-of-Jesus-loving-you-so-much-and-hanging-on-the-cross-for-you-is-too-much-to-comprehend type of tears.

It’s THOSE types of tears that love brought into my life. It’s the raw emotion that can set me soaring or rip my gut out. It’s love. It’s real. It’s incredible. It’s love.

God’s love, yes…but in so many ways, His changing love manifested itself in a mysterious Alaskan who taught me how to truly love and be loved and let’s face it…how to cry.

Now, excuse me while I go find a tissue.

Ellie is still a freckle-face Jesus follower who is passionate about her Alaskan, two fun loving little girls, people in general, missions, most anything Mac, creating, intercultural studies, the written word, supporting her husband through seminary, and her red guitar. She blogs at thebakkfamily.blogspot.com


Yes, free indeed: Overcoming Our Deepest Fears

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“Get dressed. We’re going to the lake,” my husband Jeremiah says on the other end of the line as he’s driving home from work on Monday. I was already dressed in my workout clothes and I was loving his spontaneity because it had been a hard day at home and I needed some fresh air.

We arrived at the lake an hour before sun set. My toddler John ran through the leaves and down the hills. I pushed Rebekah in the stroller and inhaled the cool breeze. We then walked on the paved trail that led to a long bridge where ducks swam underneath. We parked ourselves there for a while and watched our son in such delight. It was like the world stood still and all that existed was our little family.

Then out of nowhere… a cyclist comes riding across the bridge and before we could even think to hold his hand, John darts out in front of him. I scream: “John!” and the cyclist screams “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!” and slams on his breaks in a panic, coming to a screeching stop. Not quite understanding, John hurried back to our side and the cyclist rode off.

On our way home, I started crying. Jeremiah was still in shock too. That experience showed me that I have a whole new set of fears I didn’t know I had. God has told us in His Word that He’s not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. But now what? What does that mean? What does it mean to live by faith, this faith I’ve been called to?

Being responsible…When I was crying, the fears flooding through my mind made God’s word seem stale. Could I trust God to protect John in the future…and me and my family? I mean, shouldn’t I help God out and do what is responsible? My heart wrestled. What seems most responsible is to not return to the lake. It is too dangerous! My insides were being seized by fear, and I was doing everything that I could to muster up some sort of faith that would set me free. I felt compelled to act, but if I did, would I even know what was best? I needed to be free.

Yes, free. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Monday taught me that nothing will deflate our spirit faster than fear. Faith in God’s promises gives us the confidence and courage to experience the freedom and joy of the fullness of life. We were created to go to the lake with our family. I was made to watch John sprint down the grassy knoll, laughing with joy as he kicked up the leaves in the air.

Yes, I want that joy that comes with such faith- the faith of a child. John’s life became to me a vivid picture of faith. He lives by faith. Questions about how his needs will be met don’t go through his head. He doesn’t wonder if he will be safe. John’s faith allows him to be free.  John had such delight because he ran freely without inhibitions and fears that would keep him from running. John’s faith doesn’t know such fear. That is why he could laugh and smile when he shuffled his feet through the leaves.

Today, God is helping me to run again. Monday’s experience was tough, but I’m looking forward to going back to the lake again with my family. I haven’t figured it all out, but I know that I’m a weak vessel and I must trust God. There is an “abundance of life” that we were created to enjoy. In fact, I’m learning to enjoy it in a whole new way that I did not know before. Jesus said, “If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed.” Our faith in Christ is our very freedom. I am free. Yes, I am free, indeed.

* This article was a team effort. Thank you, Jeremiah, for helping me write and edit the story.

When faith has action

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For quite a while now, I’ve been praying for God to help me live out my faith on a day to day basis (in the mundane details of life). Sometimes I feel like I have a lot inside me, but I don’t know how to give it away. I’m impatient with the Lord and wonder why more opportunities don’t exist to be a light.

Well yesterday, Jeremiah and I went for a walk to the park with John. We put John in his favorite swing and noticed a young man walking our way with three kids. He positioned his twin toddlers in their swings next to us and his older daughter went off to play on the slide. He managed to have his eye on all of them, but he did look tired.

We introduced ourselves and started talking about random stuff. He lived in the lofts off in the distance. Jeremiah engaged with him more so I decided to go play with his kids on the slides. During that time, Jeremiah learned that he was divorced with a lot on his shoulders taking care of three kids and working a lucrative job. It was neat to see him really open up.

When it was time for him to go, I asked Jeremiah if we should give him our number if he ever needed someone to help out with his kids. He nodded, so I went up to him as he was getting his kids situated.

“Hey I know we just met and you don’t know us well, but we’d love to help watch your kids sometime.”

I was nervous about his reaction but his eyes lit up. “Really? That would be such a help. Thank you so much.”

He then asked us to text him our number. He told his kids to tell us goodbye- they were adorable. 30 minutes later, we got a text back saying how he would probably be spent by the end of the week. We told him we were available Saturday to help him out. I couldn’t believe how quickly we were going to be able to help!

