Battling in Fervent Prayer for Your Children

Not too long before my family and I made our big move from Dallas, Texas to Holyoke, Colorado I was in my parents house reminiscing on all our memories, our journey of seminary, and the special city where all our babies were born. I was in my moms sowing/reading room when I saw her journal open with note cards of all her grandkids names written down. My sister’s boys and our four kids, in addition to her prayer partner Bonnie’s grandchild were listed. My mom and Bonnie have been prayer partners for more than 25 years and pray on the phone once a week. Talk about discipline!

I read them one by one and was challenged and encouraged in my own prayer life. In the current ages of our children (8 and under), my husband and I have had our share of challenges in parenting each child’s unique personality. We haven’t always known what is a spiritual vs. a physical battle with each one. But now more than ever, when I’m often pleading for help from Jesus, I’m reminded that prayer is my greatest weapon against the Enemy.

You see, our fight even in parenting, is not against flesh and blood but against the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. We don’t always see the battle before us so we must fight with spiritual weapons. It would be silly and foolish to engage in a spiritual battle with only physical armor. The discipline of prayer teaches us to humble ourselves and seek our greater authority who is fully aware of every situation we face.

Prayer is an invitation for us to bring all our concerns to Jesus and lay them at his feet. We need to be confident to go to the throne of grace- regardless of our weaknesses and brokenness- that he will hear us when we call to him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  Your words will not fall on deaf ears and you can have assurance that your almighty God, maker of heaven and earth cares for you and is fully capable.

My temptation each day for not being fervent in prayer are thoughts like: “Their rebellion is not that big of a deal. They’re just kids. They will learn …” and more. But the reality is that they’re also in a battle against their sinful nature, the darkness in this world, culture’s cunning lies, and the battle of their flesh that says “dive in and enjoy sin to the fullest, even if it hurts you and causes great pain.”

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”

In addition to our parenting strategies and disciplines, what if we trained and disciplined ourselves in prayer over our children’s hearts each day? After all, scripture says that foolishness resides within them just as it does with us. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Their bad attitude, sassy mouth, undisciplined behavior, disrespect for authority, laziness, apathy, not wanting what they desire, sibling rivalry, complaining spirit, lying, stealing, lusts for more, and the list goes on… What if we engaged in prayer like never before over their hearts? What if we entrusted Jesus to do the work that we simply cannot do?

I have no doubt that we’d begin to see prayers answered, hearts softened, passions rekindled, respect and responsibility in action, and a standing up for the right thing like we’ve never seen before. Perhaps we’d begin to see the healing we’ve been longing for so badly in our home, marriage, and children because of prayer.

Just as my mom began writing down her prayers and claiming them, I too (finally!), have started writing down and praying promises of Scripture over my children. It’s been a great delight and privilege to pray over their struggles. Ironically, I see their battles are very similar to my own.

At the end of the day, for all of us, the sobering question we must face is that if we don’t pray for the hearts of our children in this dangerous and deadly spiritual battle, who will?

Fighting in the war with you,

Samantha

This post was inspired by the book my moms Bible study is going through this fall: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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Three Simple Ways to Cultivate Faith in Your Child During the Season of Lent {with Katie Bowman}

Research shows that more than half of Christian kids are walking away from the faith once they are college age. I don’t know about you, but I am unwilling that even one of my three kid’s hearts would be lost. The encouraging news is that experts say that what makes the difference is cultivating their faith little by little, day by day. Or as Deuteronomy 6:7 puts it, “Talk about [God’s commandments] when you sit at home and when you walk [or drive] along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Thankfully, elaborate lesson plans and Pinterest perfect crafts aren’t listed in Deuteronomy. Can I get an “AMEN”?!

Even though it’s the day by day that really matters, it’s so easy to let the daily things of life crowd out the meaningful. Early wake up calls from little feet, seemingly never ending to do lists, literally NEVER ENDING bedtime routines, you get it. You live it too.

That’s why I’m so grateful for seasons and times of the year that call us out beyond what we’ve settled into. Lent, or the 40 or so days leading up to Easter have been a part of the church calendar for centuries. For centuries Christians have taken the days leading up to Easter to refocus their eyes on what matters, to be intentional about weeding out distractions.

This season is a great time to think about how I can go a little bit deeper and take my kids with me into that. It not only challenges me to evaluate the way I am teaching them but also helps me focus the posture of my own heart. I can’t lead my kids to places I have never been. I want them to know Christ deeply, so I must go deeper still.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to set up monuments. When life was routine, these monuments would remind them of God’s faithfulness. In the same way, I hope to build traditions into different seasons of our life. Not to neglect the daily discipleship, but to deepen it.

