New Header Design by Tekeme Studios

A few months ago, I had asked you for some feedback on this blog. Your comments were so helpful and encouraging. I was able to find more clarity and direction for what I write in this little space.

Along with your feedback, I was keeping a new header design in mind- a design that would reflect what this blog is about. About a year ago, I heard about Tekeme Studios through a tweet by author Mary DeMuth. I saw samples of their work and was so impressed by their creativity. This past December, I contacted them and began the process of creating a brand new header.

Husband and wife duo, George and Ashley Weis, worked with me to design the header and had me fill out a detailed questionnaire about my passions, what this blog is about, the look and feel I wanted to create, my preferred color schemes and more. I wanted a look that represented growth, life, and faith. I wanted the feel to be warm, inviting, and calm.

A few weeks ago, George (the designer) finished the header. I think he hit the nail on the head and I’m really happy with the end result. If you want a new design for your blog or website, I highly recommend checking out Tekeme Studios and looking into the services they offer.

What You Really Have is Him

As I dragged myself out of bed onto the floor to respond to the cries of my newborn, I knew this particular day would be hard. The morning hours passed by and she continued to fuss and fuss and fuss and my toddler was at my ankles, whining constantly. I felt like being mean because I was so sleep deprived. And my husband was the first to hear all my complaints and how I wish I could hire out a Mommy for the day or go into work for him.

How am I supposed to get through another day? I asked God. How am I supposed to be the godly person I want to be when I’m absolutely spent?

And that’s when His gentle, quiet voice whispered: I am with you. And I started remembering that…

When we are weary and can’t move on, that is when God says He will give us strength and lift up our heads.

When we want to throw in the towel, that is when God wraps us in his steadfast love and renews us.

When we do not feel his presence, that is when God reminds us of the truth that He is here.

Because it is in the times where we feel like we are struggling to survive in a sun-scorched desert, that we start lifting our hands to heaven for help. We have no other choice but to rely on Christ because without him, we would die. However, we cannot be afraid to ask Him (regarding the big and little struggles of life) and tell him our concerns. He is always willing and ready to answer our prayers.

While I have felt sleep deprived again this week and have a sore throat and a cold (along with the rest of my family), I’ve been able to better lean on the truth that He really is with me. He is for me and understands what it’s like to be physically exhausted and what it’s like to struggle.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. – Psalm 55:22

My legs hit the floor again at 4:00 AM this morning so I could care for my son who has a bad cough. While I reached over to give him water and tylenol, I trusted in the fact that a day is coming where I will have rest and that God is using my struggles and the gift of raising my children to teach me a greater dependence upon Him.

Guest Post: Love Changes Everything by Ellie Bakk

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


Submit a Post: Win a Signed Copy of Lazarus Awakening

Recently, I had dinner with best-selling author Joanna Weaver. You may be familiar with one of her books, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Joanna was a delight to meet and get to know. Her newest book (brand new in fact) by Waterbrook Press is called Lazarus Awakening. Here’s what it’s about:

You believe that God loves the world… but sometimes you wonder if He truly loves you. For many of us, moving the truth of God’s love from our heads to our hearts is a lifelong process. As we consider our inadequacies or grieve our shattered dreams, we find it difficult to believe that God cares for us personally.

In this life-giving book, Joanna Weaver shows you how to embrace the truth that Jesus loves you apart from anything you accomplish, apart from anything you bring. Just as He called Lazarus forth to new life, Jesus wants to free you to live fully in the light of His love, unbound from the graveclothes of fear, regret, and self-condemnation. Love is calling your name.

I thought it would be fun for us to try a little contest, so here it goes. To win a signed copy of Lazarus Awakening:

  • Write a blog post on how love has changed you by this Friday, Feb. 11 (until midnight)
  • Must be less than 500 words
  • Submit as a Word doc to:  samantha [at] samanthakrieger [dot] [com]  Subject: Love Post
  • The winner’s entry will be published as a guest post on this blog Monday, Feb. 14- Valentine’s Day, in addition to receiving the signed book
  • All other entries will be considered as future guest posts

I can’t wait to see your submissions!

pleasant interruptions

Since Tuesday morning, the roads have been lined with a sheet of ice and a light blanket of snow covers the grass. This morning our power went out and we had to get dressed over candlelight. An hour ago, it went out again for 10 minutes before I could dry my hair.

