When Love Happens

Photo: Shades of Grey Photography

In the sermon at church on Sunday, our pastor talked about 1 Corinthians 16:14: “Let all that you do, be done in love.” I felt challenged by it, knowing I have areas in my life where I’m not living a life of genuine love. Little did I know what God would show me the very next day.

John and Rebekah had been off-schedule since our move to a bigger apartment where we live on Friday. It was a lot of change for them. On Monday, they were constipated all afternoon (yep, both of them). They were in so much pain that I had to run out to try and find pediatric suppositories. I finally found some at Target.

When I got home the suppositories took about an hour to work. I had to put my fingers in places they’ve never been before. I think I changed 8 diapers. I won’t give you any more details, but needless to say, it was not a glorious day in motherhood!

I was tempted to get frustrated by the circumstances and the fact that all afternoon I was tending to my children’s needs and doing a job I’d prefer my husband, who is an R.N. could do and do better! I’d rather be swimming in the pool with them (which was what  we’d planned) or hanging out with our friends. But not this! Then I remembered that verse again.

Let all that you do, be done in love.

I had been looking for ways to love better and the opportunity was right in my home. It was my time to apply that truth to my life.

I relied on God for help and I was patient when they were screaming from discomfort. I was able to laugh a little to myself at the whole situation when normally I don’t do well in high stress situations.

I held them and told them it would be okay and that I loved them.  I realized they needed their Momma and no one else could do the job the way I could. I was encouraged to keep persevering because this was how to show them love.

A lot of times I get really inspired by God’s word, a sermon, or song to do great things and to serve others, but when it comes down to the everyday details in life, I get lazy and I’m selfish. I realize quickly that it’s hard work and I throw in the towel.

But I’m slowly learning that love is best shown in the mundane, ordinary, even messier details in life. It’s not about waiting for the perfect moment, mountain top experience, loving when I “feel” like it, or when it’s amazingly beautiful.

Love requires action and before it can spill over into the lives of others and into the world, it must first begin in my home with my husband and children, where it matters most.

Well the day ended well, thankfully. John and Rebekah felt better and went to bed early. When Jeremiah got home from a late night at work, we were able to connect with each other and laugh about the craziness of my day and his busy workday. We laughed about how “there’s always something” when you have kids. I laid my head down, thankful for the teaching moment I desperately needed (and need more of.)

Have you stumbled upon “love” in a unique way this week?

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


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.

treat yourself

We spent Thanksgiving this year at Jeff and Karen Riddle’s home. They are dear friends of ours who mentored Jeremiah and I and five other couples early in our marriage when we first moved to Dallas.

Karen had her first son Ryan and daughter Amanda at the same age I had John and Rebekah and they are also 2 years apart (now teenagers).

Sitting in comfy chairs around their outdoor fireplace, Karen and I talked about life and raising children. She said a lot of great things I will always take to heart and one truth really stuck out to me. She said that in all the busyness of life in this stage, to make sure I’m treating myself to one thing each day.

My eyes lit up when I heard her words. One thing… I can handle that, I thought.

It was great to hear that it was perfectly fine to do that. And it wasn’t selfish, but would help keep me sane!

Whether it’s getting coffee at Starbucks, shopping for an hour, writing, painting my nails, or even the smallest thing that I enjoy… taking the time to treat myself will really help in navigating the crazy waters of balancing two kids and meeting their daily needs.

I stared at the crackling fire, thinking hard on the wisdom there. Fresh into having two kids, I already feel the weight pressing in at times and the stress. Some days you just want to scream because you need time for yourself.

I haven’t figured out what all I can treat myself to each day but so far in the last week I took 30 minutes to buy a pair of jeans at our new Old Navy, got my hair cut and styled, shaved my legs, and took the babies along with me to get a peppermint mocha.

Obviously, finances don’t always allow for me to do those things every week, so I’ll have to get creative, but taking the time to do them refreshed my spirit and helped get me through the day. And I think they helped me be a better wife and mom.

I’m really thankful for women like Karen who encourage younger moms who haven’t quite been there and done that yet. It definitely helps to know you’re not alone.

How do you make sure you’re treating yourself and what does it do for you?

life with two

John holds Rebekah for the first time

As I type this post (Tuesday evening), my sweet little Rebekah is sleeping on my chest- head tucked under my chin. She loves to cuddle with her Mommy in the evenings before she goes down.

Life has changed quite a bit in our household since her birth. John has had some really rough days acting out, whining, hitting, having fits and more whining. He just doesn’t know what to think of his sister. Poor little guy. We’re trying our best to love on him well since his world has changed so much too. His behavior is improving though with each day.

I’ve gone through a range of emotions. I’ve been happy, sad, and struggled with anger in dealing with John’s behavior while I’m overtired. I’m still trying to get used to balancing two babies. We are well supported by friends and family. Many people have brought meals, watched John, and been there for anything we’ve needed. When she’s in town, my mom has been amazing helping with laundry, meals, grocery shopping and anything I could ever need.

Jeremiah is working hard to provide for our family and is finishing his seminary classes for this semester. He helps me clean when he comes home and helps reinforce discipline with John. I feel like our marriage is growing stronger in all the change.

