Four Spiritual Lessons Learned from My Daughter’s First Swim Meet

“But I don’t want to go!” My seven-year-old Rebekah screamed as I woke her up at the crack of dawn for her very first swim meet of the summer season. She hid under her covers in a ball.

“Let’s go.”  I said. “We’re going right now. Everyone’s waiting in the car.”

“I don’t want to. I don’t want to!”

I pulled off her purple and white floral sheets and looked into her blue/green eyes. “Rebekah, you’ve practiced. You’re ready for this. Your coach Brenda says you’re ready too. Will you trust us?”

“But what if I can’t swim the whole lap? The water is going to be cold. No. I’m not doing it!”

After lots of dialogue and struggle, we drove to the meet. She remained nervous and anxious when we arrived and refused to let me help her put her cap on. I grew unsure of what we committed to. Will she back out of racing because she’s too scared?

In no time, my friend Trisha scooped Bekah up in her arms and carried her to the tent where she’d wait for her heat to be called. Coach Brenda let Rebekah be her “helper” and she coached her on what it would be like on the starting block. She showed her exactly what to do.

After “Swimmer’s, take your mark!” and the buzzer went off she jumped into the water and swam the 25 Freestyle. She didn’t stop at all and had a smile on her face at the end. I felt relieved and was so proud of her for overcoming her fears.

She swam her backstroke and relay races with no complaints. Getting a free sugary snow cone from winning a heat helped too. This new experience taught me a whole lot about our faith in Jesus- more than I even realized. Here are a few lessons:

1. We must be willing to risk something. 

Signing my child up for swim league took a risk on my part. What if she doesn’t like it? What if she can’t do the hard work? What if, what if, what if… At some point, we just had to commit, and I needed cooperation from her. Rebekah had to risk diving into unchartered territory of the unknown.

When we put our trust in Jesus, we don’t always know what he will ask of us. Will he ask me to give up an addiction, lifestyle, or way of living? Will he ask me to step out of my comfort zone and love on someone different than me? Will I have to suffer or struggle for a season of my life? Whatever Jesus calls us to do, we have to embrace risk and not run from it in fear. If we’re not risking something, we’re not fully living.

2. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others.

I found myself looking at the seasoned swimmers. I’d been a swimmer my whole life and knew Rebekah would enjoy it too, but I had to remember this was her first meet. Butterflies were in her stomach, there were lots of people cheering on the bleachers, and anything new can bring anxiety. She had to swim her race – not anyone else’s. And thankfully a few seasoned moms shared with me their own stories of their kids at one point needing a barf bag before races! It made me feel better that we weren’t necessarily unique.

In our faith, we’re all on different journeys. We struggle to various degrees. Our spiritual gifting and disciplines are all unique and that’s how God intended it to be. We need to be content with where we’re at and not wish we were in another person’s lane. God has us right where he wants us and is growing us in his timing.

3. We need each other.

Before my daughter’s first race, there was only so much I could do as her mom to encourage her heart to be strong. It was because of the help of my friends and her coach (and prayer!) that ultimately gave her the courage to work through her fears.

In our faith, we’re crazy to think we can walk this life without anyone by our side. On the days we think we’re crazy for following this man Jesus, we need to know that we’re not, in fact, lunatics. God has given us the gift of each other to remind us of his goodness and love and that we’re placing our faith in the person of Jesus. He is with us. He uses others to show us his grace in amazing ways. There’s such a beauty in leaning on others for help and strength. It’s up to us to accept that support.

4. We’re racing to win the prize.

Just as swimmers race to win or beat their previous time, in our faith we’re called to win the prize. Throughout scripture the Apostle Paul talks about the need for self-discipline. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says to run the race of faith in such a way to win the prize. He says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Following Jesus and placing our faith in him requires strict training – yes, this is contrary to popular theology today. We aren’t running this race of faith aimlessly, to always “feel good” or with an apathetic attitude. We have a goal to share the gospel with others and to live it out until the Lord takes us home to be with him forever. We’re racing to win the prize. The race is final, not a warm-up before the real thing. Our calling as believers is indeed a high calling and we’re not racing for a temporary crown, but an imperishable crown. And our final goal is Jesus himself.

A few days after the swim meet, Rebekah received her first medal. “Ohhh!” she said as I handed it to her. She put it around her neck and smiled at it. She now understood that her hard work in all those practices resulted in something.

The initial risk was now a reward to behold.

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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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.”

They Just Keep Growing…

As much as I want time to stand still at times, I’m thankful for the process of spiritual, emotional, and physical growth similar to the growth and development I see in my children on a daily basis.

Growth is necessary so that we can become all that God wants us to be and so that we can refresh the lives of others.

Growth requires us to take the next step, no matter how painful or difficult so that we can become mature and perfect in Christ.

Growth isn’t a comparison game. It’s individual as God is the One who grows all things. Growth happens at different times and in different ways for different people.

And the best part about growth is that we have all we could ever need to live a life of godliness and continued growth until our time is finished on earth.

Are you growing?

Making Your Home a Haven

a fun little wreath we ordered off Etsy. Click the image to see the shop.

Since we moved into a bigger apartment in seminary housing a few weeks ago, John has loved all the space. Often, when we’re out and about, he says to me:

“I wanna go home, Momma.”

And this desire for him to go home has got me thinking a lot about the duty and delight I have as a wife and momma to make my home all that it can be.

I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for almost a full year now and I’m just now getting the hang of it. I’m not naturally well organized and I have to work hard at cleaning. I’ve had to find a good balance with being in the home and going out so I don’t go crazy.

