When Your Ceiling Caves In: Thoughts on Being First Time Homebuyers

My husband Jeremiah and I were super excited, but not naive. Enough trusted people in our lives had told us how much work goes into owning a home. This was going to be our very first home that we would close on in just a few hours.

We did the walk-thru with our realtor, Susan, making sure repairs had been made and that all was well and it was… until… we made our way upstairs and opened the door to the attic.

“Babe, can you walk across there and take down those tacky white curtains hanging in the dormers?”

They had been annoying me for a while now, especially because they were visible from the road. Jeremiah takes his first few steps, slowly. I had this odd feeling something was about to happen.

If you remember Chevy Chase in the classic movie, Christmas Vacation, you probably recall him falling through the ceiling while reminiscing over old home videos. Well, that’s basically what went down yesterday.

Jeremiah took another step and part of the floor caved in. It happened to be the dining room ceiling.

My godly, soon-to-be seminary graduate was in shock. “I’m not sure if I want to cuss or laugh! So I think I’ll laugh,” he said.

My eyebrows were raised the whole time, and then I just started cracking up. We knew we wanted the house. We were just about to close. But, really? The ceiling? Oh dear. Should we still close on this house?

Susan couldn’t believe what she was seeing either. “Well, it looks like this is going to be your first repair,” she said. All of us laughed together.

As we walked out of the door, Jeremiah assured me that regardless of the circumstances, this was what we were supposed to do and better that this happened now than later with kiddos around. On our way to the title company, we were laughing so hard about the whole situation. He was already formulating a plan on how he would fix it and what he would need to get at Home Depot.

“Maybe this will encourage you when it comes to fixing all the other future repairs and updates,” I said trying to look on the bright side.

He smiled and assured me that he was up for the task. I had no doubt he would get it done and do it well.

Well, yesterday was just the beginning of our first home buying experience. We chose a two-story house about 10 minutes away from the city, close to Jeremiah’s work. It was built in 1964 and hasn’t had any major updates, but has a ton of potential- nothing a little paint can’t fix! The house is awesome space-wise as everyone will have their own room. It’s going to take a lot of cleaning practice making sure 5 bedrooms are in order.

We were able to get an incredible deal on the home as well. It’s only a few miles away from one of our favorite lakes for running and biking and it’s near a beautiful botanical garden that everyone in Dallas seems to frequent. Not to mention, a park and playground that the kids love are five houses down.

But like I said, the house is older so with that comes a lot of work. And I can only naturally relate this whole house experience to life because it has taught me so much already. Having the ability to own a home and fill it with good things is a gift, but it will not satisfy the deepest cravings in my heart. Only God will be able to satisfy those needs.

Our new house will also, in one way or another, disappoint us. Stuff will break. Pipes will leak. There will always be work. There will be new challenges that didn’t exist in an apartment and there will be new worries and fears.

But Lord willing, God will use this house as a place to show his love, be hospitable, share the gospel, disciple our children, grow our marriage, nurture authentic relationships, make friends and family feel welcome, and teach us more about Himself. And I am definitely excited about that. Most of all, my prayer is that this home will glorify God and that it will be a place where His purposes are accomplished in our family and among the people we will live near.

Until we move out of seminary housing at the end of April, we will be painting, getting appliances, and doing lots of dirty work. Well that is, mostly my husband, family, and friends since I shouldn’t be around paint being pregnant.

Oh yeah and we’ll also be praying that nobody else falls through the ceiling.

Why I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom: The Short Story

John- 3 yrs.

From last week’s blog post You Write the Title, I Write the Post, I decided to tackle Grace Graieg’s title: Why I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom. Thank you for the great topic/title Grace and for everyone who participated!

My desire to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) came from an early age. My mom was a SAHM to my sister and I for as long as I can remember. She made our lunches every night for school the next day and she was always available if we were sick and needed to come home. She drove me to school and picked me up. When I started riding the bus, she had a snack ready for me when I came home and drove me to swim practice. When I got my license, well, nothing really changed except that I drove myself everywhere!

The impact my mom’s presence in our home had on me from an early age was significant. It was not only her physical presence but her emotional and spiritual one too. Her genuine interest in my day, her prayers, and sweet conversation assured me that I was loved and cared for. And I never doubted her love. She also made a significant impact outside the home among our neighbors and friends. She was always baking something to bring to someone and I remember her sharing the gospel regularly.

John- 3 Rebekah- 1

So I guess you could say I always assumed I would wear the same shoes as my Mom. I wanted to make a difference like she had in my life.

After Jeremiah and I found out we were expecting our first child, we decided that after our son was born that we would trade roles and I would work part-time while he took care of John. You can read about my experience transitioning out of my career and into the home in this article I wrote for Ungrind.

Once our second child was on the way, I knew that it was time for me to be full-time at home. From the books I read in my child psychology classes in college, I knew that the formative years (birth- 5 years) were critical to a child’s development and growth and if the proper nurturing, discipline, and love were absent in those years, it could have a far-reaching effect in the future.

Other friends and moms who were further along in the journey than I was encouraged me to be fully engaged in the home as well. I knew in my heart that’s what I wanted so Jeremiah and I made the necessary changes. In August 2010 a few months before my daughter’s birth, I dove right in!

Now about a year and a half into it, I’ve learned that being a SAHM isn’t particularly glorious. In fact, most days it’s not. And I struggle many days with my anger and impatience. My kids can be demanding, needy, whiny, fussy, difficult, and more. Dirty diapers are yucky, having to schedule your world around naps can be annoying, and sometimes you just wonder if the sacrifice is worth it and if you’re really making a difference in this little one’s life.

But regardless of how hard it is raising my kids on a day in and day out basis, I still believe the sacrifice is worth it. And I believe the hard work of being fully present in our home will pay dividends in their life on down the road.

Of course, this is my prayer.

Before I know it, my oldest, John, will be in school and I know I will miss him greatly and will look forward to seeing his handsome smile when he comes home. These formative years will fly by, and I want to be the first one to see all the milestones my children cross. And I believe it’s my role and responsibility to do so.

I want to be the one to give them all my love. I want to build into their self-esteem and teach them how to respect and love all people. By God’s grace and with his help, I want to teach them right from wrong and discipline when it’s needed. I don’t want to look back with any regrets in that I “should” have been there but other commitments took precedence over them. I want to be all there for my children and for them to never doubt my commitment to raising them.

Of course, this all can only be done by God’s grace.

Everyone has their own story and convictions when it comes to being in the home. For me personally, the only way for me to be fully present and to be the best Mom I can be is to be right where my #1 mission field exists.

And of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t regularly schedule girl night outs, date nights with my husband, babysitters, weekend getaways, time to write, to be resourceful and make money, and time to have fun. All the more, I make time for “me” (and sanity) because I need it badly!

Well I just heard a cry. My time to write is up. Until next time…

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.

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