And Rebekah… she’s been a breeze so far. She eats and sleeps and is really laid back. She’s our little dolly.

In the midst of the transition, I am grateful. In the chaos at times, I wouldn’t want anything else in life. My perspective is beginning to shift regarding motherhood too. It is a whole lot harder than I ever thought! It’s such a sacrifice and isn’t for the weak at heart.

Life with two… I don’t have it all figured out. I’m far from being the perfect Mom. But I do know that somehow, it’s still the most rewarding job in the world. Even on the really hard days.

Well Rebekah has managed to move her little body all the way off my chest and into my arms. She’s all stretched out. Her eyes are still closed, her mouth is open and she’s breathing hard.

I pray these moments won’t slip away too fast.

She’s here!

Rebekah Noelle Krieger came into the world on Saturday, Oct. 30 @ 3:32 PM. Weighing in at 7 lb. 14 oz and 21 inches long. I’ll save the rest of the details for her birth story, which I’ll be writing soon!

We’re in love all over again and are adjusting to being a family of four. I’m savoring every bit of her when my toddler naps and goes down at night as I know she won’t be a newborn for very long.

We’ll be taking some professional photos of her today, but for now, here are some from her first hours after birth. Thank you for all your thoughts, love, and prayers and for sharing in the joy of her birth.

Why we chose the name Rebekah

 

My sweet Momma

 

To understand the name Rebekah, you first have to understand the story behind a woman named Beverly.

Beverly was a good friend of my mom’s when she was in her twenties. Every day they’d eat lunch together on work break. Beverly invested her life into my mom’s and shared Christ with her. Eventually she led my mom into a relationship with Christ and discipled her. Weekly, they began praying for their children and families. This was all after my Mom and Dad got married.

So all my life, my mom has been the spiritual rock in our family. She took my sister and I to church every Sunday, prayed with us before bed each night, shared God’s love with us, and loved and disciplined me (the more strong-willed child!) in my rebellious years. Her hospitality and the way she loved our neighbors and friends was incredible. I remember her intentionality in sharing the gospel with others.

For 30 years, she prayed for my Dad’s salvation. She never nagged at him or shoved Jesus down his throat. But in humility, led a life of patience with my Dad before me. I believe her example and prayers are why he trusted in Christ as his Savior when I was in college. And I believe her prayers are why my sister and I came to know the Lord at a young age.

My mom continues to be a source of encouragement and wisdom to me as I navigate this journey of being a wife and new mother. She is the most selfless person I know.

At first, Jeremiah and I wondered what to name our baby girl but I always had a gut feeling what I wanted it to be. We could have picked a trendy name or a name with no real attachment to it. But I wanted our daughter’s name to be significant and meaningful. And because my mom’s name is Rebecca (she goes by Becky), no other name fit more perfectly.

We chose the spelling “Rebekah” because my mom actually liked that spelling better and Jeremiah and I did too! We also love that it’s the biblical spelling and the “k” in it goes well with our last name being Krieger.

It’s always crazy to think about what our family heritage would look like without my mom’s friend Beverly reaching out to her.

Well two years ago, Beverly died in her sleep at her home in Ohio. I cried when my mom told me the news. She was such a faithful servant and I am forever grateful for Beverly’s life. It still lives on.

Today, I couldn’t be more excited that my mom’s legacy will continue on as we honor her through our daughter who is due in nine days!

Now, all we need to figure out is our little girl’s middle name. Any suggestions?! (we have three we like, but are still open to others 🙂

I love you, Mom!

“Rebekah”- Hebrew – “captivating, knotted cord”

told to be… still

I come from a line of “doers” so when the nurse told me today that I need to stay off my feet, I thought it would be impossible- especially with a toddler.

For the past few days, I’ve had really strong and firm braxton hicks contractions when I stand up, walk, do chores, anything. They only subside when I sit or lie down. It’s crazy because right at the moment I stand up, my abdomen is as hard as a rock. I have six weeks left until baby girl Krieger’s due date and so far my husband and doula have a suspicion she could come early October.

Yesterday, I sat down for an hour while Jeremiah played with John and it was really, really hard. But I think I’m learning a lesson already.

I’m not still enough and I don’t listen to God nearly enough.

While sitting in our lazy boy with my chubby toes propped up, I was able to reflect more on life and what was really going on. Life can get so fuzzy when you’re so busy. I’m having a baby and my sweet little boy is nearing two. I have an incredible husband and God is building our little family the way He desires. What a gift. It was as if God whispered in my ear that everything was going to be fine and that He was in control. I didn’t need to worry about the logistics of the baby’s arrival, our time table, the lack of sleep coming up with a newborn, or anything. God was handling it. And He would handle it.

I sensed such peace covering my anxious heart.

God is absolutely sovereign. Yes, I will make plans as best I can, but he directs my steps. He knew that I would get to the point in my pregnancy that I would just have to get off my feet.

Who knows if our baby girl will come early, right on time, or late. I’d love to know. But right now what I need the most in my life is to be still and know that He is God, and I am not.

Do you find it hard to be still?

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