The Words “I Love You”

While I was washing the dishes a few nights ago, John walks up to me in adult-like fashion and says:

“Momma?”

I turn to him wondering what his next words will be. I assumed he needed something.

“I love you.”

My eyes lit up and I was pleasantly surprised especially after the kind of day it had been. My heart filled with joy that even though I’m a far-from-perfect Momma, my three year old still loves me and hopefully knows that he is loved deeply too.

“I love you too, John.”

He gave a big grin and went about his business playing.

God spoke truth to me that evening through my son. I love how God often has a way of intervening in our lives to show us how deeply He loves us. I don’t know about you but it seems like when I am the most unlovely, He shows his unconditional love all the more and I’m humbled. How does such a sinner like me deserve so much grace and love?

Yet he continues to love because He is Love. 

And he shows his love in unexpected ways: through Scripture, prayer, the Church, other people, creation, whispers, ”aha” moments, circumstances, discipline, trials, and more.

But the truth is that he doesn’t have to continue showing his love. He has already proven his love by suffering and dying on the cross. He loved us while we were still sinners, in all our filthiness and ugliness. The cross sealed the deal and there is no greater love that exists.

But why do I often live like I need to be reassured of His love? Or sometimes I’m insecure of his love. I only need to look to the cross.

When it comes to love it’s no wonder that the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan strikes such a chord with so many people deep within. It’s a song that chokes me up and reminds me of His faithfulness. No matter what kind of hurt, pain, or trial we are going through, we follow a God who loves us and who cares about our frustrations and let-downs.

And he is indeed jealous for us.

He wants us to know that, yes, we are broken people and yes we will mess up sometimes but that doesn’t change anything about His love. He is ready and willing to show us that love if we will listen and obey.

I’ve remembered John’s words a few times this week. They have helped me through my daily struggles and they continue to remind me that those are the exact words God is saying to me.

“I love you.”

Welcome to the new site! – Migrating to the Standard Theme

For over a year now, I’ve wanted to convert my blog to the Standard Theme. I first heard about it on Michael Hyatt’s leadership blog and was very impressed with the layout and look.

What caught my eye was the crisp, clean look and how they designed the theme to focus on your content. I didn’t want my blog to have a lot of clutter. I also liked the admin panel and how features like sharing buttons and widgets were easier to activate. I was impressed with the Search Engine Optimizations stats, ad placement, and more.

But when it came down to actually installing the Standard Theme, it was much harder than I thought! I learned that I had to migrate my wordpress.com blog to wordpress.org (3.0 version) so that the Standard Theme would work. I had to dig into self-hosting and domain stuff which I knew very little about.

One night, my husband and I spent three hours trying to figure out how to migrate the site and we just couldn’t get it. I had heard from other people that it wasn’t easy. I grew really frustrated and found myself wasting hours on trying to figure it out.

Thankfully, we found a guy who my husband is in seminary with, Jonathan Huizingh,who is a web developer. He came over and was able to help us within an hour or less! He’s a genius. From there on out, my husband worked with him on all the behind the scenes stuff on the site.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on the pages in addition to connecting with my friend, Katie Bowman, to create a header that would go well with the theme’s design. After working with pixels, fonts, and images, I love what Katie designed. And believe it or not, it was her first stab at creating one. She’s amazing. Let me know if you’d like to connect with her for any design work.

Just last night, we launched the site and I have been pretty pleased. Of course, there is always more to be done and added but that will come in due time. I hope that you like it too.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe through email in the right sidebar or through Google Reader at the top. ** To my knowledge, those of you who were subscribed to the old site will have to resubscribe to this site. Sorry to hassle you with that. **

Special Thanks again to my husband, Jeremiah Krieger, and to Jonathan Huizingh and Katie Bowman for putting in the hours to make this a reality. So grateful to each of you.

Finding Gratitude in Motherhood

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Last night, my friend Ashleigh’s status update read: “Being a stay at home mom is exhausting. I’m tired, annoyed, and irritable.” 

Shortly after she posted those words, her friends chimed in with their advice and experience. It had really been a rough day for her and I could relate. I’ve had more difficult days lately than easy. I appreciated her honesty about being at home. It’s really no joke!

Ann Voskamp said in a recent blog post, “Love is not passion. It is the pulse of sacrifice.” While she was relating such words to marriage, I couldn’t help but think of my children too.

Every day seems like a sacrifice raising a three and one year old (and the one baking in my belly!) I told Jeremiah the other night before bed how I often have anxiety at the start of each day when it comes to the needs I will have to fulfill and the demands required of me.

Today, we went to the mall for lunch with my parents before they were about to catch a flight. And we must have counted five or so nanny’s taking care of little ones. It’s pretty common to see nanny’s since we live close to one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the country. Typically, they are middle-aged hispanic women and do an incredible job with the families.