Initially it was tempting to not act on the need we saw. This guy didn’t know us at all. But I think the issue wasn’t really him, but us. Would we extend a hand? Yesterday really helped me see that God uses us to help bring his love to people. And to me, that is just amazing that he would use us (in spite of our shortcomings).

I’m thankful that a Monday evening at the park is going to turn into more opportunities to serve…

My first white hair: thoughts on being 27

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This past weekend, while Jeremiah and I were talking in bed, I thought my life was just about over. As we were engaging in meaningful conversation, he blurts out and says, “Honey, you have a white hair!”

I look at him like he’s crazy. Why did he have to tell me that? My husband loves to play and joke and sometimes it’s just not funny.

“Oh, let me get it!” he says.

He pulls the white hair out and I look at it: “It’s blonde! Not white!”

“Look at it again. It’s not blonde,” he says.

I moved it around for the light to catch it at different angles. I studied it for a bit. “Okay… it is white. Ughh. I can’t believe how old I’m getting! That makes me so sad.”

“Oh everyone gets a white hair once in while no matter how old you are. It’s okay babe, you’re beautiful,” he says.
………..
Well I’m not sure it’s been “okay” with me lately. A lot of my friends and myself included are in the stage of growing our families. I think just about every facebook profile pic I see has a sonogram on it (and it’s awesome). I’ve been told by acquaintances that I look like I “have it all together” now that I have a child (really? Hmm). Jeremiah and I looked at some pictures when we were first dating and we look like babies (that was 6 years ago). Now, he’s 30 and I’m 27. And to top it off, my 10 year high school reunion is this year.

Everything is just happening so fast.Where does time go? And will it really be okay as I age?

I’ve had these thoughts way before the white hair episode and I’m still trying to figure out how I can best give God my worry about growing older. But I’ve been encouraged by these verses:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matt. 6:25-26

There’s so much wisdom here because God knows the natural tendency for us is to worry… what’s for lunch, what to wear, where the money will come from, who we’ll marry, who our kids will marry… Things that are not even here yet.

Life itself, however, is more valuable than anything else. God sustains us and gives us the ability to experience life to its absolute fullest: to feel the sunshine, laugh over meals, write out words, engage in meaningful relationships, drink a warm cup coffee, share his truth with others, know him through his Word, and feel our very own breath. As his children, he cares deeply for us and for our concerns. And he wants us to depend on his daily provision, not what we plan for ourselves.

I think he understands my struggles in facing the fact that life just happens and we grow older. But I think he might also wants me to realize that the best is yet to come because he’s on my side and no matter if I grow weaker or my looks change a little, what ultimately matters is the life change that happens in my heart as the days get faster.

If I do end up finding a white hair again and I (or Jeremiah) probably will, I told God that I’m going to thank him that I even have a head of hair.

Church, Meth, & the Gospel

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“The church I grew up in was hypocritical,” my waiter said after I asked him about his church background.

“I’m from east Texas- you know the Meth capital of the world. So people would do Meth and then go to our Baptist church on Sunday,” he said with a somewhat frustrated voice. “They acted so religious too.”

Not being from Texas, I didn’t know east Texas was famous for that.

“Do you go to church anywhere now?” I asked.

“No, I work Sundays and everything… and… church just isn’t for me.”

“Yeah I understand,” I said.

Where’s the life and joy?

My husband chimed in and shared about the ugliness of hypocrisy he saw at times in his church growing up.

Our waiter listened, gazing at the glasses that needed to be filled in the distance. As they conversed, I took some bites out of my steak, completely annoyed at where we stand as “the church” today.

I remember times growing up in the church and putting on my Sunday best. Singing those hymns, smiling, and shaking hands with people, but feeling like I was swimming in a sea of dead people. All I wanted to see was life and joy. I didn’t want to see hypocrisy.

When I went to college, I began to see God’s love like never before through his people and his Word. I grew in intimacy with him as I was surrounded by other Christ-followers. I started to look to God, and not at other people. Since getting married and moving to Dallas several years ago, I’ve been learning a lot about true, biblical community at our church. I’ve experienced what it means to be authentic, confess sins, and share struggles and it’s been life-changing.

The Church isn’t a Building

It’s the gospel over and over again- broken people coming to Jesus. But how come the church is missing it- they’re not even on the map?

I think we all have to face the fact that there is nothing great in us apart from Christ. We are all, in a sense, hypocritical people. That’s why we need a Savior. We need him to help us navigate the rough waters of isolation and pretending.

We have to realize that the church is made up of real people who are supposed to love God and others. It’s not a building. It’s the bride of Christ, put here on earth to reflect his glory.

The Gospel’s Transforming Power

Well my husband wrapped up what he was saying to our waiter and then invited him to our church, handing him a card with info on it. I sensed that he thought we were a little weird (Okay, maybe foreign), but that somehow he appreciated us chatting with him.

It’s my prayer that one day he can step foot in the church again and see how the church was really meant to be. That he would see the power of the gospel transform all forms of hypocrisy.

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