I have a 6 year old, 3 year old and a 10 month old so I know how hard it is to fit in daily time with the Lord, let alone go above and beyond. But here are some traditions I have found work for us.

Resurrection Garden: God takes dead things and causes new life.

1. Read the Word everyday from now until Easter.

No other book carries the promises of God’s Word. Your time spent in it will not return void. Honestly, I was struggling with this BIG TIME. I have found that waking up 30 minutes before my kids is the best time for me. Sometimes little feet make their way into
the dining room where I am reading. I made sure to set up expectations beforehand that Mommy is not available to meet your needs while I am spending time with God. Instead I read out loud to them or keep a children’s Bible beside me that they can look at quietly.

More than anything, I want them to grow up with the memories of their Mom pouring over the Word. Two practical ways that have made it easy to stay the course are: (1) the She Reads Truth App (2) Leaving a Bible in a place that is accessible, for me that is on the far end of our dining room table where I usually do my quiet time.

2. Give up something for Lent. 

Even though Lent already started you can still make a commitment to put away a distraction from now until Easter. Last year I gave up TV/scrolling my phone in the evenings. It has stuck and instead of doing something that wasn’t feeding my soul (in fact, I found it was life-sucking for me) I started reading character forming books (I could write an entire blog post on how LIFE GIVING this has been for me).

This year I gave up sleep. Just 30 minutes in the morning like I mentioned above. The key is not just giving something up but filling that space with something that is life-giving and draws you closer to Jesus.

Each egg has a meaning on the Easter tree.

3. Find one Easter tradition that will be meaningful to your family.

We have actually found two that we REALLY love. The first is a resurrection garden. I love how we can not only talk about the empty tomb but also how God takes dead things (seeds) and causes new life. You can see what you’ll need to make one over on my blog. The second is an Easter Tree. I didn’t anticipate the big hit this one would be. My kids LOVE learning more about what each egg represents. We have had some fun discussions that we would have never had otherwise. I also love that it can grow with my kids. The older and more mature they become the deeper we can dive into the meaning of each egg.

To cultivate means to foster growth. Gardens don’t grow just by planting alone. They need the loving care of the gardener who studies what each individual plant needs in her care. While praying that God will bring the sunshine and rain, the gardener must study the best times to plant, the best ways to fertilize and protect her crops and when to reap the harvest.

Some seasons call for hard work, some for rest and others still for study and prayer. In the same way, we must be diligent to teach our children the Word and trust God to do what we cannot and cause faith to take root in their hearts. The season of Lent is a great time to put in some extra hard work, all for the sake of growing God’s kingdom in our children’s hearts.

What are some ways that you’re cultivating faith into the hearts of your children?

About Katie Bowman

Katie Bowman has been married to her best friend, Adam, for ten years. She graduated from Liberty University and Dallas Seminary.

She loves being able to stay home with her three kids. Second only to passing on her faith, she hopes to pass on her love of books to her children. For fun she likes to take naps and go to the bathroom alone. She leads this glamorous life in Dallas, Tx. 

 

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We All Have to Grow Up

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photo: Katie Bowman, 2012

Rebekah has looked up to her big brother John since the day she was born. In fact, he is the one who named her “Bekah” after he couldn’t say her full name Rebekah. John was her first friend, her first fight, and her first fun! She has never known life apart from him and oh does she love him and look up to him fiercely.

It’s hard to believe that on Thursday, John will show her the ropes in his school. It will now be her school – they will go together. Actually, when Bekah was in her three’s and four’s (the hardest years ever for me), I often wished for her to be a little older so I could manage the meltdowns better. I struggled so much and I had no idea how fast it would go by and that it was only a season, soon to change. When I saw our recent church photo, I realized just how much our family is growing up. Kindergarten has come and it came so fast.churchfamilyphoto

In the same way that we don’t keep returning to preschool year after year, relearning the basics over and over again, we’re also called to grow up in our faith.

Do you ever feel that resistance not to want to change? I would rather stay in Neverland. I have been reminded of this a lot lately as I see my struggles, hurts, and habits for what they truly are in the bright light – kind of ugly – an insecurity, unforgiveness, or slothfulness in different areas. When I see sinfulness inside me, I’m reminded that I have a lot of maturing to do.

1 Corinthians 13: 11-12 says,

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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Just as a child only has a limited frame of reference and understanding, spiritually we are the same. We can only see life from a limited point of view here on earth. Like my own children, my understanding is imperfect and I have much to learn about God. It’s like trying to see through a mirror that is smudged, cloudy, scratched, dirty, and even broken. My perspective isn’t what it should be.