As I sat feeding Rebekah her chicken and cheese taco, my heart filled with gratitude. She had rice all over her clothes and on the floor. I loved spending the time with her and was so glad she was with me. My mom helped John with his taco, but he is such a big boy now that he doesn’t need much help. I thought about how it felt like yesterday I was nursing him.

I thought about the baby inside of me. How excited I was, but overwhelmed too at the thought of having three come late June. Most people would think I’m crazy.

But it didn’t really matter. I’ve been given one of the best gifts in the world- the ability to be at home with my children. The gift of having a husband who works like crazy so I can be at home.

The ability to raise them. Nurture them. Love them. And discipline them. The incredible gift of watching all their firsts and most of all, trying with all my might to show them God’s love so that they will in turn love the world around them.

Hard work and sacrifice? More than ever. God is sanctifying me through motherhood. And it’s a painful sanctification, but there is nothing else in the world I’d rather do than make an impact in the lives of my children.

After I got home from lunch and put the kids down for naps, I went on Facebook and read the recent comments from Ashleigh’s update. She was encouraged and wrote: “Today is a new day. Thankful to Jesus for new beginnings.”

She couldn’t have said it better. And I’m so thankful God has a way of showing us moms so much in the midst of great sacrifice.

Remember Your Creator

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Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” — before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain. – Ecclesiastes 12:1-2

I was reading these verses last night before bed and I was struck by the incredible wisdom is King Solomon’s words.

A friend of mine in college had told me once how as the years passed by in her mom’s life, her love and passion for God faded away. She told me how her mom was once “on fire” for God, but how that fire was extinguished because “life just happened.”

I remember thinking, Oh I don’t want that to ever happen to me. How sad.

Little did I know as a college student just how much life would happen… to me. As I got older, I started to understand and sympathize with my friend’s mom. I’m seven years out of college and I’ve gone through my share of suffering, trouble, trials, and pain. Life has squeezed me in ways I never thought it could and at times I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel in following God’s ways.

As I read these verses I realize that I’m still in my youth so to say. I’m healthy (as far as I know), just about to reach 30, have young kids, and I’m able to draw upon the Lord whenever I want. God has given me the strength emotionally, spiritually, and physically to do so.

But Solomon reminds me that there will be a day when it might not be easy to call upon God. ”Days of trouble” will happen. That could mean old age, a disability, sickness, handicap- anything that is a barrier to enjoying life to its fullest. Solomon is saying to enjoy God in your youthful years, when your strength is still available to do so.

He pleads for us not to waste our life on evil or meaningless things that can cause our hearts to harden. These could be things that are good, that we find great pleasure in, but can turn into idols. These can also be things that can distance us from God.

Solomon pleads with us to focus on the Eternal, rather than the temporal, worldly pleasures that beckon us in our youth. The pleasures that try to snag and pull us away from God.

The bottom line is that there is no room for excuses, no matter how hard life can get. Loving and knowing God begins right now, while I have been given the strength and everything I need to pursue Him.

Don’t Tell Me To Be Patient

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“I want to ride bikes, Mommy!”

My three-year-old pleads with me as we’re riding the elevator up to our apartment.

“Not right now, John. We have to put the groceries away.”

“Noooo! I want to ride bikes now!” He screams a little more and throws himself on the floor.

After a few minutes, the fact that we won’t be riding bikes settles in. He whines, gets up, and follows me into our place.

Even from infancy, patience isn’t a word that we quite understand. It’s not a practice that comes naturally. If anything, no matter how old we are, we often detest the very word and act itself.

I didn’t set any specific New Year’s resolutions this year (surprisingly because I’m typically very goal oriented), but I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to work on practicing patience in my life- simply because I feel like this is one of the hardest virtues and spiritual disciplines to live out.

I need the person standing in front of me to move out of the way because I have two screaming children and need to check out

I want God to lead and guide our family, right now, to the perfect neighborhood after our lease is up in seminary housing

I want my friendships to grow on a deeper level, now.

I want to see the physical results immediately from my strength training class I take every week

I need God to heal the broken and sinful areas in my heart, right now. Why does sanctification have to be such a process?

I want all my dreams to be fulfilled now because time is of the essence. Besides, I turn 30 this year and I’m not getting any younger!

Our concept of time is so different from God’s. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Timing doesn’t thwart His plans or throw him off schedule. Thankfully, He’s told us a lot about patience in His Word, one being that we have to put it on. He knew that patience wouldn’t exactly be a part of our everyday wardrobe.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Col. 3:12

There it is. A command that we must follow and obey. And we are His children.

Holy. Chosen. Beloved.

He is taking care of me and I don’t need to fret about the things I can’t see clearly or the prayers that have been left unanswered. If I’m to put on patience, then that means I must take off any impatience, anxious thoughts, pride, irritability, anger, and more. Any sin that hinders me from living the life God intends.

In the book Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot writes:

We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness.

If God requires me to walk in seasons of darkness, then I know that eventually His light will shine through and prayers will be answered according to His good and perfect will.