But what I’m finding that has been so key is that my home should be a place of refuge and rest. It should be a place my husband and children want to come home to, where they find safety and comfort away from the world.

Rebekah- 7 mos. John- 2 yrs.

Practically for me it has come down to creating a warm atmosphere with color schemes and decor, keeping it clean and clutter-free as best I can each day (of course some days it just doesn’t happen!), and putting toys and other things in there proper place. But most of all, it has come down to the attitude and heart I want to create in my home.

And that starts with me.

I kept my friend’s two girls last week and it made my day when the oldest one looked at me while we were walking down the hall and said, “I like you.” Her comment made me smile and it was a big deal to me that she liked coming over and spending her time with us.

I want the attitude in my home to be that my husband, children, and our guests feel welcomed, loved, and taken care of. I want those who walk through our door to be refreshed with good food and drinks and conversation, but also refreshed spiritually and emotionally.

our new view of downtown Dallas

The best example I have of this is my mom who growing up, opened our door to our neighbors, watched their children, shared Christ’s love, listened to life stories, and nourished bellies with her amazing cooking. Her gift was hospitality at the highest level and still is today.

While I don’t consider my #1 gift hospitality, I know as a Christ follower that I’m called to be hospitable to all those who walk through my door and to do my best at it even on the really tough days.

I also realize that my behavior and actions in the home will have huge implications on my marriage and my children’s security and emotional stability in the future. And this is a great responsibility.

Creating a home that is a haven and a place of refuge is hard work because well, I’m imperfect and I have a sinful nature to battle every day. I had to work through some of my own issues this morning with my husband. And sometimes (a lot of times) I’m just so stinkin’ selfish.

But with God’s help and His abundant grace, He gives me the ability to create an atmosphere in the home that is everything I long for it to be so that ultimately, He is glorified and His name is made famous first in my family and then throughout the world.

What do you love about your role in the home?

The Joy of Being on Mission- Letting God Use You Wherever You Go

On Sunday, God answered a prayer I began praying two years ago for a young woman named *Allison.

Two years ago I was deeply stirred and convicted that I can be salt and light wherever I go: at the grocery store, the park, the mall, Chick-fil-a, wherever… There were people all around me that desperately needed to hear the hope of the gospel. I knew I needed to start being more intentional with people and stop making excuses.

I started thinking about the people in my path on a regular basis and Allison instantly came to mind. She was one of the sitters at our gym’s childcare. I saw her consistently and she had a great affection for my son John. He loved seeing her too. From the moment I met Allison, I got this feeling that she had pain in her life. There was something in her eyes and in the way she carried herself that said it. I felt like God wanted to use me, by his grace, to show her love when I had the opportunity.

On the days I dropped my son off at the gym, I would engage with her by asking about her day and about herself. One day I made banana bread for her and the staff there. I knew simple facts that she had a daughter and lived nearby but that was it. Our time was often cut short with me having to round up the kids.

There were days I got so frustrated because the right timing hadn’t come for me to share Christ with her or invite her to church. But somehow I would always go back to the fact that all I needed to focus on was building a friendship with her and showing Christ’s love. So that’s what I did over a span of two years.

Well about a month ago, I called to set up a childcare appointment and our conversation naturally flowed into me asking if she’d like to come to church with our family. To my amazement, she said she’d love to and we planned to meet in the morning. But morning came and she had to cancel. I was a little upset because I was so excited about it. The next Sunday we had planned to meet again, but her daughter ended up getting sick and my kids got sick too.

I grew discouraged thinking she’d never make it to church with us. I wondered if God really would make it happen. Then out of the blue and not in my timing at all, on our flight home from VA Beach this past Saturday, Allison texted me saying she wanted to join us for church. I was a little doubtful it would happen especially because we weren’t even sure we were going after a long day of traveling, but I trusted the Lord and we planned a time.

I texted her that morning to see if she thought it would work and she was ready to go! We met and she followed us in our van. When we arrived, Jeremiah took the kids and checked them in and I helped her check in her daughter. This was her daughter’s first time to church and she was so excited. When it was time for worship, we got our coffee and seats and the music played. We all stood to sing. I glanced over at Allison and she was blotting her eyes with tissue. She told me midway through how much she loved the songs.

When our young adult pastor, JP, gave the message, I felt like it was one of the best sermons I had ever heard. It was on being a light that shines bright among the darkness and the gospel was clearly presented.

After the service, Allison told me she loved it and wanted to come back next week. Her daughter also loved her class. We went out to lunch after, along with a couple in our community group and Jeremiah’s sister. Amidst the craziness of kids at the table, we learned a little more about her. She felt the freedom to share that she was adopted and her adopted dad died when she was a little girl. Several years ago she was in a very bad relationship, where she was beaten and the man killed the 8 month old baby in her womb.

I had never heard anything so tragic and I was amazed by all that she had gone through and that was only a small part of her story. Allison had experienced tremendous loss. But I was so encouraged that she heard the true gospel and she desired to come back to church. She experienced love from the body of Christ and I believe she knows that Jesus can heal her of all those hurts. I am praying for more opportunities to follow up with her and continue to encourage her toward a relationship with Christ.

As I write this, my eyes fill with tears because God is intervening in Allison’s life. While she may not fully know it yet, I believe it’s clear that he is working. We serve a God who cares deeply for people’s hurts and that they would be reconciled back to Him. We serve a God who wants to use us in every day life as we yield to His Spirit while we’re on mission for Him.

I look forward to seeing what God does with Allison’s life in the future. I’ll be sure to update you.

* name changed to protect privacy

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