But soon, we won’t see through a jacked up mirror. We will see face to face the glory and majesty of God and we will eventually know what we don’t yet know right now. Not partially, but fully. 

I’m thankful that while I have so much growing up to do, one day, I will see things as God sees them in its fullest. I will see his people the way he sees them. I will see his plan how he sees it. In heaven, the things we valued and were obsessed about here on earth will be a shadow compared to the beauty and light of Jesus, who is the only one who satisfies our souls.

Growing up and maturing is never easy. I might cry on Thursday or I might be happy and thankful for the break – probably both. But moving ahead is a necessity. When we move past the basics spiritually, we are changed. And it is then that we do begin seeing a little more how heaven sees and we are fine leaving Neverland in order to grow deeper and stronger in our faith.

A Wife & Mother’s Response to Target’s New Bathroom Policy

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waiting for Target’s doors to open – 2013

This blog is about marriage, motherhood, and faith. I prefer to stay out of politics and cultural affairs, but in light of recent news regarding Target’s new bathroom policy allowing transgender guests to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, I cannot stay silent.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon of being just another blog post that has something to say. I’m just an ordinary mom with a husband and four children living in a small town. I’m an imperfect sinner saved by grace. I believe in being a light in this dark world and submitting to governing authorities. I believe love covers a multitude of sins – not hate and judgment or attack. I love and respect those with different values.

With that being said, for as long as I’ve been a momma, I have loved me some Target. I can count many a mornings rolling into their parking lot with my stressed-out self, toting four children to the doors, and strapping them tightly into the red kids cart. My first priority being a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso. Target even thought of the cart cupholder. Genius.

Cleaning supplies, adorable kids clothes, jewelry, groceries, cards, toys, a new pair of sunglasses. You name it and I’ve bought it.

While we don’t live in the city anymore and don’t have immediate access to one, Target is still dear to me. I look forward to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to get my hands on one and the Chick-fil-a next to it. Target’s not just another retail giant in my eyes, but it’s a place of refuge, fun, and sanity.

With their recent news, I’m at a loss as to what to do as are many other moms I’ve talked to. I’m saddened. I understand the argument, “Why are we surprised? This is where our culture is headed. The church hasn’t been standing up for truth. Why should we expect the world to have Christian standards?…”  I’m not surprised, either. I am in shock! Do I still shop at Target and just not use the restrooms? (that’s impossible with young kids). Do I pray they will change their policy (yes!) Do I boycott and give someone else the business I would give Target? (I’d rather not).

I know Target doesn’t uphold to biblical standards so I wouldn’t expect them to but still… This policy feels like a dangerous, slippery slope where the line has been crossed.

My main concern is for women and children. Target’s policy will be taken advantage of – it already has in other bathrooms across the country according to news outlets. Three days ago the AFA wrote in Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!,

Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?

It’s not just about being inclusive and welcoming everyone. We know all too well the depravity of the human heart. As parents, we have a great responsibility to protect our children from harm – physical, emotional, and sexual. That has always been our responsibility no matter if we’re in a bathroom stall or at home.

Because Target is the first retail domino to fall, there is an opportunity to send a sound and clear message to all retailers that this America where men are allowed into women’s restrooms and vice versa is not the America we desire. If those who are for privacy and safety in the restrooms are the majority, then that majority must speak out or its voice will be deafened by the silence. Let retailers who stand in favor of public safety and privacy for our children know that we appreciate them and will patronize their efforts on our behalf.

I’ve decided to shop elsewhere in hopes that other retailers won’t follow suit and assume this is what consumers want. Of course that makes this mama-Target-loving heart sad, but I will continue to leave what makes me angry and upset in God’s hands and ask for his help to navigate the ever-changing tides in our culture.

3 Reasons Why Being “Bored” Helps Your Kids Thrive

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Navigating the tricky waters with four kids, 7 and under, I often hear the oldest two express after school, on a day off, or on the weekend: “Mom, I’m so bored!”

So I begin to think about a really good response for my kids. In our culture today, it’s like it’s a sin to be bored. With technology at our fingertips and where everyone and every thing is producing and occupied by something, how is it okay to simply not do anything? To simply be?

I eventually come up with a suitable response: “Good, that’s a good thing. It is good to be bored!” I say with confidence – pronouncing the “good” – not wanting to give into the temptation to let them play a game on my phone.

My son looks at me strange but by the second week…

Read the rest of the article on For the Family. 

