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.

Running for Life [abundantly]

I want to really live in 2011, but sometimes I fear the unknown and I fear failure.

I’m still on vacation at my parents place, and this morning I went on a run for the second time this week. It had been over a year since I ran last. In the first 15 minutes of my run, I felt stronger and my pace was faster than it was on Monday. I barely had to stop and walk. I didn’t look at the time to see if I was almost done. I just savored the feeling of sweat again, my surroundings and my worship music on Pandora.

Then I thought about the fears I had: Can I really run again and run well? Can I really drop the 10 lbs. of baby weight that’s lingering? I wasn’t sure if I had it in me.

On my way back home, the wind blew harder against my face and my feet ached. I had to walk again. I looked over at the golf course to my right and the landscape was brown- not a pretty bright green as I thought it should be. I thought about how I didn’t want my life to be dormant and drab like that green. I wanted my life to be alive and vibrant. A life that bears much fruit.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Then I thought about my fears again. Fear and the worries of this world tend to choke the life out of me. And the Enemy wants exactly that. But Jesus came so I would live life to its fullest.

In 2011, I want to take the first steps required for me to live more fully in my relationship with Christ. It might mean getting up early before the babies are awake to be in the Word. Or praying more through out the day. Or having self-control and resisting the urge to get angry at my toddler or impatient with my husband. Or embracing where I am right now and complaining less. Or going out of my way to love and invest radically in someone who is different than me. It might mean dreaming God-sized dreams.

I’m not sure, but I know I need to live more. I know that I haven’t fully embraced the abundant life that God has for me.

Well, after walking those few minutes in my run, I picked up my pace again. My parents’ house was in the distance and I started sprinting towards it, knowing there was no other choice but to run again.

God Gave Me You- Reflecting on Five Years of Marriage

2008

Today marks five years that Jeremiah and I have been married! It seems like yesterday we were back at Liberty, where we met in seminary. I always knew there was something different about him after he had asked me to go to lunch one day after class. And for so long, I’d been praying for God to bring me a man who loved Jesus and loved people (and was good looking too!)

After that lunch date, we started to hang out a lot and I knew I really liked him. Our relationship moved quickly and it scared us. It was nothing that a good “DTR” couldn’t fix. On November 12, 2004- the day before I ran my first marathon, he asked my dad for his blessing to date me, and then asked me to be his girlfriend.

We dated for seven incredible months and on June 4th, 2005 while on a class trip to Israel, he asked me to be his wife at the Jordan River. I said “yes” and we made that promise to each other trusting that was God’s will.

On December 17, 2005, Dr. Jerry Falwell married us among all our friends and family in Lynchburg, VA. It was the best day of my life.

Marriage as a Sharpening Tool

Three months into marriage, Jeremiah lost his job for sharing his faith so that put us on uneven ground for a while. We couldn’t believe something like that could happen fresh into our marriage. We struggled a lot through the hurt. We stayed with my parents in TX for a few months while he looked for jobs in Virginia.

From the trials in those first few years, our arguments exposed the “ugliness” of my sin at times. I was extremely selfish and didn’t fully know how to respect my husband. It was so frustrating, and I even questioned, “Did I make the wrong decision?” I thought that marriage would be so easy like it was when we were dating.

The Turning Point

Eventually, Jeremiah got a job at the University of Virginia Medical Center and we moved to Charlottesville, VA. We lived there for a year and then felt led to pursue more education for ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. We packed our life and headed to Dallas.

Within a few months we started attending Watermark Community Church where we were plugged into a community group of 5 other young married couples. We were paired with a mentor couple who invested in us for 18 months.

We were real about our struggles with each other and were able to discuss openly about sex, communication, finances, past baggage and more. It was amazing to see we were not alone in our journey. Other couples were experiencing the same tensions we had and we were able to work through so much together and actually learn how to communicate effectively.

Learning to Be on Mission

Our first year in Dallas we served together with an organization called Apartment Life planning activities and building relationships with residents in our apartment community. We had countless opportunities to share the gospel and bring residents to church. That experience birthed in our hearts a desire for church planting and to always be involved in the lives of those far from Christ.

Serving gave us a greater purpose beyond just “us.” It grew us closer together. Right around that time, I accepted a job offer to work for Bluefish TV/RightNow.org as a writer and editor and learned even more what it meant to be on mission in every part of my life.

Growing Our Family

Before I knew it, in 2008, we had our first son John and in 2010, our first daughter Rebekah. Through our children, I’ve felt a love like no other. Having children has taught me even more about my imperfections and how I have to daily depend on Christ for his strength and grace. I’m learning that the best gift we can give our kids is to put our marriage first and love each other well.

As of today, Jeremiah isn’t too far away from finishing his theology degree and we want to be wherever God would have us when we’re finished. While we’re still far from perfect as a married couple, we’re striving to allow God to be the center of our relationship and to heal us of our hurts, habits, and hangups. The greatest freedom I’ve found in the battle against my own sin is to confess those struggles to God, to Jeremiah, and to other people.

A Deeper Love

The journey of these five years has allowed me to appreciate the gift of marriage even more. I love and respect Jeremiah more than on the day we said “I do” and I can’t imagine living my life apart from him. He’s my best friend and my lover.

Dave Barnes writes in his song “God Gave Me You”:

I’ve been a walking heartache

I’ve made a mess of me

The person that I’ve been lately

Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me

Watch as the storm blows through

And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs

God gave me you for the days of doubt

For when I think I’ve lost my way

There are no words here left to say, it’s true

God gave me you

Jeremiah has loved me in my “mess” and through all our ups and downs and to me, that is the greatest love.

Happy Five Year Anniversary, Jeremiah!

And thank you for editing this post last night 🙂

can I have your feedback?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to look like in 2011. Since I started blogging three years ago, I’ve written whatever is on my heart regarding faith, marriage, motherhood, authenticity, missional living, writing, and more. I’ve posted about once a week and sometimes twice a week.

But I’m ready to have more clarity on what this blog is truly about. I’d like it so that when you come here, you’ll know that each post will reveal that focus (in some way, shape, or form!). Maybe it already does, but I’m just not sure.

I have some ideas on the focus I’d like to take, but I would love your thoughts in this process- whether you’ve been reading for several years, a few months, or maybe weeks. Please keep these questions in mind, but don’t worry about answering them word for word:

What makes you want to stop by and read?

How would you describe this blog?

What have been some of your favorite posts?

What topics do you like to read about?

Are there any topics you’d like to see more of?

What kind of stories do you like to read about?

In what ways have you been challenged and encouraged?

Do you see this blog as a place for online community?

If you’d rather send an email, you can write me at: samantha [AT] samanthakrieger [dot] [com]

Thank you in advance for helping me find some clarity!

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