And I’ve been completely fine with it. But any other week, I probably would be frustrated because I like everything to be planned and not so spontaneous. But I’ve really been able to embrace my present reality, taking a few steps back to rest in the simplicity.

There is nowhere to go but to be with my precious children and visit our neighbors. Our refrigerator is growing bare, but our needs are met. If we really needed something, Jeremiah is at work and could go to Kroger on his way home.

This time of stillness has also brought a little surprise my way. Someone I know who works for WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishers asked if I’d like to have lunch with one of their authors, Joanna Weaver, this week and that it would be on them! Joanna wrote the book Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World (along with many other books).I’m so humbled and honored by this opportunity and on Thursday I’ll get to meet her.

It’s been really fun watching God pour out such pleasant interruptions to my week. I think he knows I need to hold life a little more loosely and begin to better welcome whatever comes my way.

Well, the gray clouds still hover over the city and it’s as if everyone is still sleeping. I’m going to end this post just in case the power goes out again!

Yes, free indeed: Overcoming Our Deepest Fears

“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.

why your broken prayers are enough

Since having children, my prayer life has changed a lot. I used to have a more designated time for prayer, but now my prayers are more unscheduled, short and spontaneous. And lately the prayer I feel I offer most to God is Help!

I’ve also had times when the only words I could offer were tears.

And the most pivotal prayer of all was when I asked Jesus to Save me.

But most of the time I still feel this pressure to offer drawn out, formal prayers to God- and if I don’t do that, I’m not spiritual. But it’s interesting to note that in Romans, Paul says that in our Spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father” in our adoption as his children.

And that’s a short prayer if I’ve seen one.

I’ve been reading this 30-day devotional treasury book on Prayer by Charles Spurgeon and in it he says, “I think this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, not stilted and formal.” Spurgeon goes on to say how sometimes our prayers to God are more like groans and longings and how when we cry Abba,”The cry in our hearts is not only childlike, but the tone and manner of utterance are equally so.”

I can just picture the tone and manner of the word “D-a-d-d-y” when a child is in great danger or in need of help and how when we cry “A-b-b-a” to our Heavenly Father it is the same.

Spurgeon’s words have reminded me that it’s okay to offer such a short, broken prayer when that’s all I can do. They’ve also reminded me that lots of things keep me from being natural and real with God: Pride, stubbornness, my inability to trust Him with everything, my failure to see that he loves me, and much more.

But my true desire is to be more open with God and to not hide so much. In child-like faith, I want to crawl up in his lap and just be in his presence. And in the coming days where I’m sure I’ll have to offer up one-worded prayers again, I can be honest and trust that he is listening because I am his child and He is my Abba.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

Words that bring Life

On Tuesday morning, I crawled out of bed exhausted from a restless night of sleep and being up at 4Am with Rebekah. I sat on our living room chair trying to gain composure as I fed her once again. Then out of nowhere, my toddler John runs right up to us and pinches her face (a common thing these days). She starts crying and I yell out “No!” and for him to “Stop it right now!”

But what you might not see in writing is that my tone of voice was angry, impatient, and piercing. John started to cry because of the way I handled it and my heart ached because I had crushed his spirit.

One of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp, wrote a blog post called, Why Your Words Matter Most, and in it she says: “All the words I had ever spoken, they are making my children who they are. What we speak into others, this is what they become.”

Growing up, my Dad and Mom told my sister and I that we could do anything we wanted in life. They spoke those words to us over and over again and I started believing them. Now being in my late twenties, I believe their words have really shaped how I view life. I also know of stories of friends whose parents spoke the opposite, and well you know the rest.

I think all of us, though, hold onto lies we’ve been told or lies we tell ourselves. We believe them so much that they leave us paralyzed from taking action and trusting in God. We might even need to let go of certain words (or the way words were said) in the past that remain etched on our hearts today.

This year, I want to make an intentional, disciplined effort to use my words to bring life to others– not death. And I want to lean more on the truth of God’s Word.

Well, after John’s pinching episode, I confessed my impatience to God and thought long about what I wanted to do differently next time. Even though he shouldn’t pinch his baby sister, my reaction should have been more patient and loving. I kissed his cheek several times and told him that Mommy was sorry and loved him very much.

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