Learning to Release Your Children to The Lord

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

Read the rest over on FortheFamily.org

You Might be a Stay-at-Home Mom to Four Kids, 4 & Under If…

4 kiddos

1. You find your morning cup of coffee still sitting in the microwave at 5:00 PM

2. The most popular comments in public are, “Wow, you have your hands full!” and “Are ALL those yours?”

3. You have 10 pacifiers and can’t find any of them

4. Sitting in the church service with your husband feels like a date

5. You no longer have to apologize to your company for the house being a disaster

6. You can’t remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep

7. The only break you get is a bathroom break

8. Breaking up fights and disciplining is your job whether you like it or not

9. You won’t dare go to the grocery store unless you are alone

10. Your third child doesn’t mind eating off your second child’s breakfast plate (sometimes cold)

11. You have to schedule your morning around how many dirty diapers you’ll have to change before going out

12. You consider lifting a 2 1/2 year old, 1 year old, and newborn as your weight training class

13. You get angry that there aren’t more mom-friendly, healthy drive-thru restaurants

14. You have to think twice whether or not you forgot a child

15. Visiting a chiropractor is a non-negotiable

16. You throw your kids at your husband as soon as he walks in the door

17. You pack all your kids in your van for a drive so you can have a conversation with your husband

18. Mother’s Day out and morning preschool are lifelines

19. You’ve become good friends with your Pediatrician

20. The only way to cook a meal is to put a kids show on

21. You are amazed you even got through another day

22. You’re humbled because your son’s teacher wrote you an email this week saying he’s pretty much her top student. She didn’t know you’ve felt like a failure of a mom lately

23. You realize more than ever how precious life is and it’s not a cliche that it’s truly a gift

24. You want other people to experience the blessing of children, even when motherhood – no matter how many kids you have – is the hardest.job.ever

25. You are surprised that your capacity to love grows richer and deeper

26. You find yourself not wanting to ever miss out on each child’s first milestone because you know how fast time has flown with the oldest

27. You pray every day that your children will come to know and love Jesus in spite of you

28. You ask God to do great things in and through your children so they can make a difference in the lives of others

29. You start to understand that the daily, difficult, messy, complicated, satisfying, beautiful, mundane tasks in motherhood and raising children are working together for a greater purpose. When you serve them, you serve God.

30. It’s a miracle that you finished this blog post!

A Surprise Baby!

IMG_4679In late November I started to feel dizzy and nauseous and a little off. I thought I had some kind of stomach bug but I didn’t think anything of it until it didn’t go away. Then Jeremiah and I figured I should take a pregnancy test to rule that option out. We made a trip to Target in the evening, I grabbed the test and took it after the kids were down.

Jeremiah sat in the living room and as I anxiously awaited the results. My heart raced but I really didn’t think I was pregnant. Then to my shock and surprise, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. Not one but two pink lines were popping up.

Are you kidding me? How can this be?

I grew angry and unsure of everything. I had a four month old, had barely gotten my pregnancy weight off, was exclusively breast feeding, and on birth control. With all my other three children, I never got pregnant while nursing.

“It says we’re pregnant Jeremiah! What in the world?” I cried in disbelief.

He was in shock and having difficulty processing it too. I was already quite overwhelmed being a mom to three children under 4 and was really looking forward to taking a break from carrying and delivering a baby. We knew we wanted to complete our family with four children but we wanted to wait a while, like 2 or 3 years.

That night I went to bed shocked, woke up shocked, and felt down the whole week. I didn’t tell any family or friends. I needed time to process and pray and work this one out with God.

Weeks passed and I slowly told our family and close friends. I knew I had the choice to accept this surprise or be bitter and angry. I faced the choice to worry about what people thought and the comments people would make (especially in general public) about being pregnant while holding another baby on my hip.

Ultimately, I’d arrived at a crossroads in my life where I had to surrender my desire to control and give all that I was, and my very body carrying this new life, into the very arms of Christ. This was His doing. Would I trust him?

Thoughts wrestled through my mind for several weeks. I went in for my first doctor appointment and my doctor couldn’t believe it when he saw my name on the schedule but that he was so happy for me. The ultrasound and heartbeat were perfect and I was already 6 weeks along. My due date was looking like July 25 putting this baby and my daughter Hannah 13 months apart!

“This is a miracle, Samantha. You may not see it right now, but God has plans in the future for this baby,” my doctor said confidently.

I held back my tears and smiled.

“Thank you. You’re right.”