Why Your Failures Don’t Define You

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Last week, I sat down on the couch to find something to watch with my three year old. The only station he would sit still to watch was the Alpine skiing championships.

As I watched each skier take off and head down the mountain, I was amazed by their speed, precision, and intensity to beat the clock no matter what.

Obviously, these skiers trained like crazy and had worked their way to the top. But what stood out to me the most was when one happened to fall or his foot would slip, he’d get back up and keep going. He would plan on making up for lost time further down the slope.

He didn’t let an unexpected fall interfere with his ultimate goal of crossing the finish line.

How true it is in our faith that we often let a stumbling block, failure or mistake keep us down on the ground. We focus so hard on the fact that we slipped, that we don’t shake the dust (or snow) off our shoes and move on. We forget what Scripture says:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Gal. 6:9

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. – James 1:2-3

God knows that we fall at times. He knows we want to give up in the battle against sin. He knows that we doubt if he will carry us through the really tough and testing times in our faith.

Maybe you set some New Year’s resolutions and you’ve already failed at them. Maybe you set some goals spiritually, physically, or in your relationships and marriage but you’ve fallen short. And you didn’t plan on that happening exactly. And you’re down because it’s only January!

The good news is that the next step for you is to get back up and keep pressing on.

But trust me. You will be tempted to let the failure define you or to let it replay in your mind over and over. Don’t let it.

Christ defines you. He is your identity. He is your hope in the fight against sin. He is the one who gives you the grace and strength to make it through.

So whatever it is that you’re struggling with, don’t lose heart. Because Christ has already promised if you do not give up, you will reap a harvest in due time. And your persevering will be totally worth it.

Do you ever struggle with allowing some kind of slip to define you?

 

 

New Article: The First Argument on StartMarriageRight.com

Our honeymoon had been perfect so far. My husband of four days had blown me away with his romantic surprises. We were giddy about being on the breathtaking Hawaiian island, Kauai, and it seemed like every minute we were relishing in our new love together. But suddenly as we walked along the shore near our cabana, the tides in our relationship changed…

Continue reading over on Start Marriage Right & feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

How to Handle the “In Between”

The week after Christmas tends to be an awkward week for me. The whole month of December, I anticipate Christmas. Everything I do centers around Dec. 25. And then once it’s over, I’m not quite sure what to do.

I could relate to writer Marcus Hathcock in the recent RELEVANT Magazine article, “The Thud After Christmas“ when he said, “There is a huge build up to Christmas… You get the feeling that the world is getting ready for something big and mysterious.”

Then Christmas happens and life moves on the next day as if it were never here. Marcus likened it to the radio stations instantly going back to their regular programming: “No tapering down the carols, just a clean break. A thud.”

I love how he uses the word thud because that’s exactly what it has felt like for me. I’ve asked myself a few times: Now What? What’s the next thing to look forward to?

This week, I’ve struggled with being in the in-between. Christmas is over and 2012 is on the horizon. I have my share of concerns about what the future will hold and what changes might occur.

But one thing has brought me true comfort and peace as I wrestle and grapple with the in between.

Going to God in His Word to be reminded and assured of his promises.

I easily forget that Jesus is enough. We hear it so much but it’s so true. He is all I need as I anticipate a brand new year that will hold only the Lord knows! This doesn’t mean that I don’t plan, work hard, make changes, set some goals, and more. Those things will happen.

But the point is that my eyes should not be on myself and what concerns I have. Or how I feel. Or frankly what I need to do. I actually end up getting depressed when I look too hard at myself.

My focus should be upon Christ, his Word, his ways, serving Him and His people. And above all to fulfill what I’ve been put on this earth to do- to know Him and make Him known.

I’m never disappointed when I begin placing my trust in what He says. And somehow, when my eyes are upon Him instead of self, I always end up finding true joy, comfort, and satisfaction. All the things that I’m pretty sure I was looking for in the first place.

Over the past few days I’ve noticed that the thud is slowly fading away and my anxiety about 2012 is turning into excitement and joy about what God will do and reveal about himself.

Have you felt the thud or struggle with the in between?

From My Family to Yours…

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A small Thank You

In the midst of wild emotions, prayer, doubts, questions, and more prayer, God has provided for us and on Friday Jeremiah accepted a full-time position at the same hospital where his unit was closed down. This morning, he started orientation in the Cath lab! Everything happened really fast, and when the managers interviewed him a few weeks ago (for 4 1/2 hours), they were super impressed.

I don’t blame them.

God is so good. In joy, and in difficulty.

We thank the Lord for providing and meeting all of our needs and then some. God continues to show his love in tangible ways and we have learned so much (and will continue to).

I don’t know where we would be if the body of Christ didn’t live out their faith. Whether you’re a reader, just checking this little space out, or a personal friend of mine, thank you for all your love and support and prayers. It helped so much in the waiting period, especially as I was a bit of a basket case.

I’m sure that future blog posts will be impacted by this experience and thus in return, I pray that you will be touched by them.

Thank you again.

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