My heart was at peace and I was thankful the baby was healthy. A few days after my doctor appointment I finally arrived at a place where I embraced this baby as God’s perfect will- His perfect miracle. This baby was a gift. It wasn’t about me. And that’s what ultimately helped change my perspective.

Initially, I realized more of the shock came from “Oh no, how in the world am I going to handle four children under four?” than it really was about the blessing of this baby. The majority of my fears have to do with motherhood. I’m nowhere near the perfect Mom and if I’ve learned anything with the three children God has already given me it’s that I really don’t have it together. I need the Lord’s grace every single day.

Motherhood has tested me and refined me like nothing else has. It’s also been the greatest joy of my life. I struggle daily to be everything I’m called to be but I do know that God has given me the privilege and responsibility to love and nurture my children and teach them to know and love God.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127:3-5

This mission and calling keeps me going every day. And I’m just praying for the strength and endurance I’m going to desperately need when this sweet baby arrives.

Well on Friday, we had the 16 week ultrasound and everything looked great. We were thinking all along we would make it a surprise delivery since we’ve never done that so during the ultrasound, we didn’t find out but I did ask the tech to write it down and put in an envelope in case we wanted to know later. They don’t keep the gender on file.

IMG_4684I wasn’t planning on keeping the envelope in my purse for very long long because of the obvious temptation to read it. I was thinking about handing it off to a friend. Then I realized during those few hours after the appointment that I really wanted to know. I was getting too stressed about not knowing if it was a boy or girl. So Jeremiah and I opened it together Friday evening. And we loved what we saw in writing- A BOY!

I’d been praying hard all along for another boy so we would have 2 girls and 2 boys and that our boys would be the bookends. I also felt like it could be a boy since this pregnancy has felt similar to my son John’s so it was such an answer to prayer to receive the news. God is so gracious.

What I’m most amazed by at this 16 week mark is how much God has changed my heart. Of course, it has been a process as I’m a work in progress. I know more than ever that I’m not in control of my life as much as I’d like to think I am. I can make plans, but the Lord determines my steps (Prov. 16:9). He is the Creator of life and knows what He is doing. Can I trust him with my very own life? Can I trust him that this is his perfect will for our family? Absolutely. He has never forsaken me.

IMG_4678That doesn’t mean the road ahead will be smooth sailing by any means. Raising a family is hard work. Our home will look pretty crazy with four little ones running around- it already is with 3! But God has made our life so rich and so full with our children.

Thank you for sharing in the joy of our little boy who is on his way very soon!

No Matter What, You Are Loved by God

Yesterday morning my four year old John scooted our bench over to the kitchen countertop so he could stand on it. He wanted to spread his own peanut butter on his toast, which happened to be a first.

“I’m going to make Daddy’s for him too. He will love me for it and give me a kiss on the cheek!”

I thought how sweet that was for him to do and I figured I’d turn his little comment into a teaching opportunity.

“Well John, did you know that you don’t have to do anything to make Daddy love you more? He loves you just for you, no matter what,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said thinking about it.

He continued spreading in between the crust and topped it off with some banana slices and honey, just the way Daddy likes his peanut butter toast.

Then I could only naturally think about God’s love for us.

God loved us while we were still sinners and loves all sinners presently. He doesn’t need us to prove anything to him. And contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing we can do to earn his love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I admit that at times I have a hard time accepting these truths about His love. Sometimes I feel that if I’ve screwed up and failed to be the person God has called me to be, that my behavior changes God’s view of me.

Or sometimes I feel I have to “do” more: read more of my Bible, pray more, do more ministry,  go to church more, walk in the Spirit more, give more… you get the point. Those are all blessings and necessities that come with following Christ- not a checklist or legalistic duty. God uses all those means as gifts and tools to help me love him more and know him more fully. But they don’t for one second change the way He loves me.

The truth that God’s love is a gift of undeserving grace is mind boggling and so incredibly freeing. It’s like the image of grace you’ve probably sung about in David Crowder’s, “How He Loves” song:

And we are His portion and He is our prize,  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,  If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. 

I don’t know about you but in 2013, I want to know His love more deeply because I haven’t even swam close to the deep end when it comes to understanding his unending grace, love, and redemption. There is so much more my heart has yet to be filled with. And as I get more situated in to this new year, I’m excited about the new truths God has yet to reveal.

Well John got to enjoy his toast with his Daddy and heard words of gratitude for his hard work. Even though later in the day John disobeyed, fought with his sister, and had a few fits, Daddy corrected him and disciplined him and showed him love.

And even as a young child, I think John is able to understand that he’s still loved no matter what he does.

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.

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